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7 September 2013

Today is my mother's 94th birthday!  I wish I were in Davis to help her celebrate!

I woke up from my afternoon nap today (Walt and Mike had gone wine tasting; Char and I stayed on the ship) and looked out the window at the beautiful clouds and thought what gorgeous skies we have had on this trip.  This, for example, looked like the finger of God directing us around the Crimean mountains this morning, approaching Yalta.

We docked in Yalta at 9 a.m. and after breakfast, we headed off to this morning's excursion, a trip to Livadia Palace, the last residence of the Romanovs before they were executed, and the place where FDR, Churchill and Stalin met in 1945.  But first there was breakfast...someone asked for a picture of the buffet, and here is the breakfast buffet.  The warmers in the center divide the table in 2 parts, the same food available on each part.

On the way to Livadia, we stopped to see Swallow's Nest, the home a former general built for his mistress, now restored and a restaurant (reminded me of San Francisco's Julius' Castle).  Walt's sister owns a home in a complex in Sacramento named Swallow's Nest, so we had to take pictures.

There is actually a zip line that runs from this point down to the castle.  We did not try it!

I've always romanticized the story of Anastasia ever since I saw Ingrid Bergman play the role so beautifully.  I know that DNA has disproved the whole story, still, you hoped to find her spirit roaming the halls of her old home. Alas it was not, but barring that, it was interesting to see their restored home, and especially the family pictures which line the walls, such a sad reminder of such a beautiful, but sad family.

Before we got to the 2nd floor royal residence, though, was all the historical stuff surrounding the meeting of FDR, Churchill and Stalin in this palace in 1945 on the first floor.  There was the table where they all sat....

...and the room where it was placed.

There were lots of historical pictures (FDR looking much more frail than I've seen him) and we walked through the office that was FDR's when he stayed here.  Alla seemed to tell us many times that FDR was in a wheelchair, as if we didn't know that.  Maybe we didn't know it then, but there is little doubt that he was wheelchair bound long before the Yalta conference. The photo below was FDR's office, when he lived in the palace during the conference.

Normally, stuff like this doesn't move me, but for some reason this place did.  Of course we had to have our picture taken in the courtyard where that famous Yalta picture was taken.

Alla had some very interesting and surprising comments to make about concessions that FDR and Churchill made to Stalin which, as Alla puts it, "decided the fate of Europe."  She has little good to say about any of those three leaders.  According to her sources, FDR agreed to supply Stalin with planes, for example and Stalin would essentially send in his order to FDR, who would then order the planes shipped.  I had not heard this before (but then there is a lot of history I have not heard before).

We returned to the ship after leaving Livadia and found the promenade in front of the ship in the midst of some sort of carnival.  Or maybe it always looks like this.  I made several posts to Facebook, to Tom about renting this bouncy house for one of the girls' next birthday parties.

We have always had a big deal with the little pull toys we call "old waddle families" so I had to take this picture.

I also heard, before we came here, that for the best, cleanest restaurant in Yalta, this is the place to go...

Dinner was billed as a "Crimean Seaman's Dinner," but the only thing different from a regular dinner was the costumes of the servers.

(Dasha is one of our regular servers, and is very cute)

We walked along the deck and watched the activity on the promenade and when we got back to our cabin after dinner, there was a fireworks display. As tomorrow they will start talking about "disembarkation," I suppose this is a nice way to signal the beginning of the end of our cruise.

So our first day in Yalta is ending, but we have another day here tomorrow.  I am skipping the morning excursion as it is to another palace (where Churchill lived during the conference) with a lot of stairs and I have reached the point where what I really want to do is sit in my recliner with ice on my knees for about three days!  Thank God I found my cane, but still, I groan in horror at the thought of more stairs to climb!  I am not alone in this feeling on this ship, I fear.  A lot of us with canes are longing for ship elevators! But there is that long promenade right by the ship with lots of shops to explore, so I will stick to flat ground and do that tomorrow.



The starter gaspacho was so good one of the women at our table ordered a whole bowl of it.
Walt had a vegetable terrine, which was more photogenic than my onion soup.
We both had the lamb, which was very good, and not tough, unlike some meats we've had here.
I just ordered the strawberry sorbet for dessert, light and tasty.

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