Mar 092012

During our two-week stay on the Black Sea coast, Herb and I took just one trip away from the Kazantip area (while Gaurav and Jose flew off to spend a few days in Istanbul):

A ~40km bikeride to the nearest proper city, Yevpatoria.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, not many people come to Kazantip to go biking through long, empty roads in the Ukraininan countryside – so finding rentals was actually quite a challenge.

But after numerous inquiries and proxy-phonecalls, we finally located a shop in Yevpatoria that was willing to drive a couple of bikes out to us.

This worked out nicely, because it let us make the trip one-way and return them right at our destination.

The ride itself was largely uneventful, save for just a few interesting spots.

For example, because we were more or less skirting the coast, every once in awhile we’d happen by an isolated little private beach.

Usually these weren’t much more than a parking lot, a few souvenir shops, and a path to the sand – but they did provide convenient “refueling stations” to get a bit of shade and stock up on water along the way.

Aside from those, the most obvious highlight of the ride was the Yevpatoria RT-70 radio telescope.

It’s one of the largest single-dish radio telescopes ever built, constructed during the Soviet era for conducting deep space experiments.

Sitting quietly in the middle of nowhere, one would hardly expect that it’s one of only two in the world capable of transmitting precisely-aimed messages to extraterrestrial civilizations.

(Not sure how true that really is, but I did read it in a few different places. Check out the Wikipedia article here).

As we continued along the main road to the city, we also found ourselves passing through large stretches of watermelon “farms.”

So we stopped by one for a taste. The woman told us to help ourselves and didn’t even want to let us pay – though of course we insisted.

Maybe she was hoping we’d think it was so delicious that we’d buy a few for ourselves 😛

We reached Yevpatoria at about 5pm, and not a moment too soon: Herb was having constant problems with his bike.

First, one of the pedals snapped off. I offered to swap as I’m pretty used to crappy equipment…but then a pedal snapped off the other bike as well.

And as if that wasn’t enough, literally just two kilometers from the end he got a flat tire. D’oh! But we were so close that we decided to just finish off on foot.

The rest of the day we spent wandering the city itself, as I was happy to find Yevpatoria way nicer and more interesting than expected.

It had a beautiful old town district,

Plenty of tourist attractions,

A bustling central shopping boulevard and several pleasant squares,

A carnival-like waterfront promenade,

And loads of fantastic Tatar cuisine. We wrapped up our day with a dinner in the Lonely Planet’s top-recommended restaurant (the menu helpfully translated by a nearby Latvian tourist), then caught a cab back home to Popovka.

Note: These posts are behind realtime; the above took place on Wednesday, August 17th, 2011.

  17 Responses to “Biking to Yevpatoria”

  1. Very cool, sounds like a nice adventure. Of course the pictures of the tatar drummers I would have found intriguing to hear. There is the part of me that if I were to ever get a phd, it would be in ethnomusicology…. I miss the Balkan ensemble I used to play in!

    • Ethnomusicology is definitely a word I’ve never used before 😛

      You probably would’ve had a field day in Serbia – they love their traditional music. I spent almost a month in a small town about 2 hours from Belgrade (post scheduled for 03/16), living right across from a park where they had live Serbian music almost every night.

    • yes I would- that sounds awesome.

      I am so happy you have now used the word ethnomusicology- I’m sure it will now come up all the time for you in every day conversation.
      (ps I just typed out about 5 different conversational examples using the word…but they were wayyyyy to dorky for anyone other than myself to find funny, hah,)

    • Here’s an example of how I might use it tomorrow: “Hey mom, yesterday I had a conversation about ethnomusicology” 😛

    • I guess I was try to think of something funny…. like.. “how are your eggs?” “well they would taste better if there was an ethnomusicologist here”

      but obviously, that is a failed attempt. it’s very hard to make any music-related jokes that are not terribly dorky.

    • Yeah, cuz you’ve never said anything dorky in front of me before 😉

  2. sounds a bit bland….especially considering how crazy kazantip was

    • Not at all! Just different. Getting out for a medium-distance bikeride was great exercise, and a nice break from all the other cirrhosis-inducing days and nights 😉

  3. 🙂 *like* lol

  4. Sounds like a nice place to chill for a few days and catch up on life.

    • Could be, but I dunno – didn’t really look at it from that angle. i.e. I’ve no idea how nice/reasonable the lodgings are, if there’s a gym, etc. I just thought it was pretty “touristically” interesting 🙂

    • There’s always a gym somewhere, and Internet is getting more and more commonplace. So basically any nice place has a potential 🙂

    • There’s always a gym, but not a reasonable one. ie. in Hong Kong or Singapore or Japan you have to pay like $15 for a single use (no way!), and in a lot of smaller towns the weights go up to a maximum of like 20lbs.

      But yeah…potential 😉

    • Since I’ve been quite a lot around the East Block and ex Soviet Union, I’d say there are oodles of gyms in these countries. Exercise was apparently important to the Soviets, and that part of the culture has stayed behind (along with the vodka).

    • Handy! 🙂

  5. What crappy bikes! They look like they were supposed to be nice, like impostor Walmart bikes that can’t really do what (it looks like) they were designed to do.

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