Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Russia's turbulent past, both ancient and modern, influence everything I've seen — the many nations and climates, the Mongol hordes, the Tsars and their expansionism, the Tsars and their internecine murders, the Revolution of 1917, the communist era USSR and its fall in 1989, and the newly independent Russia. It's hard to know where to begin.

Downtown Moscow

Few Russians speak any English. Villages look as if they haven't changed in centuries; wooden homes are often in disrepair; blank faces; fishing shacks along the rivers and lakes. Towns have many buildings of the communist era — grey, forbidding buildings and dirty markets. Cities have modern skyscrapers and gridlock.

Customer service seems limited but is probably d/t language difficulties and lack of travel to other countries where Russians could see how others do it. Perhaps lack of training. I miss the smiles elsewhere. However, it is good on my cruise ship.

Meals are ordinary with lots of root vegetables and soups. Always tasty and well-balanced, but definitely a lack of haute cuisine. Not that I expected that!!

The landscapes are flat and bland along the cruise route.

St. Basil's cathedral, now a museum,
in Red Square, Moscow
The tours from the ship have been excellent, with bilingual local tour guides in every port. We see an overwhelming number of Russian Orthodox churches and cathedrals (too many for the majority of pax), some in use and others turned into museums during the communist era. Here, though, is the history of this nation from medieval times to the fall of the Tsars. The art is staggering in its beauty, especially the icons that have been saved.

IMAGES: © Photos by Pharos 2017
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