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Thread: My Trip To Russia

  1. #71
    More images of Peterhof
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    Peter liked a good practical joke, so unwary visitors could sometimes get soaked.
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    The interior is richly decorated as you might expect, but photos were not allowed.
    Last edited by Solon; 01-02-2017 at 10:43 AM.

  2. #72
    St. Sergius and his Monastery

    St. Sergius of Radonezh (1314?-1392) was a pious Russian who left his earthly concerns and went to live as a hermit in the forest. His reputation attracted others and a community of the faithful grew until he and his followers eventually founded a monastery. The Holy Trinity – Saint Sergius Monastery is a popular tourist/pilgrimage site for Russians today. While he is barely known in the West, St. Sergius Orthodox sainthood is recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as well as the Anglican. He is identified in several books as the “patron saint” of Russia, but there is no such title I was informed by our guide. Nevertheless, he is probably the most popular Russian saint whose legacy lives on in the monastery.

    The monastery in Sergiev Posad is included in the Golden Ring of medieval cities and sites important to the history of the Russian state, particularly in the era before and during the Mongol conquest and domination (c. 1240-1480). Andrei Rublev, among the most respected of icon artists, worked there extensively. The largest and the most important Russian Orthodox monasteries, like Sergius-Trinity, are called “lavras” and have been subordinated directly to the Patriarch of Moscow or after, 1721, the Holy Synod.

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    Notice the icon of the image of Christ on the front of two churches shown here.

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    IMG_8849 Entrance to St. Sergius Monastery.jpg
    The visitor's entrance in the wall surrounding the monastery.

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  3. #73
    The Metropol

    Before we met for the first time, a member of our (12 member) group spent a few days in Moscow exploring on her own. She wrote a short story about her experience at the famous Metropol Hotel. It reflects the hospitality we experienced during our travels. She doesn't mind if I share it.

    I had wonderful good fortune at the Metropol hotel. I started out in a nice room, with a window looking towards the Kremlin, but, because it was filled with residue from older smoke-cleaned carpets, I had difficulty breathing and sleeping. (The bed was hard as a board, and, although I piled all the down comforters in a narrow pile and tried to sleep on them, it was hopeless)

    After a discussion with the concierge who made the morning wake up call, they moved me to a different room altogether. In fact, it was one of the fabulous hotel suites, a corner suite, with floor to ceiling windows in the living room, and the bedroom. The huge living room looked towards the street of the Bolshoi Theater and the bedroom looked towards Lubyanka. Richly decorated. There were parquet floors with persian carpets, so no asthma!!! And, the bed was what it should be, and the sheets were Egyptian cotton. There were even 2 bathrooms: the master suite bathroom and the guest bathroom off the entry hall that led into the living room. I kept waiting for the extra charges!!! But, none came.

    I wrote a thank you note Saturday morning after my first night there, and, on Monday there was a basket of fruit and a note from the head of Guest Services thanking me and hoping I was enjoying my stay!!! I met her personally the day I left. When I went to check out on the morning of the last day, the front desk clerk told me that she wanted to meet me, and so at 4 pm just before I was heading to meet our group, she took me to the bar/cafe and ordered me a complimentary non-alcoholic juice mocktail and we talked about the hotel, some of it's history, and it's current plans for renovation.

    It was a real gift. A wonderful way to be in Moscow.


    There are two recent books involving the Metropol:

    The Girl from the Metropol Hotel: Growing Up in Communist Russia by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, Anna Summers (published Feb, 2017)
    From the book's introduction...
    Ludmilla Petrushevskaya grew up in a family of Bolshevik intellectuals who were reduced in the wake of the Russian Revolution to waiting in bread lines. In The Girl from the Metropol Hotel, her prizewinning memoir, she recounts her childhood of extreme deprivation—of wandering the streets like a young Edith Piaf, singing for alms, and living by her wits like Oliver Twist, a diminutive figure far removed from the heights she would attain as an internationally celebrated writer. As she unravels the threads of her itinerant upbringing—of feigned orphandom, of sleeping in freight cars and beneath the dining tables of communal apartments, of the fugitive pleasures of scraps of food—we see, both in her remarkable lack of self-pity and in the two dozen photographs throughout the text, her feral instinct and the crucible in which her gift for giving voice to a nation of survivors was forged.
    A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel by Amor Towles (published Sept, 2016)
    From Amazon's blurb...
    Chosen as a best book of the year by NPR, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Philadelphia Inquirer
    This book is available in the Blue Ridge Regional Library.
    Last edited by Solon; 03-18-2017 at 03:34 AM.

  4. #74
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    i always wanted to go to mongolia and see the statue of ghenghis khan. he fathered over 2 000 children and 1 out of every 100 people is related to him today.
    "the difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has it's limits"
    albert einstein

  5. #75
    Quote Originally Posted by cubsfanbudman View Post
    i always wanted to go to mongolia and see the statue of ghenghis khan. he fathered over 2 000 children and 1 out of every 100 people is related to him today.
    Save your money. Moscow or St. Petersburg has more to offer.

    Last edited by Solon; 03-19-2017 at 08:36 AM.

  6. #76
    Pushkin: The Man and the Place

    Alexander Pushkin is the greatest literary hero of Russia, although his genius is difficult to understand in English because translations cannot capture his skill. He wrote poetry and prose just after the Napoleonic Wars and was killed in a duel in 1837. He led a colorful life as a young military officer and even more so after his literary fame spread. His life and adventures are comparable to those of Byron.

    His maternal great-grandfather was an Ethiopian in service to the Sultan who was captured and given to Peter the Great. Favored by the Tsar, he rose to become an army general and gave the family, including young Alexander, entre to the wealthy nobility. We visited the Lyceum, the elite Tsarist school he attended. That, along with his home, and his park beside it in the town now called Pushkin, lie just outside the gates of Catherine the Great’s palace, about which I previously posted. Originally, it was called Tsarkoe Selo and historians refer to it by that name.

    Like me, you may have some knowledge of Pushkin’s work from musical adaptations by Russia’s great composers. Wikipedia provides an extensive list:
    “Pushkin's works also provided fertile ground for Russian composers. Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila is the earliest important Pushkin-inspired opera, and a landmark in the tradition of Russian music. Tchaikovsky's operas Eugene Onegin (1879) and The Queen of Spades (1890) became perhaps better known outside of Russia than Pushkin's own works of the same name.

    Mussorgsky's monumental Boris Godunov (two versions, 1868-9 and 1871-2) ranks as one of the very finest and most original of Russian operas. Other Russian operas based on Pushkin include Dargomyzhsky's Rusalka and The Stone Guest; Rimsky-Korsakov's Mozart and Salieri, Tale of Tsar Saltan[I], and The Golden Cockerel; Cui's Prisoner of the Caucasus, Feast in Time of Plague, and The Captain's Daughter; Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa; Rachmaninoff's one-act operas Aleko (based on The Gypsies) and The Miserly Knight; Stravinsky's Mavra, and Nápravník's Dubrovsky.

    Additionally, ballets and cantatas, as well as innumerable songs, have been set to Pushkin's verse (including even his French-language poems, in Isabelle Aboulker's song cycle "Caprice étrange"). Suppé, Leoncavallo and Malipiero have also based operas on his works.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Pushkin

    Old timers may remember Amadeus, the movie directed by Miloš Forman and adapted by Peter Shaffer from his stage play, which was inspired by Pushkin’s poetic drama, Mozart and Salieri. It won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture in 1984.

    “Nothing could be more concise, or raise so many philosophical questions, as Pushkin’s “little tragedy,” Mozart and Salieri. In ten pages it suggested ideas for countless Russian writers, philosophers, and critics. Among Americans, it is best known for the film it loosely (and baggily) inspired, Amadeus, which recounts the legend of how the composer Salieri out of envy poisoned Mozart.

    Pushkin’s Mozart bears a striking resemblance to Pushkin himself: his inspiration comes easily, and he effortlessly creates masterpieces while drinking, laughing, or playing. Salieri, by contrast, has expended immense effort to learn his craft, and knows he will never be more than a craftsman.

    … But Pushkin’s art was itself parody, all playful impersonation inseparable from humor. Salieri believes greatness must be deadly serious, and both his villainy and unoriginality derive from his humorlessness. For Mozart…as for the playful and the creative generally, laughter is a whole philosophy of life. It reflects the highest wisdom, the ability to stand outside oneself.

    Will We Ever Pin Down Pushkin? by Gary Saul Morson, March 23, 2017 Issue of The New York Review of Books
    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017...-down-pushkin/

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    Statue of Pushkin in the Lyceum Park

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    Pushkin's House

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    The Lyceum

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    Pushkin
    The thumbnail is another picture of the Lyceum that, for some reason, chose to lie down on the job.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Solon; 03-21-2017 at 09:52 AM.

  7. #77
    The 900 Days: In Remembrance of the Siege

    A sobering moment during our travels occurred with a stop on the outskirts of St. Petersburg. When our bus pulled into the parking area, we saw a nondescript old building like you used to see along 220 in Collinsville. Behind it, however, as we walked further beyond, was a vast graveyard. It was Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery, a magnificent burial park for victims of the German siege of Leningrad during WWII.

    The siege lasted from 1941-194, almost two and one half years. The 872 days of bombardment and starvation cost the lives of around one million residents of the city. It remains the deadliest siege in world history. Historic palaces we visited, like Peterhof and Catherine’s Palace, were looted and severely damaged or destroyed. They have been restored at great cost after years of meticulous planning. Obviously, this is true for much of the rest of the city as well.

    Our guide, a native of St. Petersburg, told a personal story about her grandmother. As the siege began her grandmother, pregnant with her mother, was rescued from the city by her grandfather, a Red Army officer who risked his life and career to get her out of the city and to relatives in the interior of the country.

    Wikipedia offers the following details:

    The memorial complex designed by Alexander Vasiliev and Yevgeniy Levinson was opened on May 9, 1960. About 420,000 civilians and 50,000 soldiers of the Leningrad Front were buried in 186 mass graves. Near the entrance an eternal flame is located. A marble plate affirms that from September 4, 1941 to January 22, 1944 107,158 air bombs were dropped on the city, 148,478 shells were fired, 16,744 men died, 33,782 were wounded and 641,803 died of starvation.

    The center of the architectural composition is the bronze monument symbolizing the Motherland, by sculptors V.V. Isaeva and R.К. Taurit.

    By granite steps leading down from the Eternal Flame visitors enter the main 480-meter path which leads to the majestic Motherland monument.

    The words of poet Olga Berggolts are carved on a granite wall located behind this monument:

    Here lie Leningraders
    Here are citydwellers - men, women, and children
    And next to them, Red Army soldiers.
    They defended you, Leningrad,
    The cradle of the Revolution
    With all their lives.
    We cannot list their noble names here,
    There are so many of them under the eternal protection of granite.
    But know this, those who regard these stones:
    No one is forgotten, nothing is forgotten.

    The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad by Harrison Salisbury is the preeminent history of the siege in English. Our guide referred to it during the visit.

    The Eternal Flame
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    The Walk to the Motherland Statue
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    A Burial Stone
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    The Victorious Motherland Monument
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    The single festoon held by the statue has an ancient heritage. It is found on Roman altars, the Ara Pacis,
    St. Peter's in the Vatican, and the First Presbyterian Church of Martinsville. It is a symbol of sacred sacrifice.
    Last edited by Solon; Today at 12:05 PM.

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