I wasn't expecting Ukraine to be among my favorite places that we visited and for the most part, it held true to that expectation. It didn't help that our tour guide in Odessa sounded like an annoying version of Julia Child.
But, there are still gems that can be picked out in any city.
I enjoyed our day in Yalta, Ukraine much more than Odessa. The mountainous coast and turquoise water were completely unexpected. Yalta lies on the Crimean peninsula and is considered a vacation spot on the Black Sea.
We pulled over to see the Swallow Nest Castle. However, we were more excited about the five minutes of spotty wi-fi (it had been over a week) at the overlook than actually learning about the history of the castle.
We visited the White Palace; famous for being the Romanov family's summer vaction home, and the place where Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin met post World War II to discuss how they were going to carve up Europe.
We also took a brief walk through the Nikitsky Botanical Gardens. Our guide was really adamant about pointing out every poisonous tree, so I wandered off to take my pictures (kind of a common theme throughout the trip).
Seeing print in foreign languages never gets old.
We basically died of heat every day, so we jumped at the chance to have a few hours leftover near the water. The actual beach was a joke. There were hundreds of people crammed together on rocks and pebbles. Or paying a lot of money to rent lawnchairs on the rocks. But all I cared about was cooling off in the water. It was freezing, but it felt amazing.