Sights around Yalta

Trip Start Apr 24, 2007
Trip End Jul 09, 2007

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Where I stayed

Flag of Ukraine  , Crimean Peninsula,
Saturday, May 12, 2007

I'm not sure why I had original thought I might get bored in Yalta, I've hardly had an hour to relax since I got here! Today I even set my alarm for half an hour early so I could feel like I had a lie in. Went for the kick ass breakfast again and then used the internet for a bit to catch up on emails. After that I started trying to figure out how to tackle the day. I had three places that I wanted to visit; Swallows Nest Castle, Livadia Palace and if there was time, Nikitsky Botanical Garden.
The girls at reception wonderfully (and patiently) wrote out all three places in Russian and said them about 6 times so that I could write down the phonetic spelling and practice them a few times. Armed with this I set out to attempt to concur the marshrutkas (minibuses). Outside the hotel a cab driver tried to get me to go with him. Curious, I told him where I was going. His rate for all 3 with an hour at each? 50 Hryvnia, about $7. Although that didn't seem like a bad idea at all, part of me wanted to become a master of Ukrainian public transport so I politely declined and headed up the road to the parking lot all the marshrutkas used as a bus station.
First stop was Sparrows nest. I found the bus with the right sign propped up on the dash in the window and told the driver where I wanted to go. Of course, I still can't pronounce anything properly so I showed him my little sheet of paper. He winked, pointed to the little box on his dash full of coins and small bills and gestured the price. I put my money on the dash and took a seat. The road winded along the coast, the scenery was gorgeous. The driver called out a stop and looked at me in the review mirror. I guess this must be my stop. Thanked him (one of the words I had learnt) and hopped off. I had a bit of trouble finding the path from the road down to the Castle and apparently took the wrong one. So a walk through a hotels yard, a scaled wall and a jumped fence later, I was there. Sparrows Nest is a rather small but very impressive castle perched right on the edge of the cliff. It looks like if you sneezed at the back it might fall in. After a few pictures from the water and from the castle, I headed back (this time along the correct path) to the road.
Back on the marshrutka and on my way to Livadia Palace.
Livadia Palace was home to the Yalta Conference between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin in 1945. Got there without hassle, walked around the gardens and the palace and then headed back into town. Grabbed some quick food from a street vendor and caught a third bus to the botanical gardens.
The gardens were pretty, but nothing spectacular. It was nice and relaxing though, and I spent about 2 hours wandering through them. I think they might have been better if I hadn't seen what the area had to offer yesterday. The best part was towards the end, there was a pond full of frogs that possibly were fed crack. They sounded like ducks trying to talk. I have never heard anything like it in my life!
Slight scare with the bus and then once again I was back in Yalta. I have to say, I felt pretty proud of myself for making it to all three sights using the public transport without any real hassle. It may not sound like much, but if you're ever in a country where you are just learning the alphabet, don't know the language and no one speaks yours, figuring out local buses is enough to feel like giving yourself a great big pat on the back. 
I went to get a picture of a beautiful church I had passed on the bus a bunch of times then grabbed some supper. I stopped at the same little kiosk on the street as I had the past two days to get a beer for the hotel. As I walked up the guy was smiling and pulling a beer out of the fridger before I was even there. I thought I must have made a friend... until back at the hotel I realized that while the 4 Hryvnia a beer I was paying wasn't bad, the sticker on the can said 2. I guess that's why he had been so excited to see me, for every beer I bought, he got one for free! I had to just laugh at that one. I started to pack up and get ready for my departure back to Kiev in the morning. I'm going to miss Yalta, I really hope I make it back here sometime. I absolutely love it. One day. Next time though, I'll learn some Russian first!
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