We left St Petes with a blare of weird per recorded music at 7 pm on Monday 3 June.
The scenery we encountered for the next few days was of silver birch lined riverbanks with the occasional dacha,wooden of course and usually quite picturesque.
Our first stop was at Mandrogy, a weird place, rebuilt as a tourist trap a few years ago and all garish painted wood and what I now realise are the standard Russian souvevenirs; loads of amber, always expensive,painted wooden ornaments, usually Father Frost who visits on New Year’s Eve similar to Father Christmas,plus loads of boxes made out of birch bark, they are often very interesting and appeal to Terry,plus shawls usually square with long fringes.
The quality of the above varies but they all seem rather overpriced, we bought a Father Frost at Peterhof(well none of the chandeliers Were for sale), when we worked out what we had paid for it we were horrified . In Mandrogy, I bought a scarf and again, would never pay similar in NZ!!!!!
After a few hours wandering from tourist snare to tourist snare in Mandrogy we tumbled back on board for a well deserved few drinks.
There seems to be a lot of alcohol consumed on board at horrifying , to us, prices.
We have some sort of package which I seem to recall we paid a fortune for before we left, would need to drink from dawn to dusk to get value for it free wine and beer with lunch and dinner and we think it is to keep us all slightly dopey and soporific and therefore acquiescent to any changes of plan. There is a proposed change of activities for Moscow and the natives are getting restless…
There are two hundred people on board, majority are English, a few Yanks and two Aussie couples, and apparently another kiwi couple but we haven’t met them.
We have breakfast between 7-9.30,lunch anywhere between 11.30 and 1.30 pm and dinner is usually between 7 pm and 9. The food is usually quite good and the dreaded buffet only appears at breakfast and as a salad bar at lunch. could eat yourself silly, but no room service!
Next stop along the river was Kizhi which is on Lake Onega. Now this was totally in contrast to Mandrogy and was all lovely silvered birch houses and and two very old churches. Classic ones with lovely shingled onion domes. Of course the biggest one was covered in scaffolding but after 500 years it probably deserved a facelift!
We always have a guide and they vary in quality, but the one we had here was excellent and obviously loves her little island of Kizhi.
We only stay a few hours in these places and yesterdays stop was hardly worth that…Kuzino has a great monastery but we were not allowed into the church only into the museum were their were loads of 15th century icons, very beautiful but after one room full I was iconed out.It was the Kirillo-Belozeraky monastery founded by good old St Cyril in 1397,,,,
We then visited a school(!!!!!!!), saw girls learning to make lace, some nice pieces but again , very pricey.
We went to Kuzino were the monastery is by bus and as I suspected behind the seemingly impenetrable forest, lay a dual highway, not in the best of condition, guess the -45C winters wreck roads. Temp yesterday was 25C. Kuzino is set beside a huge national park which according to the local guide is full of bears, elks, foxes, wolves etc. Must admit at the tourist trap boarding area set up by the cruise line there was some lovely furs…Quite fancied a fox vest but in it I looked like a round forest animal of indeterminable breed.
Back on board again for sustaining drinks after three hours ashore.
Today we are visiting what is known as one of the Golden Ring cities,Yaroslavl.
Sounds like it is a real city. We are ow seeing much less forest on shore ,guess moscovians have country dachas out here…. No wonder the Russians can produce a wall of wood when they want money!!!!
Weather is till good.