Crossing the street :-)
Sevastopol (as with many Ukrainian cities) cannot be accused of an over population of stop lights. There are however many relatively well marked crosswalks crisscrossing the roads of Sevastopol. This means that pedestrians get to brave oncoming traffic on their own with out the "protection" of red lights stopping traffic.
Pedestrian crosswalks (called a "zebra" in Russian) are marked by blue signs with a stick figure "crossing the street" and with large white horizontal bars on the pavement reaching from one sidewalk to the other (think of the Beetle's album cover).
The the unwritten/unspoken protocol between street-crossers and drivers is that pedestrians don't step out while cars are bearing down at speed causing a sudden need to stop, and drivers will in fact stop for people ALREADY in the act of crossing in the cross walk.
Technically according to the traffic codes the pedestrian ALWAYS has the right of way when they are in the "zebra" if their is no additional traffic light. However, cars will not stop for people standing on the sidewalk contemplating crossing the street.
This means that you the pedestrian get to take the first step. I personally like to wait for a break in traffic and maintain a confident pace and careful eye on approaching vehicles. However, do not be surprised if vehicles continue through the crosswalk in the lanes before or behind you as you cross.
Crosswalks that sit at intersections with traffic lights have pedestrian signals as well - they will look familiar and be easy to comprehend.
Bottom line: Don't worry, drivers won't hit you as you walk in the "zebra" - just be confident and take that first step!
The Street Dogs of Sevastopol
One of the first things you will probably notice when you arrive in Sevastopol besides the lack of building codes and the short skirts is the street dogs.
As boggling as it is to the Western mind, there is a completely different paradigm present in Russian & Ukrainian cultures in regards to stray dogs loosely roaming the streets. These street dogs aren't lost puppies that some little girl somewhere is crying over, no these are permanent residents of the street - so much so that they even have several generic nicknames such as bobik & sharik. Many of these mangy mutts share most of the same physical features (probably due to inbreeding) and kind of have a particular look.
So why are these (often large) dogs roaming freely you ask?
Well, they just aren't seen as a problem/nuisance or something to "be taken care of." Of course the argument could be made that there is no funding for this, but trust me - in a tourist city there is always money to keep the main tourist areas neatly kept. Just look at the Nakhimov Square area - well groomed parks, fountains, walk ways, buildings... and street dogs!
The two seem incongruous to the Western mind - especially if you are a "dog person" who loves their own pets and desires the humane treatment of (and removal of) strays and you also happen to come from a locale where there just aren't dogs roaming around.
In some cultures, dogs are not kept as pets, but Ukraine is not one of those places. Many people have dogs of all shapes, sizes & breeds as pets and judging by how many people can be seen in the park at any given moment walking their dogs - they are generally well cared for and loved.
This apparently has no affect on society's need to clear the streets of stray dogs. Living in Sevastopol & regularly visiting the same areas I see the same dogs hanging out in the same spots. Down by the boardwalk - in the park - at the market by a certain vendor - outside a certain cafe, you get the point.
The first few months of living here I wondered how these dogs survived, even through winter!. But it became clear after stumbling on some babushki (grandmas) leaving out water and food for a mothering dog & her pups that had taken up residence in the apartment block's yard. You can also find permanently installed street dogs at the market - complete with food, water & a shady spot.
One of the more comical sights is watching street dogs watching traffic and crossing the street in the crosswalks! HAHA! It never ceases to amaze me - but does explain the lack of roadkill.
Bottom Line: I'm not sure what psychological or emotional effect this will have on you - but as you visit Sevastopol one thing you can know is that these dogs, no matter how dirty, hungry or vicious they may look - they are all bark and no bite.
Perhaps a bit spoiled from living near a large lake with nice beaches or within a few hour flight of so many places like Mexico or Jamaica with spectacular beaches, I was a bit surprised when Balaklava which I had read was a "resort" area had pretty crappy beaches. We ran across a few here, one was a beach club and the sunbathers were sitting on chairs on a cement patio, another looked to be part of a bar/restaurant and had lounge chairs on sand that obviously had been brought from somewhere else and the largest was near the end of the cove and appeared to be a gravel/sand mixture.
I did read about some other beaches in the area that you could boat out to that were nicer but it wasn't really beach weather in late May so we didn't bother.
Tucked away in a bay there are some old warships. One does wonder whether they will ever get disposed off the proper way or whether they will just contaminated nature and humans.
Nature does what it wants!
Now what was there first? The steps or the tree? Anyway, it looks quite funny and can be seen near the bay.
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