>> Thursday, September 29, 2005

It?s been an unexpected week since last I wrote; I say unexpected because I didn?t really plan ahead regarding lack of communication while we went on our vacation-within-a-vacation. Regardless, we?re back (to Krivoy Rog) again and can finally send letters out. I took some notes for the first couple of days while we went out, so I?ll back up a bit.

Last ? Thursday, I think, we took an overnight train to Feodosia, which is located on the far-Eastern edge of the Crimea. It?s a kind of relax-me town, where a lot of people go just to sit in the sun & swim. The train ride out there was possibly the absolute worst I?ve ever been on, but it?s all relative as my bad experience had to do with the fact that I was riding out the worst headache I?d ever had and already used up the few ibuprofen we?d brought with. We left at 5:40pm and arrived at 9:30am, and hadn?t quite finished adjusting to the time zone, either (which reminds me that we forgot to get some herbal remedy for jetlag from my brother before we left?). So, we all spent the night waking up every couple of hours, Leilani included.

Other than that, and of course the general discomfort of riding on a train (I don?t think I?ve ever actually traveled on any kind of ?luxury? train), it went pretty well. The train passes close by the sea right toward the end, which gave a nice view. A large difference was immediately noticeable regarding the atmosphere, upon exiting the train. Much more in Feodosia is green, and one of the first things I noticed was a group of people doing some gardening on one of the public ways. In Krivoy Rog, the most I usually see there is just an old woman here or there sweeping the walk. But I don?t suppose it?s really fair to compare the two cities outright; one is a vacation-town while the other is essentially a mining town.

We hauled our bags around while we considered our options; Lena wanted to find a ?pensionat? which is kind of like a hotel but with a meal plan. In Feodosia they?re almost all located a stone?s throw from the beach. We actually didn?t have to go far at all, but we wound up taking a taxi to the one Lena had in mind, just because we weren?t familiar with the area to begin with. (Later we found ourselves back at the train station after only about a 30-minute walk (30-minute walks are NOTHING in Ukraine, mind you. Our average daily walk in Feodosia was 2-3 hours, I think.)) After we checked in and unpacked our bags, we headed down to the beach, just to take a look around.

It?s not what most people in America would expect, mind you. Yes, there?s a big huge ?ocean? (It?s the Black Sea in this instance) and there are a lot of waves. There?s sand ? but not on the beach, actually. Once you?re IN the water, it?s nice sand out as far as you can touch, but the beach itself is comprised entirely of rocks, like river rocks, polished and round. That was a bit of a surprise to me, but not too hard to adjust to. All the hotels/pensionats have their own section of the shoreline fenced off (with barbed wire tops! Whoo!) and they?ve fashioned wooden pallets for people to lay on. Once you get used to that (and the fact that everyone wears Speedos/bikinis no matter what over here...) it?s pretty normal.

After we glanced at the beach (and dangled Leia?s toes in, since she absolutely had to), we walked down the shoreline some more where there was a kind-of boardwalk (but all cement; they use only cement for building stuff in Ukraine.) lined with some souvenir shops. There was a lot of nifty stuff to buy, surrounded by a lot of cheap junk. Isn?t that the way it is everywhere? There was a lot of different things than those we found four years ago in Truskavyets, so there was a nice variety at least.

On the way back to the hotel we saw some good old-fashioned police violence. We?re not sure what the incident was, but we saw some guy running away from an old lady while she was yelling for the police. I?d give you dime-to-donut odds that the guy was drunk, since this happened pretty much RIGHT NEXT to a patrolling police car. A very short chase ensued, however I also think the guy could easily have run away. For some reason, I think he got stuck on a fence near the train tracks, he turned around and put his hands up, walking back to the cop chasing him. Out of the blue the cop gives the guy a karate kick to what I hope was just his gut. He was a little far away, but he didn?t fall down on the ground so that?s where I assume his foot landed. After a little more confusion was cleared up which involved the old lady running over and bashing him on the head a bit, they dragged him off to the cop car and the show was over. If we?d have gotten it on video, I?m sure it would have made the ?world?s dumbest criminals?.

I?ve got more to say about the trip, but it?ll come later. I?ve got to send this off & get to sleep already. Good night!


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