Saturday, 15 August 2015

UP NORTH & ALL AT SEA

14/15.08.2015
From St.P we first head east into lake Ladoga then north to Kizhi.
The lake is the largest in Europe and our night time crossing is rough. Things start flying round the room at 4am and requiring attention and deliberations as to the advisabilty of putting on life jackets (we have had a drill and inspection so know how to). Decide to trust the captain and go back to bed. Ship doesn't sink....It was originally  built to cruise the Black  Sea so is up to the challenge and things calm down when we enter the next  river.
After lunch we stop at Mandrogy which is best avoided. A purpose built 1996 'authentic village' or tourist trap solely concerned with selling Russian dolls and other 'craft' items to passing cruise ships. Disappointing apart from the complimentary champagne and vodka as we sail away.
We are heading north and weather has deteriorated and temperature dropped. We cross another  lake, Onega which is much calmer and only the second largest lake in Europe and arrive on Kizhi island on Saturday  morning. At 8.15 am we assemble on quayside in squally drizzle for walk to v.old wooden churches built without nails. Very impressive with 22 domes, v.old icons and nice singing from the monks. Shame about the weather. Also real preserved houses which we have local guides to explain . Winter lasts about 5 months with temps down to -35 and surrounding lakes freeze to a depth of 2 metres and daylight only a few hours. Tell them they should move south but I don't think they understand concept.
Our dining companions continue  to delight. Ed is a nuclear physicist, was sent to study in Moscow and became an Arms Control Inspector after the SALT talks. Now trains and advises other inspectors. Fund of stories but he'll  probably have to kill us .
We are very friendly  with a quartet of  John Jim Diane and Kathy from Texas who love our accent and are the bteam and have hip flasks.
We are now into lecture mode whilst sailing.....The Russian lessons drag but the History of the Romanovs  sends a large number to sleep with much snoring and digging  in the ribs by spouses....All you need to know is that they all killed their fathers/sons/husbands/brothers /uncles and it's a wonder it took till 1917 to kill them off.
The boat now enters locks as we head south to the Volga'-Baltic canal. Massive locks that take no more than 15 mins to transit.

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