I know, I know...two posts in one day! A mother's "guilt" does wonders. LOL. Actually, it's really that I have a little time to kill before the big Bingo game tonight, so thought I'd tell you a little bit about Sevastopol as well as shipboard life.
Liz, Larry and I had a later tour today than the rest of the group and I, for one, was thankful for the respite. I had failed to set my watch back an hour, so I was up an hour earlier than usual and found myself with time on my hands to enjoy the arrival into port, and a few games. Every day on board, the Event Staff plans events that guests can go to and earn "Dam Dollars". Please note the spelling on these. It refers to the "dam" at the end of the name of each of the Holland America ships and not the lake of eternal fire as some might assume. At the end of the cruise, if you have a minimum of 15 Dam Dollars, you can purchase something with them. Today...I reached the 15 dollar mark and can now continue on. I went up on deck with Liz in anticipation of the Opposite Hand Ring Toss...only then to discover I had not set my watch back. :-) Liz and Larry left me for the laundry room and when it was finally time to play the game, I scored 8 bucks! Cool. The weather was warm and absolutely beautiful as the ship traversed the harbor into Sevastopol. Our original plan was to tender two miles out and then take the little lifeboats/tenders into port. However, our Captain Rik Krombeen negotiated with the port authorities to allow us to dock at the NAVY DOCK! How cool is that?!? It was amazing being on board as the Captain maneuvered the ship so precisely to pull the ship into the harbor and dock, bow out from the pier. Shortly before we docked, it was time for another "Sports of Call" - this time on the Shuffleboard court. I've found a new game to love. DJ Matt took pity on me and was to be my partner on the court...all so I could earn more Dam Dollars. It was fun to chat with him on a personal level - he's from Maryland and is 2 months into his 5 month contract on board. It's fun to talk to someone who loves working for the company as much as I do.
Sevastopol: What a difference - like night and day - in comparison to the experience in Russia yesterday. From the very beginning with the immigration officials who were smiling and laughing while stamping our passports, to the friendliness of the policemen on shore, the difference was marked. Evidence of Russia's control over the Ukrainian people and region is strong, as is a unique sentimentality of the Ukrainian people for Communist Russia's leaders - namely Stalin. They (those that have an affinity for the dictator) revere him with statues, flowers and even in their discussion of him as a loving "father" to Russia and the Ukraine. Admittedly, I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around that concept.
Today, while some went to the Crimean Riviera and Yalta, the Dotsons and I opted for the Battles of Balaklava - the site of a hidden submarine base. There is a ton of WWII and Crimean War history here, of course, and as I'm not a history fanatic, I have a hard time assimiliting it all, but it was extremely interesting. As was mentioned before, I am a fan of the Cold War era movies (Red October, etc) and to actually be in a "super-secret submarine base, complete with nuclear bomb blast safe doors and escape routes, was really intriguing.
As you may remember from my post a couple days ago about stepping out of my comfort zone, it also applies to food. Now, with the quest for Dam Dollars today, I did not each lunch before stepping off board. On the tour, we were provided with a refreshment stop where they furnished coffee, tea and/or orange juice. The three of us Compadres thought it'd be nice to share a snack, so we ordered shrimp (what else?) and fries. When the shrimp came, it was fried - but not in a batter, just in a pan with olive oil. Oh...and one more thing - the shrimp (tiger prawns, actually) were served with their heads on. Something to note: I'm not SUPER adventurous when it comes to food. I am certainly not found of beheading something at my table right before I eat it. However, I thought of my proverbial basket and decided to dive in. Once I got past those beady little eyes looking at me, I ripped their little heads off and ate the shrimp. Hmmmm...Tasty. :-)
Tomorrow will find us in Constanta, Romania. Until then, please...pass the shrimp. :-)