fivemack (fivemack) wrote,


This is the city that you would get if you mixed the Soviet Union with the can-do spirit of Greece or southern Spain. It's definitely Russian rather than Ukrainian - the tricolour flies over half the buildings, the streets and tramcars are full of sailors of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, and the signage is monolingual Russian except in museums that really want to flout their Ukrainianitude. As you walk past, every tenth building seems to be being painted.

I'm staying in an apartment in Balaclava, a beautiful almost-fjord in which the Russians built a secret submarine base (tours now cost 2 pounds; some areas of the base have not yet been explored), and to the south of which the Light Brigade charged (battlefield tours 30 pounds with personal guide). My point of contact is a scarily entrepreneurial sixteen-year-old; I have handed over the phone he gave me to the other person staying in my room, since being rung up by a guide at 8:30 and asked which expensive tours you plan to do today is not part of my definition of a relaxing holiday. In Soviet Union, guide rings you ...

The weather's great, the landscape is amazing in a Greek way - rolling stony hills on which a carpet of wildflowers is breaking out with a wonderful spring smell, acre after acre of vineyards preparing their grapes for the Crimean Champagne Company.

Any idea why someone would be giving a speech praising Lenin and Stalin to a crowd of a couple of hundred people, including military people waving red banners and civilians waving the flag of the Communist Party of Ukraine, in front of a carpet of flowers laid on the Lenin monument, today? It was slightly alarming to come across; had I not only got lost in Sevastopol but also in time?
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