Delving into the past Historic Ukraine

| October 10, 2013

Michael and Kay Sillitoe discovered the treasures of historic Ukraine, after travelling with Cox & Kings in May.

Kiev, Ukraine

A word of warning - do not go on this holiday unless you are interested in history. However, if you want to see history come to life, then this is the holiday for you.

Our first day in the Crimea started off with a walking tour of Yalta. The Ukraine has more statues and monuments than I have ever seen, and Yalta has its fair share.

Statue of Lenin: ✓

Memorial to the surviving members of the Romanov family, rescued by a British destroyer in 1919, on the orders of George V: ✓

‘Lady with the Dog’ figure; built after Chekhov’s story of the same name, and statue of Chekhov himself: ✓

After the walking tour, we were met by the minibus at Alexander Nevsky cathedral; Russian Orthodox churches are so ornate, they are dazzling.

We then made our way to the Livadia Palace. This beautiful, white palace was built by Tsar Nicholas II as his family’s summer residence. They were to spend only four summers there before the Russian revolution swept them away. The palace’s main claim to fame is that the Yalta conference was held here in 1945, between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt, to divide up the continent of Europe after Germany had been defeated. We saw the white dining room where the conference was held; a copy of the Russian newspaper ‘Pravda’ for the day of the conference; and the Italian Courtyard, where the famous photograph of the three leaders sitting on the garden bench was taken.

Then it was back to the minibus and to lunch, overlooking the Swallow’s Nest castle.

After lunch, we went to the Alupka Palace, also known as the Vorontsov Palace. This was where Churchill stayed during the Yalta conference, although only for 2 nights - he was more comfortable on the battleship that had brought him to Yalta. Apparently there was no indoor plumbing, and he was concerned that the palace was bugged. (He should have stayed in the Hotel Bristol in Yalta, where Cox & Kings’ clients are accommodated. It is an excellent hotel with delicious food and helpful staff). The Alupka Palace is set in beautiful parkland with gardens overlooking the Black Sea. The roses were particularly good when we were there in May.

This was only our first day. The rest of the days, both in the Crimea and in Kiev, were equally busy. What impressed us was the range of history on offer; the Crimean war, the Cold war, the second world war, Greek ruins, the Russian revolution, Crimean Tatars, and then, particularly in Kiev, the beautiful, colourful churches and cathedrals.

Our guide, Tatiana, impressed us with her knowledge of history, geography, literature and botany, to say nothing of her recitation, in English (and from memory), of ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ while we were on our way to Sebastopol after visiting the battlefield at Balaklava. We were lucky. Our group was small, so we were able to ask to stop at sites which may not have been on the agenda - and our guides were keen to show us.

The whole holiday was a treasure trove of memories from a country that, although virtually unknown, can be highly recommended as a destination.

View all luxury holidays to the Ukraine with Cox & Kings.

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