Belbek Valley

Nearly all the best known mountain spots in Crimea (the Big Canyon, cave cities of Eski-Kermen, Mangup-Kale, and others) are in the Belbek Valley.
The word “belbek” has many meanings–“strong back”, “big coming”, and others.
There is no single interpretation, but it’s clear that the valley bears the name of the river. From among all the versions, I best like the “dagger.”
The valley is a river bed with many tributaries which are like sword blades. It’s a long valley hidden in low “mountains”. The tourist spots I mentioned above can be found in its various parts.
But we visited friends and hiked that part of the valley where there are almost no tourists.
The views are stunning.


Lavender over Gurzuf

Starting in early June, we dreamt of photos in lovely dresses against the backdrop of fantastic, lavender-strewn mountains.
Awe-inspiring purple valleys with the sea in the background. But every day it’s either the heat, or the exhaustion, or shish-kebab, or work. The trip was being postponed even as the heat grew. “Are we going?” — “Tomorrow”. For a month.
But is the lavender going anywhere? It’s been blooming fiercely for the whole month of June. I remember it was like that last year too. And two years ago.

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Gurzuf in June

This year’s June turned out to be a very warm one.
One can go swimming for hours, and the air is such that one can spend evenings in the garden in shorts.
Still not too many people, but I’m already afraid of a tidal wave due to the newly opened bridge, and I really believe that that in spite of everything the season will be like it was last year, without the crazy influx which frightens me.
Artists at every step, a crowd of moms with kids, and cherries and strawberries everywhere.
And of course our cherry plum tree and the neighbors’ cherry tree, from which we collected a couple of pails already.
Catch a little Gurzuf in June.


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Gurzuf in the Fall

 

During the summer, the sky is nearly always blue. It’s difficult to take a photo to make it look beautiful. It’s blue and that’s that.
But the fall fills it with clouds which layer themselves all over.
I don’t like an empty sky.
And I don’t like the summer in Crimea.
I love the fall, when everyone leaves and yearning begins.

The view on Gurzuf from Ayu-Dag.

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Parthenium

There is a truly wonderful place in the world. It’s Crimea.
It has sights that take your breath away. No matter how many times you’ve been there.
It’s impossible to become accustomed to such beauty. Eyes do not grow dull.
And if you haven’t been to Cape Fiolent, you haven’t seen Crimea.


The Bridge to Crimea

That’s what it looks like right now.
They say it will be ready in 2018.
Right now all the cars are held hostage by good weather. Any storm or a strong squall, and everyone freezes in expectation. There are many ferries, which means the situation is very different than two years ago when one could spend days waiting to get through.
Now the wait is short, but the sea is the sea.
We got stuck when leaving Crimea during the storm.

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The Renovation of Gurzuf

Gurzuf was painted by Korovin, Shishkin, and Ayvazovskiy.
It’s artists’ Mecca. Even today the old town is full of artists, painting the city, mountains, and the sea. Cypress trees, fig trees, red roofs at one’s feet, balconies, cobblestoned narrow alleys.
They say that Gurzuf renovation plans include its waterfront and parts of the old Gurzuf. I haven’t seen the plan, only heard of it from those who’ve seen it. They want to take down part of the old Gurzuf, along the Chekhov Street. And want to remodel the waterfront.
My grandfather, Lev Knipper and his whole family including his aunt Olga Leonardovna Knipper-Chekhova and the writer’s daughter Maria Pavlovna Chekhova, have lived in this part of the town almost without a break. Many famous people lived and live there still. The place exudes history. These are most beautiful places, old and full of character.


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Judean Fortress

One day, I will definitely become a guide. In Africa, Iran, Uzbekistan or Cuba. OK, at least in Crimea. I will be one cool guide.
And I will definitely show you this peninsula’s mountains. Caves, where people used to live.
Also the spot where the daughter of Toktamysh, who plundered Moscow, is buried, and which was inhabited by Karaims, Greeks, Armenians, and Golden Horde invaders.
The city-fortress Chufut-kale.


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Crimea’s Legends

There is an unusual place in Gurzuf, on Chekhov’s Street.
There used to be a faucet there from which anyone could get water. There were many such “fountains” all over this old town. Even in the ’90s they were all over. Then these spots were covered over with concrete and the valves were shut off. Only their pedestals remain.
A mirror appeared on one of them, with bread next to it.

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