Judging by the rain, summer looks to be over. The work is also flooding in, washing away any hopes I had of taking time off. My friends are all coming back from their holidays, which always throws me into a financial and psychological crisis, because I have to find at least two hours to spend with each of them. I already know exactly what tales theyll have to tell me. All these romantic stories happy and unhappy about the weeks they spent in Ibiza, Antalya, Jurmala, Miami, Rodos or the Maldives. Its like watching the Discovery channel.
Of course, had I been a bit more decisive, Id also have gone off to a beach resort, but things sort of went wrong in the middle of the summer. One girlfriend with her kid hesitated too long about going to Antalya, a childhood friend took off to Riga before I could get myself ready, I went to Ibiza last year and I dont have the money to go to the Maldives because of my fetish for pricey shoes. So while I was making up my mind, I suddenly realized it was already August.
Anyway, we soon found a solution. My friends Anya, Yulia and Yana, all stuck in Moscow like I was, decided to go to the Crimea together. What could be better? We dont need visas for Ukraine, the language is similar to Russian, and its only an hour and a half by plane. True, its another hour and a half from the airport in Simferopol to Yalta, but that wouldnt stop us. We made our decision on a Friday, bought the tickets on Monday and were in Yalta by Wednesday.
I was only there a week, but I took back a heap of memories. The climate is just like the Mediterranean hot and sunny. Yalta itself is a real mix of styles. We stayed in the Yalta Hotel, a copy of the Rossiya in Moscow. Just nearby was Drazhinsky St., an old street lined with two-story houses that gives a picture of what the town once looked like. We hung out in the little cafes and bars there, flirted, ate too much, danced all night and bought coral beads that bring good luck.
Our president, Vladimir Putin, was in Yalta at the beginning of May and made the resort very popular among Russians. There were a lot of foreigners too, but not as many as Russians. We were there for two Russian-Ukrainian cultural events the producers cinema festival and the Rupor youth rock festival. True, wed already seen the movies in Moscow, but we got to dance with Dmitry Kharatian at the Orange beach club.
The rock festival was fantastic. I dont like Nike Borzov (hes too depressing and tedious) but here he was completely different smiling, laughing, playing with real fire. I wasnt interested in the Russian musicians (you hear them enough in Russia) but the Ukrainian groups were great. Vopli Vidoplyasova and Okean Elzy, all Ukrainian, are very popular in Moscow. There are always a lot Ukrainian events in Moscow in autumn, and at least now Ill have an idea of whats worth checking out.
Anyway, my recommendations are Talita Kum, with their frontwoman Yulia Mishchenko. Theyre on the rise, they play a variety of styles and make music that appeals to a really broad audience. Then there are the guys from Tanok na Maidane Kongo. They know how to have fun. We went swimming in the Black Sea with them and they invited us to their Moscow concerts. Then there was this group Druga Rika. After we heard them we went looking for their album. They play vibrant rock with Britpop overtones and their lyrics are really positive about life. I think the soloist and the guitarist are really cute, but I cant decide which one I like more.
I really liked Yalta, its extravagant and southern, and I reckon its just as good as any of these exotic resorts in faraway countries. Really, its worth a visit. I met this Italian there (we write everyday now) and hes asked me to come visit him in Milan. I guess Ill just have to find a way to take some leave.