Travels in the Ukraine - The Crimea-Part 3

From Vaporstory

This was the day of the European championship final, Germany v España and as a Spanish resident it was a game I wanted to see. The championship had already won me a bottle of beer from the Russia v España game, a wager with our security man, so we planned a short excursion that would allow us to be back in our Simferopol hotel in good time for the match.

Olga had seen what looked like a large and promising lake in the south west corner of Crimea and this was to be our destination this day. From the map a road was indicated that would take us to our destination and we found the turning we wanted, about halfway between Simferopol and Sevastopol quite easily.

simferopol

The terrain was fascinating, folded up crops of rock pushed up, some hundreds of feet out of the prairie land we were driving through and the further we travelled, the more dramatic became the landscape. We had been travelling a couple of hours and pulled into a roadside cafe, it turned out to be quite a find. It was idyllic. Eating places were scattered throughout an orchard of Cherry trees , a pick your own desert, very people friendly goats, sheep, cats and dogs roamed and the food was great.

After sating our appetites we wandered off to a nearby lake, it looked very inviting, but time was passing and we were only halfway to the huge lake we had seen on the map. The lake was not named, but we came across a road sign to a village that was in the right direction and took the turning, some 300 metres later we came across a no entry sign? Puzzled we continued and the blacktop became stone and gravel. Intrepid adventures that we are we continued, up and up through a very beautiful forest of Larch, Birch and Spruce trees. This was turning into a Dakar Rally type adventure.

Much traffic was passing us in the opposite direction, cars, motorbikes and mini vans (they pass as buses here) so we were confident we were heading the right way. At about 6 klms we reached the summit and started our decent and eventually caught site of the lake we were seeking. We soon came across a small enclosed lake and checked it out. It was small, crowded and paid admission; we gave it a miss and continued to the big lake.

It very soon became apparent that the road did not go to the lake, but circumnavigated it at a distance of 1-2 klm! We eventually found someone to ask for directions to the lake. It turned out that he was one of many guards surrounding the lake to ensure that no one went near! Yes it was closed, out of bounds, off limits. This was a truly spectacular lake, surrounded by dramatic mountains, but like so much in this country was closed to human appreciation.

We were disappointed as we retraced our steps and wanting to take a swim (it was a hot day) decided to stop at the small lake we had passed earlier. As we drew near we saw another fenced lake, so checked it out. It's only for children the gate man told us. I looked at Olga and Olga looked at me! This place in the middle of nowhere had Saunas & Jacuzzis....and it's for children? Well Olga is from this country, but she was as bemused as I.

We had only one hope, the lake we had dismissed earlier, as we drew near we found it had closed? It was 5 o'clock in the afternoon of a roasting summer's day? We spotted a bunch of cars parked a little way ahead and on checking it out discovered another way in, sans dinero. It was hot, we were hot, and so off we went towels in hand. It seemed ok, we found an OK place to sit and very quickly I was off into the lake. It was great and I'd just about reached the other side, when on turning I saw Olga surrounded by guys, she does attract them!

Well I mentally pumped myself up to Arnold Schwarzenegger proportions and swam purposefully towards Olga, well it seemed to work and they moved off, well with the exception of one guy and as I drew closer (he was waist deep) it became clear that he was as drunk as a skunk. It also became clear as I drew alongside him that he was not firing on all cylinders. Great I thought I have a drunken village idiot to deal with, with 5 mates close by.

I suggested to Olga to move away from the lakeside and this did the trick, he splashed his way back to his mates. I was then admonished by Olga, who told me that was quite capable of taking care of her self and would tell me if she needed help!!!! Yikes, it's tough being a guy sometimes.........

Well we set off to our hotel to watch the football match, we commandeered the reception area and as chance would happen watched the match with a small group German, American, Russian and Ukrainians.....International..... Well unbelievably Spain won. Its been a long time coming for España, but was well deserved......A great end to a great day. "Viva España".

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