From Russia with love

Jan Augustine is a longtime volunteer at the Donald W. Reynolds Center. An inveterate world traveler, she has visited every continent, including Antarctica. Here she shares some observations and just a few of the many photographs she took on a recent river cruise along the Volga river in Russia.

As anticipated, the river cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg was terrific, not only because we saw areas of Russia that are primarily reachable only by boat, but also because,  in addition to my normal travel companion, Marj, we were joined by Jane Gillis and her daughter, Moira. Jane and I first traveled to the Soviet Union together in 1975 so this trip jogged a few memory cells.

The highlights for me were Kizhi Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where all the buildings are constructed of wood, including a 22-dome church; the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg—as much for the building itself as for the art it holds (forgive the various shots of floors and ceilings, but they were amazing); and the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, also in St. Petersburg, where the entire interior is covered in mosaics that have been completely restored after massive destruction during WWII. As usual, there wasn’t nearly enough time to see as much as we’d like, especially in St. Petersburg, where rain and cold kept us from walking around as much as planned.

By the way, did you know that Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega are the two largest freshwater lakes in Europe? I had no idea, but sailing through them was like sailing across a sea, with no land in sight. (They are both, however, smaller than any of the Great Lakes.)

As usual, I took way too many photos, but here’s a sampling of what we saw. You’ll notice that many of the sites are religious in nature—either Russian Orthodox churches or monasteries. Many of the churches are now museums, but quite a number are active. We were told that there are enough priests and monks to go around, but that the congregations are not growing.

Posted: 24 June 2011
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