Taking a week off in… Crimea, Ukraine

mountain-221x170I am taking time off my daily routine and the place is nothing else but my home country, Ukraine. We left on July 7 and after arriving in Kharkiv spent there one week at my in-laws home. The city hasn’t changed much since my last trip 3 years ago so I will skip that part of our trip. I am in Alupka, Crimea right now. The city is located on the south end of the peninsula and is surrounded by mountains on one side and the Black Sea on the other.

The climate is sub-tropical. During the 6 days we have stayed so far we had sunny weather with around 30’C temperature and just an occasional short rain in the morning or afternoon. The sea warms up to 26’C during the day. The heavenly climate and gorgeous landscape has been the reason why Crimea attracts crowds of tourists from Russian and Ukraine and was the place for summer homes of some high ranking Soviet officials before the regime collapsed.

figs-183x239We are renting two rooms in a private house located in Alupka which we booked in advance after we called several numbers we found via this website. My mother-in-law did all the calling since we were still in the US at that time. The property we rented is a short (but steep) walk from the sea coast and overall I am very pleased with it.

One of the rooms is larger than the other and has air conditioning. The other one is smaller (just big enough to fit a double bed and a couch) and has no AC. It is however facing north (we can even see the sea between the tree branches) and is overshadowed by a large fig tree, so it is cool in the room even without AC. The fig has been the source of fresh fruits every morning which are best when eaten with the desert wine made out of local variety of grape called Muckat.

wine-tasting-225x169Talking about wine, we went to Massandra’s wine-testing yesterday. They give you 10 glasses each filled with a different kind of wine. Only one is a typical dry wine with no sugar, others are sweet varieties with the sugar content up to 22% in their most famous kind - “White Muscat of Red Stone”. The wines for this variety are grown in a village located around a large red stone which is believed to give the drink its unique taste.

The tasting is accompanies by an interesting story about each of the wines. My favorite was #5 in the batch - “Red Portveyn Massandra Crimea”. It has 17.5% of alcohol and 10% of sugar content and somewhat reminds me the Porto wines I had back in Chicago. You can buy any of the wines you taste and more in the company store. The Portveyn is 30 gryvnas for a 0.75 liter bottle (around $4) and the Muscat variety is 120 grivnas (around $15) for the same size bottle. I have been told I can buy these wines when I get back to Kharkiv for even less.

In the next few days we are planning to visit Chatyr-Dag caves and take the kids to the sculpture museum “Polyana Skazok”. We already went to the Yalta Zoo and climbed up the Ai-Petri mountain, I will write about these two places in my next blog post.

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2 Responses to “Taking a week off in… Crimea, Ukraine”

  1. 1 M S Jul 20th, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Nice to read about your trip.
    Are you having internet at the home you rented? How much is the rent?
    Are the locals able to identify you as a foreigner, and what is their perception of the US?

  2. 2 Yan Jul 21st, 2010 at 2:19 am

    I rent the room on a cheap, around $50 per day. Comes w/o internet but you can get decent wireless internet via Utel (a local provider). It is 3G and costs around a penny per MByte. The good part is that the sea is just a few minutes away.

    I was born in Ukraine and can speak Russian (the primary language here) pretty well. My kids is a different story. My daughter (10) speaks with a really bad accent and my son (7) doesn’t speak at all.

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