Black Sea Cruise: Sevastopol

Day 7, Sevastopol

If Odessa is confused as to being Ukrainian or Russian, Sevastopol
seems to think it is still in Russia.  While at least all the writing
on the streets in Odessa was in Ukrainian, Sevastopol didn’t even
bother with that.  Everything is in Russian here.  On top of it,
Sevastopol has not noticed that the Soviet Union fell apart and the
cold war is over.  The city is thoroughly Soviet and military.  It had
been closed to foreigners until Ukraine succeeded from the Soviet
Union in the 1990-s.
While other cities changed the street names back to their
pre-Revolutionary original names, here they still bear the names of
Lenin, the revolution, and plain old “Soviet.”  The monuments, which
are many, are all done in the neo-realist Soviet style – heavy, bulky,
and overly realistic.  No room for imagination here, everything is
spelled out for you.  The monuments commemorate the military history
of this place.  There is a gigantic stature of Lenin stretching his
arm to the sea, surrounded by four staples of the revolution: the
worker, the peasant, the sailor, and the soldier.  Also, the hammer
and sickle are fairly ubiquitous.  Sevastopol is home to both the
Russian Black Sea Fleet and the Ukrainian Fleet, and sailors in shabby
uniforms abound. The buildings were built in the neo-classic style
typical of the Stalin era – a toned down Washington, D.C.  The main
street, which in every city but Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Odessa,
was called Lenin Street, remained Lenin Street.  This is the only main
street I have ever been to that has no shops, no restaurants, and, in
this lovely climate, no outdoor cafes.  It reflects the military past –
the lower military personal did not shop and eat out, and the higher
brass had everything delivered to their private residences.
Yet, the city is not ugly.  Pretty it is not, neither it is charming,
it is just very constricted, constipated. It needs to be liberated
from its own prison, added some life and liveliness.  As it is, it
leaves me completely untouched, with no emotions, good or bad.  No
wonder that even though I have been here once or twice as a child, I
have no recollection of it  – it is thoroughly forgettable.

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