Saturday, September 01, 2012

Out of Russian Hinterlands

The last seven days on the Volga and Neva Rivers from Moscow to St. Petersburg have been fun.  Except for a bad case of "Stalin's Revenge" on Friday.  The boat ride was pleasant, the quarters were hard and the food okay.  The company was good.  We arrived in St. Petersburg this Saturday Morning.

It is a beautiful city.  But first here is a taste of the last seven days.

The Kremlin

We got to tour inside the Kremlin today.  One would have thought it would be a center of bureaucracy, but in fact it is more like a park.  

Many cannons and gardens.

Some really big guns.

Lots of domes and holy places. 

We visited the famous armory but no cameras allowed.  Thrones, carriages, gowns and Fabrege eggs.

Bobbi took some great night time pics while I iced my knee.


The river cruiser Tolstoy is a pretty ship at night.   

The rooms are very small.  

We sailed through locks for most of the evening.

Our first port stop was Uglich in the before sundown.  An absolutely beautiful time for a stroll.

It is a colorful town on a sharp corner on the Volga. 

 The town prospers as a watchmaking center for the country 

An incredible choir sang for us.Religion is having a comeback in Russia with at least 60% of the populace saying they have strong beliefs.  Mostly Russian Orthodox.

The high light of the evening was a home visit to Tatiana’s residence not far from the boat.

She had one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen.  It could support her family for a year.  

Our guide stated that 80% of the veggies consumed by Russians are grown in their gardens.  Many city dwellers have garden plots in the country.

Tatiana served some homemade moonshine.  It was like the best Cognac I have ever tasted.  Incredibly smooth, but very potent. 

We sampled her veggies, homemade pickles and a wonderful Apricot pastry.

Next to my chair was a stack of books.  On top was a picture book of New Mexico that some former visitors from Albuquerque had sent her.  Hilarious.

She was a gracious hostess and we will send her a gift when we return.

Yaroslavl and Rostov the Great

These Russians were really into the whole Monastery thing.  Everywhere you look in this country are the onion shaped domes.  

Bobbi, Joan and Diana all got in the swing of things at Rostov the Great.

Most Monasteries will not allow pictures to be taken inside.  Some will let the cameras work for a fee.  Same with some of the state museums.  These are not ornate churches like in other European countries.  Many have little in the way of treasure but lots of painted icons everywhere.

Rostov the Great is now a state museum.  Our guide said that most of the churches and monasteries that are being rebuilt use only donated money.  

The churches here are all raking in the rubles, much of it from the burgeoning ranks of billionaires in Russia.  

Just the opposite of  many American churches where school closures and consolidations are occurring.

A few of us posed for a portrait with Lenin on a town walk in Yaroslavl.  Many of his sculptures have been torn down to make way for new projects.

Goritsky and Kirillo-Gelozerk

The riverbanks in this region are mostly wetlands covered with reeds and trees.  Lots of pretty scenes.

Thousands of villages were submerged when the locks and dams were constructed on the Volga and Neva rivers.  Here is the steeple that shows where one hill top church was.  In the background is a large radio telescope. We have enjoyed the boat journey so far and the food is very Russian and no chile in sight.  We all miss red and green.  I have taken to eating half portions so I don’t regain a lot of weight.

We visited the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery which was founded by St. Cyril in 1397.  It is one of the largest Monasteries in the world and now is a government funded museum.

One wonders how so much wealth was pumped into these facilities back those centuries without the public rebelling.  But, they were all promised a place in Paradise as repayment I suppose.

They are impressive places.

Moonrise on the Volga

We had some great views of the moonrise over the Volga.  Another cruiser was in the water behind us.  There are quite a few of these kinds of ships going up and down this route. 

We went through many locks last night as we started to descend to St. Petersburg.  We will come down about 250 feet from our high point.

We got a tour of the bridge on the ship.  Lots of attentive young officers keeping us on course.


We spent a good part of the day cruising Lake Onega.  We arrived at Kizhi Island for a great walking tour.  

The famous wooden cathedral, The Church of Transfiguration, was undergoing repairs.  It is constructed entirely of local forest products.  Lots of Aspen that are used as siding and shingles.  

This outdoor museum  site includes original homes, windmills and other structures.  The cathedral dates back to the middle of the 16th century.

1 comment:

Bubba Muntzer said...

Very nice. Thank you for all those pictures. This opens up whole new vistas of Russia that weren't part of my image of it.

If anyone is unaware of it, clicking on a photo now opens up a nice full screen slide show that you can click back and forth through using your cursor keys. It's really the way to see these photos. There are some beautiful shots here and some trademark Baca art. The big shots have a lot more detail, too.

The full screen view also reveals that Mr. Baca should continue with his diet for at least a few more days.

Sorry. Couldn't resist it. You're looking pretty healthy, actually, and happy. Both of you. All of you. It's looks like you're having a great time. What a trip.