The Golden Ring: Vladimir, Yerev-Polsky, Suzdal



September 18, 2011

Dear Family and Friends

Vladimir Vladimirovich was my driver In Vladimir.  He spoke not one word of English.   Somehow we managed to communicate.

Vladimir Vladimirovich and I scanned my map of “Russia’s Heritage Cities.”  We decided on a circular clockwise route:  Vladimir, Yerev-Polskoy, Suzdal, Bogolyubovo, and back to Vladimir.

The Heritage Cities are best known as “The Golden Ring.”  North and east around Moscow are more than a dozen ancient cities with unique Russian architecture dating back to the 12th to 17th Centuries.  

Vladimir Vladimirovich picked me up at 09:00 at the Monomakh Hotel (named for Grand Prince Vladimir Monomakh (1053-1125).  Vladimir sped through the green-to-slightly-golden countryside.  The towns were lovely.  Monasteries, cathedrals, churches, markets, private homes and small shops called супермаркеты were the stops for the day.


Nizhny Novgorod: Mother Volga



September 21, 2011

Dear Friends and Family,


When I was a very young boy, one of the first piano pieces I learned was a simplified version of the Russian folk song, “The Volga Boatmen.”  “Yo, heave ho!   Yo, heave ho!”   Perhaps you also remember it?*

And now, after a short train ride from Vladimir, here I am, strolling down a promenade in Nizhny-Novgorod.  Ornate classical buildings across the street on my left, and far below, on my right, the longest river in Europe, the Russian national river, the “main drag,” the broad and mighty Mother Volga!  You will excuse me, won’t you, if I admit that I am pleased with myself?  Here I am…at the Volga!


Kazan: Tartarstan and the Teenagers


Republic of Tartarstan

Russian Federation

September 24, 2011

Dear Friends,

Kazan is the capital of the region called the Republic of Tartarstan, the area once controlled by the Tartar tribes.

Naturally, I thought of steak tartare, and the French sauce for this dish of raw, minced beef – sauce tartare.

Legend has it that the French named this dish for the Tartar hordes that never stopped to eat; they ate raw meat as they rode on horseback to their next conquest.   A corollary of this legend is that the Tartars put the meat under their saddles to soften it up!  The original Tartar Confederation goes back to the Fifth Century.

Moscow: the Metro and the River



September 27, 2011 

My Dear Jan, 

I am so disappointed in you! 

Two weeks ago, I read in your initial letter from Moscow that you were reluctant to travel alone on the Moscow Metro.  Reluctant?! 

Yes, I know that there are no signs whatsoever in English.   But you were afraid?  And are you so lazy that you can't learn to read at least a few Cyrillic letters so that you can identify the Russian word for "entrance" and "exit”?   Reluctant?  Shameful! 

Then you said that you were terrified?  Terrified?  Shocking! 


Russia: Challenging Questions


September 26, 2011

 “Is there anything ugly in Russia?”

“How did you learn to read the Russian alphabet?”

“What are your roots?”

My Travel Letters from Russia generated these three challenging questions. 

The surprising question came from my loyal friend Dodie Edwards in Texas.  Dodie asked, “Is there anything ugly in Russia?”  Dodie was responding to my predilection to photograph only colorful, historical structures, or dramatic scenery, and the occasional attractive gal or guy.