Sanctions are inconvenience for travel in Crimea
CRIMEA’S capital Simferopol has a spanking international airport, but no foreign flights land there. Instead, the arrival board lists flights from Moscow, St Petersburg and Rostov-on-Don.
This is one of the implications of sanctions which have targeted Crimea since its administration as a Russian federal state in 2014.
For tourists this makes Crimea - a peninsula located on the northern coast of the Black Sea - complicated to visit.
It is a pity picturesque, as because the area is journalists from 11 countries, including South Africa, discovered while on a media tour of the southern region.
On the drive to the resort town of Yalta one passes between high mountains and the sea and the area is dotted with palaces and vineyards, churches and sites related to the history of Crimea.
The hotels we stayed in - the classic Ukrania in Simferopol, dating to the 1950s, and the Nikita in Yalta - were sublime, and the food - especially seafood from the Black Sea and the fresh salads - was delicious.
The only sour note was that we were not advised of the 10kg weight restriction on luggage on Ural Airlines. Aside from the cost implication (for me more than R1000), whereas in Moscow it could be settled with a card, in Simferopol, the penalty had to be paid in cash because in Crimea, Visa and Mastercard are not accepted for purchases or at an ATM. This left us having to borrow money from our hosts (repaid in Moscow where these cards are widely accepted).
South African passport holders do not need a visa for Russia.