Vacation over, back to school! (For a week only!)
As many of you know, I was on a 2 week long hike through the Crimean mountains. It was awesome! (10 days actually). We took a train down to Bakchesarai and then we started hiking. In our bags, we carried our clothes (winter jackets!), a bowl, cup and spoon each, sleeping bags, tents, pots and pans, cameras, and any other toiletries we needed. They were heavy bags! (However, I am sure that my bag was the lightest!)
Almost every day we hiked for about 5-6 hours until we made it to Yalta.It was one of the most amazing things ever to know that we walked so far and then to look down onto Yalta and see the blue sea. Unfortunately, we did not stop to enjoy the sea and swim. We only went to a nearby store, refilled our bags for the end of the trip and then caught a trolleybus to the next town over.
Then we started to make our way back up north to Simferopol. Around about this time, the group started to get a little uneasy and it was decided that the walking would be lessened and we would spend more time at campsites. It was only 2 nights that we did this, but it did give the trip a more relaxed feeling.
Before the last two nights, we had been hiking until we could no more, and there were a lot of badly thought out decisions in our route. Also, some money may have gone missing, but I wasn’t too worried about that, as I agreed to pay what I paid, and was unable to pay no more.
All around it was an interedting trip. I probably wouldn’t do it again with the same group, but the views were fantastic and it was nice to spend time with Conor.
After the trip, everyone headed home and I headed to Kiev. I CLOSED MY GRANT!!!! For all of you who donated, THANK YOU SO MUCH! Good news is that we will receive another donation for 6,000UAH in August, so we will be able to buy books for maybe 2 more grades. With the Partnership Grant, we were able to buy books for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades only. This means that over half the school will have new English textbooks! Hopes are that they will find a way to get the textbooks for the last few grades with a little bit of fundraising…we’ll see!
Also in Kiev I had another X-RAY to see if the Tuberculosis had become stage 2. It hadn’t. I also had blood tests to see if it was out of my blood. Turns out I’m ok. No TB. All gone. The medicine worked and I don’t have to take it anymore. So for all of you who were worried, we can now have a beer together to celebrate the end of sleepless nights. (because you weren’t sleeping because you were worried and I wasn’t drinking because TB meds are terrible for your liver.) Get it? Hehehe.
I headed home after all this, but I wasn’t there for long. Within a week of getting home, I was already heading back to Kiev to get my grandfather. But oops, I forgot to mention that Johanna is back! She came back 3 dys before my grandfather got here, so it was like 2 surprises at once!
Gramp’s visit was AWESOME! We had so much fun! And it was unbelievable how healthy he was and how much he could walk! I took him back to my town to meet my teachers and friends and they loved him. My neighbor made vareniky for him and they talked about history together, (With me as a translator…Hard stuff that!) I took him to one of my classes, (it was supposed to be 3 classes, but they were canceled [surprised?]). My students put together questions and then interviewed him. It was fun, and then we gave them Reece’s cups. Mmmm.
After school, we had a little brunch with my teachers made up of American goodies my grandfather brought, (Salsa, Ranch, Reece’s cups).
Next we went to Crimea. We went to three cities: Sevastopol, Yalta, and Sudak. Sevastopol was my favorite, but mainly because it was such a comfortable city to live in I think. We saw a parade there on the 9th of May (Victory day) and it was busy! We also went to an awesome Panorama museum that had an awesome exhibition of a battle against the British and French in the city. It was super well done. My favorite part of the city was a big ferris wheel we went on. You could see the entire city from the top! It was a little old though and the creeking and swinging about without restraints was a little frightening. Otherwise, awesome!
Then too Yalta! It was one of the weirdest things ever to be in Yalta looking up and to remember our camping trip when we had been looking down into the city. To be honest, Yalta is way to touristy for me and super expensive. Most of the time we spent outside of Yalta, but we slept and went to the beach in the city.
There were three main things we saw during our stay. The first is the Lavandia Palace, which is where the three main world powers (Stalin, Churchhill and Roosevelt) met to decide what happen to Germany after WWII, (The Yalta Conference). It was pretty, but it looked like any other palace. It was mostly just cool because of the history.
Then we went to the top of the Ay-Petry mountain, (using a Gondala?). Also kind of scary, especially since we knew the Gondala had probably been created back in the Soviet Union. Gramps was surprised to see that there was a little village/tourism center at the top. You never would have imagined it from the bottom. There was several men trying to sell food, tours, horse rides, etc at the top, but we decided to pay 5 dollars to go to the peek of the mountain. (You have to PAY for that here!) It was a pretty steep climb but Gramps was super beast about it! Great job Gramps!
After the climb, we were both ready to head to the beach, but we had one more stop. Crow’s Nest. A little Disney-like castle built on the edge of the water. It was a lot bigger from farther away but as soon as you are right up on it, it is tiny! Still cool though and I am glad I saw it. Then to the beach…
The next day, I had planned to get up early and take a bus to Sudak, about an hour away. However, on this day, they decided that they weren’t going to run any buses to Sudak so if we wanted to get there, we’d have to go through the capital. Argh. So that meant that a one hour bus ride on ONE bus turned into a 5-hour bus ride on three buses. Totally worth it though. Gramps ended up spoiling us by paying for an awesome hotel directly underneath the Sudak castle, which included and big swimming pool, breakfast, and a balcony. All for approximately $60USD a night. (Before that we had been staying in hostels). The only downside is the hotel didn’t serve coffee with breakfast. UNBELIEVABLE right? So Gramps and I got up every morning and the first thing we did is wander the city looking for coffee.
The Castle took about 4-5 hours to explore. It was big and actually pretty hard to explore since it was on a steep cliff. Gramps once again impressed me by walking the whole thing. This was one of my favorite days because when we got to the top, we just sat there, talked about life, the universe and everything and looked down into the town.
Sadly, because we were having so much fun, the trip flew by. I thought we had 2 weeks together but I swear it was only like 3 days. The last days of the trip were spent in Kiev where we met Conor again. He was there to close his service (he’s done!) along with several others from his group. We had a nice goodbye dinner with him and my Gramps and then the next morning Gramps was off. It was sad. So quick, but really, I’ll be home soon too. And I’m ready. The next month I will be spending with school camps and the UEFA cup. Conor and Johanna will be crashing with me for a little while so I won’t be lonely. Then off to Germany to see my sister Corita. August I will spend studying for the GRE and then the last semester here starts in September. September 26th is my COS (Close Of Service) conference. Scary how things pass so quick. But it will be nice for it to fly since I will probably be lonely after Conor and Johanna go home. Plans are home in December and then off to start school in Colorado. (If all goes as planned.)
Write again soon.🙂 (As always, I LOVE COMMENTS!) (And more pictures will be posted as soon as Johanna gets back and uploads them!)