May 16 2013 In Moscow

Did nothing

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May 17 2013 – Paris

Thought I wrote this, but I guess not.  We left Moscow this morning around 9:30 am local time, and arrived in Paris at 11:30 local time.  Right now I am not sure what happened to the time.  I thought Moscow and Paris were three hours apart, but now I think they are the same. To say that I am confused is not giving credit to the idiots of the world.

 

Anyway, we arrived without incident.  Had the driver with our name on a placard and off we cam to the de La Tour Marborough hotel in the 7th andrisement  (American dictionary doesn’t have this word, but you know what I mean.).  We are about 6 blocks (albeit long blocks) away from the Eifel tower. 

We settled in to the hotel room.  You can see a picture of our room on their website,  It is the one that looks like a “French Whorehouse.”

We went to bed, and slept until evening,  Nothing really happened today, I have a few pictures on the web under Picassa website.  TTFN  BTW.  This is really Sunday night, and I am trying to catch up, so it sounds like Thursday…..

May 12 2013 Volga River

I JUST NOTICED I DIDN’T POST THIS BLOG. IT IS NOW SATURDAY, MAY 18TH. SO HERE IT IS.

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.

POP

Saturday May 11, 2013 Russia

We spent most of the day in both the Lake Onega and the Volga-Baltic Waterway. I think we are currently in the White Lake. That is one of the really disappointing things about this Viking cruise (maybe all of them). Having a ‘sailor’s mentality, I like to know where I am. On the Princess cruise, they have a painted map on the wall in one of the passageways, that has little white lights strung along the painted route the ship was taking. We could then look at it anytime, and tell exactly where we were.

Even some of the English speaking tour guides don’t seem to know where we are unless we are in a town or village We have passed 3 or 4 small villages, 2 or three big town and one really big town. No idea what they were. I have a printed map they gave us on day 4, that shows the route, but doesn’t show enough detail to tell where we are.

We passed a lock about 3 hours ago, and I have no idea where that was, although if I were to guess, it was moving from the White Lake to the Volga River.

Anyway, we are still having a great time on the cruise. We can always think of a better way to do things, but lets just enjoy what we have.

Pine nuts still appears to be a problem. I asked the head of the dining room if there might be any problems, but he was busy greeting people who were coming to dinner. He said he would check, and get back to me. That is something he should have done hours ago.

After we ordered, had a non ordered appetizer, and an ordered appetizer, and had ordered our dinner and dessert, he came back to me and told me not to eat the tomatoes with cucumbers. Fortunately they were cucumbers on it, and I don’t like cucumbers, so I had not ordered it. There was nothing on the menu that said anything about pine nuts.
I am very sure that they do not understand the issue of pine nuts. I am becoming a real nuisance to these people, but I must protect myself. I shouldn’t post all this negative stuff, but I sort of want to document it.

As I said, we are having a GREAT time.

Just one more thing. Katie suggested that I just check with the waiter about everything I order. The waiters are Philippino, very very nice, but English is certainly not their first language. The Food Manager is German, and English is much better, but still not his primary language. The Assistant Food manager is Russian, and well, you can figure that out. The chef is also German, and not sure he understands my issue either. I think tomorrow I will try to sit down withy the chef, and the Food manager and discuss their seeming ambivalence to my problem. I am sure other people who are cruising with Viking have similar problems.
I took a bunch of pictures today at the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery, and the local school in Kuzino. But you could probably look up the Monastery on Google and get a better description.

TTFN POP

Friday May 10, 2013

Spent the whole day today tranversing a large lake, and continued on the canal waterway. Because we can’t go to the town of kizhi because of ice on the canal or lake, not sure which, we have stopped at this town of Kuzino, in the Vologda Region. Tomorrow morning we visit the port area, walk around the village and be back on the bat by 12:35.

Today we got lots of rest. Read, slept and of course ate, and ate and ate. No pine nut issues today, other than when I read the menu it said pesto, so went up to the food manager and asked him if it had pine nuts, and he said, “Oh, yes, you shouldn’t eat that. ” He then said he was going to tell me, but got side tracked. Then half the way through the meal he comes rushing up and asked me if I had eaten the salad. I said no, because I generally don’t eat salads. He said he just found out that that salad also contains pine nuts. I am not sure if it was the thing that said pesto, but I think it was something separate.

Who knows, but I don’t think I can depend on Viking to protect me.

If you get a chance take a look at the pictures on Picasa. I can load 1 or 2 a day, and not much more.

There is a link in one of the prior posts. POP

Day 5 05-09-2013 Russia

During the night, last night we sailed through the tip of Lake Ladoga into the Svir river, and arrived this morning around 1:30, well, I guess it was in the afternoon, at a town (loosely called a town, but rather a village of Mandrogy. Before the 2nd world war, this village did exist. But it was bombed out of existence by the Germans. Not sure why, because it really is in the middle of no where. Anyway, I the mid 80’s (or was it in the early 90’s) someone got the bright idea to recreate the village as a tourist destination, with typical buildings crafts shops etc.

We stopped her for about two hours, took a “class” in nested dolls painting, which you may see when we get home. A lot of work, and not nearly enough time,

Then we sailed for Kizhi, where we were scheduled to go. Unfortunately, the ice on Lake Onega is too much, and we can not make it to Kizhi. Too bad because Kizhi is the place where the oldest orthodox church exists. It is completely made of wood, and without any nails. Look it up on the internet.

Not exactly sure what they are going to do now, but I think go up the lake as far as they can then turn around and head for Moscow.

I had a very near miss tonight at dinner with pine nuts Everyone knows about my condition, but someone got careless and put them in a salad without putting the ingredients on the menu. Fortunately it was Aunt Toni who ordered the salad. It also had watermelon, so I stood clear of it by design. I had a hissy-fit with the waiter (he still thinks it is a joke), the head of the dinning room, who was very apologetic, and I understand he and the cook had a big shouting match, pointing fingers at each other.

I wasn’t in any danger, but I could have been, and out here in the absolute nowhere. It just points I am the one that needs to be vigilant. Not Mom, Toni, the waiters or the cook. Mom would have caught it, and Toni did catch it.

On the Picasa link, I loaded a couple of pictures. One is the sunset at around 11 PM last night

POP