Travelling north

Trip Start Aug 15, 2012
Trip End Sep 12, 2012

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What I did
Cathedral of the Assumption

Flag of Russia  , North-West Russia,
Wednesday, August 22, 2012

We have just one stop this morning - the Trinity Cathedral and the Cathedral of the Assumption in Sergiyev Posad - and the whole complex is just across the road from the hotel. Again, these are elaborate and interesting structures.

I am convinced that God has foresaken the western countries (who have anyway forsaken God and are more wrapped up in the new environmental religion) and has taken up residence in Russia. Russia is the new Byzantium - latter day successor to Rome, and defender of the faith. Of that there can be no doubt - they are building new chruches and restoring the old ones here. And it's not like South America where the churches are filled with shabbily-dressed peasants - the churches here are filled with the well dressed. Religion is on a roll here in Russia.

We pick up our local guide here and begin the tour. This is a bit of a chuckle - the local guide speaks no English, but according to Fair Work Russia rules, she has to be on board for the tour. Our guide does most of the heavy lifting, and defers to the local guide occasionally out of courtesy.

When the tour is finished, we trek back onto the bus for the drive back to Moscow to catch the train. Our guide is concerned about the traffic, and we leave a half-hour or so early to make sure that we are there on time. This is a wise decision as the traffic is chronic - it is only 50kms or so, but it takes us well over an hour to punch through the traffic.

As it turns out, we arrive in plenty of time, join the queue to pass through security, and finally get to our reserved seats on the Moderately Fast Train. Our Moscow guide bids us farewell, and she departs to pick up her next tour group this evening at 7PM.

The train service is interesting - the rolling stock is all quite new, but runs over a mix of old and new tracks. Depending on which section we are on, the speed gets as high as 300km/hr, mostly drops back to about 240km/hr, and occasionally drops down to a crawl. Overall, it does the 650km in four and a half hours.

Lunch is served shortly after we leave Moscow - we get a choice of red or white wine, and a three course meal. And it is served with real crockery and cutlery, which you don't get on airlines these days. Also, the train has WiFi, but they obviously turn it off when we approach the intermediate stops. It seems that the new breed of economic rationalists have covered all the bases here.

Our new guide meets us at the station at St Petersburg, and accompanies us to our hotel, the Angleterre. It is an old building, the rooms are comfortable, but it could probably use a bit of an update. Especially the carpets.

We have a chance to unpack our stuff, then our guide accompanies us to a local restaurant - where again, we have the three courses served in assembly-line fashion, plus a glass of red wine. The red wine is served chilled, and I am now convinced that it would be wise to stick with the vodka - which is generally excellent and reasonably priced.
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