Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day 8 - Yaroslavl


This morning I decided to go to breakfast and then come back to the cabin for a shower and rest. It is much easier for me to do it this way than to try and get up early enough to shower and dress before breakfast. I don't know why I haven't done this before - it would have made life much easier for me than trying to rush to get ready every morning.

After breakfast I had a rest and later on Syl took me up to the Panorama Bar before lunch. From time to time various people come and sit with us and chat. The majority of American’s are unhappy with President Obama and we’ve heard lots of complaints about his policies and administration.
Others want to know more about South Africa but most have never heard of Durban.
After lunch we had a brief rest and then had to be on the buses by 3pm. There are 6 buses and ours is No.21 (they go from 21 to 26). Our guide, who has been sick for a couple of days, was back today but he didn’t have to do much as there was a local guide to tell us about Yaroslavl – the 20th largest city in Russia and once the capital when Moscow was occupied by Finland.
Our first stop was at an art gallery with a large exhibit of the lacquer boxes that are made all over Russia. I wasn’t able to go inside the building because of the steep staircases that lead to the rooms upstairs but Syl told me that the art was mostly by amateur artists from the city and that I  hadn’t missed much.  The next stop was the church of Elijah the Prophet – with another long flight of stairs - and I decided not to go inside. Syl said that it was breathtaking so she took lots of photographs. At the next stop, in the city centre, we had an hour to meander along the pedestrian avenue with small shops and restaurants and also through a pedestrian flea market. We weren’t really tempted to buy anything although there were lots of stalls with really nice shoes, bags and a few stalls with interesting hats. We also went into the fresh food market and I bought a kg of big red cherries. The last stop was at the riverside but I stayed in the bus.
Getting in and out of the bus and in and out of the wheelchair is a bit of a mission so I decided not to get out again until we got back to the ship. Sylvia bought me a nice mug so that we don’t have keep smuggling a mug into our cabin and hiding it in the safe!

Tonight’s dinner was International Cuisine and I ate too much – again. We sat with Greg and Kathy from the US and Mary and John, the American and Australian couple. Tomorrow we arrive at Uglich and can join a walking tour of the Kremlin. Only problem is that is starts at 8h15 which is really early for me. So, it is now 10pm and I’d better get to bed.

 We didn’t have to get up early this morning as the shore excursion was only at 3pm. We could have joined an early Qi Gong exercise class from 8am to 8:30am and then a lecture on “Gorbatchev and Perestroika’ in the Sky Bar at 9am or 10h45 but I decided to chill out in the Panorama Bar instead while Patty rested. It is so interesting to cruise down the river, passing small villages and spying the occasional onion dome church in the trees. Lunch was at 12h30 and our boat arrived in Yaroslavl at 3pm. We passed numerous small hamlets and communities along the banks of the reservoir. It was hard to imagine that this area once consisted of 4000ha of arable farmland, 700 villages and pristine forests – all submerged when Stalin decided to flood the area and create the reservoir. People living here had to make their way to unknown destinations and the reservoir and canals were built by Gulag prisoners. Yaroslavl is one of the oldest and best known Russian cities founded by Prince Yaroslavl in the 10th century.
It became on of the most prominent mercantile centres of the upper Volga Regions. Russia’s first national theatre was established here and the first major national newspaper was also started here in the 18th century. In the 1930’s Yaroslavl produced the countries’ first heavy-duty trucks, trolley buses and its first diesel engines.  It is connected to Moscow – about 280km away- by river (in summer) road and rail.
There are numerous churches in Yaroslavl, most of them heavily decorated with wall paintings, frescos and iconostas. We visited the Church of Elijah the Prophet which survived by the skin of teeth when the soviets planned on blowing it up. We also visited the 13thC Spassky Monastery assemble built alongside the river. The town has an 18th century arcaded shopping area with goods from all over Europe and the east.
We didn’t get back to the boat until 6:45pm and the boat sailed at 7pm. There was a daily briefing before dinner. We had an 'early' night - 10:15pm.     

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