Crimea is a peninsula, which is situated in North part of Black Sea and it is a region of Ukraine. Steppe covers the bigger part of Crimea territory in the north and central areas. The Southeast coast and the south coast (it has another name South Shore) have mountain landscapes. Highest mountain has name Roman-Cosh. Its height is approximately 5000 ft. Length of the mountain chain is about 100 miles. This chain blocks cold north winds. That is why especial microclimate is on the narrow band of South Shore like subtropics. There are many sanatoriums and health resorts here. If you know, there are towns Yalta, Alushta, Gurzuf, children’s international camp “Artek” and last USSR president’s residence “Foros” on the South Shore. People go here from any country that was in USSR previously. Russia and Ukraine are different countries now. Therefore, we went to Crimea as territory of another country. (As well as Canadians goes to USA).
I’ll try to tell you about my impressions about last summer (1998) visit to Crimea. We visited towns Sudak (southeast coast), Alushta (South Shore of Crimea) and Evpatory (West Coast). We went there in July, Mike and I. Firstly, we arrived by train in town Pheodosia about 1p.m. There is big seaport here. When we were going through Pheodosia by train we saw the sea and big ships on it. Here we caught private taxi for $50 to Sudak. (There is a big money for us –I have a good job and my total earn was about  $500 per month in that time).  We saw the sea on the left side and mountains in front of us, when we drove along pleasant mountain road. There were many vineyards near the road.  Sun Valley  is situated near Sudak. They make very good wine with the same name and other kinds of wine there. We arrived to Sudak about 4p.m.  
    Sudak is not a big town. It has several blocks of flats, several many-storeyed sanatorium, which are situated in the parks . However, main part of town consists from private one-floor houses with small yards. People who live in those houses earn money to give lodging in rent places for visitors. Therefore, in those yards some fruit trees and couple vines, and many small cabins. We lived in such cabin. There was place only for two beds and the little table. We paid $4 per day for rent. There was a shower in the yard. It was a cabin with the big tank on its roof. Tank was filled with cold water and then it was heated by sunbeams. There were minimum comforts but to go to sea took only about 5 minutes.
    In that day, we came to sea. Sea was black really, because wind was very strong. It was storm that day. There were no many people at the beaches.  Big waves dropped on the shore. It could not to swim for anybody. One drunken man decided to roll on waves that time. He almost sank in the sea. Another man (I believe he was good swimmer) swam to man who was trying to sink and pulled him a little to shore. Luckless swimmer was saved! Later I had measured the deep in that place. It was no more than 6ft.
Big waves, if you know…
Such storm weather was several days after our arrival. Therefore, we decided to go to excursions. There were many places in town where they sold excursions. The cheapest one cost only $1 for one person and the most expensive cost about $30. We bought two excursions – one to waterfall “Jhur-Jhur” (murmuring) and another to the cave Mramornaya (Marble cave) on different days, of course. There were bus excursions, each almost by whole day.
We did not buy excursion in the local sightseeing – Ruins of Genoa’s Fortress (XII –XIII centuries AD). Simply we came to its gate and bought the guidebook and entering ticket.  Imagine, that fortress had yet stood about 200 years till time when Coulomb had just discovered America! Those are ruins of ancient town where were port, fortress, granaries, tanks with drink water, and houses of common citizens in this city. There is a home of Consul as part of inside fortress wall near mountain peak.  Consul was the governor of that town and he was elected only for one year. Until that year, Consul will have to build one building from his own money.
    The walls of the fortress and consul’s residence have remained in good state. By the way, the hordes of Barbarians, Turkish Army and time could not break it walls at many centuries. However, the small group of Ukrainian archaeologists made this work in one summer! They were finding coins and other things in the ground near wall. About 120 ft of wall was fallen after their work.
    Weather changed to better one in several days. Wind became quiet and sea became blue and transparent. We came to the beach. There were more than ten organized beaches in Sudak. Some of its were free to enter and other was paid ones. It cost from $0.5 to $1 to get there. Near the beaches was embankment. There were some cafes and small restaurants on the embankment. On the another side of embankment were sanatoriums in the pleasant parks. There were flowers on the trees – in July! Anybody could goes through those parks to beaches. And there was alley that run from center of embankment to Sudak’s main street.
    All beaches were sandy there. But there were many little stones – pebbles just after border between sea water and sand . It was very hard to step on its. And water was too cold after long storm. Also I did not like another thing. There were not good place for you if you came to beach too late (after 8 a.m.) . Too many peoples were there. There were also many sellers who made their ways among the bodies of holiday-makers and made loud advertising for their goods. They brought just on the beach very taste things  – rolls with fruit filling, wafer pipes with boiled concentrated sweet milk and Greek nuts, “Pakhlava”- kind of honey cookies (biscuits) and season fruits. Every morning till 12 a.m. the Ukrainian Army’s helicopter flied high above beaches and dropped out 7 parachutists each time. They flied above beaches and sat behind the mountain. Ukrainian soldiers had their training there.
    Two days on the beach filling with people were enough for us. And we became the hike travelers. Of course, we went in the early morning to beach, had a sunbath there and sea bath too (if water was not too cold for us). Then we waited for the beach became full and went away. Firstly we hiked along the mountain road to settlement Novy Svet (New World in English). By the way, it seems that New World is European name of America. There was about 5 miles to go to Novy Svet along the road. Main part of road was situated along the slop of mountain Sokol (Falcon).
Firstly we went along Sudak main street. By the way, all streets in Crimea’s towns have many trees and because of that they are very shady. The inhabitants save themselves from summer day heat that way. On outskirts there is a little mountain with the bald stone top. After that mountain, road turns on the left (towards sea) and put down. Near this part of road were several sanatorium parks with sanatorium buildings inside. Then road turned to the right and became to rise up. On the right side of road is situated small “Mountain Saving Service”. Further road made several big loops around mountain Sokol and it left side passed over high and sheer precipices. We were afraid to go there first time. But very beautiful view to sea was opened from those precipices! Right side of the road passed under the slope of mountain Sokol. South slope is almost vertical and stony. And the grove of relict Stankevitch pine grows on the southwest and west slopes. This grove is only single in Crimea!  The seashore under m. Sokol is very stony. There are signs of terrible Crimea earthquake. It happened in 1928. Huge stones also stand in the sea near the bank. Road made next turn and you can see the view of Novy Svet’s bay with the boats and yachts on the surface of the sea.  It is very beautiful view.
    They say that the beach in the Novy Svet is one of the best beaches on the southeast coast of Crimea. The settlement itself is not large. There are several many-storey houses (block of flats) and one or two sanatoriums. There is the wine-making factory here. Prince L. Golitsin founded it in the 1878. Only from Novy Svet’s vineyards, wine “Black Doctor” gets. We bought couple bottles of Crimean Champagne “Novy Svet”. We drank one from they at the New Year party. It was very good, better than “Soviet Champagne”. (Of course, we knew that “Champagne” is only French trademark. But that name is signed on the bottles’ labels.) There is the shop from vine-making factory in the settlement, near bus stop. You can buy many kinds of vine that made on the factory there. Also you can buy excursion to the factory, see how they made and store vine and even taste different kinds of vine. Somebody after that tasting cannot go home by their own foots.
There is nature Reserve Park in the Novy Svet too. It consist from mountain groves and two bays – Blue and Dark-Blue ones. To enter here cost $1 for the person. Bank of the Blue bay has name “Tsar’s beach” ("Tsar" in Russian means "king"). They say that place was lovely one for rest of the family of the last tsar (king) of Russian Empire. There was the path on the cliff over the sea to the "Through Grotto" before earthquake. Now only very brave people go along that path. “Through Grotto” is a really through. It begins at the west slope and ends at the west slope of mountain. Near the Dark-Blue bay is situated Shaliapin’s Grotto. It looks as a little concert hall. Famous Russian bass Shaliapin had sung here many years ago (before 17th year's Revolution). Both bays have nice wild stony beaches. We even caught the crab in the Dark-Blue bay!
    Became day for our excursion to waterfall “Jhur-jhur” (murmuring). We awoke up at 6:30 a.m. and go to the excursion bus stop. We got on into the big comfortable bus, guide also got on and we started our excursion. Our bus was going along the coast, approaching or going away from seashore, going down or clambering on mountain. There were so many turns on that road! Sometimes road went in several meters above sea and sometimes it rose on the high more than one half of mile. Dizzy road! There was one place we have a little rest. Sea was in 50ft from it. And natives (family of Crimean Tartars) sold here very taste “Cheburek” – kind of cake with meat filling that prepared in boiled sunflower oil. All operation for preparing this dish you could see by yourself. One woman prepared paste, another one rolled that paste in the circles, and third woman put meat filling on those circles and made cakes. And main cook was a man – he put cakes into boiled oil, got away when they were ready, and sold it. One cake cost $0.5. There was turn for that dish. After that stop we went on our excursion. Bus turned from coast and began climbed up towards north. We rose more than 500 m under sea level. End point of our bus travel was mountain village named “Generalskoe” (I suppose that name from some army General). Natives was selling here their own wine and cow’s milk. Milk was very tasty! Further we went up on foot. We went up along mountain path, which passed into the beech forest. It was so dark and cool under the big trees! But day was sunny and hot. Then path went down and we firstly heard and only then sow waterfall Jhur-Jhur (it translates from tartaric language as MURMURING). Here were several excursion groups. Most brave people were standing under the natural shower, though the temperature of water was no more than 8 degrees C (about 46 degrees F). Noise from falling water was so loud that needed to cry each other to be heard. Height of this waterfall is about 50 ft. We had made several photos there and then went up along another bank of brook.
There were two nature baths in flow of brook, which was situated higher than waterfall. Several legends connect with this baths. Legend said that somebody dives to one of bath would become younger, coordinate with time of diving. If somebody would all dip three times running in other bath, one washed all ones sins!( By the way, old Crimea has so many legends. We learn some of they from guides and, at last, we bought book of Crimean legends.)
    Then we came back through the beech forest to the bus. We slept in the bus almost all way to Sudak because we were very tired.
Well, Crimea is a very beautiful and unique place, but now it suffers with serious economic problems. Tourists have to pay money for enter in many places of interesting. And such places are very many here! But natives say that a main authority in Kiev takes almost all of that money. So, ordinary pension for old people in Crimea was about $40 that time, and rent for 2-room flat was about $15 per month. Prices were approximately the same as in our region. Maybe only fruits and vegetables were cheaper.
The Ukrainian currency has a name “Grivna”. We named it as “half-dollar” because 2grivnas=1dollar. I am afraid that it lost that name now and Crimean people became poorer since crisis had begun. (1 dollar = about 5 grivnas at the end of 2003)  
    Many tourists visited Crimea when the Soviet Union existed. But now, since Ukraine became independent state, only 20-30% from previous numerous of tourists go to Crimea. We sow the sanatorium near Sudak, which was abandoned several years ago. Cause of this is very simple. Ukrainian authorities asked too much money for rent from Russian owners of that sanatorium. Those owners couldn’t pay and abandoned those building. There were only walls and roof stayed from those building. And the small beach too. I suppose that very much money is losing because of greediness.  
    There are the rose plantations near Sudak. Here they gather rose petals in the spring. Then rose oil gets from those petals. It is needed 1000kg of petals to get 1kg of rose oil. And 1kg of rose oil costs the same as 1kg of gold! This product is exported to French. There it is used as a component of French perfumery. In general, in the beginning of July those roses have no leaves on their trunks – here is very hot and no rains in June-August. But that summer when we were here there were unusually many rains and grass was yet green.
    Also they make different essential volatile oils from different plants. You may buy such oils in Crimea. You may buy wine in the bottles or from tanks in your own dish in the settlements where winemaking plants are situated. This wine is young dry one. It has a little alcohol in it and has a very good light taste. We drank it a little almost each day we lived in Sudak. And Crimean Champagne we got to our home. We drank it on New Year Party. It was very taste.
Sea and cliffs, steppe and mountain forests are splendid here, in Crimea. But another world exists here too. An underground world – there are many caves in the mountains' Crimea. Some of they are known from ancient centuries and another ones were founded less than ten years ago. We were in the two caves – Mramornaia (Marble) and Emine-Bair-Hosar.
    Firstly we went to Mramornaia (Marble) cave. We wake up early and came to tourist bus. That time we went another road than when we did to waterfall. Most part of the way passed through the steppe Crimea. When we went by bus, guide lady told us about place, where we were going. She told about villages, which lie near the road, about gardens and fields, which passed back beyond the window, about history of those places. We passed town Belogorsk (White Mountains) and Crimean capital Simferopol. At last we came to the foot of Chatyrdag (From Tartaric – Tent-Mountain). Here bus became to climb on the mountain along the mountain road-serpentine. Beech forests lie on the left and right side of road. These beeches grow on slopes of mountain. Chatyrdag is a nature reserve park now. On the half of way from foot to top of mountain we came to gate of nature-reserve. Small forest guard’s cottage stood here. There are big pictures on it wall. Everybody could see it from road. Painter, who was guest at that cottage, painted some pictures of forest’s life. Also there were little cafe where you could drink fresh cow and she-goat’s milk and some local dishes. And a very big black pig  lived into the enclosure here! I never sow such great pig.
    After gate we pass another slope on which grown beeches and Crimean pines and came to open plateau. Strong wind was at plateau. And you can see a horizon very far from plateau. Surface of plateau was stony and covered dry grass. But also there were flowers here! I suppose that was kind of flowers that need a very little quantity of water to live. There was single trees or groups of ones here and there. Than our bus stopped at the big asphalt ground. Paths to Mramornaia and Emine-Bair-Hosar caves were beginning from that ground. All bus had to stay here. People must go to cave’s enters on foot.
    We came by road to enter of Mramornaia (marble) cave from bus stop. Wind didn’t blow near enter, because trees grew there. Enter was under roof and had metal door that defended microclimate of cave from outer climate.
The temperature in the cave does not change more then 1 degree and stands at the about 8 C point all time. And humidity here is high. They said that in the such caves they set the places for treatment for people who suffers from asthma. Patient must stays here 10-14 hours per each day in several weeks running. I heard that kind of treatment gives a very good result. I do not know - is it true or not?
    There were cafe, ticket-office and several kiosks with different goods – from meal and drink to postcards and T-shirts. To enter the cave one must buys ticket, pays for each photo- or video camera. If you have forgotten to take warm clothes you may get it for hire (of course, you must pay for it). There was big turn to enter the cave usually and that time we waited for about 3 hours! Certainly, that cave was worthy of all those suffers. It was a recently discovered cave! Marble cave was founded only in 1986! We heard a story from guide how it was.
    Plateau of Chatyrdag was (and now is) a nature (landscape) reserve park and it is forbidden all kinds of activity there. Once the poacher was overtaken by the park’s servicers. Of course, he had escape from they but they was beginning to come up with him. Suddenly he observed the recent hole under the tree. And he jumped here! He was luck that he could get off from cave after several hours. Then he stopped to poach and became to show that cave for “wild” tourist (for cash, of course). He made his business until the Crimean speleologists had learned about it. They took this cave under their care and they are keeping it today. Though they take money for visit in cave, all of they are poor people with a little earn. But all of they like their profession very much. They said that will take care that cave and defend it from any interference, because the cave is another world and it is very delicate and may be broken in several years (or months!). The big part of the earned money they spend to set new routes in the cave, cave’s maintenance and its learning. Sometimes even in the well-known cave it is possible to find new corridor. Marble cave has enough length of routes – about 1,5 km (if I remember exactly). They say that it one of the 10 greatest caves in the world.
    We enter through the door in the cave and go downstairs. Guide says that sightseer who goes last must close the door in order to save cave’s microclimate. 10 meters down and we had seen several paths that run in different directions. The speleologists made this paths along the routs and set there the lamps which give light. Even the electrical light can damage the stalactites and stalagmites – the microbes (some kind of mould) begin grow on its surface. From that, surface becomes more soft and has a green color instead it natural one. Therefore light is turned off after group leaves place it have just seen. Here you can believe that stones are living too but they life is very slowly if it is compared with our one. Millions years ago here was a bottom of the ancient sea and billions sea animals born and died here. They fallen down on the bottom of sea and created the layer of lime-stone. That layer was growing by long time and then, after bottom rose over sea, it became the Crimean mountains. Then water began its work. It found its way to sea through the mountains after great rains and firstly made a little caverns in the body of mountain. Then those caverns became more and more. Imagine the great streams running in fool dark through the body of mountain. So pity that nobody could see that phenomena. When time of great rains finished water became to percolate in the caves from top surface and dissolve the lime-stone. Then this solution flowed along the walls and dropped from ceiling and now we can see the stalactites and stalagmites. Every each of those natural formations looks like the art creature. Words have no force to describe that world.
    The Obvalny (landslide) hall of Mramornaia cave remembered to us very much. It is huge and its height is about ninety foots. On its “floor” you can the “stone chaos” – many very large stones lay here and there. I suppose that is the track of the earthquakes. Mramornaia cave’s stretch has several miles long (with all corridors, of course). Most part of routs have not yet any convenience for tourists and only speleologists can go along they. This cave impress by its size and great halls.
Another cave is situated near Marble one has a name Emine-Bair-Khosar. It is a vertical cave. One hall of this cave lies under another one. Its halls not so huge – they are even small but there are many lime-stone figures here those look as fantastic animals, peoples, plants...  You can find the real natural organ here, which makes music when wind blows over the mountain top. This cave cooler than Marble one – temperature  is about 5C there. And when you return under the sun beams – you felt yourself as if you got on the heated pan.
    It is well that both caves are saved by enthusiasts. Another caves near they (those were discovered in the last centuries) are simple the holes in the mountain with the tracks of human activity as rubbish, “graffiti”, etc. You cannot find here such beauties as in the saved caves.

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