Tuesday evening I caught the overnight train direct from Rostov, southwest to Simferopol, Crimea. Please see map below.
Simferopol is the capital of Crimea, an independant republic of Ukraine, as I understand it. Off-season, 350,000 residents. The city mushrooms each summer to one million. Needless to say, this is quite the resort area. Or rather, Simferopol is the connection point for travel to points south and resort area along the Black Sea.
In our train car was a group of guys was traveling together. They were a swim team and I considered them good security. Not that safety has even seemed much of an issue. Then again, I feel constantly surrounded by a flock of guardian angels.
They are from Astrakhan, a city near the Caspian Sea. Nice guys and well-mannered. Two were in my compartment and more about that later. . .
Just after midnight we were at the Russian border for an hour, as per routine. And then 30 minutes later, at the Ukrainian border for half-an-hour. This chops up the sleep, waking up to answer questions, open luggage if requested and such. Always nice to get through that and eventually get lulled to sleep as the train lurches along.
Wednesday morning, fields of harvested sunflowers on the north side of the tracks.
On the south, fields with hills in the distance. The Sea of Azov-Black Sea would be not far beyond.
You know athletes, they do need their sleep. So here it is 10:00 a.m. and they're catching up. But here's a view of a train compartment.
Sleeping swimmer on top berth and my spot was below.
Train stopped at Djonkoi for 18 minutes or so. Our train, right was next to another train, direct from Moscow to Simferopol.
Sign on our train: Simferopol (Crimea, Ukraine) to Kislovodsk (Russia), which would be in the Caucaus Mountains, a resort area in southern Russia.
Care for some fish? Here's something yummy for sale. This fellow was hawking his fish along the train car.
Some caviar on the side? Following the fish man was the caviar guy. Question: Is the caviar guy also a cavalier guy? One can only assume.
Our compartment ended up be the gathering place for games. Here a couple swimmers play nardi. It seemed to be quite entertaining and attracted an audience.
But UNO is my favorite. I usually travel with a set and then have a bit of a dilemma when folks fall in love with the game: to give away my own cards? Or to mail a set to them? In the past, I've done both. Now I don't even think about it. Anyway, UNO was quite a hit with this bunch. They caught on quick and put a quick end to my winning streak.
UNO, continued. I bought these cards in Rostov, believe it or not. So this version is multi-lingual, I guess you could say. The cards have no words on them, only symbols. And the directions are in Russian, Polish, Czech.
So that's a quick tour of the train trip from Rostov-on-Don to Simferopol, Crimea. Thanks for coming along!