further up the coast...
sudak is a spectacular and beautiful place by day with delicious beaches and blazing hot weather. but in the early evening light, the whole area becomes tinged with melancholy.
here's a bunch of things you see pretty much everywhere in crimea which I think go part way towards defining the place, or at least help you understand it a bit more...
1 photography not permitted inside :(
2 all locally grown. plus bananas.
3 they're skodas, you know?
4 he's everywhere. always watching, silently.
5 very clear, not black.
6 no owner. cute but don't stroke.
at the top of ai-petri mountain and, um, looking down. if you'd stood on this mountain a few million years ago you'd be standing beneath the sea, the peak itself being the remains of a massive coral reef...
at livadia palace near yalta, formerly a summer retreat for the last russian tsar then later the site of the yalta conference, where allied bigwigs churchill, roosevelt and stalin bashed heads over what the hell to do with europe at the end of the war.
we avoided the main exhibition, preferring instead to wander the gardens and imagining how "the big three" found resolutions to some of the finer points of the conference. first leader to complete a lap of the palace gets control of hungary? paper-scissors-stone to decide the partitioning of germany?
in the third picture winston churchill sans cigar is looking moody, possibly from giving away poland to stalin after an ill-fated game of rounders, the silly bugger...
at last, the sea. oh, the sea.
in the centre of bakhchisaray stands the magnificent khan's palace, or hansaray. most islamic buildings I've seen in the uk were built in the past few decades. hansaray dates from the sixteenth century...
pic 2 - from exhibition of ancient texts
pic 4 - the "fountain of tears", it forever weeps apparently...
pic 6 - chilling out in an islamic restaurant overlooking the palace. I stoopidly asked if they served alcohol
we almost missed the train stop at bakhchisaray.
it didn't look too much like a city from the window of the train, at first glance just a bunch of crumbling buildings and rusty pylons hanging loosely on the sides of two opposing hill slopes. there's little in the way of street lighting or even street signs in the old town, and the houses seem to be built from the same rough rock that adorns the surrounding hills.
I imagine a pompous travel writer would romanticise bakhchisaray as being charming and beautiful just for the fact of being poor. the truth is bakhchisaray is charming and beautiful despite being poor. there's much shutter-clicking goodness here for the discerning backpacker or tourist.
as is the case with most of crimea, mosques and orthodox churches sit close to each other, sometimes on the same street. the locals are keen for you to discover all of these, the entrance fees and associated trinket-purchasing contributing to a meagre local economy.