My second trip to Russia

Reply Thu 15 Jun, 2006 09:47 am
Russia from Moscow to St Petersburg - Part I:

This was my second trip to Russia with the first one completed six years ago. The itinerary was almost similar, except we lacked two shore stops at Irma and Kostroma on this trip.

Our Vantage tour group of 219 passengers stayed 14 nights aboard the Nikolay Chernyshevsky, built in 1981. We were divided in six color groups of 32, and I was in the "yellow" group. Our tour director was Masha Zhuravleva of Moscow who speaks excellent English. Our boat was docked at the same location as the first trip, except this time, there were many more tour boats.

We spent the first four nights in Moscow, the largest city in Russia, and our first day city tour included the Red Square, St Basil's church, KGB headquarters, and the Moscow Circus in the evening. The nice thing about visiting Russia this time of year is the fact that daylight stays until after 10 PM. On the second day, we visited the Tretyakov Gallery - one of my favorite places in Moscow, and where I fell in love with Russian art. Serso and his wife met me at the entrance of the gallery, so they joined our group for the gallery tour. When our gallery tour completed, I separated from our group, and Serso, his wife, and I went for lunch a few blocks away from the gallery. Mrs Serso had a 2 PM appointment, so she left us at the restaurant, and Serso and I took the metro to Red Square where we visited the History Museum and St Basil's (inside tour). We walked through (the famous) GUM shopping mall across from Red Square where I was trying to find another pair of trousers, but the prices were 3-4 times more than what I usually pay for trousers, so we then walked around to look at other department stores with not much luck. We started to walk towards Arbat Street, because I read someplace it's a favorite place for locals and tourists alike with stores, restaurants, and artists. At about 6 PM, we walked into a cafeteria to get something cool to drink. While I saved a table, Serso went to get the cold drinks. It was some time before he returned with a tray of cold soup called "okroshka," and "svar," a drink made from rye bread. Serso told me they were both "brewed." The drink tasted to me somewhat like prune juice. Both were very good and new "taste." It was exactly what I wanted to experience in Russia. The following day, we visited the Kremlin and the Armory Chamber, the museum that holds the treasures of the royalty including Fabrege Eggs. That evening, we were treated to the Moscow Circus. Our ship departed for Uglich after our return from the circus about 10 PM.

When I compare this visit to the first one, I immediately recognized much improvement in the Russian economy. Good for the Russian People, but bad for tourists, because prices have increased dramatically during the past six years. We were told by our local guide that the inflation rate is 10.5 percent/year, but their wages are increasing about 12 percent/year. On my first trip, the boat staff were mostly multi-lingual professionals like doctors, lawyers, and college professors, because back then they earned only about $100/month in their profession, but were able to earn about $500+/month working on tour boats. Today, it's mostly English-speaking college students. Although the food on board ship was "good," it didn't offer enough Russian fare for my taste.

Our cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg included 18 locks that scales down the water level by 161.5 meters, and crossing the largest fresh water lake in Europe, the Ladoga Lake, 130 miles long and 80 miles wide. The scenery was mostly pristine with much lush greenery, some villages, onion-domed churches and homes of every quality from rustic to mansions.

Note: Will post some pictures of Moscow today.
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cicerone imposter
Reply Thu 15 Jun, 2006 12:21 pm
Our ship:

St Basils Church:

The Kremlin:

After 11 PM in Moscow:
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cicerone imposter
Reply Thu 15 Jun, 2006 03:19 pm
Cathedral of the Annunciation inside the Kremlin:

Novodevichy Convent:

Moscow's main church:

Ukranian restaurant on Arbat Street:

The boat port in Moscow:
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Reply Thu 15 Jun, 2006 05:10 pm
Beautiful pics, CI.
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Reply Thu 15 Jun, 2006 06:05 pm
hi , c.i. !
looks like you had another great trip .
those are wonderful pictures !
thanks for sharing !

btw when i read your comments about 'lake ladoga' , it brought back memories of my brother who was sent to lake ladoga as a young german soldier in the winter of 1941 - he had just turned 18 .
in the summer of 1942 he was back in germany - in an army hospital .
he considered himself lucky having escaped with gunshot wounds - many of his comrades never made it back . what a stupid war !!!
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cicerone imposter
Reply Thu 15 Jun, 2006 06:49 pm
Hi hbg, All wars are stupid! Too bad about your brother; guess one must look at the positive side - that he made it back home.
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Reply Thu 15 Jun, 2006 06:59 pm
"... All wars are stupid!..."
no question about that , c.i. !
...but will we humans ever learn ... ?
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Reply Thu 15 Jun, 2006 07:06 pm
Nice pix, c.i.

I like the one of the ship in particular. What was it like to travel with?
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cicerone imposter
Reply Thu 15 Jun, 2006 07:09 pm
The animal species will never learn as long as people have fear, believe in religion, have a superiority complex, and/or a stupid government.
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Reply Thu 15 Jun, 2006 07:19 pm
How could I miss this !

I am bookmarking for a good read in the morning with some coffee.
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cicerone imposter
Reply Thu 15 Jun, 2006 07:24 pm
ehBeth, The ship was built in 1981 (I believe in Germany), but was renovated in 2002. The staff on board were mostly young college students, but they were very professional and friendly. The matre'd always welcomed us to the dining room with a smile, and even called me by name most of the time. When our meal was delayed a few minutes, the matre'd came and apologized. I was in a single cabin on the Boat Deck with a small refrigerator and closet with shower, sink and toilet. All cabins has a window and ac/heater. There's a small bar on the Boat Deck, and a larger bar, the Panorama Bar, on the 4th deck There's another bar, the Neva Bar that also serves as a dining room for lunch and dinner, and music with dancing in the evenings. There's a 24-hour coffee/tea bar on the Boat Deck with cookies. The reception is on the second deck, as well as the small shop that sells postcards and Russian crafts. I would grade it a 3.5 star ship, only because the staff makes up for the other short-comings like powdered eggs in the morning.
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cicerone imposter
Reply Thu 15 Jun, 2006 07:55 pm
Uglich - Part II:

Uglich is an ancient town believed to have been founded in 937. It was favored by Ivan the Terrible for his campaign against the Golden Horde in the late 16th century. Ivan the Terrible's son, Dmitry, was canonized after he was murdered, and the Church of St. Dmitry on the Blood was built in 1692.

Catherine the Great visited Uglich in the 18th century.

The green domed Transfiguration Cathedral sits on the water's edge which presents a very nice Kodak view. We were treated to some choral music at this church.

I'm not sure how true, but we were informed that Queen Elizabeth of England has some connections to Uglich.

Eleven of us from the yellow group went to a private home for a hosted meal with a young family and the wife's mother. Lucky for us, our hostess is a English teacher, so we had no difficulty in communication. Their young daughter stayed in her bedroom throughout our visit, but we later met her during their house-showing. The meal was a very simple one with most of the vegetables from their garden, and plenty of home made vodka.

It really was an enjoyable time visiting with this family.

A note about a painting at the Tretyakov: The painting depicts Ivan the Terrible cradling his son after he mortally wounded him in the head with a spear. It was a painting I missed on my first visit, but for me it's one of the best the Tretyakov has to offer.
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Reply Thu 15 Jun, 2006 08:02 pm
More! PS, did you get a chance to meet the llocals?
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cicerone imposter
Reply Thu 15 Jun, 2006 08:27 pm
Going through the first of 18 locks:

Approaching Uglich:

Church of St Dmitry of the Blood:

Chorus at the Transfiguratin Cathedral:

Our hosts, Olga (teacher) and Eva (grandmother):
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 15 Jun, 2006 11:13 pm
Great photos again, c.i.!

Thanks for sharing them and your report!
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cicerone imposter
Reply Fri 16 Jun, 2006 09:29 am
Yaroslavl - Part III:

Yaroslavl was founded in the 11th century by Kiev Prince Yaroslavl the Wise. In the 17th century, Yaroslavl was the second largest town in Russia after Moscow.

Yaroslavl's main attraction today is the Church of St. Elijah the Prophet built in the mid-seventeenth century, and their frescoes have been preserved in excellent condition.

It is a industrial city today that includes the refining of petroleum, and the manufacture of motor vehicles, chemicals, synthetic rubber, machinery, processed food, and textiles. It is also noted for their university.

A famous Yaroslavian is Valentina Tereshkova, a Soviet cosmonaut, and the first woman to fly in space in 1963.
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cicerone imposter
Reply Fri 16 Jun, 2006 10:05 am
VIDEO of typical entertainment on board:
Webpage Title

Scene along the Volga River:

Another scene:

Bell ringer at Elijah Square:

Domes at Elijah Square:

Street scene at Yaroslavl:
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cicerone imposter
Reply Fri 16 Jun, 2006 03:15 pm
Day 8 - Part IV:

Today was a sailing day on the Volga River going through the White Lake and the Baltic Canal.

For those interested, I thought it might be a good time to go over some of the things we learned while on this cruise.

The Russian Alphabet is a Cryillic alphabet, a combination of Greek Orthodox, Hebrew, and what they call "false friends" and "Six Russian stragglers." Trying to relearn the alphabet from English to Russian is very difficult, because what we have learned as "H" is "N" in Russian. The "3" is "z," the "H" is an "n," and the "p" is an "r." Add to that strange symbols for letters and sounds, and you have some idea how difficult it can be.

The Russian Language is a little bit easier:
Good morning is "DObraye OOtra"
Good afternoon is "DObri Den"
Good evening is "DObri VEcher"
Thank you is "spaSEEba"
Yes is "Da"
No is "Niet"
And Toilet is "WC" and many places charge a fee.
Vodka is "vodka," and To your health is "na zdaROvie
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cicerone imposter
Reply Fri 16 Jun, 2006 03:47 pm
Petrozavodsk, June 7, Wednesday - Part V:

Petrozavodsk stands on the western shores of Lake Onega, and the name of this city translates into "Peter's Factory." Peter the Great decreed this site for a cannon and weapons foundry, because the region is rich in iron ore deposits. Skilled workers from England were imported to complete the project, and today's Karl Marx Prospekt was once known as English Street.

Most of Petrozavodsk was destroyed during WWII, and the city was occupied for nearly 1000 days.

Today Petrozavodsk is the industrial, cultural and scientific center of the Republic of Karelia. The major industries are timber production, pulp and paper industry which makes up 57% of the town's economy.

We were treated to a folklore show during our visit to this town.
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cicerone imposter
Reply Fri 16 Jun, 2006 03:59 pm
Sight on Lake Onega:

Matre'd and staff in the dining room:

We visited this market in Petrozavodsk:


Peace Memorial:
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