Friday, May 14, 2010


Yalta has been Russia's southern playground for almost as long as it's needed one. The Romanovs had a summer house here, Chekhov wrote The Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard in a villa on the edge of town, and the Gorbachevs were just a few miles down the coast when they were arrested during the failed coup of 1991. Part Riviera chic, part Old School Sovietism, and part Imperial lament, it has a street named after Marx, pizza parlours and western chain stores, and a statue of Lenin opposite a drive-through McDonald's and a children's toy shop called Bambi Land.

The sea front had a pebble beach, palm trees and flowerbeds, people eating candyfloss, drunks stumbling along with their eyes closed, pensioners playing chess with their backs to the water and old women attempting to sell home-pickled gherkins. There were sushi bars in full-sized pirate ships, street signs in Russian and English, people dancing in the street, and outdoor stalls where tourists could have their photos taken sitting on motorbikes or thrones, dressed up in samurai armour, Mickey Mouse costumes, a Roman centurion's uniform or 18th century ball gowns.

You'd never guess it was twinned with Margate.


christopher j.d. said...

Just looked at some pictures on google earth. It looks really nice.. then again all the photos seem to be taken on a sunny day and from experience these things can make a difference.
Makes me want to sell the house and go travelling.. except I don't have a house... maybe a kidney?

Michael said...

Rob a bank. Preferably one you part own. I liked Yalta. It was very un-Ukrainian.