Sevastopol, Ukraine

Sevastopol is only 70 nautical miles from Yalta, so we motored up here verrrrrrry slowly last night. We are anchored in the harbor and will take tenders onshore today.

We are going to visit location related to war today—both WWII and the Crimean war.  First up is Balaclava, a small city with a protected port area, which was the site of a secret Russian submarine facility built during the cold war.

We were supposed to stop on one side of the town for a bathroom break—although we are in fairly new buses from Mercedes, Neoplan and Hyundai, they don’t have onboard toilets.  The guide gave us tickets to pay the entry fee, but the first place we went claimed that there was no water and they were closed.  So we spent 10 minutes of our trip walking through the city to find another toilet—a miserable, stinking place, but better than nothing, slightly.  The men managed manfully, but the women were unhappy with the squat toilets that seem to be standard in this country.  Then back on the bus to cross to the other side of town and visit the submarine pens.

Designed to withstand a direct nuclear attack, the facility is a canal dug under a mountain of granite.  Submarines could sail in, then be maintained and armed with nuclear weapons in safety and secrecy.  The doors at one end of the canal are 150 tons.  1000 workers could fit inside, and survive 30 days with no outside contact at all in case of war.

Deep inside the sub pens, for some incongruous reason is a museum devoted to Crimean War artifacts. No, it doesn’t make any sense.  But they showed us a movie about the war (1854-1856. Russia good, England bad.  Russia wins.) We looked at buttons and coins and uniforms and medals and sabers.  Then we left.

Next stop was the top of a hill overlooking Tennyson’s “Valley of Death”.  Today, it looks like the Napa Valley, a broad stretch between the mountains covered in grapevines. In 1856 it was a sea of blood as a misguided British attack was slaughtered by the Russian forces.  Then it was the place where Russian forces overcame Germany in the Second World War.

The Valley of Death. After the Crimean war, it was the scene of a slaughter in WWII, as well.

The bus took us back to the dock, and I tried to get the group to wander into town and find a restaurant, but although I ran it up the flag, nobody saluted, so we went back to the boat and enjoyed the buffet.

The afternoon movie was some Miley Cyrus dreck and there is no bridge on in-port days, so we just kicked back, wrote blogs and napped.  There was no big show tonight, but the rock band had a Beatles tribute night and I had my Beatles suspenders with me.  It was a match made in heaven.

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