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Crimea

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'''Crimea''' is a region in the south of [[Ukraine]]. The '''Crimean Peninsula''' is connected to the rest of the Ukraine by a narrow neck of land, making it more like an island with a natural land bridge than simply a bit of land jutting out into the sea. The peninsula was the site of the ''Crimean War'', between 1854 and 1856, and gave rise to ''modern nursing'', ''live'' war reporting,and the infamous ''Charge of the Light Brigade'' and the ''Balaclava''(woollen woolen head garment)..
==Regions==
*The '''Coastal Beach Cities''' -- The Coastal beach cities are very hospitable to tourists (if you speak Russian). Accommodation is plentiful and prices range widely, depending on location and accomodations accommodation type (minimum cost for a one night stay no less than 20 USD, but can easily reach a few hundred and up). Houses advertising accommodation will usually have a large white sign stuck on the door that has about three words written in Cyrillic. During the tourist season expect the beaches to be quite packed, with mostly Russian tourists. The whole coast line is dominated by the mountains that tower above them, sometimes reaching up to 1500 meters.
*The '''Coastal Mountains''' -- The mountain area that stretches from the coast to about 70 km inland contains some very pristine untouched nature. The mountains are formed by ragged limestone that has been shaped into high peaks with canyons, cliffs and valleys transecting them in all directions. Expect a great adventure if you want to go hiking here, but also expect to rough it. Camping sites are few and far between so you'll probably have to just find one of the many secluded fields to camp in. The area has numerous caves as well as small lakes. There are almost no marked trails
*[[Bakhchisaray]] -- Located in a canyon between Simferopol and [[Sevastopol]], this town has a wealth of interesting sites to see including the Crimean Tatar Khan's palace, the cave city and the Armenian monastery that is built in a cave.
*[[Balaklava]] - famous for the Crimea war of the 1850's1850s, the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade and home to a former secret Soviet submarine base.
[[Image:feodosija_jewish_cemetery.jpg|thumb|right|The abandoned jewish Jewish cemetery in Feodosiya]]
*[[Feodosiya]] -- Feodosiya is located 100km to the east of Simferopol. From the outskirts it looks like an urban industrial disaster but once past the factories it has a very nice old town. Very similar to [[Odessa]] in architecture but just on a smaller scale. Home to the Ayvazovsky Picture Gallery.
*[[Kerch]] -- Your last stop before reaching the eastern edge of the Crimea and heading across the straits into Russia.
*[[Koktebel]] -- Located between Feodosiya and [[Sudak]], this small town has a great beach area that has a carnival type environment. It sits below a spectacular wilderness area to the west that regrettably you can only visit on a guided tour.
You may contact them by email at [email protected] although the best way to receive a response to your email will be to send it in Russian. The archive is open from 8:00 to 5:00 Monday through Friday. Individual access to much of the archive is not permitted, although for 30 USD you can pay someone to who works in the archive to do the work for you. Nobody in the archive speaks English so either be prepared to speak Russian or bring along a translator.
The archive is located at No. 3 KeckemetckajStr. [http://goo.gl/maps/BmJMt], which is the main street running directly east from the train station in [[Simferopol]](about 1 km).
The archives and its staff are not accustomed to foreigners so be prepared to explain to the guard at the front desk what it is you want to do.
The Lutheran Church [http://goo.gl/maps/4ur9j] in [[Simferopol]] supposedly has a list going back to the early 1800's 1800s of all German families who emigrated to Crimea under Catherine the great, or so it was said at the Archive. This information has not actually been confirmed at the Lutheran Church. For that matter, finding the Lutheran Church, though mentioned in the guide book, is actually a quite difficult (and as of yet unaccomplished) task.
The city of [[Feodosiya]] has a Jewish Community Center that is very active in doing research on the Jewish community of Crimea. You may contact them at [email protected], they can communicate in basic English (so you can send the email in English) but more than likely the response back will be in Russian.
==Talk==
In Crimea, Russian is the universal language of communication. (Stalin imported Russian families into the Crimea, whilst exporting the local Tatars to Uzbekistan) , Tatar (a Turkic language, closely related to Turkish) is also widely spoken by the Crimean Tatars. Few people speak or wish to speak Ukrainian. In decidedly and staunchly pro-Moscow Crimea, some might be met with a degree of hostility if spoken to in Ukrainian.
Memorize your phrase book as you most likely will be communicating with Russian speakers.
Few people speak or understand English.
==Get in==
There are overnight trains running to Crimea from throughout the Ukraine. The cost will vary based upon where you will be leaving from, but from the Slovak border to cost is about 20 30 USD in the third class, 30 70 USD in the second class. If you can afford it you should consider flying(2013), a return flight Kiev <-> Simferopol with Ukraine International Airlines is about $100.but no direct train from any west ukrainen borderpoint!
From '''Kyiv''' a place in 2 bed compartment (1st class sleeper) 96 USD, a place in the 3rd class (unlockable, 6 bed compartment) cost 17 USD (2013). If you travel by overnight sleeper train it is quite comfortable, cheap and the quality is OK. Just the average travelling speed of trains is slow in Ukraine in general (about 90km 60km per hour).
There are flights to '''[[Simferopol]]''' from '''Kyiv''', Lviv, Moscow, Istanbul, and many western European cities, including Frankfurt, Tallinn and Riga.
 
There is a '''Euroclub-bus''' [http://eclubreisen.de] from various destinations in Germany to Simferopol.
==Get around==
You can get anywhere in Crimea by mini bus. You can also go by taxi. Prices vary; be prepared to haggle a fare as you will always find someone to do a deal with. Many private citizens also work as pseudo taxi drivers; sometimes it is difficult to tell. Taxis range from modern comfortable cars to 1950s gas powered Soviet cars!
Frequently while traveling in the country if you look like a foreigner (for example with a backpack) and you are standing on what passes as a 'major' road people will stop and ask if you want a ride ... for a price. Fortunately that price usually amounts to only a few USD to go some very long distances.
The road system in Crimea, as well as most of the Ukraine, is in very poor repair; expect huge potholes. There is a very strict zero policy to drinking & driving. Police patrols are frequent as well as roadside checks for documents. The death toll on Ukraine's roads is very bad, you have been warned.
 
If you can afford it you could consider flying, a return flight Kiev <-> Simferopol with Ukraine International Airlines is about $100.
==See==
[[Image:khans_palace.JPG|thumb|The Khan's palace]]
*'''The Khan's Palace''' -- The Khan's palace is located in the small mountain village of [[Bahkchisaray]] a halfway between Simferopol and Sevastapol. The Khan's palace was the seat of the Tatar rulers of Crimea dating back to 1443. With the Ottoman conquest of Crimea in 1475 the Khan's became a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire but were left as the rulers. After the Crimean war with the victory of Russia all of the Khan's were made Russian nobility but the capital of Crimea was moved to Simferopol. The palace grounds include impressive gardens, several old mosques including cemeteries, a harem and of course the palace itself. You can take a guided tour of the palace but only in Russian.
*'''Chufut Kale Cave City''' -- An hour and a half walk up a beautiful canyon from the town of [[Bahkchisaray]] you will find the '''Chufut Kale''' cave town dating back to the 6th century. It is located high up in the cliffs so the walk is a bit strenuous but not overwhelming. It is a city of what appears to have been several thousand people who built/dug their homes into the limestone rock. The city was abandoned in the 19th century. There are some other Cave cities (about 14), completely different as far as size and picturesqueness concerned
*The '''Bolshoi (Big) Canyon''' -- The Bolshoi Canyon is located on the opposite side of the mountain range that Yalta sits below. It will take about an hour and a half to get there by automobile from Yalta. It can also be reached from [[Bahkchisaray]] by hitch hiking or ''minibus''. ''Bolshoi'' means 'Grand or Large' in Russian. After reaching the entrance to the park you will have to pay a small fee (2 USD) to start down the trail. From there it is about an hour hike into the canyon along a small mountain stream. You never actually end up getting a perfect view of the canyon as you are also down in the middle of it surrounded by lush vegetation but it is impressive all the same. The trail ends at a small picnic area where a local man is selling awful wine and really good fried food. There is a small waterfall and a pool where you can do some minor diving/jumping. You can continue further up the stream without the trail but it is a bit more rough going.
*'''Caves''' There are three caves equiped for easy access: Krasnaya, Mramornaya, Emine-Bayır-Hosar. And there are a lot of not equiped caves atractive for speleologists.
==Do==
*'''Hiking''' in Crimea is wonderful. There are very few other backpackers and almost no clearly marked trails (as in posted signs) so you're going to be roughing it. The trails themselves though appear to be well used. In the mountainous region though you can pretty much pick any two small towns and hike between them and be assured of an adventure. Campsites are few and far between but there is lots of open space for camping, be environmentally sensitive of course about the place you choose to camp. For a brief description of a hike see [[Bahkchisaraj]]
*<do name="Koktebel Jazz Festival" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" url="http://koktebel.info/en/" hours="" price="Day ticket around $12" lat="" long="">Takes place each year in August/September, with some of the acts performing on the nude beach. </do>[http://http://koktebel.info/en/]
==Eat==
Try the regional sparkling wine, produced at Noviy Svet (Russian: Новый Свет, "New Light"), near [[Sudak]]. It's labeled "Шампанское" ("Shampanskoye", champagne). It's very good. Try to buy it somewhere reputable, though, because there are knock-offs. Noviy Svet is a very beautiful spot; you can tour the caverns where the wine is aged.
If you're not going anywhere else in Russia and Ukraine, try kvass (Russian: квас). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kvass
It's a very refreshing non-alcoholic drink made of fermented wheat, the traditional drink of farmworkers in the bread-basket of Ukraine, prized for its restorative properties.
Automobiles will be the biggest hazard to your safety in Crimea. Drivers tend to stick to speed limits as there are many militsyia (police) but the road surfaces are poor which leads to some unsafe overtaking, even on the curvy coast and mountain roads. Pedestrians cross roads at their own peril. Be particularly careful if a car has stopped for you at a marked crosswalk; check around the car before you venture past it farther into the crosswalk, because another very well may swing around it and go right through... right where you would be walking. Most cars ignore pedestrians!
Crimea does not have a major problem with crime. However, foreigners are at risk of being robbed if they are not careful about flashing wealth, except in Yalta during the summer which is filled with rich Russians. Foreigners should not hitchhike or take unmarked cabs unless they are travelling in a group. The safest way for a foreigner to travel alone is to take a bus or a ''marshrutka'' (a microbus that follows the regular bus routes). Moreover, beware of drunk men at night, especially if your skin is colored. Beware also of the police, who may be corrupted and ask you for "presents", i.e. bribes.
The countryside, which is extremely poor, is very safe. You are more likely to get kicked by a wandering horse than robbed. Crimeans on the whole are very polite, except when lining up for a bus or service at a shop when pushing to the front has been perfected into an art form. Standing in line is not an option!
There are plenty of ATM's ATMs and as always be careful around them. At night avoid lonely places where the numerous drunks hang out, they are not really a danger except they might fall on top of you.
The teenagers in Ukraine (outside of Kyiv) appear to be some of the best behaved.
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