Monday, October 30, 2006


Thursday, October 5, 2006

Weather: Silvered and bracing.

We woke up early for a visit to Kizhi Island on Lake Lagoda. Not quite the Potemkin experience from Mandrogy, Kizhi boasts one of the oldest churches in Russia, some 300 years old with 22 onion domes all in unfinished pine and aspen. As was typical at the time of construction, the building has no solid foundation, merely laid on top of the ground. The result is that it is unsafe to enter. At this time, a metal skeleton has been erected within it to keep it from toppling over. Plans are underway to construct a proper foundation, hopefully to begin next year.

The local bell ringer was in top form and performed for each group as it passed by his belltower.

We did get quite a thorough tour of a farmhouse moved to the site from another village. Our guide claimed it had been occupied as recently as the 1950's. She left the impression that the house was purchased from the family, contents and all.

John and I found that a bit implausible as she pointed out a photo of Tzar Nicholas II with Alexii in the upstairs living room. This is somewhat of a trend for our guides to tint history in shades of sepia and rose. The big things are always the worst, the poorest, the most violent and the good things are the richest, sweetest, most beautiful and desired. Another trend is an open palm extended toward us at the end of each encounter. Valera chimed in again, "Please to show your appreciation to Nadja for our tour today." I declined and hurried back to the boat to warm up.

John cut about three chords of wood during his nap this afternoon. I caught up on a little reading, followed by an hour or two of sleep myself. When this lake we traveled across was created, there were casualties as well.

Our caviar tasting was interesting, but pricey at 36 Euros apiece. For years, John has sung the praises of Ossetra vs. Beluga. Tasting them side by side, I must now agree.

Dinner followed - John and I were joined by three sisters traveling with our South Carolina group. Apparently, their mother is traveling with them and had fallen on Kizhi this morning, hitting her head in the process. The ship's doctor believed she had broken her nose, but another passenger, a doctor from Newberry, SC did not agree. I was surprised that all three had left her alone to have dinner, but they didn't seem overly concerned. They travel together frequently and at times, their conversation approached "Music Man" proportions (pick-a-little, talk-a-little...). One of them was quite eager to share her dinner with me, but I declined (politely, I hope). They were also quite insistent that John and I attend the vodka tasting the next night. "...and it's only 13 Euros!!" was an oft-repeated refrain.

More to come...

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