Russia, on Closer Inspection

I saw things in Russia, yes, but I saw them from a distance. I saw them either as they were offered to us through the refracted lens of our Viking tour guides, or as I gazed out with my own eyes from the decks of the beautifully appointed ship on which we journeyed through that vast country’s northwesterly parts.

From on deck I saw both swelling waters with pastoral landscapes….


….and intimate-looking villages such as this one.


On the one morning that I didn’t keep the light-cancelling stateroom drapes drawn and so woke fully up at 4am, I caught a spectacular sunrise and even at that early hour saw householders patiently fishing for their breakfasts.

I also saw from on deck this abandoned building, just between two other tidy structures, and I’ll admit that the contrast took me aback some.


Then this same juxtaposition was on display once again, on one of our long land days, when we spent time in the village of Uglich.

Near the end of our walking tour there, we were meant to take 20 minutes to enjoy the riverside vistas and ponder  the local art.  All I could do, however, was to study the burned-out house just across the street from the riverbank:


The contrast seemed so pronounced: On my right hand side, pretty awninged booths offering exquisite hand-painted jewelry boxes and delicate watercolor depictions of St. Basil’s Cathedral; and on my left, this scene of  devastation.

What seemed especially strange to me was the fact that no official attention had been paid to these burned remains. It was as if the building was invisible to the people parking their cars here.

Here in the States you couldn’t even get near a place in this condition. It would be boarded up, and even the lot it sat on would be crisscrossed with yellow crime tape.

In the States you couldn’t so much as look inside such a building, but here?

Well, you can see for yourself: I could have crawled right in this window if I’d had a mind to (and if I were fearless and/or insane) for here it all was, open to its god as the saying goes, and open too to any interlopers bent on the scavenger’s task.


And so it was that on this day, fully halfway through my two-week visit to Russia, I began to realize that this whole Russian trip would be offering a study in contrasts. Tune in tomorrow for specifics and the decidedly darker chapters my curiosity had me turning to.

8 thoughts on “Russia, on Closer Inspection

  1. how great to see what I missed when I took year same route. I was busy looking at people and trinkets.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Wow, Terry! So glad to see your post and your amazing writing again, and you’ve chosen such a complicated subject for it! Please share everything you see, hear, feel and otherwise sense because you’re giving that country dimension beyond the political. Or is it?

    1. I don’t know Carol! The more I saw the less I understood. I’ve been reading reading reading about this place ever since I got back Jume 14th! Thanks for this encouragement xxxooo

  3. Terry, not as interesting as your observations on contrasts but I saw some today. Went to the Food Pantry and though my need is real, I felt guilty in clothes that didn’t have big holes in them, pants hemmed with duct tape and soles attached to shoes with some other kind of tape. This person did have a jacket on against the heavy downpour while I got soaked with no jacket and no umbrella but the jacket had a huge tear in it. The man had to get to the Pantry using a shuttle bus while my 17 year old car sat in a parking lot. There’s no way one can feel sorry for one’s self at times like this. On the funny side, though, while watering flowers for my neighbor last night I screamed and dropped the watering can when I saw a large something or other attached to one side of the can. Don’t know how it got there but when I finally found what I think it was, I stared at the beauty. There were two ginger and while colored bunnies in my back yard, just staring back at me. I figure the one on the can was looking to quench its thirst but my shock probably saved it from getting stuck in the narrow opening. God saved me from my plan to have a dish full of water for the bunnies today – I hope if their home in the woods is not a full to overflowing hole in the ground. It was really heavy rain. I see the ads for Viking trips on CH. 2 and they look great. Nice to see you writing, dear Terry.

    1. what a charming bunny tale Andrea and can’t we all take a lesson from you describe at the food pantry. Bless you and your way of looking at things, a kind of alchemy for sure!

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