An Unexpected Holiday

An unexpected holiday

I am lucky, I have some unforgettable memories of holidays in my life. Being born in ex USSR, which was a closed country, where before people learnt about other countries from books and magazines and through the eyes of TV presenters, I have travelled a lot for my business and for pleasure.
It happened last spring. L lost my job. I decided I would go back to Russia to see my mother and my friends. It might not sound like a proper holiday but I would have some fun and the change of atmosphere would do me good. So I paid off my credit cards and jumped onto a plane to Moscow.
Spring in Russia does not necessarily follow the conventional calendar.   Moscow looked like a picture from an old Christmas card. Frequent heavy snowfalls were keeping Moscow decorated with dazzling white furs turning heartbreakingly blue in the evenings.   It was cold. Really cold!   Bitterly cold!
In early spring in Russia it makes sense to go south, to meet the spring there well before it comes to Moscow.   A journey south in this season means a night-long ride from winter to spring. We boarded a train on a crisp and frosty Moscow morning and all day long enjoyed the white-and-black artwork of a Russian winter.   It was comfortable to watch all that scenery framed by the window of the train, sitting in the cosy warmth of the railroad car, slowly sipping wine, drinking tea and listening to the stories told by passengers whom I was unlikely to ever see again.   In a sense, trains are better than the planes. You relax and slowly adjust to a different pace and lifestyle while you journey on, ever further from the hectic hurried life of Moscow. Next morning you wake to see a different country, the endless southern plains of fields and meadows have replaced the northern forests.
Technically the Crimea is in Ukraine, a newly independent country with its own borders and rules, but in my mind it is still part of my childhood where there were no borders.
We reached Simferopol,...