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Weeks 2 and 3

Posted Monday, March 22nd, 2010 at 11:30 am | Comments Off

In search of White Nights!

Riverboat on the Neva

Snow Bank in St. PetersburgIn June it’s the best time for St. Petersburg– but for us the White Nights is preceded by white snow banks – white boats on the white frozen canals!  Our accommodation at Marriot’s courtyard on Vasilyevsky Ostrov (island) connects us once again to Alexandra and the Leningrad siege as this island is her birthplace.  This island is opposite the Hermitage and the Peter & Paul Fortress but all connected by the Neva River. Peter the Great designed this city like American cities with parallel and perpendicular streets.   We are on Line 1 and she lived as a child on Line 16.

While we held each other trying not to slip on the ice – we thought about what a great opportunity has been missed in Russia this year – rubber spiked shoes!   As if they don’t have enough – it was still snowing there!  We will return in April for a few days and the predictions are for flooded streets and lots of mud.  But, no matter the weather, all times spent in St. Petersburg are special – the history, the colorful buildings – things seem more constant and unchanging – not like Moscow.  It’s a beautiful city.

We than headed to Yekaterinburg ….

The Capitol of the Ural Mountains


This city lies on the eastern side of Ural Mountains and  claims to be the 4th. largest city in Russia – home of former President of Russia, Boris Yeltzen.  It has been the Capitol for iron ore, copper and gemstone mining for Russia since the late 1600s.  The combination of gemstone and ore mining traditions has created a unique opportunity for people to develop high quality skills.  In the central of their pedestrian mall named after their favorite sons – writers and brothers –Whiners,   you can see a  bronze monument for the creator of the bicycle – Mr. Artamonov (1800) and across the bridge of the Eset River you come along the monument of the ONLY  creator of the radio – Mr. Popov ( not as we believe that it was Edison!).

Author Bazhov's Queen of the Gem  MountainsWalking in -10C. on windy streets, we came across a small Museum honoring all gemstone crafts which produced many famous vases and architectural elements from the gemstones in the surrounding Ural Mountains.  For Andrei this connection to his childhood fairytales(Skazka)about the Queen of the Gemstone Mountains brought back good memories.  She guarded the treasures of the mines.  She is the beautiful protector created by Mr. Bazhov who wrote many tales of these underground areas.

Then the Revolution changed life of this city and one day after 1917 citizens woke up and found out that the city name had changed from the Czarina and  wife of Peter the Great – Katherine (yekaterinburg to Sverdlovsk) to the Revolutionary comrade of Lenin – Mr. Sverdlov.  (Thanks to former President Gorbachev it was reversed back to Yekaterinburg in 1985). The next year 1918 brought more tragedy when the whole family of the last Czar of Russia, Nicholas the 2n. was murdered.  They were imprisoned in a small merchant’s home when one night they were awakened and thought that they believed that  a family portrait was to be taken but were shot instead.

The Cathedral on the Blood

The Cathedral on the Blood

Monument to the Czar's family

Monument to the Czar's family

The orginal House of Prayer next to the new Cathedral on the Blood

The orginal House of Prayer next to the new Cathedral on the Blood

The Russian Orthodox Church first built up a small wooden “prayer house” on this spot but recently built h a beautiful church on the site called “The Cathedral on the Blood”.  The church has also proclaimed the whole family of the Czar as Saints of the church.

The good and bad of the city has not stopped us from following the Russian traditions –which is to be in the moment.  On Saturday, we ventured out 240 km. north with our dear friends into the small city of NizhneyaTyra  (meaning the Lower stream of the Tura River) to visit their mother. The trip passed a chain of cities which were prohibited to foreigners during the Soviet period.

Dam in Nizhneytyral

This city has an old beautiful man-made lake and dam which supplied the water power for processing/washing/flushing/grinding the ore mining plant in the 1800’s.  The second purpose of the dam was to create additional water flowage in the springtime for the flotilla of special boats which carried the ore across the mountain range towards Central Europe.

flowers for Mama

We were hosted by a very youthful 90 year old woman and her 3 daughters.  She received our flowers and cooked the pelmini – than sat around the table telling great stories.  We wish for us all to be as strong, smart and  powerful as this “Mama”  is at 90!

A true Russian Woman

Russian table

Next we will be in Surgut….

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