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.
at przemysl, a polish town close to the border with ukraine. the train tracks in ukraine are a different width to the ones in poland, so the train has to be picked up and literally "flown" over to the adjacent tracks. when I heard about this I had images of burly men in greasy overalls heave-ho'ing the train up with their bare hands. the burly men were there in effect but thankfully for them they had lifting devices to aid with the process. anything that manages to get to grips with these massive old soviet behemoths (I'm talking about the trains here, not the burly men) must be a masterly feet of engineering. it takes two hours to shift the whole train and the noise produced while the carriages are being "flown" is like fingernails being dragged slowly, painfully down a blackboard.
pic 4 - over the border. hurrah!
this year I went on holiday armed with the latest in hi-tech cutting-edge photographic equipment. my inventory read a bit like this:
1 a holga 120 cfn camera (made of plastic)
2 a home made pinhole camera (made of cardboard)
3 a mitsuca pc-680 'idiot camera' (mainly plastic)
4 ...and a cameraphone
the results of these I am hoping to blog. unfortunately 120 film is a tad pricey to develop and I'm a bit out of pocket after this holiday, so the developing-to-blogging process may take a while!
anyone want to guess where I spent the holiday? there's a subtle picture clue above. first moblogger with the right answer wins something...
ok so I'm never going to rival mr def_null at recording and cataloguing every last little detail of the botanical world... I just reckoned that having a few cool plants on my 'blog would make it look a bit more wholesome.