A Series Of Notes From The Ukraine No 4 – The Crimea

During my stay over in Simferopol I visited one of the many discos. As is common in this country the place was full of drop dead gorgeous women and it was for me strange to watch them dancing with themselves. The place was fitted out with huge mirrors and these ladies seemed to enjoy dancing at their own reflections. Strangely it seemed neither narcissistic, nor vain and seemed in fact very innocent and it was actually nice to watch these ladies enjoying their own vitality and beauty.

After an early breakfast I prepared to leave both my hotel and Simferopol, but before leaving the Crimea I wanted to visit Yalta. The drive through the hills to the southern coast is very pleasant during late Spring and Summer, though you pass through evidence of yet another problem facing this country (as if they did not have enough). The Tartars have returned to the Crimea to reclaim what they say is rightfully their land!

Apparently during the Soviet occupation of this country the Tartars (an indigenous race, culture, or tribe) were expelled from the Crimea. Now they have returned and have set about building very small concrete block buildings, seemingly on any open land they can find. There are hundreds of them all scattered across the countryside.

One custom or tradition that I still find strange is the Business in Ukraine  preference of many Ukrainians to eat privately, whilst using a restaurant. It is not something I have encountered in any other country. There any many good restaurants as you travel down to Yalta and many have what look like small sheds scattered around the main restaurant. These you rent for your private use, be you a couple, or a small group and then you close the door! Your food is then brought to you course by course. Takes some getting used to…….

Yalta is both enchanting and different. It is clearly far more affluent than the country as a whole and in the warm months is packed with tourists, mostly Russian and Ukrainian. Plus of course a smattering of foreigners. In many ways it feels quite international & cosmopolitan and actually would not look out of place in the South of France, or The Adriatic.

Leaving Yalta and The Crimea my plan was to travel north towards L`viv. A truly beautiful city in the North West of The Ukraine. As I have previously mentioned whilst this country does not have the best road network in the world, they might well have the straightest roads! By European standards the roads are not so busy, but there are many Lorries. Many of these Lorries are old, very old and seem to trundle about the country at 20-40 kms an hour, belching black smoke in their wake. Because the roads are so straight are relatively light in traffic it is not difficult to get past these monsters of the Ukraine highway.

Upon reaching the boundary of The Crimea, (yes they even have police checkpoints on the main roads into and out of The Crimea.) I realised that my trip to L`viv was a long one, so decided to head for Kryvyi Rih for a stopover and to pick up what looked on my map to be a very good road to L`viv.

Kryvyi Rih is a pleasant surprise. It is a not that well known city of The Ukraine of medium size, maybe 500,000 inhabitants, but it seems to be doing OK and is relatively affluent. I discovered that there are some serious industries based here, but was this the reason for the seeming (and relative) affluence? I never really found out.

All the hotels I checked out were good! Eureka, this is quite unusual within the smaller cities here, but equally many were full!. This was mid-week, so clearly there is serious commercial activity taking place here. I also saw a Llambourgini? Stranger and stranger. I was eventually helped by a very helpful and friendly receptionist and booked into a very pleasant and reasonably priced hotel some 15 kms out of the city centre. Easy to find she said, follow this road (pointing to my map) and take a left when you see the tank and she was right.

So I checked into what was by my reckoning a good 3 star hotel dined in their very pleasant restaurant and retired to my very comfortable and well appointed room, with the intention of rising early to set off for L`viv.


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