Day 5 Mandroghi
We sailed last night. The views of the riverbanks, forests and houses were magical. The ship is headed east to the town of Mandroghi. We' sailed in tandem with another ship from this cruise line doing the same itinerary. It is about a mile ahead of us. We can see it most of the time except where there are bends in the river.
We went through our first lock which everyone found most exciting. The ship is smaller than an ocean liner and the locks are much narrower than the Panama Canal locks. No tractors are needed to keep the ship straight. The captain does all of it.
We awoke to a brilliant sun coming through our window as it skimmed the tops of the trees -- at 3 am. It barely got dark at 11 pm and I woke up earlier around 1:30 am to notice the false dawn. I dug out the sleep masks and tried to go back to dreamland.
I gave up by 6 am. I think the cruise line knows that jet lag and White Nights take their toll on our Circadian rhythms because coffee is available (for a fee) very early in one of the bars each morning.
We docked in Mandroghi mid-morning and we were turned loose to explore on our own. The weather was sunny and mild. Most of us finally got a chance to go out in shirtsleeves, hats and sunscreen.
This town is compared to colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. The town represents a rural Russian town of the 18th and 19th centuries. The residents are contracted to work as typical farmers and tradesmen and craftsmen of the period. Visitors are free to walk around and observe.
I was disappointed because actually, even though the residents were making crafts, it was all about selling them. Mostly it was buildings filled with shops filled with typical souvenirs. I was expecting more daily living. There wasn't much to learn but a lot of places to spend money. It was also quite small which is probably why we only stayed three hours.
The visit included a BBQ lunch consisting of shish kebabs, pickled vegetables, baked potato, pierogi with broth, a traditional fruit drink and a fruit pastry. Filling, and it was actually pretty good. The entire group was served together in a pavilion. The resident musicians from our ship strolled through the aisles, and the girls who usually have the role of assistants to our groups dressed in traditional peasant clothing and danced behind them.
Tim and I headed toward the stables after lunch, but the large bees that seemed to like my white jeans convinced me we could skip the stables and get out of the forest. We passed the hotel and the inn and we checked out some buildings. Everything was built from wood. There was a petting zoo on a pond that we could ferry to but I didn't think we had the time. You can really see the cultural connection to Scandinavia in the dragon motifs and shapes of the houses, and in some of the traditional dress
We sailed early afternoon. There was a showing of the first half of a History Channel documentary of the history of Russia and we opted to take that in. We made the mistake of sharing a bottle of Georgian wine first. So a couple of us fell asleep during the documentary. No one noticed, really, because I'd say 3/4 of the room was out like light. It wasn't boring. We're all just worn out.
We spent the rest of the evening before dinner reading, watching the river, relaxing in the sunshine. After dinner was the same -- we aren't tired of the view. It's peaceful and quiet. The sun finally started to set so we watched from our window. There's another lake crossing tonight, Lake Onega which is the second largest freshwater lake in Europe. It's not considered a rough crossing. We are destined for the island of Kizhi, a world heritage site with a magnificent wooden church constructed centuries ago with no nails. We've all been looking forward to it.