Sea of Azov and SE Crimea, Ukraine Week 27 14th - 18th October 2011
After all we'd read about leaving Russia it was relatively simple. We arrived early, took a few minutes at the first gate, then avoided the trucks to be part of a steady stream but never more than a couple of cars in the line.

I suspect that we have in some way become a bit travel hardened (as expected) and more confident about borders with Tardis.

Customs was first and the form was the same as the one used for vehicle entry. A few minutes to copy all the info and our truck was accounted for..

A bit of humour at immigration - it was the first day of new computer system. A struggle to turn the computer on, then a struggle to log on, etc. Just about everything that could go wrong did .... final straw was when the handle on the drawer used for passing bits of paper under the window fell off!

No mention, or question, about visa registration. For the record, we only registered them once.

Ukraine entry was not quite so easy. 

Immigration was simple though we were a bit confused when someone thought Ali's 90 day tourist visa was a 5 day transit visa..

Customs was a bit confusing but I was directed to various offices to have stamps put on bits of paper then return to the office next to the truck. It was fed to me one question at a time, seeming never ending. At one point I got tangled up in a queue of truckies but someone else arrived with a bit of paper like mine, asked directions, and I followed him.

There was a one Euro fee for something. Payable at a bank nearby, eventually they took Roubles and gave me local currency change.

The last hurdle was the exit gate (picture) that needed a stamp I didn't have. I didn't see the person I followed get a second stamp! Leave engine running blocking the gate and go get the stamp.

Lots of smiles, open the gate, and we are in Ukraine. A couple of hours of humouring bureaucracy..

Mariupol is an industrial town near the border. This is the steelworks, steam coming from coke quenching.

We found a bankomat before Mariupol (a 2% fee. First fee we've seen since before China). 

We stopped for a large supermarket outside Mariupol. Largest we've seen since Walmart in China. Also picked up a mobile phone sim (no id needed but looks like expensive internet).

We stocked up and headed towards the Sea of Azov.


We fluked a cliff top campsite overlooking the sea by following another of those potentially muddy but interesting looking tracks. We like to think we are good at recognising tracks that lead somewhere nice, but perhaps they all do!

The boat is a patrol boat of some sort. There were about 8 people on board. I watched it chasing a small power boat, trying to cut it off before it reached the beach. I could hear the siren. There was also something being fired from the patrol boat, but I didn't see anything land.

The power boat landed ok, the patrol boat circled for a bit then went away. Slowly.

Even with the binoculars I couldn't really identify who was who.

We had a quiet night, no-one else around.

We heard a couple of cars in the early morning and wondered if it was part of what went on with the patrol boat.

Looked out of the window to see the local fishing fleet of small, one or two person, boats.

All concentrated in just a small area.

The beach with the patrol boat episode looked more inviting in the morning.
And the fishermen had parked their cars next to us.
We headed towards the Crimea for a few days rest somewhere pleasant.

Immediately noticed the trees were a bit different. And the land was very much flatter than we'd been used to in the last couple of weeks. Flat, not rolling.

The gps took us through the middle of Melitopol.

We really will have to be more careful. We had to fold the mirrors in to get through one gap.

This was a small cobbled street. Very pleasant, but a little small.

We turned South.

Stopped for lunch on the very narrow strip of land between the Sea of Azov on one side and Black Sea on the other.

This is the Sea of Azov. A bit of salt around the edge.

We suspect that neither are tidal.

But we also suspect that the levels were different. Maybe a trick of the light!

Ali at the beach front lunch stop..
The Crimea has all sorts of cultural influences.

This has nothing to do with any of them. 

Just a nice sky.

Our first mosque for a while.
We tried to reach the south coast of the Crimea but ran out of time.

The roads were a mixture of good and bumpy, as well as time taken at the border.

We camped beside a canal.

The irrigation system is quite extensive.

And wet poplars.
But apart from that still wheat and flat.
We can't be certain but there's a hint of Greek in the place names and perhaps in this building.

We'd stopped for some fruit and veggies at the roadside, bread and milk in the shop, and mobile phone recharge.

The internet is slow, can't connect to upload blog or get email, and looks like being expensive.

This building was a bonus.

Finally a glimpse of the sea along the south coast.

As well as vineyards which we hadn't expected.

And fences around the vineyards with what looked like "keep out" notices.

Plus mountains which we sort of knew about but didn't expect to be so high or such odd shapes.

A church as we got closer to the coast.
We aren't sure what the mountains are made of, apart from rock that is.

It looks sort of volcanic and metamorphosed all at the same time.

A bit of research to do.

The road seemed to run along the coast a bit, then inland a bit, then more coast.
And back down to the coast.

It looks like at one time the hillsides have been roughly terraced. However, there didn't seem to be much of a pattern to what was growing.

We do like water.
We stopped to check the beach out.

Black sand. Perhaps the thoughts of volcanic activity were vaguely feasible.

Feeling chuffed with our amateur geology. Until someone comes up with the correct story that is!

Looking east, whence we've come.

We drove past Sudak as we really need to stop and rest.

Sudak has a Genoese fortress. One of those many influences on the Crimea.

We'll consider back tracking to look at it.

We stopped to camp on a beach.

Since our stops next to the Volga we've noticed upturned plastic water bottles with the bottoms cut out attached to trees where people have obviously camped.

This was at one end of our beach, no trees so someone had been inventive. Its held together with cling wrap. A product we haven't seen in shops for a while.

We are intrigued but haven't a clue as the purpose of the bottles.

I climbed up the hill at the west end of our beach.

There's a ruin of a lighthouse (we assume as its round and too small to be a fort).

Not quite the sunny weather we were looking for. A bit draughty and chilly, but very nice for a rest. 

Our beach from the hill looking east.

There's a white spot about half way along. Tardis.

I was only away an hour.

Ali had the kettle on for coffee and chocolate biscuits.

I forgot to mention litter previously. The Russians, and now the Ukrainians, are very neat and leave it in big piles.

Unsightly, and more so as population density has increased, but by no means as bad as Sihanoukville (difficult to forget their litter problem) where its simply left where it falls.

Not sure where the Russian Riviera begins and ends. We've already seen a real hotel and an unfinished derelict one.

This beach and a previous one look like they may have a large population of campers in the Summer.

We haven't figured out how to make Yorkshire Pud without an oven yet. We're working on it.

In the meantime we cooked the beef from the supermarket in the slow cooker.

Next morning was dull and overcast.

It was raining and I was collecting water from the roof when a couple of hikers walked by.

That's the second party we've seen. Must be a popular coast walk.

They didn't stop for a chat. We collected 40 litres.

The rain was on again off again showers.

As the sky was clearing from the East the sun came out to charge the batteries and the wind swung round then started blowing harder.

The Black Sea isn't tidal but we began to understand that its level changed.

The wind and larger waves meant it looked like coming ever closer.

And closer.

We moved from the center of the bay to the east end.

A nice flat patch a couple of meters higher.

Lutz (with the Pinzgauer, we met north of Volgograd) was on his way to Yalta and stopped for another chat.

All sorts of useful information again.

Sudak and Yalta, Crimea, Ukraine Week 27 19th - 21st October 2011

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