Back in the Ukraine
With a view of Margate.
I suppose to some yacht owners, Margate is a name conjuring up romantic associations of far away places. But to moor alongside the nameplate this morning as we arrived in Yalta was enough to bring a smile to our faces.
Trying to decipher the exclamation on the back of the coach seat, we found ourselves distracted by the interior decor of the vehicle.
Two deep pelmets of brightly coloured nylon fabric, box pleated around the whole coach, including the windscreen created more than a little comment from our fellow travellers.
The tropical design of palm trees and straw huts seemed altogether out of place, too. But we were on our way to Livadiya Palace, the summer residence of the last Tsar and his family, so we had better things to think about.
Of course, this was also the site of the famous Yalta Conference, so ears were pricked as the commentary told the story of this fascinating place.
It’s a beautiful building, very personal to the royal family, even though they visited only four times.
The ceiling of the ballroom, where the treaty was signed was superb – the architect had decided that chandeliers would spoil the design, so the lighting comes from above an architrave and is very effective. With doors on both sides, there is a through breeze and the whole room is wonderfully light and airy.
In the next room, the chandelier had been brought from Murano and the red, white and blue colours were just enough to give it personality. The room itself had dark red walls and was otherwise rather dreary.
Whereas the downstairs rooms were laid out as for the Yalta Conference of 1945, the upstairs rooms were furnished as for the Royal Family. I really loved the personal details, the family photographs which were everywhere, because Kodak had given the family one of the first cameras.
Here were mementos of happy family occasions, of holidays and visits to the country.
One corridor was full of such photographs, such as this charming one of a young prince.
Sad to think that they would experience such a dreadful fate just a short time afterwards.
Shopping opportunities followed, for berioska dolls and musical boxes amongst other things.
More shopping opportunities by the viewpoint of the Swallows Nest, too. Known locally as Lastochkino Gnezdo, it’s the symbol of Yalta.
Final stop was at the Vorontsovsky Palace, where the British Delegation to the Yalta Conference were hosted, including Winston Churchill. I loved the four huge lions who were posed in front of the entrance, in particular this sleepy one. Any child who tried to hug or climb aboard the marble beasts received a sharp blast on a whistle from the man whose sole responsibility appeared to be to keep an eye out for such miscreants.
Much of the time, he was distracted by other things and the children got away with it. Perhaps not because he was intrigued by the knitting/crochet, though?