Day 9 - Uglich

We had a morning arrival in Uglich, one of the oldest cities in Russia and our last stop before Moscow. At breakfast we could see the onion domes of several churches coming into view. There was also a dam that turned out to be a hydroelectric power plant. 

 

Three ships docked at the same time which meant there were a lot of tour groups. A band was playing at the pier and it made the occasion very festive. 

 

The weather had been getting warmer the further we got into the trip. No jackets required now. We're seeing more crops, shorts and tank tops with sandals. This day the morning temperature was about 75. 

 

Our guide took us to the Kremlin.  We have seen a couple of kremlins and red squares in the larger towns and cities. Most larger areas have had them for centuries. Before the revolution, "red" meant beautiful. 

 

There were churches and older buildings. Many of the churches we have visited are now museums where the iconography has been preserved. Even though many churches were damaged or destroyed during the Civil War or WWII, fortunately the Soviet government actively restored and preserved them. The frescoes In this one were beautiful. The floor was made of metal which was heated from underneath during winter. 

 

We've seen that there is almost always a large church for summer and a small church for winter. They were unable to heat a large church in winter. The smaller churches were used instead. When we enter active churches the men must remove hats and women cover their heads. 

 

This museum/church was The Church of Spilled Blood. When Boris Godenov took over the monarchy the one living heir to the throne was sent with his mother to Uglich. The royal child    was stabbed to death. The bellringer saw the murder and rang the bell. The assassins were killed by he people who responded. 

 

But the official story is that the child was playing with a knife and fell on it. The guide noted that the story was the child managed to stab himself seven times, including once in the back. His mother was banished to a convent for being negligent. The bellringer was executed. The bell was exiled to Siberia, the only inanimate object ever to be exiled. It was also punished with the lash and its clapper cut out. 

 

The museum's frescoes tell the real story. They brought back the bell a few hundred years later. The litter that took the boy's body to Moscow for burial is also there. 

 

We had a concert of two songs from a choir of five men. Their voices were like instruments. So rich and soaring. Delores purchased the CD's available. 

 

The active church was richly decorated. I went inside and lit two candles this time. A lady helped me put them in the correct place. She chattered away in Russian to me but I just replied, "Spasiba (thank you)" and left. We've said Spasiba literally 500 times this trip. It's the universal diplomatic phrase. 

 

They turned us loose for free time. The shops sell watches made in a local factory, and there is a lot of majolica, hand painted items and the usual souvenirs. We also found a tourist office selling items made locally, just a few things. I liked the St. Nicholas decorated in traditional blue, so one of them will be gracing our mantle this holiday. 

 

Time to go to the boat and set sail for the last time. On board we sat in the sun, napped, read,drank wine and ate cheese from Yaroslavl. In the evening there was a farewell cocktail reception, then the captain's dinner. He couldn't actually dine with us because there are too many groups having meals at the same time throughout the ship. But he led a champagne toast, coming around afterwards to each table. 

 

Thunderstorms had followed us in the early evening and we got some rain. After dinner Cathy and I walked around the decks as we entered a lock at sunset. The colors of the sky were magnificent. Then Cathy spotted a huge rainbow. Magical. 

 

Tomorrow we dock for two filled days of seeing the site of Moscow. Honestly, I still can't believe we're in Russia. 

 

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