Edit Blog Post
Published: June 22nd 2017
MS Volga Dream
After a total make-over, the Volga Dream's maiden voyage was in 2007. There are 56 cabins plus crew quarters. The ship operates continuously from May to October, when the only break for the staff is an occasional afternoon off. In winter it is mothballed. Its first and last cruise of the season is from/to Astrakhan on the Caspian Sea.
Geo: 59.9356, 30.3302
Yesterday we cruised to the craft village of Mandrogi, on the Svir River. It has been constructed as a tourist attraction over the last 20 years by an entrepreneur. It is successful enough to be adopted by the authorities as an official village, and it was fun.
In the afternoon we were to sail across Lake Ladoga and go down the 70 km Neva River to St P. The wind had whipped the lake waves to more than 2.5m, the safe level for the ship. So we cruised a little further down the Svir River and docked for the night. Then we boarded coaches at 6am (!) for the three-hour drive to St P. The incoming load of passengers similarly bussed it out to the docked ship. It was a bit of a bummer but no big deal.
So today we spent some hours seeing the sights of St P. This included a faintly ridiculous 90 min at an attraction called "Miniature Russia". It was an elaborate train set depicting various geographic highlights of Russia. Apparently this type of attraction is popular in Europe; we were told of their competitors in other cities.
Good news is my iPad turned up in
One boards on Level 2; the main deck where reception and the dining room are located. We had our lectures and functions in the lounge on Level 4. The food was very good (we have yet to have a bad soup in Russia) with a lot of fish being served. Drinks were a little pricey at $8-10 or so. Overall it was a good cruise and it was very worthwhile seeing the lovely green countryside and rural towns.
our cabin, so all is well. As Joe said, "They can bring the bus driver back from Siberia!".
Now for a condensed history of twelve centuries:
"Rus" (Russia) was established in the 9th century, with its capital in Kiev (Ukraine). Constant attacks from east and west saw Russia become fragmented until Grand Prince Ivan III consolidated power and Moscow emerged as the capital in the mid-15th century. Nearly 100 years later, Ivan IV The Terrible became the first "Tsar" (a derivation of Caesar) of Russia and he largely destroyed the nobility, killed his grown son and heir in a fit of rage, and built St Basil's Cathedral at the end of Red Square.
Following the Time of Troubles after Ivan IV, stability came through the Romanov Dynasty which was founded by Tsar Michael Romanov in 1613. Peter I The Great became "Emperor" in 1721. He is regarded as the most successful Russian ruler and he decided to establish a new Russian capital in Saint Petersburg. Peter wanted Russia to embrace Western Europe and he saw Baltic Sea trade as a means of achieving this. Catherine II The Great had a successful and lengthy rule there from 1762 to 1796. She is lauded for
We had a fun 15 minute horse-powered tour around the village. It was cold with a threat of rain.
her support and sponsorship of the arts. Nicholas II (and his wife Alexandra) were the last of the Romanovs and they were executed by the Bolsheviks following the October 1917 Revolution. The monk Rasputin "healed" the Emperor's haemophiliac son and he had great influence with Alexandra. Although he was an infamous philanderer, "Lover of the Russian Queen" appears to be a Boney M fabrication.
Post-revolution, Lenin ruled until his death in 1924. The USSR came into being in 1922 and the capital was moved back to Moscow (St Petersburg was considered too decadent). Then Stalin's brutal reign lasted until his death in 1953. Stalin and the two world wars are estimated to account for 60+ million Russian deaths. More Russians died of starvation in the siege of Leningrad than the combined UK and US WWII casualties. The USSR collapsed into its 15 constituent sovereign states on 31 December 1991. The post-Soviet decade was particularly hard for ordinary Russian people. Only in the last several years has there been the promise of better times. Putin is widely revered and probably could lead for as long as he wishes.
Tot: 4.019s; Tpl: 0.049s; cc: 8; qc: 49; dbt: 0.0735s; 3; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb