May 12 2013 Volga River


Just a quick update Sunday the 12th. We entered the Volga river earlier today and cruised to the town of Yaroslavl. Very pretty city. about 600k people. I understand it is about 1/2 hr by plane from Moscow, 4 hrs drive. By the Volga, which we are on it is 2 days.

Earlier today, we had an onboard lecture on Gorgachev and Perstroika. The whole history of Russia, communism and the political setup is very interesting. Hearing it from locals is definitely different than we heard while at home. Unfiltered. Interesting from their perspective.

For example. We (Americans) would say that Gorbachev was good for Russia, with his Perestroika and Glasnos. Mainly because it was the end of the USSR. I won’t go into the politics of the deal now; more on that in detail when we get home. But my point is that the Russians say: 60% Gorbachev was bad for the country, 20% Gorbachev was good for the country, and the rest don’t know. It was something like that.

The wide differences are really as they perceive the affects of the change from managed economy to market economy. There was a period of 6 or so years where there was absolute chaos Long lines, shortages of everything, almost lawlessness No rules. Lots and Lots of corruption. Bribes, everyone had their hand in someone’s pocket and so on. Then, as things sort of stabilized, order returned and now they are dealing with the limitations and realities of regulation. It is sort of like coming from a VERY restricted family, then going while in college when all the controls are lifted. They will find their way.

Yaroslavl was a very interesting town. city really. Very clean, and prosperous. Nicer than St Petersburg. There are around 60 churches in the town, 2 or 3 of which we visited. I have some pictures I uploaded onto Picasa. Look at the one with the frescos. That church was the oldest one we have visited. It was built sometime in the 1500s. Originally they wanted 100 rubles to take pictures and I refused. But when I saw the frescos, I went back and paid the money.

We had a trip through an indoor market. Our chef was there, helping the locals hand out free samples. While I was there, I asked him if there was any pinenuts in the dinner tonight. He said no. But when we went to dinner, both the waiter, and the Manager told me not to eat the (whatever).

Then about half an hour later, the manager came up again, and sent his apologies from the chef. There were one dish that had pine nuts. My guess is that we won’t take another Viking tour. It is sort of like (apologize for the pun) playing Russian Roulette.

Hope everyone had a good Mother’s day.


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