Monday, June 30, 2014

A Home Visit in Svirstroy

As we were coming into Svirstroy, we passed through another lock. The dams that are built to make the rivers navigable create large lakes. In cases where several rivers flow into the lake, a hydro generating station is installed to use the excess water.

This shows how quickly the water level in the lock drops...riveting movie!

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No wonder we can’t read anything--the alphabet is so different...

Today we were in the village of Svirstroy, population 1,000. It is 100 miles from St. Petersburg and this would be our last chance for shopping before hitting the big city. We were going to be visiting a village home and learning about their way of life.

A nice bench to sit on...

Our hostess, Luba, waiting at the pier to bring us to her home.

A lot of little shops for a town with such a small population...

The colourful Russian traditional dress...

This little shop looked like a church, complete with gold dome.

Here we are traipsing down the road looking more like a group of refugees. There were seven groups, all visiting different homes.

Luba’s house...there were four flats in the building.

Luba leading the way...this flat belonged to her parents, and when they were growing up there were six of them living in it. The flat had a larger living area, a tiny kitchen, one bedroom and a small bathroom.
In the living area, the table was all set and waiting for us. At the head of the table is Luba's sister, Natalia. We had pastries, and tea which was quite good, considering I'm not a tea drinker.

Natalia was proud to show us a picture of her son and granddaughter...

Jim with Natalia...the ladies didn't speak any English, but they quickly answered any questions we had through Sergey, our translator. They are both pensioners. Luba has a pension of 6000 rubles (less than $200) a month; Natalia was a teacher so her pension is about 8000 rubles (about $225). They pay 5000 rubles a month for utilities, leaving them 9000 rubles to live on. I am sure these home visits really help them financially.

This was the local grocery store that carried everything, including medication and liquor.

This statue isn't of Lenin, although that would have been my guess. It is a statue of Sergei Kirov, who was assassinated in 1934. He was a prominent early Bolshevik leader.

A curious puppy hanging around the shops...

This building had a bit of a wow to it...

Even though we swear we aren’t buying any more art, somehow this watercolor made it back to the ship with us. It’s called Troika, for the three horses drawing a sled, an iconic symbol of Russia.

The next day we would be in St. Petersburg with a busy schedule. We decided we weren't going to the dance party that night, but somehow with all the free flowing wine at dinner, those resolutions went out the window. Marg, Yvonne and I were the first ones up to dance.

Yvonne and Andre...the dearest couple.

Mike and Marg, me and Yvonne...

Sergey asked me to dance. When I saw this picture after, I noticed all the staff people dancing with the guests. I think this was their obligatory "ask someone to dance"...

Yvonne told us she had won a Macarena contest once. While the rest of us tried to remember how to do it, Yvonne just jumped right in...

And to top it off, I had to start a conga line. Oh, there were going to be some big heads tomorrow!

The sun set on another great day...

Tomorrow we will be in St. Petersburg...


Sunday, June 29, 2014

A UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kizhi

Look at the drop in elevation from Goritsy to our next port of Kizhi. No wonder they need all the locks...

We had a nice lazy day again before we would arrive in Kizhi at 5:00 p.m. Going through many locks...the average depth of the locks is 21 m.


Leaving the lock and passing a ship waiting to go through...

One of the little villages along the way...most of the buildings would be made of pine.

Another abandoned church...

A nice neat garden...the government has tried to give away farms since 1996 to encourage rural settlement, with limited success.

Lupins!

Jim liked this garage with the old heavy boxy trucks.

A great logging area...look at the small diameter of the logs.

Loading the logs onto a river boat...

This speedboat came zooming up beside us and then ran out of gas. That was quite amusing!

That afternoon they held a vodka (wodka) tasting, with blinis (Russian pancakes) and caviar. The staff in their colourful aprons...

The blinis were so good. They were very heavy and spongy, as opposed to others we had which were more crepe-like. Red caviar on the side and four different kinds of vodka to taste—honey, birch, berry and clear. I bailed after two different shots, or I was going to need a nap before docking.

This was followed by a few comedy sketches and Russian fairy tales with the staff. They had volunteers from the audience play different roles. I don't even remember now what the story was!

This lady might have been at the vodka tasting because her mask was so twisted I don’t know how she could see out of it, and the bunny teeth were over on the side of her nose. No wonder I don't remember what it was about...just watching them was funny.

The story of Cinderella played by the crew. Sergey was Cinderella; Katia was the Prince; and Eric, the Hotel Manager, was the Wicked Stepsister. They delivered the whole play in deadpan expressions. It was quite funny.

This neat little wooden structure was starting to give us a taste of what we would be seeing in Kizhi.

It's interesting that they don’t anchor these boats; they simply drive them onto the shore. It's obviously a fairly steep embankment because they drive them off after.

A windmill we could see in the background, which we learned is for grinding grain.

This looked a little more prosperous...it might have been a resort.

Waving to us...the people are so friendly.

Every cruise must have Jim with his happy face on the balcony...

And this was our first view of the structures on the island...

Kizhi is the home of an outdoor museum, including the remarkable Transfiguration Cathedral. The island of Kizhi is very small and narrow--8 km long and approximately 1.5 km wide. The structures on the island were brought from around the region in the 1950s to collectively illustrate the styles of architecture common to the Russian North.


This is a photo I found of the amazing Transfiguration Cathedral. It was built in 1714 and made of 30,000 shingles on 22 separate cupolas...without a single nail! These shingles are made of aspen which weathers well. With a height of 37 m, it is one of the tallest structures in the Russian North.

And this is what we saw due to ongoing restoration. The rotting boards caused by water coming off the cupolas are being replaced.

Here is a map of the island with most of the buildings at the south end. This is where we would be walking...

Kizhi...

The pier area looks kind of sad. It was an area where you could have a drink; now that I see the picture it looks funny with a few tables out in the dirt. At the time, it seemed quite appropriate!

The lovely boardwalk on the island...

No crowding here...

The bell tower, with the domes of the Transfiguration Cathedral (summer church) on the left, and the winter church, or the Church of the Intercession of the Virgin (much easier to say winter church), on the right. The summer church was closed for 30 years until Putin provided money for restoration.

The door on the bell tower...

It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.

The Russian Orthodox cross...the bottom crossbeam is slanted with the higher side pointing to Christ's right.

The winter church where services were held until 1937. The aspen shingles glimmer like silver in the sunlight.

Inside the winter church looking out towards a peasant's house...

In the church even windows had decoration on them...they were amazing craftsmen.

Inside the winter church...

The fence was built in the 17th century as a protective measure against Swedish and Polish invasions. It was reconstructed in the 1950s as a 300 m long log structure surrounding the two churches and the belfry.

There were four different tour groups, which were nicely spaced out so you still felt the peacefulness of the island.

We stopped at a home that would have been for a large family. It was about 600 square meters and was home to three generations. It also included a hayloft and cattle shed inside.

The table was the center of every get together. This table was beautiful...the top was as smooth as a new piece of furniture.

Everything would have been handmade, including all the toys for the children.

The loom for making clothing, shawls, and blankets...

This lady was doing embroidery work that you would see on towels and on traditional wedding dresses. It was gorgeous and perfectly identical on both sides. They would do everything from memory with about 40 different designs.

Up in the loft where they would store hay and boats in winter...

I looked out the window and saw Sergey chilling. A few moments earlier he had been juggling. With the cruises doing the same itinerary back and forth, he has been to Kizhi many times.

This was the steam bath house. 

Carving children's toys...


The toys would remain unpainted...

Interesting construction of the fences...

Walking towards the windmill...there are about 50 residents on the island.

This little church is the Church of the Lasarus Resurrection. It was one of the first Orthodox churches in Russia, built in the 14th century.

All of the shingles were made with an ax and without nails...absolutely stunning.

The bird was posing...

The windmill with the Chapel of the Archangel Michael in the background...

A bike laying in the grass...you wouldn't have to worry about theft here.

The chapel was moved to the island in 1961 from a nearby village.

We were treated to another bell ringing...

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Looking back at the churches...

The bike whizzed by us. Now the bike laying in the grass made sense. The bell ringer was finished his duties for the day.

A Russian minivan...

It was time to walk back to the ship...just the walk itself was beautiful.

A lot of money has been put into these boardwalks...

A boat going through the marsh...

And more boardwalk...it sure seemed like we had walked the whole island and not just one tip of it.

We passed some ducks...


Awww...a cat...

Who told us what he thought of tourists...boring!

Some of the kids on the island...they must be good at amusing themselves with outdoor activities.

I didn't get a photo of our guide. She was a very petite older lady. When we were leaving, she wished us peace. That's all the people want--to be able to live in peace. A beautiful God sky to end an amazing day of sights...

Tomorrow we will be in Svirstroy...