Яussia* (Day 9)

June 4

Mandrogy

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[And on the 8th day, we finally “sailed.” We cruised out of St. Petersburg on the Neva River last evening. In the morning we awoke to this. We’re on Lake Ladoga, the largest lake in Europe. It’s 6,800 square miles – a great lake – with 50,000 lakes and 3,500 rivers over 6 miles long in its basin. Yup, lotsa water around here! The Neva, incidentally, is the main river of St. Petersburg though it’s only 46 miles long – but it’s relatively wide and deep as it flows from Lake Ladoga to the Gulf of Finland.]

[Just outside our room, looking back to the Panorama Bar, our continental breakfast nook . . . ]

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[Here it is closer-upper – my first stop every morning as an early riser . . . ]

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[Convenient, and a great place to hang out . . . ]

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[Beautiful here . . . ]

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[Like northern Minnesota . . . ]

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[Just cruising at 60 degrees north latitude . . . ]

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[On the Svir River . . . ]

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[Outdoor dining, with a view . . . ]

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[And now it was time for class with Margot in the Sky Bar . . . ]

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[The daily lecture series imparted useful overviews of the next port of call.  Mandrogy dead ahead . . . ]

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[Along the Svir . . . ]

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[Rush hour on the Svir?]

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[Cruise ship competition . . . ]

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[Gorgeous here, and there’s Mandrogy on the left . . . ]

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I know you’re going to find this hard to believe, but I’d never heard of this place . . .

[“Welcome, dear English-speaking visitors,” as our favourite Russian guide would say, “to our wonderful, make-believe, treasure-island town of Mandrogi”.  Located in thick forest on the Svir River — halfway between bustling St Petersburg and the lonely island of Kizhi, famous for its towering, onion-top churches — Mandrogi was bombed out of existence by the Germans in World War II.  More than half a century later it has been reconstructed, in dreamy, idealised, fairytale form, by Sergei Gutsait, a St Petersburg businessman and arts benefactor.  First came a hotel, followed by hideaways for artists and, eventually, a village full of attractions, unashamedly targeting tourists shuttling back and forth between St Petersburg and Moscow on tour ships such as our Viking Ingvar.  In recent years, there have been more additions. They include a small zoo, a working windmill, a school, a post office, a football pitch, an exhibition centre and an airstrip famously used by visiting Russia president Vladimir Putin.  Once again, the name of the “disappeared” village, which in the local language roughly means “thresholds” or “boundaries”, appears on the official Map of Russia, albeit in very small letters (www.escape.com.au).]

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[Tom alights in Mandrogy and begins firing immediately . . . ]

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[After eight days in large metropolitan areas, we were now officially in the middle of nowhere . . . ]

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[The population is 238, and appears now to be totally dependent on tourism (?) . . . ]

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[It was another beautiful day – 9 days in a row.  The next day, and the rest of the trip, returned to more “normal” weather . . . ]

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[The Super leads the charge to the first place of tourism . . . ]

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[It was touristy, but in a lovely setting . . . ]

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[Likely a more comfortable slide covered in ice and snow . . . ]

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[Another nifty workshop where artisans plied their wares . . . ]

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[Let’s take the local “Uber” for a ride around town . . . ]

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[Students . . . ]

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[And more students . . . ]

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[Windmill with cruise ship backdrop . . . ]

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[Significance unknown to me . . . ]

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[Onward, O Uber!]

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[A large wooden building . . . ]

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[When you come to the fork in the road . . . ]

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[This unique building seems to have Tom overwhelmed . . . ]

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[As we ride through the lovely woods, wishing we could visit with our driver . . . ]

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[The backup Uber engine?]

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[Walden Pond . . . I mean, Pushkin Pond . . . ]

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[More unique structures . . . ]

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[When cruise boat denizens collide . . . ]

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[Pam gave it a try . . . ]

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[As I recall, she did pick up a splinter . . . ]

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[The Super and Pam visit with a crafter.  I don’t recall if purchases were made . . . ]

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[Egg, potato, mushroom, or meat . . . ]

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[Some noted they were quite tasty (like our pasty?) . . . ]

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[Is it safe to come out?]

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[Another visit with a crafter . . . ]

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[Folks are dressed for cold, but it was actually quite lovely . . . ]

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[The proverbial Russian bear . . . ]

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[Why are there two?]

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[Where we are in relation to other places . . . ]

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[Photo by Pam . . . ]

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[This one looks authentic . . . ]

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[Little Red Ryding Hood’s cabin?]

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[Back aboard ship . . . ]

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[Vaya con Dios, Mandrogy!]

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Before we rejoin ship activities, a little fun with Pam’s horse ride photos . . . 

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[That’ll be 4 million rubles, please . . . ]

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Back for “school” and dinner . . . 

[Thanks for the goodies, Olya!]

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[And now Margo’s teaching about the next day’s destination . . . ]

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[The ship’s captain interviewed by Vadim . . . ]

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[Tom and I both capturing this window scene . . . ]

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[People you meet along the way. Cherry is from the Philippines. Naturally, I called up George Carlin’s YouTube of “Cherry Pie” for her – made another Carlin fan . . . ]

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[The aforementioned George Carlin video.]

[Appears this has something to do with food . . . ]

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[Oh my!]

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[After dinner aft . . . ]

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[Has subsequently become my computer background display . . . ]

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Don’t worry about the world ending today, it’s already tomorrow in Australia.  ~  Charles M. Schulz

Up Next:  The next stop . . .

One thought on “Яussia* (Day 9)

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