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Russia Research Trip Day 3

Sunday October 13, 2019 10:29 p.m.

Sailing the Moscow Canal, #Russia, Viking ship Rurik stateroom

Today was our last day in Moscow. We went to the Kremlin before we left.

There was a pretty long line to get in, but we eventually made it through airport-like security. Then, we walked through the main tower.

We saw the arsenal.

Our tour guide was very strict about us keeping to the tourist side of the Kremlin, but we did see where Putin works from afar.

We saw the biggest cannon in the world—Tsar Cannon—which has never been fired at anyone.

And the biggest bell in the world—Tsar Bell—which was never rung because it was damaged by fire before it was finished.

Next, we went to Cathedral Square, where we visited Dormition Cathedral also known as the Assumption Cathedral, the cathedral where the tsars were crowned.

Again we weren’t allow to take pictures inside, but the frescoes were quite extensive; there wasn’t a blank wall, ceiling, or column in the place. I also got to see the thrones where the tsars, tsarinas, and patriarchs sat during church services.

During the French occupation, the cathedral was used as a horse stable! Our tour guide also told us about how Napoleon’s men looted the silver coffins of the Russian Holy Hierarchs—metropolitans and patriarchs—who were buried under the church. Only one was left intact. Apparently, when Napoleon’s men opened the coffin of­­­ one of these patriarchs to loot it, his body showed no signs of decomposition, even after hundreds of years! Taking this as a sign, the invaders thought it best to leave him be.

After that, we went to the Cathedral of Archangel Michael, where many of the tsars were buried. Again we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside. We saw the tombstones of Ivan the Terrible and his three sons, who were the last of the Rurik dynasty. Their deaths brought about the Time of Troubles, which was ended when the first Romanov—Mikhail I—was chosen to be tsar. Our guide, Elena, told us the sad story of how Ivan’s youngest son—Dmitry—died at only eight years old. They still don’t know exactly what happened to him, but one story goes that he was playing with a knife and accidentally killed himself when he had an epileptic fit. Whether that is more plausible than Boris Godunov killing him, or having him killed, for control of the country is up for debate.

After we left the Kremlin, we came back to the ship for lunch, and then we went underway. Now, we are on route to Uglich, where we will stop tomorrow to see their kremlin and visit a local family. I remembered from my research that it is polite to bring your hosts something when you visit their home. If only I’d remembered before I left home! So I took a little gift bag I had and put a fruit bar, an assortment of teas from the kitchen, and some maple candy I brought with me. I hope they like it. I could agonize over it, but it’s the best I can do.

Tomorrow, we will also see the Church of St. Dmitry on the Blood—a church built in memory of Tsarevich Dmitry as his tragic and mysterious death happened in Uglich.

After a few tour briefings, I went to dinner. I met some really nice people who were very interested in my writing. I had noticed that I was the youngest person on the cruise, but I honestly didn’t think much of it. Apparently, I was the only one because everyone I meet asks my husband and I why we are traveling with people so much older than us. Well, it’s always good to learn from those who have more life experiences than you anyway, so I don’t mind. On a side note, I learned something very important at dinner: I hate crème brûlée!

Well, off to bed for another full day tomorrow! See you soon!

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    D. Lieber has a wanderlust that would make a butterfly envious. When she isn’t planning her next physical adventure, she’s recklessly jumping from one fictional world to another. Her love of reading led her to earn a Bachelor’s in English from Wright State University.

    Beyond her skeptic and slightly pessimistic mind, Lieber wants to believe. She has been many places—from Canada to England, France to Italy, Germany to Russia—believing that a better world comes from putting a face on “other.” She is a romantic idealist at heart, always fighting to keep her feet on the ground and her head in the clouds.

    Lieber lives in Wisconsin with her husband (John) and cats (Yin and Nox).

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