In Yalta, Ukraine, we booked Holland America’s 4 hour “Alupka Palace & Wine Tasting” tour. The tour buses were from the communist era with the name Intourist on the sides.
The first stop on our tour was the Alupka Palace (pronounced a-loop-ka). Built in 1823, the Palace was the residence of Count Vorontsov. As he spent his childhood in England as the son of a diplomat, he used an English architect to design the Palace. The northern facade is Tudor-medieval, while the southern facing is Moorish-style architecture.
Winston Churchill stayed at the Alupka Palace during the Yalta Conference.
The Terrace of Lions is a highlight of the gardens facing the Black Sea. There are six lions, each with different expressions. The sleeping lion was our favorite, and it supposedly caused Winston Churchill to say that it reminded him of politicians, “lazy”.
Next we headed to the nearby Alupka Wine Tasting Hall to taste Massandra wines. Massandra has been producing wine for 100 years. Due to the hot climate in this part of the Crimea, most of the wines are sweeter, in the style of sherry and port.
This was an in-depth and unique wine tasting. Each guest had a wooden tray in front of them, with 10 round circles carved in the tray. Each circle was numbered, and had a different glass of wine with biscuits on the end of the tray.
The host provided detailed information and history on each wine as we sampled them, starting with a cabernet, and then proceeding to Madeira, sherries, white and red Crimean ports, and a Muscat. Many had alcohol content between 16 and 19 percent.
Next, our bus made a photo stop above the Swallow’s Nest “Castle of Love” which clings to a 110 feet cliff over the Black Sea. Quite the sight! Many souvenir shops are in this area.
When our tour ended back by the ship, we decided to explore downtown Yalta and the beautiful waterfront promenade. Many Russians and Ukrainians were enjoying a day at the beach.