Monday, January 13, 2014

Simferopol: yea or nay?

Remember this?

Have you guessed the destination of our first trip of 2014?

That's right- Simferopol! Otherwise known as D's hometown.

My feelings on Simferopol are mixed. Ukraine has a lot of beautiful cities, but I'm not sure Simferopol is one of them.

It's the capital of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the jumping off point for visiting any city that borders the Black Sea. In my eyes, there are nearly as many trains, electrichkas, trolleybuses, buses, marshrutkas, and taxis as there are residents (just over 350,000). Simferopol seems like more of a gateway than a destination for most people.

Since there's no metro, I haven't been able to explore the city much; perhaps there's undiscovered beauty waiting in other parts of the city. Or perhaps it's the timing of our visits as we almost always visit in the fall, winter, or spring. Maybe summertime Simferopol is worthy of an entire deck of postcards, who knows.

main square with the mandatory Lenin statue

BUT I will say that this (very short) visit did open my eyes a bit and allowed me to see more charm in the city than before. We walked as much as possible and even places that had been umimpressive on previous visits seemed a little cooler.

The main drag- Pushkin street.

Here's one of my favorite finds from this trip- a library tucked away on a quiet street.

Next to the library, a strange tree that you seriously do not want to mess with!

D's friend Sergey showed us an awesome sculpture gallery in a park downtown.

That's a guitar on his back!

More walking...

Children waiting for the circus to start.
Local memorial: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan
Atop Zelenaya Gorka (Green Hill)

One thing that makes Simferopol quite different to me than Kharkov is the absence of brick. In Kharkov, it's everywhere. Every building, every wall, it's all brick, accompanied by Danger! Falling bricks! signs. In Simferopol, everything is concrete [update from D: make that limestone, as it's cheap and locally sourced].

If you do ever find yourself in Simferopol, there is one place that you absolutely, hands-down should not miss out on: Шококо (Shokoko). It's a blessing that this place is an overnight train ride from my apartment, because I would eat here every. single. day. And when I ran out of money for that I'd quit teaching English and get a job in the kitchen. For real.

On our first visit here we thought it was a dessert-only restaurant so we made up for it on this trip by going out to dinner with Sergey and eating like kings (and queen)... saving room for dessert, of course ; )

How could you say no to this?!

Readers- have you ever been to Simferopol?
If so, what's your take on the city?
If not, would you like to visit it?


  1. Interesting account of the city. I have only driven through it and didn't know there was anything to see. Now I have to put it on my list. Thanks

    1. Anytime, Al : ) Where were you headed when you drove through Simferopol?

    2. Enjoyed looking at this blog. You must be the only American female who moved to UA as usually it's the American guy's who move there. I had a surreal experience in Simferopol last July as I had to pass it on the way to Yalta. Since it was so hot and my "hotel" did not have AC I went to sleep with the windows open. I was awoken around 5:30 in the morning by the call to prayers (I realized they have some Mosques in Simferopol and it is the center of Tatar culture) and then loud barking/fighting by packs of dogs who also seemed to have woken up. Anyways, I would have expected this to happen in the middle east but surely not in the former USSR. Good times indeed.

    3. Hi Gytis! There are certainly a lot of male expats but I've been surprised at how many American women there are here too... mainly Peace Corps with a sprinkling of missionaries, English teachers, and expat wives.

      Ah, Simferopol the alarm clock, what a great way to start the day :p