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8 September 2013

Today's excursion was to the Aloupka Palace, where Churchill stayed during the Yalta Conference.  I had read the description of the palace and "its beautiful gardens" and saw only "steps."  It looked like another ABC excursion (another boring castle), so I decided not to go.  So did Char.  Mike and Walt took off and we stayed behind to just "hang" here on the promenade in Yalta.

I'm so glad we did!  I think that of all the places we've seen to date, Yalta may be my favorite, and perhaps that's because of "hanging."

The day began rather oddly, though.  I was able to post yesterday's journal last night, but Yahoo wouldn't take any of the photos so I went to sleep fairly early, around 10:30.  At 2 a.m., I was wide awake, the photos uploaded without a problem, and I was back asleep within half an hour.  But then I slept "late" for me (6:30).  I went out to the lounge, settled down to drink some coffee, glanced out the window, and raced back to the cabin to grab the camera.  It was another marvelous sunrise.

After the excursion bus left, Char and I sat with our iPads for awhile and then decided to go for a walk along the Promenade.  What great fun!  This is kind of an Atlantic City Boardwalk kind of atmosphere (especially on the weekend) and a big activity seems to be to dress up in all sorts of finery, pick your backdrop, from fancy throne to coaches to beautiful living room even down to muscle cars (one motorcycle with the Stars and Bars flag) and you take your own picture after renting the costume. 

Lots and lots of royal finery-type stuff, but my favorite had to be these two middle aged women taking leather-clad motorcycle photos.

We walked along to the background of about three different vendors with microphones hawking rides on their own boats.  I have a better feel for what our foreign students must have felt like when we took them anywhere, especially the ones who had very limited English.  We heard the announcements loud and clear, but other than the word "Yalta" we didn't understand a thing.

We eventually came to the very small rocky beach, which was literally covered with sun bathers.  And I'll tell ya, I might be embarrassed to appear in a bathing suit in the US or in Rio de Janeiro, but here on the beach at Yalta, I could have put on a bikini and wouldn't even have been the largest one.

People come here to enjoy the beach and the water, not to be seen.  Char walked down to stick her toes in the Black Sea. It was easier for her since she was wearing Crocs.  I took her picture, got my shoes wet, and picked up a couple of rocks to bring home.

We sat for awhile watching the scene and discussing our feelings about Ukraine and how different it seems to be from maybe what we expected. From our perspective of nearly two weeks, this appears to be a culture resigned to a "whatever" attitude, freely acknowledging all of the faults of its government and society in general, but after so many years under communist rule, not seeing any worth in doing anything to change the status quo.  Whatever they have now is so much better than what they have had in the past, who cares if things don't work right, or happen quickly enough, or anything else. The mere fact that they feel free to complain must be a huge step forward.

We continued along the promenade, watching the various interactions.  I took this picture for my friend Mary, who keeps a collection of "pull up your damn pants" photos.

The guy was getting a foot massage, so I'm not quite sure what was with the lowered drawers!

A bit farther down the promenade, we encountered this fellow, who was diligently searching the sea floor with some sort of metal detector.

He must have been having luck because he was at it for a long time, still at it after we left.

We came to a sad little amusement park area.  I don't know what this sign says, but whatever it is, it must be exciting!

I took this picture because I don't have a clue what it means and I want to know if this is warning you about the monkeys along the promenade which have been trained to pick your pockets, if it is some sort of anti animal cruelty thing, or a message about good dental hygiene.

If I find out, I'll let you know!

I took this picture so I could learn to recognize "souvenir" in Cyrillic script!

The excursion folks returned from their trip and there was a "cast off!" celebration with champagne (not complimentary) on the sundeck and everyone singing and dancing to the music of the accordionist and keyboardist.

I loved this picture of Alyona that someone was taking.

She even got Mike up dancing the polka with her (there is a video which will be posted when we return home).

As Yalta faded into the background, we had a lovely lunch with John and Mary

who are such lovely people.  John is actually of Ukranian descent and can still read Ukrainian, so I'm hoping to get him to translate my monkey poster.

Also at our table were fellow Californians, Jolita and her husband Elmer.

We were all having such a good time chatting, we were almost the last group to leave the dining room.

In the afternoon there was a lecture on Literature and Art in Ukraine.  My instincts told me not to go, but I ignored them.  Silly me.

Tonight was the "Captain's dinner," which was at different times for each of the 2 restaurants on board, so that the Captain and all the staff could stand and offer a toast to each person individually as they entered the restaurant. 

The menu tonight was what I remember all meals being on previous cruises and was so delicious, I even forgot to photograph the soup course.

At the conclusion of the evening was a staff show, where the staff all put on skits or sing or dance.  In past cruises this has been great fun, seeing the people we know so well in another role, but, in truth, I don't feel I know this staff, and as Walt and I are both zonked and stuffed with good food, we are just going to sleep instead.



 I don't know exactly what the amuse bouche was, but it amused my bouche
The mushroom soup was as good as anything we got in Russia.  Delicious!
The filet mignon came with a "truffle crust" that was to die for!
Dessert was a white chocolate bread pudding with a bowl of vanilla ice cream
topped with some sort of apple flavored sauce.

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This is entry #4911