While sailing on the Crystal Symphony to the Black Sea, we stopped in Yalta, Ukraine, to visit the summer palace of the Romanov Family, Livadia. Thousands of tourists visit this Crimean Peninsula palace as this was the sight of the famous Yalta conference of the Big Three, which included President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Josef Stalin in 1945. My wife and I decided, as usual, to do our own independent tour and it really paid off!! We met a tour guide named Kosta, whom we are still in touch with, and he treated us to a special day. Not only was Kosta our personal tour guide, but he got us unprecedented access to areas in the place that nobody else on the entire ship was privy to. He gave two old Russian ladies a few rubles and up these stairs we went into the private study of Tsar Nicholas II. Pictures of his entire family were everywhere on the walls, and we were able to look out at this spectacular view of the Crimean Sea from the desk of the late Tsar. You could almost feel the Tsar’s presence in the room. He then took us to the Grand Reception Room and another waiting area. We never expected to get this kind of access to this amazing historical palace.
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