Monday, October 17, 2011

What is this, Russia? – part tri

So where were we? Oh yes. We had been having an amazing week in Moscow.  We had walked all over the place (I even wore out a pair of flats while over there), seen some touristy stuff and ate a whole bunch of food of varying levels of eye-brow raising texture and flavor.

But enough of the city life.  We longed for the fresh air of the country! For the rural Russia where subway systems and Japanese food were not so readily accessible.  Where we could hum ‘green acres’ and try to replace the words to something applicably Russian via our phrasebooks.  To Sergiyev Posad we went! 

This town lies along Russia’s‘golden ring’ which is made up of ancient villages between Moscow and St. Petersburg.  We took the train out of the city, without a map of the train system (it was by the grace of God that we finally found the right train to get on, and the train station itself for that matter).  We asked people around us, the best that we could, if we were in the right place.  When they made a stop and announced Sergiyev Posad (in Russian of course) we had mistakenly assumed we had arrived (not true, it was up next).  Getting off on the wrong stop was tricky because of course we had no phones, spoke no Russian and the further from the city we were lessened the chances we could find English speaking help if we needed it.  Also some of those rural stops were dirt tracks into a town (you hope?). In short, it was an adventure. So as we attempted to get off on the wrong stop, the Babushka (older lady) a step ahead of us literally shoved us back on the train as it started to move. We frantically repeated the name of the town (at that point the only thing we knew to say), and she pointed in the direction the train was moving.  And with that act of language barrier kindness we made it safe and sound to our destination.  God bless that woman wherever she is.

We actually had a few of people help us like that over the week.  A couple of times when we looked utterly lost and unabashedly tourist-like as we held up a colorful map of the city streets, someone would come up to us and point to the map then point to the street sign in whatever direction we were trying to locate.  All the while this good Samaritan would be unsmiling and looking like they could be cast in an Al Pacino movie where the character is incapable of being happy, wears a lot of leather and has a propensity for violence.  And yet, there they were helping us.  File that under not judging a book by its cover, sub-file cultural differences.

So once in Sergiyev Posad, we were wandering the streets from the train station and just generally walking towards the highest church dome we could see, we came across this beautiful sight:


and promptly inserted ourselves in the view:

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Does it now somehow remind you of Florence Italy? It did me, and made me hope to not wait another ten years to jump across the pond.  As we got closer we found vendors aplenty:

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This village is actually the origin of the Matryoshka doll, there were tons from which to choose. Even ones with Putin’s face if you were so inclined.

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This village also is home to the Trinity Lavra, home of the Russian Orthodox Church and their most celebrated Monastery. We weren’t allowed to take photos if they would include the Russian Orthodox monks (which as far as I could tell dressed similar to Greek Orthodox ones). Ladies also required head coverings.  Good thing it was chilly enough that day for all of us to be sporting scarves anyway.


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Look at the tile work Dad! The inside of these buildings were exquisite and my ho-hum pictures couldn’t capture there glimmering artwork and history in a million years. You’ll just have to take my word for it. It was like being transported back in time, and the detail work was breath taking.  Within the cathedral you could light a prayer candle, so there burned one that day in honor of my Grandmas!

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We ventured out into the town for a little bit of the local fare.

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Which as usual included dumplings.  Man oh man do those Eastern Europeans love their dumplings.  As always it was served with a glob (which is like five dollops) of sour cream and lots of fresh dill.  I also had a Bliney which is somewhere between a crepe and a pancake.  No matter how you slice it (is thickness the difference?) it is good with Butter. Am I right?

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Then it was back to the train station to begin the very confusing process of trying to decode the train schedule.  Eventually we asked enough people and jumped on a train that seemed likely.  The exhale we shared after the train started moving towards Moscow was loud.  Mission accomplished.


Also getting a mink hat? That mission was accomplished too!



Back next with part chetyre (4) the final installation of my Russian chronicles.

Dasveedanya my druz’ya!