Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Crimea, day 3

Our last day in Crimea we also went swimming in the morning and then we went directly to Yalta.

This is a McDonald's in Yalta which was worth visiting because of the good view. To the left of the picture is the harbour and the yellow building up in the mountains is a Danish JYSK shop.

We sat down by the harbour side.

In Yalta we decided to take a bus to a small town called Balaklava. The climate changed near this area. I guess it is a more rainy area, it was more green and there were clouds around the mountain tops.

The harbour in Balaklava was something like a small lake. On the opposite side of the town there was this entrance to a former Soviet submarine factory which was once top secret.

This is inside the submarine factory. Down to the left is the end of a long canal where they would take the submarines, and they would pump out the water and throw away the fish so that they could work.

There were some strange devices which we never figured out what was for, but Pavel thought this would be a good dance floor if they turned the whole place into a night club. Roman told me that Pavel is 'strongly typified' by which he meant that Pavel mainly has two things on his mind, which is eating meat and meeting women.

We went back to Simferopol to catch the train back home and then we had time to have a small guided tour around the harbour.

There were a lot of big military ships. There was also a monument for a Crimean fleet of ships which the Crimeans allegedly sunk themselves in order to block the harbour and thereby keep an enemy away from the city. Like the story with the wine, I guess this is a very typical Russian myth about great sacrifices.

While hanging in the park waiting for our train we saw these cool old people who were playing music and singing together. Later I sneaked by to listen some more and there were a lot more people and some of the old ladies were dancing.

On the other side of the park there were scratching loudspeakers and karaoke-like sounds, it was some young people from the Crimean University of Arts giving a concert. This girl was making a very funny Tina Turner impression, but she was actually dead serious.

In the train, on the way back. Again we were trying to sleep in the train and the following morning we all had to go to our work places.

That Tuesday morning in Kharkov I decided that I would quickly go to my apartment to have a shower, and then I had a bit of a surprise. When I came to my apartment I found that one of the locks was open and inside the apartment I saw some stuff which was not mine. I thought that my cleaning lady might have decided to come early, but then a naked woman came out from my bedroom. She pointed to the bathroom and said something in Russian. I thought she might want a towel, but when I opened the door to my bathroom I found the owner of my apartment sitting on the loo. I decided to go out and wait and when eventually they left I went in to have my shower.

Crimea, day 2

Sunday morning Roman woke us up quite early.

We went to the top of this big rock and we also went swimming at the beach in front of it.

This is the top of the big rock.

Some of the steps were a bit scary, especially where the balustrade was broken.

This is the beach where we were swimming and eating strawberries. In think in the high season it will be impossible to find a place to lie here. In the high season the hotel prices are also three times higher.

This is the center of Semeiz, we went eating at the pink building in the back.

Eating. I had some juice which was somehow made from birch trees. I also had some excellent 'Okroshka', I shall tell more about that dish some other time.

In Yalta I went with Roman and Marina to the Massandra wine factory.

We had a guide which told a lot of stories about the wine. She told us that these wine bottles had been transported to Georgia during the second world war and that they had poured a lot of other wine into the sea so that the Germans would not have the pleasure of drinking it.

We tasted a lot of different wines. It was something like syrup with alcohol, it was quite good. We brought some bottles home for the evening.

Trip to Crimea

Crimea is the southern peninsula of Ukraine where all Ukrainians and Russians go on holiday. When we had a long weekend I went there with my colleagues Roman and Pavel and some of their friends. Roman had arranged everything for us so even though we saw a lot of stuff it was very relaxing for me.

We caught the train Friday after work and drove the whole night. The train was very long and packed with people. Once I would have considered this a nightmare but now I thought it was quite cosy.

This is Alexander and Victoria, aka Sasha and Vika. Sasha works at Roman's former company which is a big American software company. In September Sasha and Vika will get married.

This is the balcony of the hotel where we arrived Saturday morning. The hotel is situated in a sneaky little town called Semeiz, some kilometers from Yalta which is the biggest city in Crimea.

I was sleeping in this humid room with a very small window.

Some of the other guys were staying in this room which had air condition and also quite a better view against mountains and the sea. However, they had no door to the bathroom. The owner of the hotel had a very big Toyota jeep and I was thinking that if he had bought a not so big car instead he might have been able to provide his costumers all the basic necessities.

Between Semeiz and Yalta there was the 'Skt. Peter's mountain' and we went to the top by a rope way.

From the top of the mountain I found it quite amazing how the sky and sea completely blended together, it was not possible to see the horizon line.

There was some commercial stuff on top of the mountain, like camel riding, places to eat and a show where they demonstrated how to kill a person in many inventive ways. At one place we had an Arabian rice dish along with some home brew wine.

There we are, still on top of the mountain. To the right of me is another Vika who is working as a QA engineer at that American company. The guy is my new colleague Pavel and to the right of him is Roman's girlfriend Marina who is also working as a kind of developer.

After the mountain we went chilling in this park which had a lot of nice big trees.

In the park there was also a strange castle which was built completely from one type of stones. Again this is sort of Arabian I think. I guess the culture in Crimea must be somehow very related to Arabian culture. In Crimea I also saw a lot of the kind of people who have dark hair and skin and bright bluish eyes at the same time.

After some night swimming we had beer along with some dried fish. Roman taught me how to make the whole smelly operation. At that point I was tired because in the train I had only had about 2 hours of sleep.

Monday, May 21, 2007


I usually never go out without my phone, so that in case of an emergency I can always call someone who understands me. Yesterday was the first day I ever went out without my phone and it also was the first time I ever had sort of an emergency. I had been playing football all night and when I came home I realized that I had lost the key to my apartment. My neighbours were not at home and the old ladies guarding the entrance to my building still didn't understand English. They also did not understand what I thought was some universal body language. So I went outside in the park to find a comfortable place to spend the night (I also did not bring enough money for a hotel). But then I actually had a bit of luck. Just outside my apartment I met Jeppe's new girlfriend and I brought her in to talk with the old ladies. As many things here do, it took a lot of discussion. I think she must have discussed with them for around 40 minutes, and still it brought us absolutely nowhere. But then I had some luck for the second time, because while we were in the yard discussing a friend of the owner of my apartment came by and it turned out he actually had a key for the apartment. So this night I got some good sleep and this morning I went back to the football court to look for the key. There I met the slowest man in the whole world, but he opened the court for me and there the key was. I am so lucky.

Friday, May 18, 2007

House on fire

Yesterday in the city center there was a building on fire. It is already very warm here now but I don't know if that had anything to do with it.

When I had looked out our office window I thought it was just very foggy, but when we got closer we could see that the 'fog' came from a building.

I lot of people found this interesting.

The police were performing in their new outfits and the firemen had brought out all their equipment, i guess it is better to have too much than too little.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Shashlik is the Russian/Georgian version of shish kebab. People here always talk about going to shashliks and I have been invited to several but last weekend I finally got to go with some people from the office.

We almost fit into this van. Some of the pictures here I got from Andrey who is making the V sign. He works in the office next to mine along with Denis who is wearing sunglasses inside.

We came to this place in the country side. There is a car, a donkey and a sort of cabin where you can enjoy the shashlik. There were a few cabins like this beside eachother and we had rented one of them but the people who ran the place were very clever to rent our place to some other people also. That way they make more money.

Instead we made the shashlik freestyle, between the trees. It was actually quite windy there but unlike in Denmark the wind here is not cold so it was fine.

The girls made some 'sandwiches'. A sandwich here is actually just a piece of bread with one or two things on top.

The guys prepared the shashlik. You can even do that lying down.

Shashlik! It get's some extra taste from beer and ashes. There was pork and chicken and the chicken actually was the best (sorry Menfolk).

There's the donkey again. I guess Andrey figured it would also like some vodka.

The place was near a small lake and a kind of playground. That tall thing is a toy.

You just have to run around and then suddenly you are hanging in the air. We did that for a long time.

In the end we were hanging by the water.

In the van, on the way home.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Victory in Europe Day

May 8 was the day when the Allies during World War II formally defeated Nazi Germany. I didn't know that before because I realize that in Denmark we don't ever make celebrations about war, but here they do. The celebration was yesterday and I had actually decided to lay low, but it was hard to sleep because of all the loud music and fireworks and people screaming.

Many people had a day off but we were in office and from there we saw this parade.

They were wearing old war outfits and they were looking very clean. I actually don't understand how they can wear that stuff and think about war and be happy at the same time.

In the big square there was a concert and in the end they had some enormous fireworks.

When the fireworks ended I realized how big that square really is because there was a never ending stream of people coming from the square. All of them were screaming and whistling and yelling together, it was sort of scary and I don't even think they were thinking about my sleep. But I thought about how they would ever fit all these people into mini buses or even the metro.