After Cherkasy Conference, I spent just enough time in Kyiv to unpack and repack my suitcase before heading to Crimea with Lena Morozova. We visited Koktebel, a small town on the east side of the island, a little bit north of Yalta.

51Here we are at dinner after our first day on the beach. Turkish influence made itself felt in the town in all the cafes like this one, where the tables were low and there were cushions instead of chairs. We ate at places like this about half the time we were there.





5253Much to our disappointment, the weather turned cloudy and chilly on the second day. Our sunbathing intentions were thwarted with each layer of clothing we added. The good news: we had lots of books with us and still enjoyed being by the water.


54These photos are intended as proof that we did enjoy some sunny days by the water. Unfortunately, clear images of us in our actual bathing suits are not available….55

We had to wait until our last day in Crimea to get waves large enough to pay attention to, but once they came, we really enjoyed them.





2Here's Lena riding the wave.







57I think my wave was bigger, but I didn't deal with it so gracefully.

One day we decided to stop sitting and swimming and start walking, so we went on a hiking tour of the nearby mountains. The posted information said it was a "10-kilometer hike of average difficulty". After completing the hike, we realized that really meant "a 10-kilometer hike-one way-up and down some really steep mountains that will be of average difficulty for anyone who has spent a month living on a glacier in Alaska or has mountain goats somewhere in his/her family tree." Good thing the views were amazing.

58This was the view of the town as we first ascended the mountain. I love the colors in the water.

59 Our first stop was for a viewing of this rock formation, called "The Black Finger." I'm not sure what finger it's supposed to look like, but the local tradition is that if you touch the rock and make a wish, it will come true.




I'm not sure what local tradition says will happen if you have your picture made in front of the rock, but we did it anyway. Maybe we'll find out soon if anything happened because of it.






63At least here we have some photographic proof that we eventually did touch the rock.







64Waiting in line to touch the rock…and a view of the sea.

65Another view of the cliffs. It was really amazing how the colors in the water formed an all-blue-and-green rainbow that extended away from the shore, until they seemed to just blend into the white of the clouds in the sky.




66 A rock formation called "The Horse."

67One of Crimea's landmarks, a rock formation called "The Golden Gate." Two days out of the year, the sun shines over the mountains to the right in such a way that only this formation is illuminated and shines like gold.


68 Rocky cliffs in the sun. If you look very, very carefully, you can see a rather large group of people standing on a ridge to the left.













70The mountains that stand sentinel over the town.







71Lena on our last day in Koktebel. With American Coca-Cola in her right hand and Ukrainian dried fish in her left, she truly is a multi-cultural marvel.






72The view from our apartment. These are the outskirts of the town.