Monday, June 30, 2008

Russian River Cruise - Day 7 - May 18

The weather on this day was a bit cool but sunny, with some clouds. We arrived in Goritsy at 11:00 A.M and immediately met the buses on the pier to go to the small provincial town of Kirillov. We visited the prominent Monastery of St. Cyrill on the White Lake. It is a huge spreading number of buildings There was a helicopter flying about and when asked why we were told that the people in the area had joined hands to make a ring around this Monastery to promote the addition of the place into a heritage building to be restored and saved. There are monks living and working here. We were treated to a vocal by 3 people in part of the Church while there. More on this next post.
We also visited the local House of Culture and Children's Summer Club where kids learn and develop their skills in Russian Arts and Crafts. In this educational establishment were treated to recital of poems by four young boys who created these short poems as an exercise in their studies. We also saw a demonstration of lace making. Beautiful work. By the time I was able to get to the place to purchase some lace, it was pretty well all gone.

A couple of days ago we took a deli lunch to Saxe Point where I was able to get a few photos of the tall ships, as well as more of the plants in the Park. More on this when I have finished my Russian river cruise, Baltic Countries coach tour, and 3 days in Amsterdam, series of photos.

I have managed to get out and water and weed a bit. I have the boxwood hedges trimmed. We had two very hot days and I was out watering to save the strawberries, primarily, and to give the Saskatoon berry trees water. Maybe we will get enough berries for a pie. Keepin' my fingers crossed and watering when I get the time. There are weeds everywhere, of course, after 2 months of no attention. The vegetable seeds I planted did not come up, so I guess I will dump all my old seed and start with new stuff next year. Its too late to do tomatoes, so the veggie patch will be fallow this year, again. I am adding the lawn clippings and mulched weeds on top to try to add some tilth to this soil. Probably adding weed seeds. Oh well, with all that mulch, they should pull out easily.

We have had the laundry room and storage closet repaired (from when our plumbing sprang a leak) and painted. We have Hourigans coming in sometime to add this lino that looks like tiles to the laundry room, entry way and closet. All of this should be covered by our insurance, except Lidia's extra painting in the laundry room for which she charged me for the paint and $192 for just that one room. I have no idea what things should cost.
We have a painter coming in a couple of weeks to start the paint on the rest of the rooms, except the kitchen and the adjoining room where I have my computer, plants, etc. I am going to have new cabinets, lighting, flooring and paint of course. All of this is keeping us quite busy.

I started the rum pot yesterday with a couple of cups of strawberries, half a cup of sugar and brandy to cover the berries. It tastes pretty good already! I think the secret is to get enough sugar in the mix. Last year's tasted far to alcoholic and not enough fruit.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Russian River Cruise - Day 7 - May 18

We sailed from Yaroslavl at 1:30 p.m. and arrived the next day at Goritsy at 11:00 a.m. We sailed across Lake Rubinsk, formed in 1941 between the upper Volga River and its tributaries, the Molga and the Sheksna Rivers, with the completion of the dam and hydroelectric station at Rubinsk.
The photos are of little farms, cranes and river trafffic. The sunrise is on our way to Goritsy.

We bought a new top mattress and a couple of pillows with a 10 yr warranty on the mattress...... man, this ran us over $1,000 and stuff was on sale! Boy, am I ever out of touch with the costs of things. Of course, its been over 20 years since we bought any furniture. So, I guess, if you get good stuff, it lasts.

On Saturday, I was to the Tea Party to officially open the Takata Japanese garden out at Glendale gardens. I have a few good photos from the day. More on it later.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Russian River Cruise - More Day 6 - May 17

our guide at the puppet theatre

more of the puppet theatre

The marina in Yarsoslavl

Church of Epiphany

Part of the Transfiguration Monastery

Our tour group in front of part of the Transfiguration Monastery

The sun was shining and we had an excellent tour guide in Yaroslavl. Yaroslavl is a center of the arts in Russia and a lovely little city.

Today I managed to get the grass mowed and the big hedge trimmed, as well as a bit of weeding done at the front. I ran the mower over the clippings and it mulches them up very nicely. I put this on the garden.

Lidia finished painting today. The laundry room is now a mustard yellow. We need the new flooring next. $.90 a sq.ft., I bought the paint. Drywalling? don't know. She has left marks on the door and the door jamb.

Tomorrow Irene and Dan will be over to see us. I am looking forward to seeing them. Seems we have not seen them for a long time.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Russian River Cruise - Day 6 - May 17

Church of the Prince

St. Elijah the Prophet Church

Volga River Sunset

Along the River

There have been some beautiful sunsets/sunrises on this cruise. I have been shooting out the cabin window to capture a few of the rural scenes.

At 9:00 am we set out by bus to go to Yaroslavl for a walking tour of the City. There is much history in the city which can be found elsewhere. I have quite a few more photos from this day. Its a beautiful city and a center of the arts in Russia.

I feel like I am over my cold at last. Yesterday we rode around on the Model T Speedster for the annual Father's day run. Today I finished the vacuuming, and the dusting. I have put my big, over grown plants out on the deck, never to be returned to the house. My living room and the computer corner look a lot better now, without the jungle. My garden is needing attention next. All the water features were about half empty due to evaporation. I refilled the pond, again today as it had evaporated quite a bit. I must do the tub again too, as well as the half barrell. The lupines were marvelous with the foxgloves!! The poppies are out and the rhodos and roses. Can't wait to get out and trim things up so it looks even better.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Russian River Cruise - Day 5 - May 16

Sun path from a glorious sunset.
A village was flooded in creating the Moscow Canal. This is the Towns bell tower
Cruising the River
Flares with my CS filter on a passing cruise ship
Professor Inna Gritsenko

On Day 5 after breakfast we had a safety drill. We were required to put on our life jackets and stand out in the hallway for inspection. These life jackets were under the bunk bed and were old and dirty.

At 10:00 we had a lecture by Professor Inna Grisenko: "The Russian Monarchy and its Tragedy. The first of the series of four. She is really a very good speaker and is very informative.

We sailed through the 80 mile Moscow Canal to Uglich. There was a walking tour of Uglich. Uglich is one of Russia's Golden Ring Cities. It has historical significance going back to the founding in 973. Pat went on the tour, and I stayed in, so no photos.

Our ship passes through 18 locks from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Having seen locks on our Danube River cruise in 2005, I did not feel that I had to be on deck to see too many of these locks. They take 20 minutes and actually are interesting to watch.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Russian River Cruise - Day 3 and 4 - May 14, 15

On Day 3 of the Russian River Cruise I spent as much of the day as I possibly could in bed with my cold. I had breakfast but it was all I could manage that day. Pat went on the City Tour which included stops at Red Square and New Maiden Convent.

On Day 4 there was time to explore Moscow on your own, or to go on optional tours, none of which we signed up for. At 2:30 that afternoon we sailed. In the evening we had the Captain's welcome cocktail and the Captains dinner. They required "a nice dress" for the ladies, suit and tie for the gentlemen.

There is a sad lack of photos for the 3 day and a few on the 4th. This trip turned into the photo shoot of the cranes. There was much construction in Moscow. The one above was next to the dock where we were tied up. The Graf is from shooting out the cabin window as we sailed.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Russian River Cruise - Day 2 - May 13

Near the Kremlin Palace. Unfortunately I cannot find a photo of it in my book
tsar cannon
Cathedral of the Annunciation
kremlin flare
kremlin bell towers

The second day of our tour was a cold with scattered showers day. We waited a long time outside of the Kremlin before they finally let us in. Once in the armoury and museum were rather spectacular. No photos in there.

Next on the agenda was a look at the Metro. This, in my opinion, was a disaster or a very bad joke. Our troop of tourists - in the 50 to 85 year bracket hopped on and off the metro several times while stopping in different halls for talks about the surroundings. Low light, and pictures were a impossible. There was regular traffic on the metro so this was less than optimum time to be there. I think they really should have made this one an option. The metro truly is spectacular though.

We had an 85 yr. old lady, who was traveling with her daughter, with us. She was shepherded around and looked after by this daughter and the other Jewish Princesses. Of course, their needs were the primary concern to all of us, as far as they knew.

We had lunch in a restaurant. By this time my cold was evident and I could not eat anything.

Finally back to the ship and I fell immediately into bed. I slept for must have been 18 hours. My nightshirt was soaking wet from my fever when I woke. So, perhaps some of my jaded view of Moscow is due to the weather and my virus.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Russian River Cruise - Day 1 - May 12

The photos are from the first day on board the Litvinov that is docked on the Volga River. I am shooting through our cabin window as its cold out and I already have the beginnings of a cold. This was to turn into a major cold that just knocked me out for 24 hours after our first day's tour.

The drive in from the airport was very hard on my sinuses and eyes that are very sensitive to air pollution, especially of the oil/gas/exhaust kind. There is much construction going on in Moscow. They need more roads and I believe they are working on that. They have horrific traffic jams now. We were lucky to get to our ship in what seemed to me to be far too long but was probably record time for them.
Upon arrival we were requested to unpack our bags and leave them outside for storage.. I guess there was not enough room in the cabins for them. I would have preferred to keep mine as a 'drawer' to store sweaters, etc. The zipper on Pat's bag was broken. He managed to open the suitcase, unpack and fix the zipper before we put them out for storage.
We had dinner after unpacking -- breakfast is the only buffet, the other meals are a choice of two things and served by the waiters/waitresses. After dinner we rushed to the Arrival Talk with Lena Gurieva, our cruise manager. She was really quite good and doing the best she could with what she had. While at this talk, we were given pages to view to decide our extra optional tours. While looking at this, I took the tickets booklet out of my bag to get the Uniworld schedule. We were looking over these options, and deciding what we wanted to do, when I discovered that the tickets were missing from my lap behind my bag where I had put them. Very disconcerting! This made it very difficult to concentrate on the introductory talk. Pat spotted them in their distinctive case up on the stage on a side table. I have no idea who took them or how they got up there. There is no way they dropped on the floor or I would have noticed. The distinctive case is quite big. I think someone 'pick pocketed' me. Why? I have no idea, but I am not one to loose important documents like that. I suppose there was nothing in the case but the electronic tickets, no passports, no money, nothing a thief could easily use.

This set the tenor for the whole trip. We didn't at first realize it but we were operating under the auspices of Murphy's Law. Anything that could go wrong did. The worst sort of luck.

We had a beautiful sunset the first nite. The picture of the ship is one that was docked across the river from the Litvinov.

Russian River Cruise - Getting there

schipol (Amsterdam Airport) from our hotel window
The picture in our cabin
Moscow from the airplane
Amsterdam from the airplane window

We left home on the 10th of May, spent an overnite in Amsterdam at a hotel in the airport.
The next afternoon we flew out to Moscow. We flew business class but the Amsterdam to Moscow did not seem to have a business class arrangement. I don't remember what kind of an airplane it was, or who's airline it was.
The photos are taken through the dirty airplane windows, so they are not exactly the best.

We were met at the airport by our Uniworld representative and taken to our ship, the Litvinov. The Picture on the wall of our cabin was the best part. I was pleased to see that I had a similar shot from the air.

Our Uniworld material had said that the Russian ship was not up to the standard of the European River cruise ships... for instance the River Duchess that we were on in 2005 was luxurious compared to this thing. We had a noise window that let in cold air, and a heater that we could not seem to get them to fix. The shower was contained in the bathroom but worked rather well, except for the sudden change of temperatures when others were showering. We must try not to drink the water. We were told to brush our teeth with bottled water. They did not give us this water, but we had to buy it. The walls were thin with no sound barrier. We had bunks with a tiny table between them. As we had booked late, this was the cabin we had. There were very few luxury suites or larger cabins on board, anyway and no chance for an upgrade. I could hear the person on the other side of the wall from me breathing. The food was adequate, but not very inspiring.