|July 20th, Wednesday, On the Volga River
We awoke sailing up the Volga River, on which we'll sail for 89 miles without any locks. This is very peaceful and with many prosperous looking buildings scattered periodically along the shore. This is the longest river in western Russia, flows 2300 miles to the southeast before emptying into the Caspian Sea, and is navigable for about 2000 miles. "Mother Volga" is thought of as the life blood of Russia, for centuries having served as the chief thoroughfare of Russia and as the lifeline of Russian colonization to the east. Over 40% of Russia's people live near it, and over half of Russia's industry is located within its drainage.
We stopped at the small village of Uglich and toured the Church of St. Dmitry on the Blood where Dmitry was murdered by Boris Gudenov, after which 3 separate "false Dmitrys presented themselves as heirs to the throne. The history of the Russian Tsarist families is filled with infanticide, fratricide, and intrigue, and the local guides love to relate these stories in suspenseful and hushed voices inside churches. Many of the Russian citizens maintain an interesting mixture of Orthodox religion, and superstition.
We returned to the ship for a Russian lesson, for which our assignment was to spell our names and patrinymics in Cyrillic, and then a very informative lecture on Russian history before the revolution.
We then had a wonderful authentic Russian dinner with all of the wait staff in Russian dress.
After dinner we had a fantastic piano concert by one of the staff of Tschaikivsky's 12 Seasons based on the 12 months of the year, a series of pieces which neither Carol or I had never heard. Dmitri Krivonosov is a concert pianist who was a recent gold medalist at a piano competition. We bought one of his CD's. Like most musicians, he supplements his income with other jobs, in his case being one of the photographers on the tour.
We enjoyed the sunset from the deck which occurred at about 10:30, but did not experience the "green flash."