Ukraine, Love!


The very next day after my arrival, my friend was kind enough to show me Balaklava, which is actually a part of the city of Sevastopol, but it carries a special administrative status in Ukraine.

The name sounded very familiar to me but I have to admit, to my shame, that I knew nothing about the place. But it was for the better, because everything was a novelty for me, and my excitement was all pure and spotlessly virgin, when I saw the place.

Our little car trip lasted not more than 30 minutes, so it was fast & twist. It would even be faster if I didn’t ask the driver to stop here and there to capture divinely beautiful landscapes, funny tree snags on either side of the road, and the surroundings, full of mysterious mists and hazes hidden in the far reaches of the hill.

We parked our BMW on a narrow street. Almost all the streets in Sevastopol are narrow ala Eastern European style.

On stepping out and stomping the ground, my soles felt some roughness of an ancient cobble road, which was simply great, if we take into consideration the fact, that it had known so many noble events since the Middle Ages, which used to take place right down on it.

We went down the street to come across some kind of bay where the view was fantastic: shabby rustic boats painted colorfully, some chic yachts, and absolutely all plain old wonderful color of water that I had never ever seen before till the moment.

When I came home later, I hastened to Google some information about that bay which actually wasn’t the bay indeed. That’s what I found out on Wikipedia: “One of the monuments is an underground, formerly classified submarine base that was operational until 1993. The base was said to be virtually indestructible and designed to survive a direct atomic impact… The base remained operational after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 until 1993 when the decommissioning process started. This process saw the removal of the warheads and low-yield torpedoes. In 1996, the last Russian submarine left the base. The base has since been opened to the public as the naval museum complex Balaklava.”

So we took some pictures of the rear view where I personally captured those three funny white-beak ducks whose type I absolutely ignored, then quickly walked up to find the fortress-like pebble wall and continued the trip up high the Black sea coast.

In the car I kept on prattling on about how excited I was till my mouth was shut up by what I noticed in the distance.

That was the Church which had been proudly standing on the hill all alone! I am not that religious, but I have always been obsessed by gilded domes and ornaments on calottes, or an original iconographic style, or… whatever, you know the drill, which can only be found in that kind of place.

I accompanied my friends in to pray and to put out a candle for my relatives’ sake, but I couldn’t help waiting for the moment when we could be out because I really wanted to explore the panoramic view that I had noticed when crossing the street.

And that view was something at a loss of words. I lack them to describe how beautiful the scenery opening up before our eyes was. I liked the sea most of all. It was endless, blue, and at the same time, it seemed like it had no borderlines, contrasting sharply with the light grey of the foggy sky.

They literally begged of me returning back to the car - so stuck I was because of the omnipresent beauty.

But we had to go… Unfortunately! So I did the same I always do when such a pitiful “good-bye” moment comes: I threw the coin of 5 rubles worth to come back here once again.

On our way home I noticed some kiosks where they sold different kinds of thingies, you know, ones they make for tourists. A pair of really gorgeous Turkish sultans’ – like sandals with embroidery and an assortment of glass decorations grabbed my eye at once, there were also nice woolen vests with long sleeves decorated with a local ornamentation, and some puff ear stuff styled like leather and mink fur headphones. They cost considerably nothing, but I had forgotten my wallet in the car so my purchase was doomed to the inevitable “next time for sure” counter wipe-off.

The only consolation I had at that moment was those two eye-twinkling eagles sitting on the ramp. I couldn’t be captured while holding them in my arms, but I was satisfied with doing this just simply without taking pictures. They were rather heavy and really proud of themselves. So was I coz my day was a success! © (Maurice Chabale/ Alexander Lichoutine)
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Faithfully yours, 

Maurice Chabale


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