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Last Day!   – by Renee

by on July 24, 2017

Today was our final day of touring in Moscow… tomorrow morning we head for home.

We took a car trip out of town to Sergiev Posad, one of the “golden ring” monastery towns around Moscow. They are all close enough to ride in a few days, but far enough for the Tsars to banish their “ex”-wives, or hide from coup plotters.  There are many nunneries and monasteries in this 700-year old town, including St Sergius, which is the most important monastery in the Eastern Orthodox religion, and has at least 9 distinct churches within its walls, one of which is the most revered church in the entire country…. the bones of St. Sergius are in a 400kg gold cabinet ordered up by Ivan the Terrible.  Every good member of the religion tries to make a pilgrimage here at least once in their life.

(But first we saw this very pretty convent which, like most others, was a storage area during Soviet times but has been renovated)


It seems that every citizen of China tries to make a pilgrimage here too, in a big bus, with the goal of taking lots of photos.  

But despite the crowds, we had an amazing visit. 

The monks in the monastery look exactly like they would have 700 years ago…. with the addition of a phone up to their ear!  They used to announce dinner time with bells, but now there’s an app for that!

We had perfect weather, beautiful grounds and churches, and a few other interesting stops along the way.
First stop was a house/museum filled with tools, furniture, toys, and clothing that a Russian farmer and his family would have used.  We saw how they made thread, washed clothes and learned that Russian beds were very short because they felt that only the dead should lay down (and if you laid flat your blood would not flow) they slept sitting up!  

The kids were amused, as the man who lives in this house let them feed his pet squirrels 

We also visited a artist studio where matryoshka dolls are made… and saw the process from wood block to final painting.  

This lathe was used by the grandfather of the man who runs the studio today.

Many are of course mass produced, but they are definitely respected as an art form.  I bought a Santa Claus which is one of a kind.

We had a traditional Russian cafe lunch (stroganoff  and dumplings) and took some silly photos.

We met our friend Olga’s father today. It was very nice of Andrei to come to our hotel to meet us.

Tonight we went back to the RYM (GUM department store for our last ice cream.  In a throwback to the Soviet times, yesterday they had 8 flavors…today they had vanilla.  

A few more thoughts from Moscow:

– Moscow traffic is terrible.  Tomorrow we are leaving for the airport at 7am (flight at 11) because if you leave central Moscow after 7 it can take 1.5-2 hours to get to the airport 

– Central Moscow is in the middle of a huge public works upgrade to get ready for hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2018.  Every sidewalk in town is ripped up, roads are closed, lanes are closed… it will be really nice when it is done, but it’s no fun right now trying to move around town.

– David and I agree that there are at least 5 museums that we would like to have visited but didn’t have time, so there’s plenty to do for our next trip to Moscow.

– There has clearly never been a “Russians with Disabilities Act”….  this city (and especially the Metro) would be horrible to navigate in a wheelchair.

– They are 50 years behind the US in designing for fire safety…. we were shocked by the number of exit doors that were chained shut, and also that opened inward with no sign of panic bars or such.

– GUM does have the coolest iron arch and glass roof we’ve seen

Tomorrow we are up early for a long (20 hour) day to get home….poor Aunt Ginny isn’t on the direct flight from Helsinki, and it will take her 25 hours to get home.  See you on the flip side for one last post!


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