Monday, July 25, 2011
Our first few days in Sevastopol were great. My great-granny, Babushka, made us so much food! I also took lots of naps- I think the jet lag was finally starting to catch up with me.
One evening, Babushka took me to the beach! The trip started with a mini bus ride to the harbor. Then, we took a ferry across the harbor- this photo is of me crossing to the harbor to the northern side.
Once we got to the other side of the harbor, we hiked past a long row of kiosks, apartment buildings, and then a garage complex. We emerged at the top of a cliff overlooking the Black Sea. Then we had to climb down! It wasn't so bad, but I couldn't help thinking of what it would be like hiking back up!
This photo is of me about halfway down the switchback round from the cliff to the beach. See the little beach buildings below me?
Finally, we were down on the beach! I climbed down to the rocks and ran right up to the shore. The rocks were so smooth- you could tell the waves had been washing them smooth for thousands of years.
Here I am with the Black Sea behind me- isn't the water a beautiful blue? There were some men swimming in it, but Babushka said it was still really cold. I hadn't brought a swimsuit, or I might have tried it out.
There was a long metal pier leading out from the beach into the water. That's where the swimming men jumped from to get into the water. I climbed along the pier and looked at the water. It seemed so amazing that only a few days before, I was at home, looking out at New York Harbor!
Finally, it was time to say goodbye to the little beach. I looked out at the water, the buoys, and the ship. I squeezed my eyes closed and made a wish that someday, I would be back, standing on this same beach.
Then, unfortunately, Babushka and I had to climb back up the cliff! We took a few little breaks on the way up. Babushka took this photo of me with these beautiful yellow flowers- does anyone know what kind they are?
We took the ferry back across the harbor, seeing the northern side fade further into the distance. Our evening wasn't over- Babushka wanted to show me the harbor!
This monument is to the heroes of the Scuttled Ships during the Crimean War. It's well-known as a symbol of Sevastopol, which is an official City of Heroes.
Can you see the monument behind me on the left, right next to the parade pavilion? That's where all the important dignitaries watch the parade of ships on Victory Day.
We stayed to watch the sun set over the harbor. See the gap between the two breakwaters on the horizon? "Our" little beach is on the opposite side of the breakwater on the right.
Sevastopol was quickly becoming one of my favorite cities. It's so beautiful!
I took one last look at the harbor before we climbed back up the hill to catch the mini-bus home. Even though I've done a lot of traveling, I will never ever forget my trip to Crimea. Someday, I want to come back to Sevastopol and see the Black Sea again. I promise, I'll be here again.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
A few days after I arrived in Ukraine, I was finally adjusted to the time difference. Even though I've come to Ukraine many times before, it's always a little tricky getting my body to learn to wake up at the right times.
But that day, I had to be up super early! If you can see the clock on the train station behind me, it was only 5:19 in the morning! We were going on a trip to Sevastopol, Crimea!
We had to arrive at the train station early to make sure we could get our baggage onto the train. We had a whole compartment to our little family. Can you see the train in the window? Ours looked a lot like that.
Our train left a little after six. Soon, we were trundling down the tracks across Ukraine. See the water outside the window? That's the Kakhovka Reservoir. It's 2,155 square kilometers- huge! It was created in 1956.
One of the best parts of riding the train in Ukraine is the sleeper bunks. I got my own little bunk with a blue stripey mattress and pillow.
Since we had left for the train station so early in the morning, I decided to sleep for a few hours. After all- it's a 12 hour ride to Sevastopol!
When I woke up, it was raining. Apparently a cool rain is the best weather for train travel. If it's too hot or too cold, it can be a really uncomfortable trip.
I realized we had already crossed into Crimea. Crimea is a peninsula that juts from the south of Ukraine into the Black Sea. It's famous for its mountains and caves. I think it's one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Finally, as evening set in, we pulled into the train station in Sevastopol! My great-grandma was waiting on the platform and waving at me. It was time to go to her flat and eat lots of food and drink lots of hot, hot tea!
Monday, July 18, 2011
One morning, I had to wake up extremely early. The night before, I had packed my suitcases and my backpack. I was ready for an adventure! My mama and I took a cab to JFK airport, to catch a flight.
I was so tired, I slept on my first flight from JFK airport in Queens to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris! Once there, I only had a few minutes to run from security to the gate of my next flight.
After another flight, I waited for my baggage and took the bus across Ukraine to my family's apartment in Kharkov. After seven hours on the bus, I was pretty tired, but I had to pose for a picture on the balcony!
I was so happy to finally be in my family's Ukrainian apartment. I live in New York City with my moms, but I love getting to come back to Ukraine whenever we can. We had decided to come to Kharkov so that I could participate in a summer program at the very same school where my Mama went to school as a kid!