A Travellerspoint blog

Goritsy - Sunday, 31 August 2014

Visit the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery built in 1397. Vokda sampling this afternoon!

overcast 12 °C

Docked in Goritsy at 9am and straight away on the bus for our tour of the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery. The weather is overcast and only expected to get to 12 degrees. It was huge but had been allowed to fall into a state of almost disrepair. However, the government puts money up everyone year to help with the renovation.

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We spent a few hours there and arrived back at the ship with about half an hour to spare before we sailed so a few of us went for a walk around the town. We took photos of the homes with their gardens full of vegetables. Whatever lawn they have is not mowed or looked after, just rough and wild. It is interesting that in a long severe winter like they have, 25 to 35 degrees below, their houses are made of wood. Also, they don't have any hot water. It explains a lot why Russians are like they are - dour and down trodden. Even the babies don't smile!

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On the way back to the ship we called in to a local market. They had some lovely soft fur lined leather gloves and Phil and I both bought a pair for $18 AUSD. I also bought a chinchilla touk which is a hair band sort of thing that keeps your head and ears warm in the wind. It will be great in Antarctica next year. I tried on a mink one bit couldn't afford it!

Phil gave this guy a gold kangaroo.

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Back on board for lunch and sat with Kaye and Jim from Inverell. After lunch we went and sat in the sun lounge and Phil chatted with Jim Eames.

Read my book and as usual, fell asleep.

Tonight before dinner we had a vodka tasting and learnt all about vodka. I can't believe I'm still standing after three swigs of vodka. The first one was normal vodka, the second had peppers marinating in it and the third was a ladies vodka that was quite sweet, but very nice. We learnt to balance the shot glass on the back of our hand and drink it that way, then put the glass in the crook of our arm and drink a toast to our mother. Great fun.

We had dinner with Jim and Jose and Helen and Neil. It was Nancy's birthday so they presented her with a birthday cake and we all sang Happy Birthday.

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After dinner we had a classical music recital by some Russian guy playing the grand piano on board. It was fantastic.

Posted by gaddingabout 12:03 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Yaroslavl - Saturday, 30 August 2014

Tour the magnificent Golden Ring city of Yaroslavl. Visit the Transfiguration of the Saviour Monastery and the magnificent Church of Elias the Prophet

rain 13 °C

Set the alarm for 5.45 am today as we had to be on the bus by 8 am for our tour of Yaroslavl. Awoke to a lovely sunrise through the clouds and then it was all downhill from there

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It rained and rained and rained and unfortunately quite a bit of our tour was outdoors. Yaroslavl looks like quite a nice city, with lots of parks and treelined avenues with a population of 600,000. Yaroslavl was founded in 1010 by Yarolsav the Wise from Kiev and is older than Moscow. The historic part of the city is a world heritage site and is located at the confluence of the Volga and the Kotorosl Rivers.

We visited the Transfiguration of the Saviour Monastery, founded in the 12th century and the monastery and its cathedral are among the oldest buildings in the city.

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We also visited the magnificent Church of Elias the Prophet.

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We visited a gallery of local art works which had a large collection of lacquer boxes for sale, but they were quite expensive.

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Then we had 30 minutes of free time to wander around the main square and the markets. Some of the alley ways were under cover but rather than slop around in the rain looking at clothes and souviners that we had no intention of buying, we went into the produce building. The fruit was large and looked very tempting. We bought some fresh cranberries and some ginger. Phil gave both those stall holders a gold kangaroo and they were very excited.

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Back on the bus and a very short drive to the wharf where we boarded and set sail for Goritsy at 11 am.

The weather is awful. Just rain, rain and more rain. I am so glad I packed jeans and long sleeved tops and my ankle boots. There is nothing better when slopping around in the rain to have warm, dry feet. Don't know when I'll ever publish this blog as for the last three days, I haven't been able to down load photos.

There are 98 passengers on board and 68 staff.

Had a very relaxing afternoon - reading, sleeping, reading and fell asleep and missed my second Russian language class. Got dressed for dinner and went to an "all you wanted to know about Russia" with Diana and Vadim. They were dressed in traditional Russian costume and the presentation was very informative and humorous. We then went into the dining room for our Russian dinner. The tables had blue, red and white stripes on then and the waitresses were dressed in Russian costume too. We were all given a shot of vodka to skoll. It has a very warming effect!

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I had smoked salmon and caviar, a Russian soup, beef stroganoff and babuschka cake. It was all very nice.

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Just before dinner the captain announced that the sea was going to get quite rough so batten down the hatches. I took a motion sickness tablet and put my wrist bands on, and everything was okay. It didn't seem to get very rough at all - thank goodness.

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We are now in the centre of Rybniski Reservoir which accounts for the rough conditions.

Posted by gaddingabout 08:44 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Uglich - Friday, 29 August 2014

Walking tour of historic Uglich

overcast 17 °C

Under sail. It was nice to wake up leisurely this morning and not have to rush anywhere. Had breakfast with Brian and Anna from Brisbane and Paul and Vicki from Hobart. It is cool and the river is very misty. Morning at leisure but going for Russian lessons at 11am.

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Our Russian speaking lessons were with Svetlana. We learnt the alphabet, or rather, we read it through. It is a very difficult language to master but we had fun trying. We had to stand up and practice conversing with each other which was really hard, but it was a lot of fun and we'll be back tomorrow for more.

After lunch we went ashore in Uglich and received a traditional Russian welcome of bread and salt.

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Then our guide Galina took us to the kremlin, which means fort where a choir of seven men entertained us with three songs, finishing with the Volga Boat Song. They were fantastic and the bass was superb.

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Then onto the Church of Saint Dmitry on the Blood and the Cathedral of the Transfiguration. Dmitry was Ivan the Terrible's youngest son and in 1591 Dmitry aged 9 was murdered and was made a saint in 1606.

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Uglich is a small, quiet town and it is nice to be in the countryside. After the guided tour, we were free to wander around the town that is famous for making watches. Had a look at them but they weren't quite my cup of tea. I did however manage to buy a couple of icons at the Cathedral of the Transfiguration.

We then wandered back to the ship through an alleyway of store holders. They are quite reserved and don't hassle you to buy things. Phil bought a lamb's wool hat for Antarctica next year and then an imitation fur Russian hat as a joke.

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He gave this happy little guy a gold kangaroo because his wife was very bossy. In turn he gave me a matroiska doll.

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The weather is not fantastic.

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Had a very noisy and happy dinner with Lorraine and John MacDonald and Clare and William from Sydney. Early to bed tonight as we have an early start tomorrow.

Posted by gaddingabout 04:44 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Moscow - Uglich - Thursday, 28 August 2014

Visit the State Tretyakov gallery (Wendy); Visit the Museum of the Armed Forces (Phil) - afternoon - set sail for Uglich

semi-overcast 17 °C

On the bus at 9am for separate excursions today. Phil went to the Central Museum of Armed Forces, as did most of the men, and I went to the State Tretyakov Gallery, which is a gallery totally dedicated to Russian art. There was a lot of lovely art from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries plus several rooms of very old icons.

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Here is a small sample of some of the art work. I purchased a permit for 200 rubles (about $7) to take photographs in the gallery. At the end of our guided tour, Jenny and I wandered into an exhibition of sculpture and no photos were allowed. The guard of the exhibition followed us around the rooms, just to make sure we didn't take any photos! Shame, because there was a fabulous wooden sculpture of Leo Tolstoy with his wild hair and beard emerging from a huge piece of wood. It was great.

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These trees are metal and covered in locks. Lovers put a lock on the tree and throw the key into the river to seal their love for each other. We saw the same thing on the struts of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, but they are trying to stop it in New York because if a lock fell onto the roadway below and hit a car's windscreen, it could be very, very dangerous.

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On the way back to the ship, we got caught in a huge traffic jam, which is not unusual in Moscow, however we were stuck on a bridge over the Moscow River, overlooking the Kremlin, for more than half an hour. Then we realised that the road in front on the Kremlin was totally clear of traffic, which meant the roads had been closed in preparation for a motorcade. It finally came - one car surrounded by about a dozen police cars. We don't know who it was but it probably wasn't Putin because he always flys.

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Back on board for late lunch and then the ship sailed for Uglich at 2.30 pm. Just as we started sailing, some naughty little Russian boys on the bank mooned us. For those of you who don't know what mooning is, it means pulling down their pants and showing us their bare bottoms! They got a huge cheer from the ship's passengers.

We had a safety briefing with our life jackets and have been relaxing all afternoon, prior to the Captain's Welcome Reception and Welcome Dinner. We have been invited to sit at the Captain's table, which will be interesting because he doesn't speak any English and we don't speak any Russian!

Back from dinner and had a good time. All our new mates ribbed us for being invited to sit at the Captain's table. There were 12 of us - 4 couples plus a couple of the guides and the Captain and his interpreter. I was sitting next to the Captain and we chatted reasonably well with the help of the interpreter. He is only 40 years old and has a wife and family in Moscow and started his career in the Russian Air Force. One of the other couples at the table was Robert Powell (the British actor) and his wife Babs.

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Posted by gaddingabout 20:43 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Moscow - Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Visit the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics; evening visit to the Old Moscow Circus

rain 14 °C

Slept in a little while this morning as we weren't leaving the ship until 9.45 am.

It's pouring rain and the trip into the Cosmonauts' Museum was rather slow. It was raining when we arrived so I took a few quick shots in the outdoors and then into the museum for a guided tour with Marsha.

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It was quite big and colourful and very interesting. I took a lot of photos.

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Then, just for the benefit of the Scenic Tours group, we had a meeting with a cosmonaut from the 80s, who sat out the front and told us about his life and then took questions from the floor. He spoke in Russian and one of our guides translated. It was so refreshing to find a Russian with a sense of humour! He told us a few jokes during his talk . Also, he described how the world looked from out of space and described Africa as "yellow". I am mentioning this because we went from Capetown to Cairo with Scenic Tours in 2010 and all our photos from our month in Africa have a beautiful lemon hue.

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After our tour of the Cosmonauts' Museum, it was still raining when we came out. We walked to our restaurant for our lunch of traditional Russian food. It was called the Godunov Restaurant. We started with a Greek salad (!), followed by Borsch Soup, then Beef Stroganof in a most unique container which is served this way for VIP guests, followed by a peach tart. It was very nice.

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The traffic is always horrible here and it takes a long time to get back to the ship. We had about an hour and a half to rest and get ready for the Old Moscow Circus.

We were 15 minutes late leaving because a couple missed the bus, and we had to wait for them to run through the forest to catch the bus. Anyway, we arrived with about 20 minutes to spare and wandered through the foyer where there were heaps of people and lots of places to have your photo taken with animals.  It was so wonderful.  Unfortunately,  we weren't allowed to take photos, but, there were many animals out the front and the children were having their photos taken with monkeys, a wallaby, rabbits, dogs, a tiger, a leopard and a raccoon. 

The circus was held in a beautiful old building, rather than a tent and has shows every day of the year.

The opening act was a very cute baby bear who walked on his hind legs.  The audience just loved him! There was a very, very funny clown, beautiful dancing girls in lovely dresses, jugglers, trapese artists and many, many more fabulous acts.  The workmen laid a big plastic sheet over the whole arena floor, and four huge sea lions came sliding out through the curtains.  They were very funny and did a lot of clapping with their flippers.

Then, after the workmen had erected a big net, two leopards,  two panthers and four enormous tigers came into the arena. They were a bit scary and were growling and I was very glad that I was on the opposite side of the net!

We all had a great time and just loved being at the circus. We were all clapping Russian style and yelling out "yar yar". It was a fantastic night and we all had great seats. One of the beam acrobats had a fall very early into his act and they left the stage.

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We came back to the ship for a light supper and talked and talked and talked and consequently didn't get to bed until about 1.00 am.

Sent from Samsung tablet

Posted by gaddingabout 06:32 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

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