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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Tree Tuesday

Today’s tree story is about another victim of the cult of Greed. Developers, building artificial islands for luxury resorts, are buying mature coconut trees from farmers, but their removal and relocation has many people worried.

Kaashidhoo is one of the largest of the 1,192 islands that make up the Maldives archipelago, but unlike many other islands, it does not teem with sunbathing Europeans. Its broad dirt roads are often deserted, flanked by pink Maldivian roses, mango-orange impatiens, and papaya and banana plants. The main occupation of the islanders is cultivating coconut and other tropical produce that can be sold in Malé, the Maldivian capital.
But lately, the local economy has been thrown out of balance. Crater-like holes have begun to appear across the island, some filled with dry leaves and others left as barren pits. These bald patches are the places where mature coconut trees used to stand tall. In the last year, Kaashidhoo farmers have sold hundreds of trees to new luxury resorts on nearby artificial islands.

While some locals are grateful for the newfound income—$20 to $100 for each tree—others worry that beach erosion has intensified since the trees started getting uprooted. They see this as a fragile ecosystem threatened by the proliferation of luxury resorts. “It’s a huge issue,” says Ibrahim Naeem, Director General of the Maldives Environmental Protection Agency. “Importing coconut palm trees is prohibited in the Maldives, so they have to rely on residential islands.”

As time has gone on, environmental changes have set in.

Yet as the year went by, and more coconut trees disappeared, Jameel says that many locals grew concerned. Coral islands like Kaashidhoo are highly dynamic, constantly adjusting and dancing to the idiosyncrasies of wind, tides, and relentless waves. “Everyone has observed far more erosion around the beaches. That’s what we end up talking about most of the time,” Jameel says. In response, she joined a non-governmental organization called Young Leaders, to spread awareness about environmental issues on the island.

Also, once these areas are developed, locals are encouraged to stay away, and many of the benefits that they were promised from development have never materialized. Environmental groups are now co-ordinating campaigns to strengthen and enforce the laws, and they’re using the #mvtreegrab. I usually forget to Twitter, but today I will, and I’ll add that hashtag. There are plenty of pretty pictures with the story, so go have a look… if you can stomach another bad news story.

story via: Atlas Obscura

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

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

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.