Friday, July 2, 2010

Day 9 - Uglich is not ugly

The walking tour of Uglich started at 8h15 so we ordered a 6am wake up call which gave me time to shower, dress and have breakfast. We docked at 8am so Syl and I disembarked 15 mins early so that I could climb the 21 steps to the path above the wharf. Richard joined us and we spent a couple of hours with our guide strolling through the Kremlin, gardens and churches of Uglich. At our first stop I had to climb stairs again (puff, puff, puff) but it was worth it to listen to a quartet singing Russian chants and folksongs. I bought a double CD which I’m looking forward to listening to when we get home.
I decided not to climb the stairs to the church of Dimitry of the Blood (too stuffy and claustrophobic inside for me). We were then allowed to wander around the little town. Syl went to visit the monastery in search of Santiago icons while Richard and I had a coffee and then one of the boat’s guides (Lydia) took us to the chemist where she translated for me to get something for my swollen feet and ankles. They were very good and asked about my blood pressure and heart etc and recognized the medication I was on. So now I am taking a diuretic and have to stay close to a loo! We had a lazy afternoon (could have attended a lecture on Putin and Democracy but gave it a miss) and then got ready for the Captain’s dinner.
The captain stood in a receiving line and we were all handed a glass of champagne before being taken to our tables. We sat with a couple from San Francisco and their daughter who lives in Baltimore.
When we got back to our cabin there was a large box of chocolates from the management - nice touch.  Just before we went to bed we went through a large lock – one of the 7 we will pass through on our way to Moscow.

Last night the meal was International Cuisine and we could have starters, mains and deserts from different countries. We got to bed at about 11pm and the tv was showing the webcam on the front of the boat. The sunset was so beautiful, I got up, got dressed and went up to take photos of the sunset.

This morning we docked at Uglich at 8am and I took Patty off the boat so that we could get a head start on the flight of steps up to the riverside road. What a wonderful sight – a blue, red and gold onion domed church right on the river. 
We joined Mikhail and he introduced us to the city guide who led us to the Church of the Saviour’s Blood.
One of the 'stories' told in paintings on the walls inside the church is of Dimitry, son of the King, who was ordered murdered by his father. The story is that only the bell puller saw what happened but when he reported it, the king ordered an investigation and found that his son’s death was the will of God and not murder because his son had slit his own throat - twice! Therefore, the poor bell puller had to be exiled to Siberia. The offending bells were also exiled where they stayed for 300 years.
This small town used to have dozens of churches but they were destroyed by Stalin and the bells melted down to make artillery. I have been trying to find an icon of St James but so far with no luck. Nadia, one of the boat’s guides, was certain I would find one at the monastery which she wanted to visit, so we walked together to the Resurrection Monastery which is a pilgrimage destination during the summer months. Alas, no St Yakhov card or icon could be found. During Stalin’s time the Monastery of the Intercession with unique monuments of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries was blown up. The area was flodded and a hydropower station was erected in its place.
Nadia and I met up with Richard and Patty and after visiting a small bookstore and the chemist, we decided to take Patty into a jewelry shop to look at silver earings. Richard didn't see a step into the shop and the front wheels dropped down the step almost tipping Patty out! She screamed - ARRRRRRRGGGGHHHH and clung to the chair! Richard nearly had a heart attack and the woman in the shop got such a fright!
We laughed about it afterwards but poor Richard was shaken!

We strolled through a gauntlet of souvenir stalls on the way back to the boat. We were able to buy a few magnets and other trinkets to take home.
The boat sailed at 12pm and we had lunch. Most passengers agree that there is too much food on offer at lunch time. There is always a salad bar, small sandwiches, a pasta dish or two, as well as a menu to choose from. An interesting sight on the way was the beautiful belfry of the 16th c church of the Trinity surrounded by water - all that remains of the church when it was flodded for the making of the canal system.  Two American passengers who make jewellery were comparing their necklaces, bracelets and ear-rings and soon had a group of interested people around them. One woman makes necklaces for a local store in California that sell for $450.
Patty and I dressed in our best finery for the Captain's dinner. Afterwards I went to the Panorma Bar to watch the boat passing through one of the largest locks on the canal. As we passed through the canal we saw a huge statue of Lenin on the right bank.

Tomorrow we arrive in Moscow after lunch and will be taken on a city tour which lasts until early evening.

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