The exiled lion

CRIMEA, Day 6: Here Be Lions

The origin story of Safari Park Taigan is a heart-warming tale of an oligarch using his powers for the greater good instead of self-serving indulgences. In 2006 Ukrainian businessman Oleg Zubkov managed to finally convince the authorities to let him turn the ruins of an abandoned military base into an open-air zoo and reserve for…

Sailing Novy Svet Black Sea 1

CRIMEA, Day 5: Pirates and Dolphins

I love boats. Anything involving boats is a perfect vacation activity. Crimea understands that well. At least half of sightseeing excursions involve boats, whether you’re heading out to swim in a secluded lagoon, to taste the finest Massandra wines, or to visit the summer palaces of Yalta. If you’re in the mood for a less…

Sunset in Novy Svet

CRIMEA, Day 4: Writer’s Heaven

I think I found my ideal writing spot. You know, the kind of place most aspiring writers envision when looking for excuses as to why they have not yet completed that groundbreaking, best-selling, critically acclaimed expatriate novel/ coming of age romance/ dystopian epic. If only we all had a little room with a view of…

czar beach

CRIMEA, Day 3: Restricted Access

The first ass-kicking came right away, courtesy of my host town, Novy Svet. Novy Svet, which translates as “New World” or “New Light,” is a large village/small town (population: 1100) on the south-eastern coast of the Crimean Peninsula. It is situated among juniper and rock pines on the crescent of an incredibly picturesque Green Bay…

Songbirds of Crimea

CRIMEA, Day 2: Cabin in the Woods

I wake up in the middle of a pine forest. Well, not so much wake up as am woken up at 5 am – very much against my will – by a chorus of songbirds. My accommodation is a very rustic bungalow, probably close to being half a century old. I think “rickety” might be…

Road Simferopol to Sudak, Meadows

CRIMEA, Day 1: Rolling Hills

Wildflower meadows. One after next, after next, after next. Blue, pink, purple, yellow, white, red. Cornflowers, poppies, daisies, clovers, heather, wild lavender. Cows grazing idly by the side of the road. Cyprus trees peppering wide open spaces. Tiny village houses hidden by the lush orchards. Blue mountain ridges looming in the distance. Echoes of Provence…

Arkhip Kuindzhi, The Sea

CRIMEA IN RUSSIAN ART – the July preview

I’m back!  It was 18 days of travel, 4,560 photos and 24 hand-written chapters for this blog (with two more pending in my head). It was exciting, gorgeous, challenging, different, eye-opening, beautiful, tiring, inspiring, heart-breaking, cold, wet, relaxing, testing, comfortable and frustrating — all in all, a trip of a lifetime. I am not the…

June near Moscow, by Mikhail Shherbakov.

RUSSIAN SUMMER IN RUSSIAN ART – June

So bright, so warm, so fragrant. Wildflower meadows, bright nights, fresh strawberries. June in Russia is absolutely glorious. Russian Spring — May Russian Spring – April Russian Spring – March Russian Winter – 2 Russian Winter – 1 Russian Autumn – 1 Russian Landscape throughout the Year (because I finally lugged my lappy to the…

VysokoPetrovsky Monastery

MOSCOW CHURCHES

Moscow has more than 300 churches. The oldest one still standing dates back to the early 1400s; the main cathedrals of the Kremlin are about 50 years younger. Those that survived 70 years of Communism, were rebuild afterward or created since represent seven centuries of ecclesiastic architecture. Of course the oldest churches have seen  several…