Thursday, April 20, 2006

Party time

A quick break from the Crimean posts, wanted to share this stuff I read about British stag parties that come to town. They are considering fines for stag parties in Britain because apparently these guys get into trouble often while abroad and often need help from the embassies.

Some stats:
According to an Egg online bank survey, Britons spent £430m, the equivalent of £551 each, last year on stag and hen parties abroad. During the celebrations 25% lose their passports, 20% lose valuables, 10% have items stolen, 17% need medical attention, and 4% are likely to be arrested. More often than not, revellers will travel without any insurance.

Brilliant! Flying back and forth from London a lot recently I'm more often than not stuck on a plane full of these guys getting plastered and ready for a weekend of fun. Thank god for the Estonian Air stewardesses who take no crap from them.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Ялта (Yalta)

After Sevestapol and the crazy bus ride we made it in one piece to Yalta. Yalta is famous for 2 reasons mostly, first as the summer capital of the former Soviet Union where good, hard working factory workers were allowed to go to have a vacation. Secondly it's famous for the location of the 1945 Yalta Conference where Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin met and carved up Europe after WWII.

Yalta is beautiful, it's a smallish town surrounded by tall mountains on one side and the Black Sea on the other. The main drag (Lenin Street) is kitschy boardwalk where you can get your picture take with monkeys and eat expensive (relatively) food.

We stayed in a massive hotel, the 2300-bed Hotel Yalta. A 1970s built place that hasn't changed at all, it has a swimming pool, private beach, 7 restaurants, a shopping alley, dolphin show, disco, casino, etc. It was quite the place to say the least. On top of that it cost about $30 per night for the two of us.

For all pictures have a look at the post below, there's a link to all of them.

Next, I'll post a bit about the surrounding area and what we did in Yalta for 5 days.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Крим (Crimea)

This past week Liisa and I took a week off and flew down to the Crimean Peninsula (Крим) in the Ukraine. We flew into Simferopol (Сімферополь) which is the capital but mainly a transportation and industrial hub (as you land you see a big nuclear power plant). After a long wait and an unbelievably slow train ride we made it to Sevastopol (Севастополь) which was a closed city during the Soviet times as it housed the entire Black Sea fleet. To this day it still houses over 500 warships, 75% of which are Russian which are housed there with a 20 year lease and the rest are Ukrainian. Sevestopol is a old city and has a very interesting history, most famously it is known as the location of the Crimean War between the Brits and the Russians back in the 1800s and was made famous by the tales of Florence Nightingale. The city is quite interesting as it is still full of sailors and ships which add a sort of reality to the entire place.

After a couple of days spent here seeing the sites and getting used to the Ukrainian lifestyle we took a 1.5 hours bus ride to Yalta, the summer capital of the Soviet Union. The bus ride there was insane to say the least, the coast of Crimea is very mountainous and the cars/buses speed along narrow, pothole filled roads with little concern for anything except breaking the land speed record. The scenery is amazing, huge mountains on one side and the Black Sea way down below on the other side make for quite a spectacular ride.

Next post: Yalta and the surrounding area.

For all our pictures click here.

For more information on Crimea click here.