05:25Wine tasting, Culture and History trip to Crimea 2 April – 12 April, 2015
As there are no direct flights to Crimea from London, so we’ll be flying to Moscow first and take the connecting flight from Moscow to Simferopol (Crimea). The Easyjet flight from London (Gatwick) to Moscow (Domodedovo airport) costs around £100 return. Moscow (Domodedovo) to Simferopol (Crimea) costs around £150 return.
You need to apply for visa and book your own flights. You need to do it well in advance. I’ll send you links to our flights.
2 April 2015:
We arrive at Simfreopol airport in Crimea at around 7 O’clock in the evening. A comfortable bus will take us to our accommodation, this bus will stay with us during our entire Crimean adventure and will take us everywhere we will need to go.
We are going to stay in the simple but comfortable little hotel complete with shower and bathroom in the nature resort.
Wi-Fi should be available. Also you will have plenty of opportunities to take pictures of beautiful landscape and historical places, so don’t forget you camera!! Every day breakfast and dinner will be served, dinner will be complimented with only the best Crimean wine. Crimean wineries still produce different types of wines which were loved by Stalin, Khrushchev and other soviet leaders, so we’ll have the unique opportunity to try their favourites too.
After breakfast we are off to Stalin’s secret nuclear submarine base, in Balaсlava.
During Cold War, Balaklava Bay was one of the most secret residential areas in the Soviet Union. Almost the entire population of Balaklava town at one time worked at the base.
The underground submarine base includes a combined underground water channel with dry dock, repair shops, warehouses for storage of torpedoes and other weapons.Additionally it could house personnel to protect them from nuclear fallout.In the central tunnel (length 602 metres) the facility could accommodate 7 subs if necessary, and in all the galleries up to 14 submarines of different classes.
The objective was to construct first category anti-nuclear protection (protection from a direct hit by a nuclear bomb capacity of 100 kt) The base was said to be virtually indestructible and designed to survive a direct atomic impact.
We are going to spend about 40 minutes inside the underground base accompanied by an English speaking guide, we are allowed take as many pictures and videos as we like.We will spend the rest of the day in Balaclava town, the English speaking guide will take us to all of Balaclava’s historic sights.
If the weather is good we will go on a boat trip outside Balaclava bay to the the spot where the famous HMS Prince, a British naval vessel, sank during the Crimean war in November 1854.
Being over 2500 years old Balaklava is one of the most ancient cities in the Crimea and it is now very popular for tourists.
During the bloody Crimean War, British forces were stationed at Balaklava. In these two years, the British built a boardwalk which is still a popular place for tourists to stroll. They also opened shops, pubs, hotels, and more here. At that time, Balaklava was called ‘Little London.’ A memorial plaque, ‘Balaklava 1854,’ is in the British capital today.
Balaklava saw action during the Crimean War (1854-56). On the 25th October 1854, the Battle of Balaklava resulted in a strategic stalemate between the British, French, Ottoman and Russian forces. It also witnessed one of the most infamous events in British military history, the Charge of the Light Brigade.
4 April 2015:
After breakfast we are going to visit Vorontsov palace and it’s park.
The palace was built for Count Michael Vorontsov in 1846 and it took 23 years to construct. As well as its history, the palace is very interesting from an architectural perspective.
I’ts eminent architect was Edward Blore, who also designed parts of Buckingham Palace, St. James Palace and many other important buildings in England and Scotland. Edward Blore conceived the Voronsov Palace (another name is Alupka Palace) without ever visiting the site in Russia.
Another interesting fact -Winston Churchill and the British delegation stayed at the Vorontsov (Alupka) Palace during the Yalta Conference in 1945. He gave a farewell dinner here.
After the palace we’ll go to Massandra Winery for an English spoken guided tour and wine tasting session, which will take 90 minutes.
A wine-tasting at the Massandra cellars is a must for any visitor.
The Massandra winery was built in the 1890’s on the Black Sea coast specifically to produce wines for the Tsar’s summer palace. Workers spent three years carving tunnels deep into Crimea’s granite mountains to provide perfect cellaring conditions for the wines.
The Massandra Collection was started in the late 19th century by the estate’s winemaker, Prince Golitzin. He bought wines from other parts of Europe along with those he made in Crimea. The collection was continued after his death when Stalin ordered that all wines found in the Tsar’s palace be stored at the Massandra cellars.
The Massandra archive retains at least one bottle of every wine the winery produces (it continues to make wine today), but limited numbers of its old wines are released for sale.
“There are 47 Massandra vintages on offer in this auction, touching upon almost the entire catalogue of what is produced at this legendary estate,” said Frank Martell, director of fine and rare wine at Heritage.
Included in the sale was a 1901 Tokay Ai Danil, which is estimated to fetch more than $1,200, and a 1905 Muscat Rosé. They are among the last remaining bottles that were actually produced for the Tsar and his family.
The other lots include a six-bottle case of 1923 White Muscat and a six-bottle case of 1954 White Muscat.
In 2001, Sotheby’s auctioned a bottle of sherry dating back to 1775 from the Massandra Collection, bearing an imperial seal. It sold for $43,500.
5 April 2015:
After breakfast our English speaking guide will take us to Medieval Cave town Kachi Kaleon.
This trip will take a whole day, so we’ll have a picnic at the sight.
Kachi Kaleon – a Greek cliff city with several cave churches.
Researchers are not unanimous as to the probable approximate date of the town’s founding. Some consider it to be a Byzantine fortress founded in the 6th century whilst others are of the opinion that the fortified settlement appeared in the 10th-11th centuries. During the early period of the town’s history, it was mainly populated by Alans, the most powerful of a late Sarmatian tribe of Iranian descent. They began penetrating the Crimea from the 2nd century AD. Settling down in the mountainous Crimea , the Alans adopted Christianity. In written sources the cave town is mentioned in the 13th century under the name of Kyrk-Or (Forty Fortifications).
6 April 2015:
Breakfast again and off to Livadia palace and park.
The palace is a little over 100 years old and was built as a Summer residence for the last Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, and his family.
Romanovs loved the place and spent at least two and a half months every year in the Livadia palace.
Walk where the Tsars and their families walked, see where the meeting between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill took place where they discussed the fate of Europe after the end of WWII.
One of the exhibitions in the palace is devoted to the Yalta Conference which was held here in 1945. During the Yalta Conference the palace housed Franklin Delano Roosevelt and other members of the American delegation. American’s president was so taken by the palace’s beauty and grandeur that he asked Joseph Stalin if he could buy it to buy it, but of course the Soviet leader refused. Important international meetings still take place in the Livadia Palace.
Also we are going to organise a classical music concert in the Centre of Organ Music in Livadia. This is the part of the Livadia Palace and the Park Complex which can accommodate up to 150 spectators. A large new organ in Livadia was completed in 1988, is the first instrument of its kind made on the territory of the former Soviet Union. It is famous in this country and abroad as the biggest and one of the best in Russia.
7 April 2015:
After breakfast we’ll have a day trip to Sevastopol which after WWII was proclaimed a Soviet Hero city . http://2seecrimea.com/sevastopol-city/
And visit the Inkerman Winery which still produces Stalin’s favorite wine which we are going to taste. The Inkerman Winery excursion together with the tasting will take one and a half hours.
Winemaking has existed for so long in Crimea, it might be considered the “mother” of the worlds winemaking. Natural conditions are perfect for a viticulture of high quality grapes for all types of wine.
About 3000 years ago the people living in Crimea started to cultivate vines for winemaking. In the 6th century BC Greek colonists appeared in Crimea, founding the Chersoneses settlement and viticulture was their main purpose.. Chersonesuse’s winemakers produced thousands litres of wine.. They used about one third of this wine themselves and exported the rest. Archeologists found a monument from the 6th century BC which said “Agasicle was honoured by the nation with this monument for planting the grapes”. It was the first monument to the Crimean winemakers. Their winepresses are still preserved in cave towns and monasteries of Crimea.
We will head to the northern wine region of Sevastopol where the Inkerman Winery was founded in 1961 in the cave galleries of Sevastopol area, in the small town named Inkerman. These limestone galleries were rebuilt in the 1940-s after WW II in the ruins of Sevastopol. During the next 15 years a whole city grew up under ground. Kilometres of galleries, 12 metres high and 10-12 metres wide, running to a depth of 5 to 30 metres. Here you will hear the history of the Crimean winemaking, the history of the winery, visit wine cellars, learn about the technological peculiarities in making dry fine wines, fortified and dessert wines, and have the opportunity to taste 8 samples (dry, fortified and dessert wines).
8 April 2015:
Another day trip. We are going to Ai-Petri mountain.
Ai-Petri (Greek for ‘Saint Peter’) is one of the most famous Crimean mountaints. Its picturesque peaks, which fence off Yalta from the outer world, have become the symbol not just of the southern coast, but also of the entire Crimean peninsula.
This legendary massif is attractive for tourists because from its peaks, one can get an amazing view over the whole southeastern coast of Crimea In order to see these fantastic panoramas, numerous travelers climb the Ai-Petri all year round.
The best way to get to its 1200 meter (3937 feet) high peaks to see the unforgettable views is to use the cableway ‘Miskhor – Ai-Petri,’ which is an attraction itself. It consists of two parts, one of which is ‘unsupported’ and not like anything else in Europe.
We’ll take the cable car to the top of the Ai-Petri mountain from the village of Mishkor to tiny Tatar village at top. Cable car ride was 3.5 kilometers or 2.17 miles long – In two legs. Once you reach the top, the views are spectacular looking down towards the Black Sea. At the top are some shops with local souvenirs and a little outdoor picnic style eating places right next to the mountain edge looking down towards the Black Sea. There are horses available for trail riding.
On the way to our accommodation we are visiting Anton Chekov’s house in Yalta.
Anton Chekhov’s The White Dacha, is the house that built in Yalta and in which he wrote some of his greatest work. It is now a museum.
The White Dacha was built in 1898 following Chekhov’s success with The Seagull.
From the study you will be able to see the seafront that inspired “The Lady with the Dog”, and out the back the scene that inspired the setting of The Cherry Orchard is visible. He also wrote the Three Sisters and The Bishop here.
9 April 2015:
After breakfast day trip to Marble cave.
The Mramornaya Cave (literally translates as Marble Cave) is situated in the mountainous massif of Chatyr-Dag. The picturesque silhouette of this mountain is seen from very different points and distances and is considered to be a symbol of the Crimea. The Chatyr-Dag plateau is dappled with numerous karst caverns making it look like the moon. More than 160 karst caverns, pits, and wells are included in the preserved area. The most interesting of them is the Marble Cave discovered in 1987 and opened to visitors in 2001. The entrance into the cave is 920 metres above sea level. It lies in the brick of upper Jurassic limestone and consists of three parts: the Main Gallery, the Lower Gallery, and the side Tiger Pass. The dropstones separate the enormous galleries into several halls. The explored passages are 2050 metres in length and 60 metres deep. The tourist routes are over one kilometre long.
The Marble Cave welcomes its visitors with the Gallery of Fairy Tales where they come through the man-made tunnel that is 10 metres in length. The Gallery is 20 metres wide and rich in stalactites, stalagmites, and dropstones. A well-lit way goes deep down the Cave. The tourist path passes around the fantastic stalagmite sculptures strikingly resembling fairy-tale characters in their shapes. Light brings out of the darkness the “Elephant calf”, “Mammoth”, a head of the “Owner of the Cave”, “Father Frost”, and “Frog Princess”. It is hard to believe that all these characters have been created by water drops, not by a talented sculptor. And over a period of many millions of years.
10 April 2015:
Visiting Crimean Astrophysical Observatory
The creation of this Crimean observatory was organised by an amateur astronomer and later Honoured Member of the Academy of Science, M. Maltsov. In 1900 he built a tower for a refractor at his own plot near the town of Simeiz. In 1906 – the tower appeared with a dome for the Zeiss double astrograph. Both towers are preserved and still being used. The Simeiz observatory is situated 360m above sea level at the southern end of the range of Crimean peaks, at Koshka mountain. The main building was restored after the Second World War on the site of the old building in a modernised style with balconies decorated by columns.
It has been publishing the Bulletin of the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory since 1947, in English since 1977.
During the excursion to the Crimean Laser Observatory ‘Blue Bay’ you will be able to see different installations of gigantic sizes, you will watch the sky of stars, the nebulae, the far planets, and you will see the Moon. At the end of the trip you will see pictures of significant discoveries made there. Not many people know that it is here where the first picture of the back side of the Moon was made. Saturn’s rings have been researched here. The stars cloud of ‘Berenice’s Hair’ was studied here. In 1930th a powerful photoheliograph was installed, which helped to obtain pictures of the sun, after which the Crimean Observatory became a member of the international programme ‘Sun Service’. In 1947 the observatory scientists took the first picture of the centre of the galaxy.
11 April 2015:
On the last day of our trip we are going to spend time in Yalta and visit the famous “Swallow Nest” castle.
As the National Geographic magazine presented the Crimean Peninsula and the “Swallow Nest” castle as one of the best Trips 2013 we couldn’t leave Crimea without visiting the famous castle.
The castle was built in the early twentieth century between 1911 and 1912 on a cliff that juts out over the Black Sea. The “Swallow’s Nest” castle was built to a Neo-Gothic design by the Russian architect Leonid Sherwood for the Baltic German oil millionaire Baron von Steingel.
12 April 2015:
After breakfast our bus will take us to the Simferopol’s airport to fly to Moscow and then take a connection flight to London.
The cost of this trip for us would be very much dependant on the size of the group however it should be no more than £740 in total (include RVSP £150 deposit)
Total of £740 will include:
1) Accommodation for 10 days.
2) Breakfast, pack lunch when needed and supper ( wine included) for 10 days.
3) English speaking tour guide at all our destinations and all entrance tickets including wine tasting sessions at the Crimean wineries.
4) Rent of minibus for 10 days for all our excursions and transfers.
• The final date for booking will be 16th February 2015.
Please note, this group is not associated with any tours or travel company. It is a social, community group set-up to bring together like minded people to plan trips together. The job of the trip host is to be the catalyst for organising and planning the trip, and he is not responsible for the experience or safety of each person.
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