Despite all the warnings directed at us and rumors about all that could go wrong with our intended ferry trip from Crimean peninsula to Russia, all was well and simple. The ferries run all night long with regular intervals (we arrived to the port around 11pm) and we didn’t have to wait in any queues because we were ‘pedestrians’ (and one cyclist). There was a queue for cars but it didn’t look tremendously long. Since the annexation of Crimea in March, the number of ferries operating between Port Crimea and Port Caucasus has been increased and now there are in total about 10 vessels (including train ferries) navigating back and forth from these destinations.
The only thing that took longer than expected, was the ferry ride itself. It was supposed to take 30 minutes but we ended up floating in the Kerch Strait for at least an hour. So, as the Greek ferry “Γλυκοφιλουσα III” was slowly drifting about, the main deck filled with Russians, a few foreign tourists and at least one Ukrainian, it finally felt like we are closing in on the real Russian Federation. Continue reading →
As Ivars and Laura perfectly pointed out our resting place in Yalta was in no way ordinary. In the same vein the following day was not ordinary. We were already late (the usual morning ritual took us more than expected and it was already 12.30 when we were ready to leave) and thus there was no more time to waste, I had to jump on the saddle and pedal away.
Before leaving Sevastopol, I had spent some time looking over maps of Southern Crimea to understand what exactly I should expect there (I was particularly interested in elevation profile of the peninsula). For this purpose there is an excellent tool – cycleroute.org. In this simple and intuitive web site you can see the elevation profile for you chosen cycling route – all uphill and downhill sections are highlighted, you can see how steep and long is the climb. In our situation the practical significance was not so evident as we had already decided upon the chosen route. All I could do was to check if my worst fears corresponded to the reality. This time it was what happened – I found out that I will have to battle with several hills higher than the highest “mountain” in Latvia – Gaiziņkalns (312 meters above sea level).
The elevation graph showing the route from Yalta to Solnechnogorsk
I woke up on 14th November, not having a clue where I was. This was definitely not a tent, since then I would be squeezed between Dainis and Ivars. I had so much free space around me, so we were definitely not Couchsurfing or staying in anyone’s house, there was ceiling… which meant we had not slept under the starry sky. So where..? After these and some more thoughts had run through my head in a split second, it all came back to me, we were in Yalta, Crimea (Ялта, Крим) and had just spent the night in a furniture shop. The uncommon spot probably did it, since it does not happen very often to me and thus it has definitely stayed in my memory.
12th November was again a day of leaving a city, warm bed and shower behind but today it was a whole lot different because of “The Curious Incident of the Bicycles in the Night-time”. It was a completely new experience because I and Laura had to carry our stuff on our backs and we hitch-hiked instead of cycling. For both of us this was the first hitch-hiking experience abroad. You can read about Dainis’ cycling in the previous entry. Continue reading →
The plan was ready and it was a simple one – Laura and Ivars will try to conquer Crimea hitchhiking while I will be pedaling as hard as I possibly can. I must admit that at the outset, I felt excited – on one hand I was excited because I will finally have an opportunity to see the beautiful southern cost of Crimea, but on the other hand I felt as this will be the first real cycling challenge for me (I will have to face steep climbs and long down-hills ).
Beautiful but challenging
On 12th November approximately at 11.20 am after saying farewell to Andrey and Korica, I started off from 21 Kolobova Street, Sevastopol. Getting out from the city was fairly easy, but even then I managed to get lost for couple of minutes. Thanks to a lovely lady who helped me to get back on track, I found my way without any problems. This lady was a true friend of bicycle touring enthusiasts as her son was one of them, thus she was very sad about our misfortune. All in all it seemed that this is going to be a wonderful day and the bicycle will move forward on its own. Continue reading →