Wandering Camera

Crimea. Part I
(Translated b
y Ingerid Maria Opdahl)


This short story of two albums is about Crimea, or to be more precise, about some of its places. The first album is wholly devoted to the mountain Ai-Petri, where my friends and I were in May 2003 (we travelled from Petersburg through Voronezh and Energodar in two cars).

As is well known, Crimea is an autonomous republic (as written on the sign by the road on arrival) within Ukraine. In connection with this I've always wondered, and still wonder, is Ukraine a federation or a unitary state? :)

Many of the signs in Crimea are in Russian. One also comes across signs with the names of villages and towns on them which are only in Russian (it could be because they haven't got round to changing them yet, but outside of Crimea they have changed about all signs).


We travelled through Simferopol and arrived in Yalta, stopping at the bus station. The locals immediately rushed forward to offer us accommodation :)

It turned out to be a problem to park the cars. There are simply very few spaces at parking lots, and that is now, just in spring. In the end we parked at the police space with parking prohibited, where the policy makes some additional income.

The trolleybuses there are curious. They are like those of old post-war cinema, with rounded edges (rounded everywhere, not just at the back). I've never seen such trolleybuses in my life in Piter, and there, there are lots and lots of trolleybuses. Perhaps in this climate, they don't corrugate. They say that these are narrower than the ordinary ones, which is important on the winding mountain roads.

OK, we parked and submerged into a taxi van (seven people) with our rucksacks. The taxi van took us upwards (about 500 metres above sea level), up to the waterfall Uchan-Su ("hanging water"). Poor taxi van, how it puffed in the sharp turns on the way.
By the waterfall, there was a traffic jam, so we unloaded ourselves and walked a little on foot.
The waterfall is beautiful (its height is 98 metres).

However, the crowds around it were explained at all by the by the beautiful nature, but with the fact that a few minutes earlier, a girl had fallen from a cliff (she had climbed up to kiss the metal eagle above), and people were watching to see what would happen to her. When the girl was carried away on stretchers, the crowd of waterfall-watchers immediately dispersed (later they said on the radio that the girl had escaped with a concussion and some scratches).

After seeing the waterfall, we went a bit further towards Ai-Petri on the Tarak-Tash (stony crest) path through a wood (this was still about 500 metres up).

The wood was becoming thinner, and we got beautiful views of Yalta and the Black Sea (I have to say that during the whole trip in Ukraine, the weather was clear).

Afterwards the path went between cliffs, and there were some leftover snow patches.
 In places it was even slippery, but in fairness one must add that the path is specially equipped for tourists, and in some places there are even handrails.
What I like about trees: they always know where up is :)
Towards the evening we ascended to a plateau. Out attention was taken by some interesting flowers, they looked like small tulips on short stems, but they were darker and hairy overall.

They look like predators, and probably feed on tourists :)

Readers have told me that the flower is called "The big sleep", "Sleep-herb", or "Crimean lumbago". It is poisonous.

When we came a little closer to the plateau, we stayed the night at "Priyut" ("Shelter"). As I understood it, it is a mountain rescue station, which makes money on the side as a hotel.

This little house reminded me of the film "By the dying mountain climber", including the host's resemblance to the man who in the film turns out to be an alien :-)

Early in the morning (around six) we admired dawn in the mountains. Actually, it wasn't that successful, as the sun only managed to come up from the horizon before it disappeared behind a cloud.
Oh well. It's beautiful all the same.
A highland pig.

As remarked in the old short film "The Ardent Piglet", spots roast poorly! :)

After we had seen the dawn, we decided to walk a few kilometres to a spot higher up, to see the Black Sea and Yalta from there.
On the way there, we saw a "drunken grove", where all the birches are crooked, and to one direction.
Our goal was the highest spot on the mountain to the right.

In the distance, the snow-white balls of the radars at a station for the observation of something loomed in beauty above us.

At my previous visit here, acquaintances were quick to think it was an observatory, but the local soldiers were easy to understand when they explained our mistake from behind the barbed wire :)

We also walked barefoot a little on the snow.

To the left of the mountain on which we had decided to climb up were a few cliffs, and on one of them was a cross.
At last, we arrived.

From the summit there is a view of the road we arrived on...

...And of the town below.
To feel the setting even better, I suggest a look at the panorama.

The local Tatars have made a whole infrastructure for tourists at the summit: a few cafes, camels, donkeys, horses for riding, a parking lot, etc.
The mountain road.
The three plaques on different sides of this memorial say:

"G.U.Z. N3
Principal benchmark
Crimean Water Investigations"

"Height above sea level 561.305 sazhen
Northern latitude 44 degrees 26 minutes
Eastern longitude from Greenwich 34 degrees 5 minutes
Erected in 1913."

"Head administration for geodesy and cartography under the Council of Ministers of USSR
A point of historical significance in the state land-surveying network
Restored by enterprise no. 13 in 1986.
Height above sea level 1196 metres.
Protected by the state."

After the hike to Ai-Petri, we descended on the funicular, went sightseeing around town, drove up the mountain road (to the same place where we earlier had scrambled up on foot), and after having had a "pilaf with a view", we went further, to Bakhchisarai.

But about these moments, see the next album...

To be continued



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