I had great expectations of Yalta. I had imagined a beautiful city with old buildings from the era when European kings and Queens used to spend their summers. So my disappointment was unbearable when I realized that Yalta is a large amusement park, where they played bad music and drink alcohol in public areas, terrible!
The road from our hotel to the beach, was a long street adorned with street vendors and rides. Street vendors sold same stuff as you will get anywhere as well as drinks(?). Inhabitants consume much alcohol, resulting in one of Europe’s lowest life expectancy – 50 years.
But a curiosity, fascinated me, they have retained the old street names from the Soviet era, so you can still run up Lenin Street and the statue of him in the harbor is still there. According to the Mayor’s, Soviet times is a also part of our history and should not be removed. He’s so right so right.
Steer clear of the public beaches they are overcrowded. We paid us in one of the best beaches, although the price is low, the service is good. However, one must be prepared for the new rich fat Russians drinking vodka all day, and it’s a strange sight as they lay like walruses with their very beautiful ladies at their sides.
There are many good restaurants in Yalta, but there are also many bad. Villa Sofia is, apparently,a great restaurant. People stopped to have their picture taken outside. We however wanted to eat there, but was met with a rather patronizing attitude. The food however was fantastic.
At two restaurants we dined, some of the guests got so drunk that they simply fell asleep at the table. A sad experience, a boy of 7-8 years was around the adult table and bore clear signs of the situation. Waiters did nothing to stop the drinking, but served even more booze. These experiences is st ill stuck with me, and by that I’m struggling to recommend Yalta.
In addition the restaurants play loud music, making it almost impossible to have a conversation. Besides, nothing is so annoying as 2-3 songs vying for attention in your ear. The music is also bad, almost miserable.
The traffic is nicer than I expected, but be careful. Two of our drivers drove as if they had stolen the cars. One driver was more on the leftside of the road than on the right. He showed me his driver’s license to prove that he was a good trusted driver… !? They have however begun to stop for pedestrians, but make sure the car coming behind has stopped as well!
Bring a lot of smiles in the bag when you travel to Ukraine, they need it. These people have suffered much and therefore they need all the support they can get. I gave away all my smile on the trip and was therefore a bit empty when I got home. There will be a while until I go back to «the border country» Ukraine. Ukraine is in fact land on the edge of Russia, the soil is black, while the country next door the soil is light and therefor it is called Belarus.
Although we chose to travel first class, we had to make up the bed by our self. Here they have something to learn from the West: Once you have paid extra for first class so should not need to make your or bed, and it should be dark chocolate on the pillow.
It was not allowed to enjoy wine either. Our conductor was of the very strict variety, I was a little afraid of her! No matter how bad the service might be, train is a great way to travel in Ukraine, but by all means go first class.
The Balaklava harbor is in fact a good choice if you need to maintain your submarine. Balaklava has a very deep harbor and that makes it ideal for submarines to navigate sub sea into the huge tunnel without been detected by the western countries satellites. During the Soviet era this little fishing village did not “exist”. It was kept as a secret by the Soviets, and was not visible on any maps, even the locals who lived around Balaklava did not know what was going on. Only the local fishermen whom had their boats in the harbor knew, but they were also monitored. Today’s submarine shop is converted into a museum, and you can either take a boat into the tunnel or walk.
Balaklava is beyond this is a quiet little village with few tourists. But the harbor still has a lively evening. There are few restaurants where will get good food for a small amount, on the contrary the wine, one can steer clear – drink beer or water.
The flight from Kiev will take only 50 minutes and the fare was around 50 €. The runway in Odessa was somewhat a bumpy experience and we wondered if the wheels on the plane really could take all these speed pumps, yes thats what they felt like, speed bumps.
The airport in Odessa, is the kind where you have to do everything by your self. In the sense that you almost have to unload the aircraft baggage on your own. Odessa was a very positive experience. The city’s opera building is actually one of most beautiful opera houses in the world. Several streets in downtown are now converted to pedestrian areas, where there are many good restaurants.
I would like to mention two restaurants we visited the “Steak House” and Kompot in Deribasovskay Street. They had good food and good wine selection. But they are popular, so make reservation in advanced if you want the most popular tables. They are also some of the few restorants that don’t play loud music. You may therefor enjoy their food and wine in peace and quiet, only disturbed by people passing by.
Buy an ice-cream and do as many Ukrainians,walk down the Potemkin stairs. The stairs are ninefeet wider at the bottom than the top and in addition it has got an optical illusion. When you stand at the top and look down you can see only landings and from below you only see like a long flight of stairs without landings.