Bricks and Mortar and Water – Part 2

This is Part 2 (Part 1 here), which may or may not extend into Part 3 (spoiler: it will! (spoiler: most likely but no promises)).

Anyway, I arrived at the aqueduct, and was duly impressed:

Here’s an attempt to get the full length in one photo.
© rq, All rights reserved.

Getting closer to the brick texture here.
© rq, All rights reserved.

View from the other end – it was definitely a shifting light kind of day.
© rq, All rights reserved.

Of course, where possible, I have to climb onto things, so here’s a view back towards the mountains. I walked quite a distance across the top, but not all the way – some few metres along, the arches seemed slightly too damaged to risk (that mossy-grassy patch in the photo, actually), and my formerly brick-laying Lithuanian colleague agreed.
© rq, All rights reserved.

There were also figs.
© rq, All rights reserved.

Now I don’t actually remember what I was going for in this photo…
©rq, All rights reserved.

… but my Lithuanian colleague was kind enough to take a photo of what I looked like taking it.
© rq’s Lithuanian colleague, All rights reserved.

A window into the world.
© rq, All rights reserved.

That’s all for Part 2, then – Part 3 will take a closer look at the decrepit brickwork and the arches, because there’s a few interesting things, if you like that sort of thing. :)

Russia – Welcome to Uglich

Welcome to Uglich. ©voyager, all rights reserved

When we disembarked in Uglich we crossed a cobblestone bridge into the city where we were greeted by a duo singing a traditional Russian folk song. Their voices were clear and strong, and it was a charming welcome to the first of Russia that we saw outside of the big city of Moscow. On the other side of the bridge, we met our local tour guide who was to take us on a planned tour of the city. Being a tour guide is a noble profession in Russia, and once upon a time, the tour companies had a full-time stable of guides. There have been cutbacks, though, and now the guides all work as private contractors on an as-needed basis. For most of our trip, the guides were outstanding. They were all multi-lingual, friendly, thoroughly professional, and each of them had a comprehensive knowledge of the history and geography of the country. There was one guide, though, that we disliked.

Our Uglich Tour Guide. ©voyager, all rights reserved

This fellow was our guide in Uglich, and everyone in our group was unhappy with his performance. To begin with, he walked too fast. Way to fast for all of us. My friend and I were the youngsters on our cruise, with most of the other people being in their 70’s and 80’s, and everyone struggled to keep up. He also spoke while he was walking, without turning around at all, so that most of us missed what he had to say. We figured out the reason for the rush at the end of the tour, though, when we were taken into a woodcarvers shop and told that we had 15 minutes to look around and buy. We all suspected that the haste at the beginning of the tour was to make sure we had enough time to shop and that some sort of kick-back was likely involved. Working on an as-needed basis is difficult, so we understood the circumstances, but we’d signed up for the “slow” tour (most of the tours had an option for a quick, active group or a slower group with less walking) and this walk was anything but slow. We managed, though. It’s surprising how fast you can go with the right motivation. Turns out that I’m quicker when I’m worried about being left behind and lost in an unfamiliar place where I don’t speak the language and even the alphabet looks strange. We did have our guide books with us so we could at least recognize what building or church we were passing or were about to visit.


The city of Uglich is first mentioned in the All-Russia Chronicles of the Ipatievsky Monastery of 1148, however, there is archeological evidence that settlements have existed at the site since the First Millenium. The city houses many ancient churches, and we were able to visit three of them. Our tour began with a walk through the main area of churches viewing them from the outside before attending a 3 man a capella concert in a modern building used as a civic centre.

Our first stop after this was at the Transfiguration Cathedral, which is part of the city’s Kremlin (fort). This cathedral was first built in the early 1200s and it’s been rebuilt several times since then. The current church was built in 1713 and it’s the bright yellow building with orange trim and dark green onion domes that greeted us as we came into port. Beside the Church is the Bell Tower, which was erected in 1730.

The Transfiguration Cathedral, Uglich. ©voyager, all rights reserved

Transfiguration Cathedral and Bell Tower ©voyager, all rights reserved

Transfiguarion Bell Tower

Transfiguration Cathedral ©voyager, all rights reserved

We were given a very brief tour of the interior of the church later in the tour, just before being whisked off to the woodshop to buy souvenirs. Our guide told us the church is still in use and, as with all churches in Russia, there are no seats. All worshippers are expected to stand for services, including dignitaries and in previous times, the Aristocracy. Many of these services can go on for 4 hours. Gold was a prevailing detail in almost all of the churches we visited here and throughout Russia and every church has a unique set of icons.

The Icon Wall, Transfiguration Cathedral ©voyager, all rights reserved

Icon Wall, Transfiguration Cathedral ©voyager, all rights reserved

Icon Wall and cupola, Transfiguration Cathedral ©voyager, all rights reserved

That’s it for today. In the next installment, you’ll hear the curious story of Dmitri and see the church built in his honour.






A Bit of Good News from Australia

Lofty is back out on his bike and has sent us some photos of the early stages of recovery in fire-ravaged Australia,

Our bike club has returned to the fire ground as the roads are safe and the local bakeries need customers. Here are a few pictures of survival and recovery one month after the visit from the fire breathing dragon of climate change.

Merely a flesh wound, ©Lofty, all rights reserved

Oasis, ©Lofty, all rights reserved


Rain brings green, ©Lofty, all rights reserved

Tour down under, ©Lofty, all rights reserved

Tree Tuesday

These photos of grass trees were taken by the friend of a friend who lives in Australia. She tells me,

 While driving through the bushfire zone 12kms from the caravan park, I was delighted to see signs of regrowth…. (grass trees) are already sprouting green in the landscape that was so devastated just 6 weeks ago.

… you can read all about them at They are also a protected species and very expensive to buy from specialist nurseries – I’ve always wanted to have one in my garden! Best of all, grass trees are very resilient and able to survive any bushfire.

©Ozzie, all rights reserved

©Ozzie, all rights reserved

The Art of Book Design: Our Next Door Neighbor: Winter in Mexico

Gilbert Haven. Our Next Door Neighbor. Winter In Mexico. New York, Harper, 1875.

I’m dreaming about winter in Mexico today, because I’m going to Mexico on Feb. 13th. It would be an understatement to say that I’m excited. My girlfriend and her husband lived in Mexico for 11 years, but her husband died two years ago and she moved back to my city. She’s finally sold her home in Jacotopec and we’re going down to pack up the last of her things. We’ll also do a few other things that might be more touristy, but we’ll see what comes our way. I’ve never been to Mexico, nor had a winter holiday in the south so I don’t care what we do, as long as there’s no snow involved, I’ll be happy.


via: The Internet Archive

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

Yesterday and friend and I went on a bus trip to see the Musical “Anastasia” at the Mirvish Theatre in Toronto, and it was spectacular. The sets themselves were sparse with projected background images that contained animated elements. I found that they gave enough info about place and time, yet didn’t take your attention away from the action on stage. The costumes were breathtaking, and there was lots of singing and dancing. The music itself was pleasing, and the story moved along at a good pace. The first half of the play took place in St. Petersburg in 1917 and was a glimpse into Anastasia’s life. The second act took place in Paris 10 years later with the only surviving Romanov, the Dowager Empress, looking for her lost granddaughter Anastasia. I won’t give too much away, because it is worth seeing if you have the chance, but I will say that the Russian Revolution was glossed over. The play is about the mystery of the surviving Anastasia, and the revolution that destroyed her family is noted quickly with gunfire and people fleeing, but it’s mostly kept as a background element.

It made for a fun day out, but it was overstimulating and disrupted my sleep, so today, I’m tired, kinda cranky and craving quiet. Jack wanted a bit of excitement, though, so I reluctantly got up and took him to the Frog Pond trail. We don’t go there often because there are tons of mosquitos, and it gets quite muddy, but things are frozen today, so it seemed safe. And it was perfect, quiet and peaceful for me and full of unusual, new smells for Jack.  That’s a big win-win for a tired, theatre-loving voyager who didn’t want to venture out at all today. It’s one of the many beneficial reasons why it’s good to have a dog… they make you get up and do things that are healthy and rejuvenating. Thanks, Jack. I feel better now.


The Russian Adventure Continues

When I took on the blog full-time in September of 2018, I let my series about visiting Russia in September of 2017 fall by the wayside. I was overwhelmed at the time, and it was more than I could handle. A lot has changed since then, and I’ve been meaning to get back to the series and finish what I started. There is still a lot of Russia left to see and I hope you’ll travel along the route with me to have a look at some of the incredible sights. Viking runs their Russian cruises in both directions. I think Jane and I were lucky to go from Moscow to St. Petersburg instead of the other direction because St. Petersburg is gorgeous. It’s much prettier than Moscow for some very good reasons that I’ll explain when we get there. If we’d gone in the other direction we might have found Moscow lacking. Today, I’m going to go backwards a bit and show you the map of our voyage. I’ll be posting a more detailed map with each segment that we traverse, but this is a good overview of where we’re going.

Our travel route from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

So far, we’ve left the Moscow Canal and are on our way to Uglich via the Volga River.

Detail map of our current leg of the journey.

Uglich is one of Russia’s Golden Ring cities. What is a Golden Ring City?

The Golden Ring of Russia (Russian: Золото́е кольцо́ Росси́и) is a vast area in which old Russian cities are located in a ring-like arrangement and a well-known theme-route. The cities are located northeast of Moscow and were the north-eastern part of the ancient Rus’.[1] The Golden Ring of Russia formerly comprised the region known as Zalesye. The idea of the route and the term were created in 1967 by Soviet historian and essayist Yuri Bychkov, who published in the newspaper Sovetskaya Kultura in November–December 1967 a series of essays on the cities under the heading “Golden Ring”.[2] Bychkov was one of the founders of the All-Russian Society for the Protection of Monuments of History and Culture (Vserossiiskoe obshchestvo okhrany pamiatnikov istorii i kul’tury; VOOPIK).[3]
These ancient towns, which also played a significant role in the formation of the Russian Orthodox Church, preserve the memory of the most important and significant events in Russian history. The towns have been called “open-air museums” and feature unique monuments of Russian architecture of the 12th–18th centuries, including kremlins, monasteries, cathedrals, and churches. These towns are among the most picturesque in Russia and prominently feature Russia’s onion domes. – Wikipedia

Why “Ring?” According to the ship’s Viking Daily paper, the Muscovites were obsessed with Rings and when Soviet tourist bosses were looking for new attractions that were accessible from Moscow they drew a loop beginning and ending in Moscow, and called it the Golden Ring.

Ueglich is the first of the Golden Ring cities that we’ll be visiting, and when next we meet on the Viking river ship Ingvar we’ll take a walking tour around the place. In the meantime, if you’d like to reacquaint yourself with the tour to date here is the link to the previous post – Sailing into Uglich. I’ve gone back and added links to each previous post so that you can find your way back to the beginning.


Ripples for Caine- Water is Life

I have something very special from Nightjar for this Monday morning.

We had a rainy November, in fact I can’t remember a month in the recent past when it rained so much. The rain completely flooded the fields behind our house and again, I can’t remember when this last happened. I’m told by older people that this is what November used to be like and how the fields used to look like this time of the year. Makes sense. Before “normal” and “drought” became synonymous. Today we had a bit of sun and I had to go for a walk with my camera. While taking these photos all I could think of was Caine, for reasons I don’t think I have to explain. Hopefully the photos speak for themselves. Came back home with tears in my eyes and had to share this with you all. Water is Life. ♥

Your photos are beautiful, and they also make me think about Caine. She enjoyed photographing water in its many forms. I know she would love these pictures. Thank you so much for sharing them, Nightjar.

©Nightjar,all rights reserved

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