The Rivers - Lakes - Canals Trip

Well here we go, leaving St. Petersburg after four wonderful days of sight seeing. Lifted anchor so to speak, and off up the Neva. It's around 9 P.M. Woke up about 4 A.M. and looked out the window, looked like we were on the ocean. It was Lake Ladoga, the largest lake in Europe. A very strange feeling, misty and mysterious. It's about 600 feet deep with over 600 islands in its fresh water. There are over 50 varieties of fish including trout, salmon, and sturgeon. Next we left Lake Ladoga and entered the 140 mile long Svir River. We pass many villages and pass through the first lock of many (the Lower Svir Lock). Now we leave the Svir and enter the Onega Lake, 170 miles long and 60 miles wide, a depth of 350 feet. Pike, perch, bream and burbot abound in the clear waters.

We now arrive at Kizhi for a walking tour on the island to see the 22 domed Transfiguration Church built in 1714. It is built with wooden beams and shingles without the use of any nails. This was one of the more interesting islands. There were old farm houses, windmills, and other types of farm structures. Back to the boat to visit the next town.

Next stop Petrozavodsk which was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great. Petrozavodsk means factory in Russian. It was originally set up as an iron foundry and armaments plant. Later it was used as a place of exile for the tsars and Bolsheviks. We also see a concert of the innovative Karelian music and dance ensemble. The city doesn't have much going for it and I guess that one of the few ways to make money for them is the to put on these folk dances during the summer months with the cruise ships and then hunker down for the winter. They said it is so bleak, cold and dark from 4 in the afternoon to 8 in the morning for months on end. Must be very bleak all over the part of any country that is so far north.

We now enter the Volga-Baltic Canal and pass through six locks. We enter the Kovzha River and the White Lake and then enter the Sheksna River.

Finally a day of relaxation. A stop at Irma, a small village and a picnic with walking tours of the island and visiting people staying in their summer dachas. Met two sisters that are school teachers and we had tea in their dachas along with cookies. I asked them if they made them and they laughed, no, from the store. Then I looked at them and guess what, stamped on them was Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Can't get away from it.

Massage 'Specialist'!

There was a woman massage "specialist" on board the ship and all the men were hot for massages! Many wives decided to give their husbands gift certificates for massages. The men would all come back and announce very loudly that they just had a massage. I was having some shoulder and neck problems (truly), so decided to get a massage. She had a cabin all set up and as she massaged me told me about herself. She had worked in the St. Petersburg film industry and after the collapse of the Russian government, the film industry fell apart in both St. Peterburg and Moscow. She has a son living in Isreal who joined the airforce as a jet pilot and she was afraid if there was a war he would be killed. I kind of doubted this ascertian as friends of mine that were born in Russia and moved to Isreal told me you can't get a clearance even if you are Jewish because you were born in a former Communist country. Anyway, the massage was suppose to be for about 45 minutes but it stretched out to an hour and 45 minutes! She told me how nice it would be to vist San Francisco, you can imagine how often I have heard that! It was getting late, I didn't want to miss dinner so tired to get out of the cabin.  She pushed me up against the wall in the hallway and planted a kiss on my cheek, tried for my mouth but I struggled, me 220 pounds and her 100 pounds! I continued to struggle and finally escaped and when I got to the dinning room everyone looked at me and asked why I was so flushed and why I was gone for almost two hours. I told them what had happened and everyone cracked up. The men asked me why I was hit on and they weren't, I asked them if they wanted her on their door step someday without a green card. Be glad you weren't hit upon! Everyone agreed, especially the wives!

Next we entered the Rybinsk Reservoir which took six years to fill in the 1940s. Next the city of Kostroma which is one of the Golden Ring jewels which was founded in the 14th century. Highlights of this tour is the famous Ipatyevsky Monastery founded in the 14th century.

Horse Patrol!

One day as we approached a lock we saw a horse at the top of the lock looking back and forth for a ship! We wondered if we were really seeing this. As we pulled into the lock the horse checked out the bow of the ship. He then flew like the wind to the stern of the ship and watched to see when the lock gates began to shut. As soon as they began to close, he rushed back and forth looking for anyone that might have apples or what ever to eat. As soon as the ship was high enough for him to reach an item, he would grab it, chew like mad and try and swallow it so he could grab something else. The poor thing was worn out by the time the ship pulled out of the lock but he was full and happy. He even knows the times the ships should be approaching the locks! He then went under a tree to lie down and take a nap until the next ship appeared. Our guide said he has been doing that for about six years and is very unhappy when winter sets in and the rivers freeze over as he doesn't get his fix of snacks then!

We sail back along the Volga to our next destination, Yaroslav, founded in 1010, making it the oldest city on the Volga. This city has enjoyed prosperity as a major mercantile center and thus a number of merchant churches and the Grand Savior's Monastery.

We pass through the Rybinsk Lock, the largest on our trip, 54 feet tall. We arrive at the town of Uglich, founded in 1149. It is famous for the Church of Prince Dimitry on the Blood and the famous Chaika watch factory. We pass through six more locks on the Moscow Canal which was completed in 1937 by Stalin (after five years of forced labor). It is 127 kilometers long and connects Moscow to the Volga.

At last we sail into Moscow for the final leg of our Russian trip!



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