“On my champagne campaign, bottle after bottle, it’s on and we’re going to sip on every bubble ’til every bubble is gone.” – 50 Cent, Candy Shop
I haven’t written much about Crimea, but I shall soon. Crimea (Krim here) has a certain charm that is definitely starting to grow on me. I spent last Saturday on a day-trip to Sudak and Novi Svyet. Sudak is a quiet town on the coast with great hiking destinations. The main attraction is the imposing Genoese fortress built on a seaside cliff.
Crimea was an important harbor for Eurasian trade before Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen ninety-two. Global geopolitics favored the Italian city-states and their navies, so remnants of Genoese and Venetian forts can be found around Crimea. The fort is astonishingly well-preserved. Battle scars of eventual Ottoman conquest are present: the conversion of a church to a mosque, wells for storing water during a siege, cannon embankements…
Speaking of the new world, the town of Novi Svyet (literally New World) is located six kilometers up the road from Sudak. It is noteworthy for two things – a beach and a champagne factory. Yes, you are correct! The two are best enjoyed together. Rumor has it that $20 will provide the pleasure of trying six different kinds of wine and champagne while a violinist plays in the background for your personal, aristocratic enjoyment. The statue of a champagne bottle made out of bottles sent out Dionysian temptations, but a Sisyphian tragedy would rule on this day. The factory is closed on weekends. So close, but so far away. I shall return here and I’ll brink the Ukrainian equivalent of Andrew Jackson with me.
Alas, Marina and I had to settle for the next best alternative – downing a bottle of Crimean champagne while people watching at the beach and dock. There were a few people swimming in November due to a remarkable heat wave. The serene calm was disturbed by the cacophony of car sirens signaling a wedding procession. The newlyweds skipgiggled (trademark on neologism pending) to the beach and made out under a fish net covering while the photographer blitzed away with his camera. I’m not sure what to make of their risque approach to wedding photography. I’ll give credit for bringing novel to an overtly stale, predictable art form.
I catch myself in the unwarranted position of becoming sophisticated and cultured. My taste buds respond to dry Crimean champagne and “Masandra” white wine along with Georgian semisweet red. That would be the Georgia in the South Caucasus, not our South. Anyway, classy drinking excites the inner Gatsby within me. I temper these bourgeoise tendencies with a healthy penchant for old-fashioned proletarian vodka. Unfiltered “live” lagers and red absinthe served in chemistry class beakers round out the poison on offer.
This was a fun, but unfortunately short day. The sun sets early here. It was pitch black by the time we took the bus back to Simferopol at 6pm. The famed Eastern winter that stopped both Napoleon and Hitler strikes the higher latitudes above Crimea, but we are not impervious to the long winter nights. I sense that Ukraine should be in a time zone further east…let there be light!