Ukraine - Crimea
Simferopol is the capital of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine.
It is situated on the small Salgir River.
A famous archaeological site known as Scythian Neapol, the remnants of an ancient capital of the Crimean Scythians, is located within the city's boundaries.
Later, the Crimean Tatar town of Aqmescit was located in the area of modern Simferopol.
Russians renamed the city Simferopol in 1784 after the conquest of Crimea by Catherine II of Russia.
In Greek Sympheropolis means "the city of usefulness". In 1802 Simferopol became the administrative center of the Taurida Governorate. During the Crimean War of 1854-1856 Russian army reserves and a hospital were located in the city. More than 30,000 Russian soldiers were buried in the vicinity of the city.
In the 20th century Simferopol once again was affected by wars in the region. At the end of the Russian Civil War, the headquarters of General Pyotr Wrangel, leader of the anti-Bolshevik White Army, were located there. On November 13, 1920 the Red Army captured the city and on October 18, 1921, Simferopol became the capital of the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.
On the 18th May 1944 the conquering Soviet forces forcibly deported the Crimean Tatar population of Simferopol with the whole Crimean Tatar nation to Central Asia.
After the war, on April 26, 1954, Simferopol, together with the rest of Crimea, was transferred from Russia to the Ukrainian SSR by Nikita Khrushchev.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Simferopol became the capital city of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea within independent Ukraine. Today it has a population of 363,600 (as of 2004) who are mostly ethnic Russians. There are also significant Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar minorities.
After Crimean Tatars returned from the exile in 1990s several new Crimean Tatar suburbs were erected.
The city has a railway terminus, serving millions of summer tourists each year, and the Simferopol Airport. The world's longest trolley bus line connects Simferopol to Yalta on Crimea's Black Sea coast.
Region of Crimea: Simferopol municipality
Coordinates: 44°57'0?N, 34°6'0?E
Altitude: ~350 m
Area: 107 km²
Population: 358,108 (2001)
Postal codes: 95000 - 95490
Phone prefix: +380-652
Time zone: EET: UTC+2
Former name(s): Aqmescit (Aq Mechet) (until 1784), Kermençik (until the 13th cent.)
For a more information about Simferopol see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This page was retrieved and condensed from (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simferopol) December 2003
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details).
This information was correct in February 2007. E. & O.E.
In 2006, while visiting and spending a couple of months in Hungary, attending the 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution - (Freedom fight) as a veteran, (See my eyewitness account) Hui Chin and I took time out to visit Ukraine.
We went to spend some time to visit Yalta, the Swalow's Nest, Simferopol and the Capital, Kiev.
Before our departure we read a few guides etc and most of them advised to take US $ and € as the only acceptable currency, well neither any of the hotels or shops we were wanted a bar of either, only their local currency.
As for our stay, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay and found the local people very friendly and helpful.
Our arrival to Simferopol was late and very hectic.
It started off on the wrong foot at Budapest International Airport at Ferihegy when our flight to Kiev was delayed more than two hours.
Of course that delay put everything out of kilter.
At Kiev Airport we had to change Terminals, we had to find and rush from the international terminal 1 we had to go to domestic terminal 2.
Not many Ukrainian speak English yet, accept the younger ones, but we managed to find a kind, understanding and English speaking person most of the times in the "hour' of our need.
A kind Taxi driver shown us the way to Terminal 2 and a kind Security Guard rushed us to screening to catch our flight to Simferopol.
We just made the flight, as a matter of fact the 'Captain and all the passengers were waiting for us'.
So we were told.
After landing at Simferopol we had to face some of the usual and some of the more unusual problems of travelling aboard especially in strange, unknown countries, what I mean is strange and unknown country to us.
As we didn't book an apartment or hotel through a 'good' agent we didn't have our driver waiting for us, holding up a card with your name on it, so it is easy for us to locate him on our arrival at the airport or station to transfer us between Simferopol airport or train station and Simferopol, Yalta or Sevastopol.
No driver was given the address of our apartment or hotel so no one could whip us straight there.
After questioning a few people, most of them helpful, but couldn't understand us, we managed to find out that there are some kind of bus or trolleybus service to town from just outside the airport.
The trolleybus was just started to move off when we got there, being 11.45 pm. we were desperate to catch it, in case it was the last one for the day.
I was running with the bus and bashing the back end of it until it stopped at last, I was out of puff too.
For a long while we tried to explain to the driver and his assistant that we were wanting to go to the town centre.
Neither of us could understand the other, so after awhile he waved us to the back to sit down and shut up.
A good hour and many stops later, the lady driver - who looked like the assistant at the Airport and took over the driving about half an hour ago - came up to us after she stopped and told us to get off.
We tried to ask for the fare, but she just waved at us to bugger off.
There we were without a clue of our whereabouts. a place with McDonald and some large buildings, - which next day we found out was the Main Railway Station, - but sure didn't look like downtown, although it was a major, - especially transport - centre in Simferopol.
After asking many different people passing by or in shops, how to get to the centre or Downtown, a couple young men walking out of an arcade came to our help, showing us the directions and after our question whether is it safe to walk there, at that hour of the night (1-2 am.), being another 5 kilometres to the best of our understanding - we would probably safe - they suggested to get a cab.
When we explained to them, that we neither reach or have local money, only € they went to the bother to find us a cab and negotiate with the driver a fare to the Hotel in downtown at 2 €.
They also told the driver that we only have €s and we do not speak Russian/Ukrainian, they explained to us.
Here I keep talking about not speaking and/or not understanding the local or the Russian/Ukrainian, - they speak both as majority of people in Simferopol are of Russian origin - language not absolutely correct.
During my school years I had to learn Russian, - a compulsory language in Hungarian schools in those Soviet days - for eight years.
Although I always had good marks, I have never learnt the language and that was a long time ago, - well prior to 1956 anyway.
Now days I might understand or seem familiar one in hundred words on a good day.
Well, back to my story, the Taxi got us to Downtown that looked like downtown and a hotel that look very big and very expensive.
Now we had to explain to our driver, that this hotel looks very expensive and being downtown will be expensive and we couldn't afford it even if it was the only hotel in town.
I turned my pocket inside out to indicate that we don't have that much money to pay for that hotel.
At last he understood us and shown us that he will take us to another hotel, further out of the centre and we do not have to pay him more.
All that with a lot of hand signs etc, but we got the geest of it, anyway.
Another 5 kilometres drive away he stopped at a hotel, not very flash, with a security guard sitting at the gate.
The driver had a chat with the guard and waved us to follow him and book in.
The hotel did have a choice of rooms for us, at different, but affordable prices but now came the biggest blow, they did not accept neither US$ nor € as the guide books told us, the only currency people accept from tourist here.
It was after 2 am and they sent us back to the centre to change our money, they wouldn't let us stay without paying and we couldn't use our credit cards either.
We found people were very nice to us including this hotel's stuff - later she lent us her own tea bags and jug for a cup of tea - but they been screwed to many times before.
We walked to Downtown, changed our money, walked back, paid up and settled down to a 'cuppa' and a good sleep, till about 7 am. as breakfast was included and finishing at 8 am.
Changing, shaving etc., we just managed to catch it.
We spent about 4 days in Simferopol and at the hotel, we got to know the staff and vice-versa and we really enjoyed our stay.
During this time we experienced many unforgettable moments at the hotel as well as in Simferopol in general.
One day we decided to walk to Downtown another way to our usual.
After reaching a very large 'round-about' roughly a kilometre and half from our hotel. there is a "Ginza", a strip of exclusive and not so exclusive shops to the another large 'round-about' at the centre of the Downtown of Simferopol.
We have seen this strip of shops a couple times before, first time at our fist night from the taxi.
Another time, when we grabbed one of the minibuses from Downtown.
We reached and went around the 'round-about' thinking we were onto the right road, and walked about another kilometre and the road was getting less and less like the road we were looking for.
We stopped a lady for directions, but she couldn't understand us. We asked another young lady and she could speak English and shown us that we have to walk back to the 'round-about' and ask someone again there.
The first lady about fifteen metres from us was watching us, asking and talking to the young lady and as the young lady reached her, she asked the young lady, what did we wanted to know.
This is of course just speculation from our observations.
The first, older lady waved to us to come and walk with her, she is going that way and she will show us the street we want to see and walk along.
The kind lady walk with us back to the 'round-about' looking at some of the goods at the market all round the 'round-about' and probably saying, that she will come back soon to buy some.
The lady walked along with us about half way around the 'round-about', than we went down to the 'underpass' maze.
To better describe that huge 'round-about was huge and shaped like the number 8, and about 15 roads leading in or out of it including the one we went down by mistake and the one we were looking for.
Under that huge 'round-about' was the underpass, having two entrance from each street line with stall and having its own little streets and passes. A real maze.
We did need the lady's guidance to find the right way, and she knew that and was kind enough to spend the time with us, to make sure that we found our way.
Thank you very much nice lady, hope you read this. God bless you and your family for your kindness and understanding.
To help you to remember us, the elder European man with the petit Chinese woman, my wife, Hui Chin.
Later that day, we were looking for a Internet place send some email. Hui Chin asked a few people, until a young man tells her to follow him, it may be easier to show her the place than to explain the way.
That kind young man shown us the place and even talked to people in charge to make sure that we get a vacant computer and what the charges are.
Thank you very much kind young man.
God bless you and your family for your kindness and giving up your time to help us.
Later again, that day we realised we needed some money from my Visa Account.
I had a large limit, but couldn't remember my PIN number as I don't use my card very often. Usually for the same purpose, overseas.
After the third wrong PIN number, the ATM will swallow you card and I already had two tries.
We went to try a couple of Banks if they can give me the money using the Merchant way.
It is quite simple and safe for them really, but very few understands the request and even fewer are ready to help you.
All the banks have the terminals like the merchants and running the card through it, they will get the approval and the number that goes with it or the denial.
After trying a few banks we found one, one young teller lady sent to the next one with our problem, when the Manager passed us by and over heard our problem, he could speak English and I explained him my problem about getting any money and not remembering my password properly, - well, you know if you use a computer, password here a password there, next thing you can't remember half of them - and told him I have use up most of my chances at the machines, before they will swallow my card.
The kind Manager told a young lady teller to ring the VISA people, ring the Bank's Head Office for instructions or authorisation etc.
This went on for about half a hour and that kind Manager was patient and was liasing with the teller constantly, both trying to solve our problem, while fighting with their own red tape. With great relief, after about half a hour later we managed to get our money, thanked the kind Bank staff and Manager and we went on our merry way.
Our grateful thanks to you kind and patient Bank Manager, God bless you and your family. Hope you will read this sometime. Thanks.
There were many other instances and expressions of kindness shown to us during our stay.
Thanks to the Canteen staff at our Hotel, thanks to the people of Simferopol who all helped to make our stay happy and memorable. Hurray for Simferopol!
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