Before joining the tour, I am concerned as to my inability to walk any distance without serious respiratory stress. On our previous outing, breathing became painful. Kinda scary ..... but I'm here and I don't want to miss anything. Buck up, it's time to find the bus.
Right off the bat, we are informed that "we'll walk to the church". I'm already lagging behind and the last I heard "oh, it's only a little ways". [ Foreign language speak .... a long walk, which is a reoccurring theme]. Find a cab and drive through town on the way to Alexander Nevsky Cathedral [Russian Orthodox]. Arriving before the walkers, watched the local women enter for morning Mass. A quaint structure adorned with a mosaic of Nevsky on an outside wall. Inside the icons against the dark wood of the altar and beams. This place makes one feel small with a need for reverence. So with head bowed, the thought,"God, if you are listening, your healing hand would be appreciated"; if that is too Presbyterian," forgive me my transgressions" and it's only Thursday.
To the bus .... and what a bus.... WOW, it is gargantuan, and comfy. AND we're off.... no, not the wizard but the Summer Palace of Nicholas II [the last tsar of Russia] called Livadia. This amazing white structure was built in 1911. After the murders of the Royal family, it fell into disrepair until Churchill requested it's use in 1945 [following WWII] to be the site for the gathering of Roosevelt, Stalin and himself to divide up the post war European world : The Crimean Conference. It is a magnificent example of Italian Renaissance. Actually I opted to stay on the bus with T.C. due to the "little bit of a walk"[45 minutes]. Funny thing was due to the heat and the "length" of the hike, we were joined at/in the bus by half the contingent unwilling to traverse the "mileage". So, a good time was had by all.
The hardy return with glowing reports; I got on the Internet later. There was a winery stop and Ed found several that he purchased.
Our driver was adept at twisty curvy roads with our unwieldy vehicle. We lumbered through lanes and past markers. One pointed toward the house Stalin resided during that Conference. As luncheon was nearing, we were taken to The Swallows Nest Castle.It is considered the symbol of Yalta. It looked like a cross between a German Fortress and Disney's Fantasy Castle only small and perched on a precipice. I'm not sure what lunch was besides mixed greens salad, uncertain meat entree and fruit compote .... good bread. Then time for some shopping from local vendors while waiting for our van transport to the bus. The drive toward Yalta took us up and near St. Peter's Peak, 3,000'. There were alot of metamorphic caps, outcrops and dykes. Must look this up at home.
Drove by farmer's markets, through neighborhood streets and finally to our dock. "Strolling" through the Customs House found a Duty Free Area. the "Eggs", metal soldiers and the hat. It looked Russian Army with metals, perfect for Ian [son]. Why didn't I just get it ... WHY! I never saw it again ... dumb! AND Ed didn't purchase the metal soldiers. O.K., let's go .... would you believe I was the last person on the ship ... no, joke. Security even call my Butler to inform him I was aboard. Well, needless to say, he really was standing with my door open and a drink in his hand. As I collapsed into the chair I was grateful, yet again, for Raphael.
15 minutes later we were leaving. Called Ed to come over and watch our departure. Raphael arrived with 2 trays of "bites", extra ice and more tonic. So, we sat on the balcony and watched the pilot boats guide us out of that tiny harbor. By the way, the reason for the jetty .... the Royal family was caught in bad weather and the storm kept them at sea unable to land until the next day. Apparently that was one time too many. The jetty was created .
Dinner at 8:00 ..... Discovery .... bet there will be a really good bottle of wine. So, Yalta, next Sevastopol tomorrow. I'm pooped, later........