Saturday, January 21, 2012

Yevpatoria, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine

At the invitation of an aunt, we also got to spend a few days in Yevpatoria.
the train station
The cheapest kind of train, aka electrichka. Yes, those are real wooden benches. Enjoy. (And wear a sweater!)
In the summertime, Yevpatoria is a vacationer's paradise. You can stroll along the seaside in the warm sun and spend time at any number of resorts. It was still nice in the winter, but most of the city was shut down. D's aunt called Yevpatoria a dying city and it did seem a little sad in the winter.
The bread factory (but it does produce delicious bread!) There was also an abandoned Pioneer's home (Soviet-era children's group) that was too full of despair to photograph.
Ukraine definitely takes the prize for cool monuments
In memory of those killed in WWII.
The morning after we arrived, D's energetic 70-year-old aunt practically chased us out of bed with a stick and hustled us out the door on a city tour. One of her friends promised us a tour of the city with a "surprise at the end!"
Yevpatoria has a lot of old buildings, which I love to photograph. 
The city was filled with "Yevpatoria, congratulations on 2500 years as a city!" notices. Seriously, 2500 years?! That's insane!!!

We visited a reconstructed portion of the ancient city entrance and learned about the city's slave trade history. You could go inside the gate/tower to view ancient artifacts....or sit down and enjoy delicious tea at a Tatar restaurant. Guess which option we chose?

This video was taken during our tour. We're in the "old city", walking towards the mosque and you can hear the call for prayer being broadcast.
video

The mosque
You can walk into the courtyard....and even into the mosque! We didn't see a single other person here but all the doors were unlocked.
We finished our tour with an impromptu celebration on the beach- including wine, hooray! At noon!
Someone else tried to join the party but our tour guide said no :p
"Walruses", or New Year's swimmers. Note the Santa hats.

Then, as a treat, we spent our final night in Yevpatoria at this mind-blowing hotel. We went to investigate the spa and ended up staying for the night. They had a two-story spa: heated swimming pool, jacuzzi, Finnish sauna, Roman sauna, Turkish sauna, Russian sauna, salt cave, tropical shower, "bucket" shower, circular shower, oxygen room..... Being winter, the place was almost deserted. We went from room to room, staying in the saunas until the heat became unbearable and then cooling off in the bucket shower (if you are D and you enjoy having a very cold bucket of water dumped directly on your head) or taking a tropical shower (if you're me). We also both got full-body massages and peels in the hammam/Turkish bath and felt practically reborn afterwards. And one more added bonus- winter rates = $80 a night for an ocean-view room with a balcony, admission to the spa, and breakfast. For 2 people!

While in town, we had a date night: wine tasting, dinner ("literary cafe" in a building where Anna Akhmatova briefly lived), and a movie at Theater Ракета. I wondered why the ticket prices were US-style prices until they handed us 3D glasses. They were pretty upscale glasses too, not the cheap kind theaters use back in the states. We watched The Darkest Hour, a movie about American tourists in Moscow during an alien invasion. I really liked the movie, or what little I got of it, since it was in Ukrainian and most of the humor didn't seem to translate well. Movies here are shown in either Russian or Ukrainian language, and the movies I pick always seem to be the Ukrainian ones. Alas. Just when you've learned one language half-decently, it turns out to be the wrong one! :p

We also found a cool place called Колизей, or Coliseum, next to our hotel. It's a ground-story cafe by day and an upstairs bar-restaurant-laser tag-night club-movie theater-bowling alley by night. What else could you ask for? And the laser tag is Starship Troopers-themed. Serious, serious awesomeness. Their food was mouthwatering. Just click a few pages into their "crazy menu", I beg you. It does not disappoint. They also have quite a selection of cocktails to go with all their crazy parties (including a lot of gay pride nights? Or maybe just half-naked people nights, can't tell.) AND a FREE movie theater. You just need to order food while you're watching the movie, which isn't hard since you're sitting in brand-new, super-comfy leather couches and have a touch-screen for ordering in front of you. It turns out it's really easy to rack up a bill when all you have to do is press a button and they bring you food. Be careful.

Anyways, I really enjoyed Yevpatoria and meeting D's family there. I hope we'll get the chance to re-visit in the summertime and see what draws the crowds. If you don't want to wait for my report, go here for some nice summertime pictures.

5 comments:

  1. Ok, I am officially envious of all of your experiences. And are you on some kind of winter break, I haven't heard anything about work lately? Phoenix is great, but Seattle is not doing well with snow/ice storm and 2 days of canceled flights, hence my work has been busy with mandatory overtime. But all in all doing all right here. Thank you for blogging, I have fun reading.

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  2. Hi Vesna, don't be envious, just come visit me this year! You guys already have one Euro-trip under your belt :) Time for another (and just imagine the pictures you and David would take)

    Sorry to hear about the work schedule, ick. Yeah, I'd been on break when we took this trip. Now I'm back at work for a new semester.

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  3. Yeah, technically a sea-view room, I guess. But that sounds odd....so I'll stick with ocean-view :p

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  4. I mean there's so much of British in these words: "ocean-view room" (on the Black sea), "shipment" (while delivering somethings by railway, air and trucks only), "overseas" (meaning just 'abroad')... :)

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