Monday, September 28, 2015

Vladimir and Suzdal

Carrie already said everything I hoped to say about Vladimir. Although I imagined it to be simply a gateway to Suzdal, I too enjoyed Vladimir as a destination unto itself. We enjoyed a very pleasant Sunday morning there before moving on to Suzdal.

Suzdal felt to me something between a living museum and a tourist Mecca. According to the brochure our hotel gave us, there was once some sort of a competition going on between neighborhoods and everybody strove to have an amazing church close to home. Most of those churches remain to this day and many of them are in excellent condition. The town continues to put money and effort into restoring and maintaining the rest of the properties because by now 50% of the residents work directly in the tourist industry.

Even in this shoulder season, it felt to us like tourists outnumbered the locals on the streets, perhaps heavily. We did manage to get off the beaten paths from time to time. For example, today we wandered off to an outlying church undergoing renovation. It was on the town’s periphery and we had no compelling reason to go there. Soon after we arrived, however, we saw some high drama. We watched in horror as some guy ran down the street trying to catch up to his car, which was rolling backwards at an accelerating pace. He overtook the driver’s door as another car came driving up the street in the opposite direction. The runner avoided getting struck by the oncoming car and tried to open the door of his own car. I was afraid he’d be swept up by the open door chasing him downhill, but didn’t have to worry because the door was locked shut. The runner tried to stop his car anyway, by tugging on the door handle, but he ran out of time before his car smashed into a parked car. Carrie discouraged me from taking pictures of this mishap after the fact, but it involved a lot of damage. Anyway, I’m pretty sure that all the other tourists missed this spectacle.

We had a good time in that museum of a town, and now we’re approaching Moscow on another fast train for our last stop in Russia. We bought seats in “luxe” this time, which appears to mean third class. That doesn’t mean we don’t like it. It’s great, though a little crowded. There’s been a big queue at the restroom the whole trip. I’m glad I didn’t need to go. Here comes our station…

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