Day 7 - Goritsy
We woke up to a hazy morning as we cruised across White Lake. It's not as large as the others we've crossed. Soon we came into a river as we had breakfast.
We were scheduled to arrive at 2 pm so there were a few onboard activities planned. We took a Russian lesson so now I have a handy alphabet. I learned to write my name in Cyrillic. I don't have the alphabet available on Pages as I write this so I'll have to give you that later.
Our tour guide, Tanya, next gave us a talk about the excursions in Moscow so we could pick the optional tours. Tanya is a saint. Americans can be so fussy and rude, and I'm embarrassed for them sometimes. But Tanya just goes with the flow. Even the most outrageous comments or requests she just smiles and manages them. Considering these people can afford to take a trip like this, you'd think they wouldn't have a problem missing a meal to see something they will only see once in their lives.
We will be in Moscow two days. We have a scheduled Kremlin tour and some churches. We opted for Moscow by Night, and a folk dance show that looks really good on the second night. There are optional tours for the second afternoon, but we've decided to skip the second afternoon's tours to relax, nap and pack. Departure day will probably be at about 3 am for our group.
We could see the monastery and convent as we glided into the dock at Goritsy. We took buses to the monastery grounds. The pier is lined with booths and shops selling souvenirs, many made locally. We decided to check it out on the way back.
The monastery was founded in the 14th century by St. Cyril. It has the finest collection of icons in the country, most from the 16th century. There are only 10 monks now but there were over 200 in the Middle Ages. The site contains several churches.
We had a guide and we were rushed through the icons displayed in a museum. We never went into the churches. We did hear a brief hymn to Mary sung by a group of four young men. They were inspiring. I felt kind of bad that they spend all day singing three minute hymns for tourist groups all day long. They did have a CD for sale so I hope this is just a day gig.
The weather was warm with blue skies and puffy white clouds. We got some good photos and we did learn something. But we could have spent all day there if we were on our own.
Back at the pier we looked at jams, fruit candies, many items made of linen, and embroidery. We had about 30 minutes to browse. It's tempting to buy stuff, especially since the items are local. At the last minute I picked up a gift to take home, and when we came out of the shop the sky had turned very dark. The wind was whipping. People were running for the ship.
We got on board as the heavens opened and the light show started. We sat in our cabin watching the rain, the lightning and hearing the crack of thunder. It lasted about a half hour. The air smelled clean and fresh. Tanya told us that people in the cities buy property in this area so they can come for the weekend or in the summer just to breathe the fresh air.
We were only there for three hours before sailing. More shipboard activities were scheduled. We attended a Russian tea ceremony, where the young staff members dressed in traditional attire. They demonstrated how to drink the tea.
The young staff are so nice, I can't say enough good things about them. Each group on the ship has a couple of girls who speak their language. They are always available to assist with anything. And they're all lovely. Some look Slavic, some Scandinavian. They're mostly tall, with long hair and pretty smiles. They're all so easygoing.
There was a trivia contest at which my fellow American passengers argued about every answer, embarrassing themselves. It's a game, you know? Some people have to win at all costs, I guess.
We relaxed until the pirates dinner. We didn't try to figure out a homemade costume, but a half dozen passengers did. Our staff was all in pirate gear. In the middle of the first course Tanya came over to our table and told one of the girls to take me prisoner. One other lady was also pulled out of the room.
I was blindfolded, tied to a rope and led back into the room. All of the diners were shrieking, whistling and stomping their feet. I told the Pirates, I hope you're not ransoming me because my husband won't pay.
The musicians were playing, everyone was cheering and they pulled off our blindfolds. Tanya was standing in front of us holding two cakes with candles. Everyone sang "Happy Birthday " to us and applauded. I had no idea. Cathy knew they were going to do something but she kept it quiet. I couldn't stop smiling.
After dinner there were some musical programs and a short film about who killed Ivan the Terrible. We watched the scenery for awhile and then we all decided we were too tired. We were snoring early.
Tomorrow we enter the Volga, the Mother River, with a late afternoon stop in Yaroslavl.