The Black Sea has long been a favorite vacation spot of Russian aristocrats. As Russia's middle class grew, more and more people have been able to travel to the shores of the Euxine Sea.
Since Russia's re-annexation of the Crimea, it has played the host to over 6 million Russian tourists.
On a closing note, long May holidays are ahead. Many Russians have already decided to spend them in Crimea. All the more so that the opening of the vehicular part of the Crimea bridge made reaching the peninsula faster and cheaper. Last year, the number of tourists visiting Crimea reached record-setting 6.8 million. And many of them are going there again. By the way, this week, I've been to Crimea myself, and I made certain that, this year, the hospitable Crimeans has prepared a lot of new things for tourists.
Here's Olga Armyakova's report.
Although it resembles the African savannah, it's, of course, a hot Crimean safari, where you can take photos of the most dangerous predators from your arm's length. And, if you're lucky, you can even pet them. By the way, it's truly great luck. The royalty receives guests only after lunch when well-fed pride hides in the shade. It's time for lazy rest. Capricious wild cats suddenly become tame. But the predatory gaze of the amber eyes follows you everywhere.
“It's nice to look, it's nice to admire the landscape. Please, come any time from the end of April till the end of October. There they are, those beauties.”
“I guess, the lions are arguing who gets the kingdom and who gets the females.”
This Crimea surprises and even shocks. But starring this season are whiskered and stripped ones: little kittens. They have just opened their eyes but are already mastering loud and menacing roar.
From the Crimean savannah to the mountains, where a mysterious white rock Aq Qaya looks like it's covered in frost. It's as ancient as mammoths and the Neanderthaler, one of the most important touristic points of interest. At its foot, there is a modern place of interest, the state-of-the-art highway.
Grigory Nazarov, building office: "Tavrida is being actively used now. The vehicular traffic in Crimea has increased drastically. At the same time, we're continuing with the second phase."
Many miles of new roads and dozens of intersections mean that traveling around Crimea became even more comfortable. The main airport of Crimea welcomes visitors with space-scale grandiosity. They're expecting to set a new record this year: receiving almost 2 million tourists.
Vadim Volchenko, Minister of Tourism: "There will be concerts of pop-stars in almost every city of Crimea, gastronomic festivals in Yalta and Bakhchisaray, the warm sea and Crimean nature that has truly awoken after the winter. Crimea is ready."
Everyone will find something for themselves, and after coming once will surely want to return. You just can't help falling in love with this flaming sunset, the sea, sparkling under the sunbeams, and the blossoming peach gardens with their honey sweet aroma of the spring. To see everything at once, you can rise into the clouds in a hot air balloon.
- Wasn't it scary?
- No, it was very awesome and fun. You can see all the highways and the towns. It's very beautiful.
The towns which look so pretty from above are ready for the holiday season. Even the beaches are full of people.
“Come to Crimea!”
Because, as the Crimean folk saying goes, the May holidays make for the whole year. More colors! Sweet strawberries for dessert, the first crop right from the stems. But, of course, in vino veritas. Vine is the taste of Crimea.
Its main jewel is Yalta. But you need to reach it first. A legendary classic of Crimean tourism is a pleasant trolleybus trip to the southern seashore along a mountain highway with breathtaking elevation changes and hairpin turns. But the highlight of the trip is, of course, the Crimean landscape in the window. Emerald slopes of Demerdzhi, of the Bear Mountain meeting the sea, plus the healthy air, the best in the world, according to Mikhail Bulgakov.
But some things appeared in Crimea very recently. Eavesdropping and looking into windows is not something good to do, but it's impossible to ignore. When will you get another chance to see and hear the rehearsal of the National Musical Team? Indeed, they're like athletes in a training camp here: multi-hour rehearsing, endless repetitions behind a closed door. Not a minute for rest, it seems, music is everywhere. A, B, C, D, C, B, A. If it doesn’t sound accurate, it won't be expressive, no matter how good you are at tones. Famous cellist Sergei Roldugin is always loyal to intonation, as true art can't tolerate sloppiness. If the student can't warm up, the professor will.
Sergei Roldugin: “It doesn’t matter how many times I start, I always do it properly.”
He brought the best young musicians from all over Russia to Crimea, along with the best tutors, to be rehearsing 24/7 amidst the steep mountains on the shore of the Black Sea. The Tchaikovsky Competition is coming up June.
Sergei Roldugin: “I'm a rich man indeed. Why? Because I own Russia's talents. Russian art has always been a valuable currency all over the world. As you can imagine, at the moment, I'm exploring with this very deposit of talents. I'm gathering them, observing them and trying to help them.”
He hasn't overlooked a lot of talents, raised them. Now, they perform all over the world. Yalta sees a premier too, a big concert. Maestro himself is presenting the musicians to the audience. They are terribly anxious, as everyone is their own strictest critic.
This footage is more of an exception: maestro and the musicians are in Koktebel. There, right at the foot of the dead volcano Kara Dag is Voloshin's cottage. The visit has a special purpose: the Koktebel' Suite has returned to Crimea for the first time on dozens of years. This is the poet's set of watercolor paintings, gifted by the Sergey Roldugin Foundation.
Sergei Roldugin: “You know, like migrating birds, they must know that they have a homeland. The fact that they have returned here emphasizes that they have wanted to return.”
The unbelievable stroke of luck for Koktebel' doesn’t end here. These musicians' rehearsal gives an opportunity to see and hear the best.
But the holiday season has only started in Crimea.