Sunday, Oct. 4, 2009 – Yalta, Ukraine

     We managed to get early tender tickets to meet Sergey and Ludmilla, our guide. (www.gergoyalta.at.ua)  There were 17 of us on the tour – good thing the other couple didn’t come, there would not have been enough seats on the bus.  Yalta is a charming Russian seaside resort often compared to the French Riviera.  Protected from the cold north wind by the mountains of Crimea.  Yalta has a very mild climate and spectacular scenery with luxurious green foliage cascading down hills to the sea.  We did not see too much of that on our tour.  What we did see were narrow, winding roads with little or no sidewalks while traveling to the different palaces.

     We had a great tour, but our guide gave us so much information I can’t tell it here.  She really loved her country and loved telling us about it.  Our first stop was to have a view of the unusual Swallow’s Nest Castle, the symbol of Yalta and the Crimea, hanging over the sea on a 125-foot high rock.

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  We then went to Alupka Palace and along the way the lady next to me got carsick.  The Alupka Palace is the Vorontsov Palace, which belonged to one of Russia’s wealthiest persons in the 19th century.  It is a blend of Gothic exterior and Moorish elements.  It took 20 years to build.  This is where Churchill stayed during the Yalta Conference.

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     We then drove to Yusupov Palace.  The bus tours from the ship do not go here.  It is not a museum, but the state residence of the President of Ukraine – 17 km from Yalta.  Sergey works there so was able to get us in.  A wedding was going to be held later in the day.

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     We then went to Livadia Palace.  It took some time to get to all the Palaces.  During the Yalta Conference, they had guards all along the roads.  Livadia Palace was the summer residence of the last Russian Tsar, Nicholas II.  Built in 1911 for the Imperial family, the White Palace is one of the most remarkble attractions of the southern coast of the Crimea.  It was the venue of the Crimean (Yalta) Conference in 1945.

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     We got back to the ship in plenty of time.  We have to bring our passports ashore in the Ukraine.  The show tonight was the “Maestranza Spanish Ballet” which we saw on the last cruise so we went to the Atrium to listen to the Production Cast sing songs from Broadway.  Alan Lee was on the piano.

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