Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Crimea: Part 1

As Spring eagerly arrived in Ukraine, my friends and I set off for a short spring break vacation on the Crimea to visit our Ukrainian training teacher, Sasha. Due to his hospitably, apartment, and bright yellow car, we saw some grand sites of ancient castles tucked away among mountainous sea sides. It was amazing. We climbed a few hill sides, river beds, and switch back roads like true adventurers instead of sunlight famished tourists. Spending days staring at a golden lit Black Sea from high cliffs was a welcomed shock to my small farm, dirt road routine. 

Of course, having my closest friends snuggled in a train car or back seat with me made the trip near perfection. After hours and hours of transport together, we discovered our spirit animals, aura colors, favorite songs, favorite movies, took a lengthy yet incredibly accurate personality quiz, developed new card games, which actor/actress would play us in a movie, picked out future spouses for each other, recited all the food we will eat when we return to America, etc. To say these people are "a breeze of fresh air' to me would be cliche but accurate. Fresh air that wraps all around me to mess up my hair. 

Day 1: 
First sights in Crimea after train station pick up.
Anna leading the way into the forest. 

A short river hike near Bahchisarai, Sasha's hometown. 

Sasha was far too thrilled to be able to yell his favorite quotation "You shall not pass!"
on a real bridge with a real scepter. 

Snow Drops: early signs of Spring 

Branch Battles 

Anna showing off her limbo skills to win the Branch Battle. 

Caitlin conquering a rock and the rest of the forest. 

Our first sighting of wildlife. 

Channeling their spring animals: a baby polar bear and a honey badger. 
Day 2:
Pit stop on the road to Yalta. 

Footsteps of mountain side chapel.
(I was told the multiple locks on the gates are too ward off evil spirits.)

We reached this mountain chapel after a solid 15 or 20 minutes of continuous switch backs.
In the Yalta harbor, I spotted a cruiser from Phnom Penh.
My mind drifted away to warmer, summer memories. 

The tallest ATM yet. 

The dudes enjoying a moment of welcome sunlight. 

We wanted to touch the water since it was too chilly still to get in. 

A little sea dance. 

On the road again to Sudak and its castle. 

Another church pit stop. 
 Caitlin and I got double frames of the same road side stop. 
My photo of Caitlin and Sasha. 

Caitlin's photo of Sasha. 

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