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Published: April 11th 2020
On our wedding day Denise & I exchanged gold rings.
I was then told I could kiss my bride.
I moved in and picked her up which brought gasps and squeals of delight.
We then kissed long and hard.
The minister said he had never seen that before.
I thought he was referring to lifting her off her feet and swinging her around...maybe it was the length of the kiss.
Denise also might have been surprised but I picked her up before I kissed her to ensure our kiss was not awkward or strained...to distract and relax before we did the deed you might say.
Those in attendance described it as a "Jazz Wedding"...'cos we had a hot band instead of an organist.
We had attended a massive rock concert with heaps of bands the day after we met so kinda appropriate that we have been attending gigs ever since.
I lost the gold wedding ring once.
I thought I'd lost it in the surf...found it months later behind a bookcase in our bedroom...swore I'd never lose it again.
Then one beach holiday we were on the road
of no return and I noticed my wedding ring was not on my left ring finger.
Weeks passed and as is my way I traced my steps the days before we departed...in my head.
The lasting memory was clearing some tissues off our bedroom floor...putting them in the garbage bin on the driveway before we drove off...telling our youthful kids to not forget to put the garbage out for collection ...hoping they had remained consistent and would not bother.
Just like the time we were in China for 5 weeks and the kids had a party for 200 that neighbours had messaged us about...returned and the deck was covered with three wheelie bins and boxes full of empty bottles and my amplifier had blown.
The house was spotless on our return...but they didn't get rid of the evidence on the deck...couldn't believe they'd be so stupid...left that for me to clean up!
Returned from the beach holiday...grabbed the garbage bin on the drive and tipped it upside down...my gold wedding ring bouncing out into my relieved hand.
I still have my wedding ring...the engraved message of love inside long worn away.
it at home when we travel overseas for fear of losing it...or fear of it being stolen.
When we went to Russia several months back...I found another golden ring.
The Golden Ring of Ancient Towns...and Yaroslavl is the oldest of all of them.
With a Postcode of 150,000...gotta be special with such a number I reckon.
And special it certainly is.
Situated at the confluence of the Volga and Kotorosl Rivers some 250 km north-east of Moscow, the historic city of Yaroslavl is one of those places that would be nice to get married in.
It reminds one that Russia...notwithstanding its turbulent history...the psyche of its people emits culture steeped in history from every pore.
History, art, music, vistas that drop the jaw, incredible wealth -v- incredible poor, pride & passion...of all the countries we have visited...Russia has it all.
T'is said it was founded in 1010 AD by Prince Yaroslavl the Wise...killed a bear then built a small wooden fortress.
Scandinavian artefacts indicate Viking forages along the Volga and settlements many centuries before.
From the 11th Century AD it developed as a major commercial centre
due to its position on Europe's longest river.
Initially it was part of the Rostov Principality then in 1218 the capital of Yaroslavl Principality.
Its prominence further developed from 1463 when it joined the powerful Moscow Duchy.
In the 17th century, it was Russia's second largest city, and for a time (during the Polish occupation of Moscow in 1612), the country's defacto capital.
But wooden buildings are combustible.
After several fires, it was burnt extensively thus gradually rebuilt in stone from the 16th Century.
The result is Yaroslavl is one of the most well preserved of Russian cities that retains the footprint of carefully planned urban development in the Slobody...its historical section.
The Slobody is a semi-circle with radial streets from the centre with uniform streetscapes in the Neo-Classical style...lined with 16th & 17th Century churches filled with murals and icons...intervening buildings limited in height...the confluence of both rivers, embankments and squares being used to display the historical section's majesty in its best light.
The 12th Century Spaso Preobrazhensky monastry being a highlight.
A major influence in the city's development is Catherine the Great in the late 18th Century who made
it an administrative centre.
In 1778 it received its own plan for urban development specially drawn out by Ivan Starov, leading to development of a network of long boulevards and streets bordered by large classical style buildings and numerous city parks, the results of which are still visible in the city today.
In the 1770s it became and still is a manufacturing centre for textiles.
The Ilyinskaya Square and Church of Elijah the Prophet at its centre...elaborate interiors and 17th Century frescoes too magnificent for my lens to adequately capture my awe.
In the Stalinist period of the 20th Century thousands of churches were destroyed throughout Russia, but of about 80 churches and chapels in Yaroslavl before that purge, about 56 have remained intact. How good is that!
The Historical centre of Yaroslavl is included in the List of Heritage Properties of Federal Importance managed by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation.
The result is a smorgasbord of magnificent architecture, carvings and ancient frescoes overflowing with ocular delights.
But where there is visual overload...some prefer sweets.
During our free time in the ancient city Denise and I separated briefly...Denise in
search of the chocolaterie with some of our companions...me wandering the Slobody in search of portraits, domes and more earthy respite.
Traveller.com arranged an eminent Russian historian and Professor of Philosophy, Valeriy Tomashov to accompany us on this section of the tour.
One ear on Valeriy and two eyes on the surrounds...kinda hard to not wander...probably why when we entered the Governor's House (1821–1823) and a young lady in a ballgown addressing us saying she is the daughter of the Governor...for a while I believed her.
Then a trio of violin, cello & piano...the governor's daughter and another waltzing and dancing with two young gents in tails...awake David...yet another musical extravaganza that is Russia all over.
We walk through parklands to the Church of the Ascension of Christ...its glistening golden domes like magnets to circling and resting birds...wow factors in all the churches we visit. The Golden Ring
In some countries I get templed out...that feeling of saturation where the buddhas or crucifixes start to look the same.
But the Russian Orthodox churches with their onion domes in many shapes and colours still draw me in.
The ancient frescoes, exquisite
architectural detail and history in works of art of wood, stone and metal hold me entranced.
Now I have discovered The Golden Ring...I feel the ring tightening.
The Golden Ring of Russia is a set of medieval towns with monasteries, churches, cathedrals and kremlins located to the northeast of Moscow, with a thousand years of Russian Orthodox history on show.
They are located in the five oblast or regions of Ivanovo, Kostroma, Vladimir, Yaroslavl and the Moscow region.
The name Golden Ring was penned in a newspaper article by Soviet historian and essayist Yuri Bychkov in 1967...kinda catchy so it caught on.
There is no official list but the eight principal cities of the Golden Ring are Yaroslavl (its capital), Kostroma, Ivanovo, Suzdal, Vladimir, Sergiev Posad, Pereslavl-Zalessky and Rostov Veliky.
In addition other old cities or towns in the Ivanovo, Vladimir and Yaroslavl oblasts are also considered as part of the ring, including Palekh, Plyos and Shuya (Ivanovo Region) Gorokhovets, Gus-Khrustalny, Murom, Yuriev-Polsky (Vladimir Region) and Rybinsk, Tutaev and Uglich (Yaroslavl Region).
Many of these can be reached by train for the industrial ones or by bus for the more rural ones.
Some of the monasteries, churches, cathedrals and kremlins are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
If or when we return to Russia...I am drawn to the Golden Ring.
Like Frodo's ring in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings...the Golden Ring is calling me.
Can I dare resist its call, its pull, its domes beckoning?
Denise & I rededicated 30 years of marriage in our Tuareg Wedding at Timbuktu in Mali.
Can we rededicate 40 years of marriage in the Golden Ring of Russia?
Seems like another flower of an idea needs watering.
Or can only a pandemic virus prevent me?
Relax & Enjoy,
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