*take nothing for granted!
Unless otherwise indicated all photos © Richard McKie 2005 - 2015

Who is Online

We have 112 guests and no members online

Translate to another language

The Cruise

 

 

On board, our cabins were small but comfortable and the meals were ample and very good quality.  Reasonable quality wine was available with the meal for less than $30 a bottle.  Nevertheless we chose to eat in the city on a number of occasions when we were out and about or departing from the organised tours. In this way we sampled a good range of Russian food and found it very enjoyable. We were also able to bring bottles and other supermarket goods back to the ship provided we drank and ate outside on deck or in our cabin.

 

meals on board

 

After three more days moored in Moscow we set sail for St Petersburg. The tour company had organised a number of stops along the way.  We were typically met by a guide and fed into the tourist sausage machine - wireless earpieces in - follow me group 2. 

 

Guides were usually very informative
Former Governor’s House Yaroslavl

 

At most of these stops we waited for the group ahead to move on and were then fed into a church; or palace; or local hall to hear a local group sing. Buy your CD here. 

 

Moving in the group

 

One island is so entirely given over to local crafts that there are no tours; just dump the tourists on-shore and leave them to buy the goods until lunch time.

 

Craft Island
Mandrogi tourism village

 

Nevertheless, most of the guides were very interesting and well-informed. It is also very helpful to be in a tour group to by-pass the crowds waiting to enter some locations like the Kremlin in Moscow and the Hermitage in St Petersburg.

There was often free time to roam about and the guides sometimes welcomed the opportunity to simply chat.  'What's your idea of democracy?' one asked me; and genuinely wanted to discuss my view of representative government; including the the necessity of compulsory voting and the importance of an apolitical head of state with the authority to dismiss Parliament but who is normally just a figurehead and politically powerless.

Russians do seem to be very politically aware despite a long history of political abuse. Our guides quite often slipped in little jibes at the state of Russian politics.  Putin announced that he was divorcing his wife while we were there and this provided material for some sly jokes.  Much of the historical material concentrated on the Tsarist times.  This was not surprising when visiting palaces and churches.

Guides refer to the 'Soviet Period'; as if it was a brief historical aberration; like that under some tyrannical Tsar.   But apart from references to the War, Communism seemed to be a taboo subject and comments related mainly to the Communist fetish for complete restoration of buildings damaged or completely destroyed during WW2, including the meticulous reinstallation of gold; amber; silk; and marble.  

 

Elizabeth1 palace2
palace3 palace4

 This palace was a burnt-out shell - the gold and silk and inlayed floors are real - all restored since 1945

 

 

While the cities are clearly prosperous, it's not as wonderful in the countryside. There, the few people we saw seem to be clothed and fed, but were obviously quite poor.   Again you can make a virtual visit to many towns Russia in Google Maps - Street View.

The most striking thing is how sparsely the countryside is populated and the vast tracts of forest that from the air seem to cover at least a third of the terrain.

 

country scene



As a result wood is obviously inexpensive and is very widely used for construction (log huts and even houses) and for fuel - huge wood heaps in preparation for winter.

 

forest



But now it was summer with clear bright days generally 15 to 25 and sunny; til close to midnight (it did get cooler in the evenings).


In small city of Yaroslavl there are still factories and businesses producing unwanted goods (mechanical watches and unremarkable cheese), presumably under some kind of subsidy, but tourism and education are the actual economic mainstays. Major Tourist attractions include the churches and points of historical significance; mainly from the pre-soviet times. 

 

another church
Cathedral of the Dormition - Yaroslavl 

 

Tourism is becoming more important and we were often invited to come back or to encourage friends to visit.

During the cruise we reached the furthest north of the trip on Lake Onga, As it was close to the solstice we watched a spectacular sunset and the sun just dipped below the northern horizon for a couple of hours.  

 

GUM GUM 2
GUM3 GUM4

 

 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh


    Have you read this???     -  this content changes with each opening of a menu item


Travel

South Korea & China

March 2016

 

 

South Korea

 

 

I hadn't written up our trip to South Korea (in March 2016) but Google Pictures gratuitously put an album together from my Cloud library so I was motivated to add a few words and put it up on my Website.  Normally I would use selected images to illustrate observations about a place visited.  This is the other way about, with a lot of images that I may not have otherwise chosen.  It requires you to go to the link below if you want to see pictures. You may find some of the images interesting and want to by-pass others quickly. Your choice. In addition to the album, Google generated a short movie in an 8mm style - complete with dust flecks. You can see this by clicking the last frame, at the bottom of the album.

A few days in Seoul were followed by travels around the country, helpfully illustrated in the album by Google generated maps: a picture is worth a thousand words; ending back in Seoul before spending a few days in China on the way home to OZ. 

Read more ...

Fiction, Recollections & News

Bonfire (Cracker) Night

 

 

We children were almost overcome with excitement.  There had been months of preparation.  Tree lopping and hedge trimmings had been saved; old newspapers and magazines stacked into fruit boxes; a couple of old tyres had been kept; and the long dangerously spiky lower fronds from the palm trees were neatly stacked; all in preparation. 

Read more ...

Opinions and Philosophy

World Population – again and again

 

 

David Attenborough hit the headlines yet again in 15 May 2009 with an opinion piece in New Scientist. This is a quotation:

 

‘He has become a patron of the Optimum Population Trust, a think tank on population growth and environment with a scary website showing the global population as it grows. "For the past 20 years I've never had any doubt that the source of the Earth's ills is overpopulation. I can't go on saying this sort of thing and then fail to put my head above the parapet."

 

There are nearly three times as many people on the planet as when Attenborough started making television programmes in the 1950s - a fact that has convinced him that if we don't find a solution to our population problems, nature will:
"Other horrible factors will come along and fix it, like mass starvation."

 

Bob Hawke said something similar on the program Elders with Andrew Denton:

 

Read more ...

Terms of Use                                           Copyright