En route to Sevastopol

I’ve reached Crimea – the land of Tatars and wine and much more. For this week, I’m staying in Sevastopol, on the southeastern corner of the peninsula. To get here, I took an overnight train to Simferopol and then a two hour bus ride. My travels to Sevastopol reaffirmed my belief that humanity is good.. As I waited for the train, which left at midnight, I sat next to a group of four Russian women who fussed over me, made sure I was warm, and talked at me about how to get onto the train and about how nice the overnight train is.

Unfortunately, I forgot everything they said as I was getting on the train, and I couldn’t even figure out how to turn on the lights in the cabin. Fortunately, the most wonderful couple ever boarded the train – a woman carrying at least 4 plastic bags, as Russian women often do, and a man carrying suitcases. The woman called him “Vityinka,” an incredibly diminutive, adorable version of Viktor. They figured out I am American very quickly, asked my name, called me by a diminutive (Kollinichka), and helped me get all my things settled. The man left, blowing kisses – once off the train, he ran to the window to blow more kisses. The woman rushed to the window to tell him goodbye. They were so adorable and sweet.

It was easy to sleep – I slept 9 solid hours, until it started to get hot and the smell of coffee and tea filled the air. The woman helped me find the coffee, offered me “domashnii pirozhok” – homemade pie-thing, of sort. Mama Tanya had already given me one, so we compared the relative merits of our homemade snacks for a while, until the other guy who was in the cabin – young, wearing a shirt with a weird combination of patterns – joined us to chat. We talked for three hours about everything imaginable – university experiences, work, frequent flyer miles, climate change, the American presidential elections, which led to a discussion of conservatism and liberalism.. All of this was in Russian. I mostly understood, but sometimes just let my mind wander as I looked out the window.

The woman’s son met her at the vokzal – train station – and he helped me find how to buy train tickets back to Odessa and bus tickets to Sevastopol. He also was kind enough to give me a business card of sorts, which had a picture of him wearing a sailor costume.

The lines were sooooooo loooooooooooong and the sun was soooooooooooo hooooooooooot, but FINALLY the bus took off and FINALLY we were on the road.

It was easy to get to my hostel – I got settled, and then went for a two-hour walk around the center of Sevastopol. There are military statues EVERYWHERE – mostly monuments to the Black Sea Fleet and World War II.

As every person here I’ve come in contact with likes to say, Crimea is “sub-tropika,” which means flowers and palm trees and lots of sunshine. There are beautiful parks all over, and there are so many lovely views of the Sea!

After several hours of walking, I stopped in a tiny cafe for some dinner. I asked the woman for suggestions, and she brought me this. For less than $3, this “solyanka” was surprisingly filling and incredibly tasty!


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