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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On the Front Line

–What is your name?
–Zhenya.
–Where are you from?
–From Sverdlovsk. Nearly all of us are from there.
Zhenya is so young, tanned, and cute, that one wants to hug him. In a motherly fashion, with no ulterior motives. And it’s so wistful, so sad, when one realizes where he is.
I don’t know what they call the line of contact in other hot spots, but on the Donbass they say “the front”. It’s the very edge. You look over, and 800m away is “their” checkpoint. “Ukie” one, as they say.


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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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Winter Lugansk

Do you think it’s a pile of ruins with survivors wandering about?
The city has long returned to normal life. It is teeming with life, with holiday decorations everywhere and vitality emanating from every corner.
It so happens that every time I visit, I see the city only from the car window.
I never manage to visit local museums or theaters.
Though I really want to!

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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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