Vladimir and Suzdal

Trip Start Aug 03, 2011
Trip End Aug 13, 2011

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Flag of Russia  , Central Russia,
Sunday, August 7, 2011

Four of the guys went out to sample the Moscow nightlife last night, and had a fantastic time, getting back to the hotel around three in the morning. Wake-up call is at 7am and we are out the door at 9am and on the road to Vladimir, commencing our 2-day tour of the Golden Ring of historic towns near Moscow.

Just before arriving in Vladimir around lunch time, we come the closest I have ever experienced on tour to having a major accident on a highway. A mother and child are walking across the four-lane road. They are waiting in the center lane for a clear spot in traffic. They are quite safe, but the car in front of our bus comes to a sudden stop for them, not leaving time for our bus to come safely to a stop. There are cars on the right, and the only option our driver has is to pull into the oncoming traffic lane to avoid rear-ending the car that stopped directly in front of us. We are very lucky that the car coming towards us was alert and saw the situation as it was developing and stopped quickly in front of our bus. Very jangled nerves all around, but we are grateful to have avoided an accident. The driver gets a thunderous round of applause for his quick thinking!

Lunch is at a Russian Village restaurant, and is the best of the trip so far -- Chicken Kiev! In the winter this village also operates as an entertainment complex, with battle re-enactments using men in armor, and it even has a strip club in the basement! Something for all tastes!

Our primary visit in Vladimir is the Cathedral of the Assumption, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built in 1158 - 1160, high above the banks of the Klyazma River. Many of Russia's princes, including Aleksandr Nevskiy were crowned here. It is truly an amazing sight, inside and out. We also see the Cathedral of St. Dmitriy nearby, whose exterior is covered with more than a thousand bas-reliefs featuring griffons, centaurs, prancing lions and fantastic birds and plants.

Continuing our journey, we arrive at the best-preserved town of the Golden Ring, Suzdal, which is our home for this evening. Our first stop is the Museum of Wooden Architecture which features buildings brought from all over Russia. We also visit one of several Monasteries in the town. It is no longer functioning as a religious site, but the buildings are well preserved and there is a demonstration by a bell-ringer at 5pm. There is time for shopping before we check in at the hotel.

Tonight we dine together at a lovely restaurant in Suzdal with a fish menu. Then several of us walk back to the hotel through the town, with its many historic buildings and onion-domed churches. Sunset provides awesome photo opportunities. Enjoy!!!
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