Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 6 - A wooden church with no nails!


Last night we sat with a different couple from Germany. Richard joined our table and there was a bit of banter about the England team losing 4-1 to Germany.
Once again we had an excellent meal and didn’t get to bed until after 10:45pm. Patty decided that she wouldn’t go to breakfast in the morning.
We were woken by a 6h30 wake-up call and I made Patty a cup of tea before going to breakfast. We had to be ready early for our excursion on the island of Kizhi.
Dieter, the boat manager, offered to send a sailor with us on Kizhi as there were cobble stones and gravel paths.
 At breakfast I sat with a lovely Southern Lady from the USA.  We have been sailing about 150km northward on the second largest lake in Europe and at 8h30 our boat berthed on Kizhi island, one of the most ancient inhabited sites in Russia.
This small island – 6km by 1km - is now an open air architectural museum and UNESCO heritage site.  The magnificent wooden church of the Transfiguration and the nearby wooden church of Intercession were built in the early 18thc completely of wood with no nails.  The Transfiguration Church has 22 timbered onion domes. We were allowed into the Intercession Church and whilst there, three black robed monks sang a special chant. The walls are lined with magnificent Iconostas. I asked one of the monks to point out the Apostle Jacob and he showed me the Apostle Iakhov (fourth from left) and another Icon of Jacob, the father of the people.
The whole structure of the Transfiguration Church is under repair and the inside is held up by scaffolding. Our guide told us that without appropriate treatment the entire structure could be lost within ten to fifteen years. Other typically Russian wooden structures like windmills, bathhouse, chapel, bell towers etc have been brought here from other parts of the Onega Lake.  People living there wear peasant clothing aand demonstrate traditional farming, sculpting, carving etc. Patty and I managed fine on the boadwalks and Richard helped us when the path turned to gravel.
We went back to the boat for lunch and set sail again down the Neva. From 2pm to 3:30pm we could visit the Captain’s bridge and at 4:45pm attend a lecture on the Romanovs in the Sky Bar. This was a fascinating talk and many of the slides she used, showing the various Romanov’s, were taken in the palaces we have already seen.
What sad, tumuluous and in the end, violent lives they led.
I fetched Patty from the room at about 5:45pm and we sat with two Australian couples in the Panorama Bar until supper time. It was a Russian evening and the male staff members were dressed in red tunics with floral trim and the females in Russian folk dresses – rather odd for people from the Philippines!
Today we left Lake Onega and joined the waters of the Vytegra Canal via a lock, rising about 13m into the Vytegra reservoir. The 2nd lock, at the Belousovskiy Hydroplant took us up another 13m into the Belousovskiy reservoir. After dinner, at around 9pm we went through the 3rd lock at Novinkinskiy into the Novinkinskiy reservoir. We will rise from sea level at\St Petersburg to over 150m at Moscow. It is interesting that these rivers and canals are frozen during the winter months and are used by vehicular traffic. It’s hard to imagine trucks and cars zooming down the rivers!

 I didn’t go to breakfast because I needed to wash my hair and showering, drying, dressing and doing the hair takes forever. We had to leave the boat at 8h30 to visit Kizhi Island. Last night at dinner, our new best friend Richard offered to push me around the island to give Sylvia a rest. (We didn't need the sailor Dieter offered us).
He was there at 8h30 and so I had a new driver today. We saw the most incredible wooden Churches - but nothing like you have ever seen in South Africa or anywhere else for that matter. It was interesting that the larger church was the summer church and the winter churches are small. They can’t heat the large church in summer and the winter church – easier to heat - doesn't
have so many attending in winter. It get to -30oC in winter.
Syl has been taking photographs of all sorts of things that I can use for my painting - strange fences that I’ve never seen before, roofs on houses with very different styles, scenery as we cruise along the waterways – all very exciting! There were farm workers using scythes to cut the grass today – it looked like a medieval scene!
Back at the boat I sat in the library for while and chatted about art with the restaurant manager. Then Syl came to fetch me and I had a Bloody Mary in the Panorama Bar before going to dinner. Tonight I had a tomato and Basel salad, then a delicious Butterfish and a typical Russian soft cheese desert with strawberry sauce. We have
both put on weight because all we do here is eat!

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