An enlightening article written for UkrainianTourists.com, by Mark Thomson (спасибо Большое, Марк!!).
(Article and all photographs featured, are Copyright property of Mark Thomson)
Mark is an ex-pat who lives in Sevastopol. I met Mark when I signed up for his online Russian Langauge course - RussianAccelerator. If you are interested in learning Russian, I cannot say enough about this course!! Mark's style and technique is absolutely incredible. The speed of learning, but moreso, the retention rate is much higher, AND MORE ENJOYABLE, than I ever expected!!
Here is Mark's article on Sevastopol - I haven't been to Sevastopol yet, but after reading this article, it has quickly risen to the top of the "too see" places for me!!
by: Mark Thomson
"You're moving where?!"
The above quote is from my mom, the day I told her I was moving to Sevastopol, Ukraine. It's an understandable reaction. Most people simply have never heard of this city, let alone contemplated the idea of permanently relocating here. After all, if you ask someone to name a city in Ukraine, inevitably they'll say either Kiev or Odessa. Don't get me wrong. Those are two great cities, Kiev and Odessa, and both well worth visiting. But I'm partial to the Crimea, and in particular to Sevastopol. And in this article, I'd like to tell you why.
If we pretend that Ukraine is the U.S., then the Crimean peninsula is like Florida, and the two touristy cities Sevastopol and Yalta are like Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Actually, this whole southern coast of the Crimea is known as the Russian Riviera, and it's where Russians (and Ukrainians) come to spend their summers by the Black Sea. Resorts abound here in the Crimea, not just in Yalta and Sevastopol but in smaller cities like Alushta, Feodosia and Sudak. Pebble-strewn beaches are the norm, but what you lose in comfort, you gain in the beauty of the terrain. Dramatic, rocky cliffs loom over some of these beaches like ancient gods of granite. And let me tell you, the Mediterranean climate here is fantastic. Florida might have the beaches, but Crimea's got the weather.
Yet, speaking of beaches, an absolute must-see for any visitor to Sevastopol is the area south of town known as Cape Fiolent. The only way to reach the beautiful beach below is to hoof it down the 800 steps built by the monks (whose monastery is located by the top of the staircase). Even if you don't go down to the beach, the view from up top is stunning.
But what I love about this city is that there's so much more to it than just the sea. First, Sevastopol is the home of Russia's Black Sea fleet. There's something very cool about living in a military city. Massive Russian Destroyers lurk in the harbors, Soviet Migs can be spotted in training flights overhead, and troops of Russian soldiers are always marching here and there throughout the city. If nothing else, you certainly feel safe here.
And if you're a fan of the Soviet military, you have to make a visit to neighboring Balaklava. There, built into the base of a mountain, is a secret Soviet sub base. It's amazing to think that this city, which was totally closed even to Russians, is now open for all to visit. And for a few bucks, you can take a guided tour of the sub-base itself.
And if you're a fan of history, Sevastopol strikes again. Interested in the Crimean War? Check out the impressive Panorama, which is a huge circular painting and diorama depicting a decisive moment of that war. More amazing still is that, in the very center of this city, are the ruins of a 2000 yr old Greek city, called Hersones. As you would expect, for the most part only the foundations remain standing, but it's enough to give you a great feel for the thriving little Greek town that once stood there.
I still have barely scratched the surface of what's to see in this area. As you drive along the coast to Yalta, about 90 minutes southeast, you'll encounter the famous Masandra wineries. For a very fair price you can take a guided wine tasting tour, then head down the hill to Yalta's beloved boardwalk. Or stop by the Livadia Palace where, in 1945, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin determined the future of Europe at the historical Yalta Conference.
I explained all this to my mom, and she gets it, now. She understands -- as I hope you do -- the allure of this place. In fact, she proudly tells people where her son lives.
"I have a son living in Sevastopol," she tells them.
Of course, you can guess their reaction, can't you? "He lives where?!"
That's okay. Let this place remain our little secret.
Jan 13, 2012