They say it's a hot mess in the summer time- beaches swarming with tourists, rusty Ferris wheels running nonstop, exorbitant prices. Vacations and the massive dance festival/party called Kazantip (advertised to "crazy party animals") bring tens of thousands of visitors into the city during the hottest months of the year.
In the winter the city is sullen and silent. Most of the shops are bordered up. Downtown feels haunted, empty, and unsafe. Hotels drop their prices.
For both economic and sanity reasons, we avoid the entire Crimean peninsula in the summer. Come fall, winter, and spring though, you can find us on the phone, booking a room in Yevpatoria for the following weekend!
This was our first time visiting in the autumn. Last year we managed a visit in the winter and in the spring. This year we fell victim to workaholism and only now took our first vacation of 2013. Can't complain about the timing too much though, because we found a train that left Kharkov at 2 AM, meaning we could work a regular day on Thursday and still arrive in Crimea the following morning.
|View of the countryside from the train window|
|Arriving in Simferopol|
|Simferopol's train station in the distance, the bus/marshrutka launching point in the foreground.|
The rest of the weekend passed in a daze. Amazingly, it was still warm enough to do some swimming in the Black Sea. The beaches attracted a small crowd of children bundled up enough for a trip to the North Pole (oh, that dreaded skvoznyak!) and middle-aged/elderly in nothing but a swimming suit.
Men in Ukraine wear tiny little bathing suits. This works out wonderfully when it's a good-looking young guy, but you gotta watch out when he's an older guy with a big beer belly :p An American friend recently went to a waterpark in his usual swimming attire (knee-length board short swimming trunks) and he was hassled by the administration about his choice. They claimed it was unsafe apparel for a hot tub (???) so if you're a man coming to Ukraine, prepare yourself for a Speedo. Ladies, you can just relax and enjoy the view.
Anyway, one of us bravely ventured among the jellyfish to swim:
The other person may or may not have stood around awkwardly on the beach:
The city is known for its healing properties. It's common for the ill to come here to seek treatment or just to breathe the air and visit the shore. Wheelchairs and crutches are everywhere. Many stretches of the shoreline sport a "Curing Beach" sign.
|The sign on the right reads "Coastal" Children's Sanatorium Curing Beach. 8 AM to 8 PM. Entrance with permit.|
According to the Black Sea News, the demand for sanatorium services in Yevpatoria has increased recently. Below are some of the sanatoriums that line the beachfront. Some of them are grandiose Soviet blocks. Some are slightly-creepy Victorians.
|Diagnostic-Treatment Center "Alternative Medicine". Welcome to good health!|
Okay, so aside from the swimming-
we strolled through city parks-
tried in vain to find an open restaurant near the beach-
|No McCheburek for you!|
visited a run-down children's park-
walked along the beach some more-
and devoured two buckets of popcorn (caramel and banana/strawberry) while watching a terrible film (although it was actually in Russian for once, with Ukrainian subtitles).
|Movie Theater "Rocket"|
to be continued....