Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Grand World Voyage Part 8: Black Sea Countries

Our first stop on the Black Sea was Sochi, Russia, a popular resort town. The town looked fairly nice, but to me it had no heartbeat. The excursion we went on was called "Ancient Caucasian Trees", and was a nice, lengthy walk through an ancient forest. There were all sorts of woodland wildflowers blooming. It was not a spectacular show of flowers, but there were many growing and blooming along the path. I ended up spending a lot of time helping a woman with the walk, who needed one and sometimes two people to help steady her, partly because of the terrain and partly because everything was slippery from being wet. She apparently didn't realize that the trip was too strenuous for her physical condition. Fortunately I did have some help with her, and did insist that we stop for any photos I wanted to take. The scenery on this walk was gorgeous. The bird on the ship's deck greeted me when I went out early in the morning. It looks a lot like our chickadees, but is two to three times the size.

The next day we were in Sevastopol, Ukraine. The day was gray and rainy, but the atmosphere was much lighter and livelier than it was in Sochi. Sevastopol has a heartbeat. Sevastopol's claim to fame is its role in the Crimean wars. Their chief attraction is a panoramic painting that is amazing to see. It is painted around the outer wall of the circular building. The tourists view it from a central area, and between the tourists and the painting there are earthworks and artifacts, which make the painting seem three-dimensional. There was one place where a man was painted inside a shed; in another place a painted horse was pulling a real wagon. It costs to take photos of the panorama, and we didn't have any money with us, so we got no photos. Apparently it took the artist three years to complete this humongous painting, and he did either two or three more of them in other places in the world. The painting starts and ends with the harbor in the photograph below.

We also went to see a church that is undergoing restoration, and to a memorial park that commemorates the battles.

I can highly recommend going to see the panorama. If I make it back to Sevastopol, I will make sure I am able to take photographs.

We completed our time in this area by sailing back through the Bosporus, past Istanbul and through the Dardanelles, headed toward the Greek Island of Santorini.

By this time in the trip we were feeling quite overwhelmed, so you will see that the dialog decreases as the photos increase. It became more difficult to remember the details as the voyage progressed.

Please note that the last two photos are of the church we saw in Sevastopol.

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