08h05, 23.03.2014. Slept better. The bald bloke with the ‘tache is really good at snoring. He’s also really good at attempting to fix the compartment door throughout the night. I awake just outside of the peninsula with less than 2 hours to go. Fairly non-descript scenery, fog, fields, the odd concrete bridge here, disused farm building there. The women next door have already started their gassing for the day. Like their lives depended on it. Women and talking, we’ll leave that one there for now.
Taxi over to the all but dead airport. As expected, Budget Hire Car (along with every other main brand) are shut as (despite my travel agency double confirming “no, no the car is definitely booked and ready for you.”). Just opposite the main International Departures building though I found a local one, nice bloke, good English, explained to me that the banks are now playing up as things change over to Russia and that the deposit that they block authorise from your card – they currently can’t unblock it, and it could be like this for some time. Not a problem, let’s just get the car shall we. Russian state TV plays out in the background of his office.
Posters up all over the place reminding everybody of the March 16th vote. Most flags down here are Russian (95.5%?). On buildings, cars, shops, posters, wherever I go it all appears to be pro-Russian. I asked the cabbie whether we were in Ukraine or Russia. He gesticulated by covering his ears and shaking his head that he’d just heard too much about it already. Or that he hated my company and I should never ever question his politics again.
17h44, Savastopol, a pleasant cafe near the Black Sea. In fact I’ve been to about 4 of this chain now, couldn’t tell you what they’re called as it’s in Cyrillic but they’re all beiges and browns. All very professional and they don’t ask me what my name is. Very brief power cut. Drove around the city twice trying to locate something other than every day life, but somehow somewhat disappointingly, that’s all there is. People strolling along the promenade, lovers canoodling, a steady flow of traffic going about its business.
- The Russian rouble is the official currency here as of today.
- Bypassed the road to Balaklava. Fact: Balaklavas were a British invention, they were knitted by the soldiers’ old dears and sent out to keep them snug during the Crimean War.
Been listening mainly to Radio Crim and Shiyeet FM, both given carefully considered names. Lots of rhetoric about Ukraine, Russia, Villiam Hague, Americanski, Obama. And then a Ukrainian radio play which sounded good too. Same shit, different frequency. Art imitating life imitating…
01h39, 24.03.2012: Spent about 2 hours trying to work out the roads into and around Yalta. Nearly slept in the car until I found the Oreanda Hotel at about 00h30. Yalta seems a nice quite upmarket seaside town. They (the Yaltese?) are however trying their best to naff it up with brightly coloured, badly placed children’s play areas and fairy lights. I’m flagging, best go to bed, will get some phys in tomorrow morning. On the front desk downstairs there are two miniature flags in a little stand, one Russian, one Ukrainian. Looks like someone’s hedging their bets. Choose a side. Or don’t. Whatever really. Night.