|Our view of the Black Sea from the apartment we rented just outside Yalta.
This spring we went South!
Well, first we went North, then we headed South . . .
It was quite trip . . .
We had some business to take care of in Smolensk so we
flew from Houston to Moscow,
drove to Smolesnk,
then, a few days later
we drove 24 hours to
The Crimea - on the Black Sea in Ukraine!
|Can only imagine what these Babushki are talking about . . . and what they have lived thru . . .
Yalta is a quaint sea-side town.
It feels very Old World.
- a mix of Europe, Russia, Asia -
- of Islam and Christianity-
- of The Empire and The Soviets -
|Anton Chekov "The Lady With the Dog (and 3 crazy kid)" statue in Yalta
The history alone is complicated
with groups coming and going,
dreams of a New Constantinople,
of a pure people and a true faith . . .
nothing new under the sun, it seems.
|This, my friends, is a great invention!
Masha and Sophia spent hours catching fish while the parents rested!
|Experiencing a new part of the world with my husband - LOVED IT! (Can you guess my love language?)
We had so much fun strolling along the boardwalk,
eating ice-cream, fishing for magnet sea creatures, and people watching . . .
New Russian . . .
|"The Swallow's Nest" - a small castle built by a Baltic German oil magnate for his ballerina mistress.
|Sophia and Masha in awe as we ride up the mountain.
We climbed the mountains . . .
In large gondolas -
moving rooms with a view,
barely missing the jagged cliffs
just inches from our fingertips.
|What a view!
Mountains over-looking the sea.
Look at the colors in the sky and water . . .
No wonder artists flocked to live here
and the nobles summered every year here.
|Dressed in Crimean Tartar hats on top of the mountain.
At the top of Ai Petri (Greek for Saint Peter)
we met a community of Crimean Tartars.
These people were deported from their native land
Stalin wasn't sure of their loyalty,
so to get the problem out of the way,
he had them all sent to Central Asia.
In a matter of hours,
they lost their homes and most of their possessions.
Just recently, the Ukrainian government has invited the Crimean Tartars to return home.
Many are now living on their family's land again.
There is still tension,
still some mistrust.
|Anton getting ready to ride - and what a view!
While some of us took the "sissy way" up the mountain,
others braved the serpentine twists of road
so they could fly down and off the sides.
|Here he comes!
|Mt Bike Heaven!
|Biker in Black! - I think I see a smile of anticipation!
|The bottom of the trail . . .
This is a whole new culture
invading The Crimea.
It has its own language, armor,
costume, code of ethics, and rules of engagement.
|My cool biker dude!
But still, it is young men,
looking for adventure
and adrenaline rush.
Pushing themselves to the limit
physically and mentally.
Conquering their fears
and the mountain.
Yep, nothing much new under the sun . . .
|Secret mount lake known only to those who ride the trails!
|"The Littlest Mermaid" - Sophia and the Black Sea
Every morning, after a common breakfast,
the men went off to battle the mountains
and the women and children inched carefully
down the steep slopes to
down the steep slopes to
|"OOOooo! It's COLD!"
The sun was warm
the Black Sea is cold in May!
We sat on a rocky beach.
The children ventured into the water to
catch jellyfish that didn't sting.
They built rock castles
and buried each other up to the neck in hot rocks.
|Some people pay big bucks for a hot rock treatment!
|BFF! - "Best Friends Forever"
Smiles and ice-cream.
|ICF! - " Ice-Cream Forever!"
Sun and Sea.
|A Room With the Most Incredible View!
Mountains and Sea
|The Yastrebov's Family Vacation
A wonderful first vacation.