Russia - Vologda
Vologda city offers sightseers a variety of churches and some very gory history for good measure. A quick walk into the centre last night had given us an idea to the days sightseeing. We arrived in the main square by St Sofia’s Cathedral and bell tower to find hundreds of people leaving Sunday service from the three chapels that form the centre.
As we stood and watched, processions of richly dressed Russian Orthodox priests filed past us on the way to their next service on the other side of town. Bell chimes filled the air and we listened as intricate tunes were rung in well-practised fashion by hand. We wondered if this was a special event or whether this was simply every Sunday practice. We nervously took a few photos as we were unsure as to whether it was allowed or appropriate – especially as there were 20-30 armed police loitering about looking for something to do! This was our first big city since Murmansk and whilst Murmansk is a very heavy industrialised city, Vologda is much akin to Bristol in the UK!
After the throngs of worshippers had left the area we made our way into the town centre having decided to come back to the bell tower tomorrow in order to climb it – we were too knackered today and it was extremely muggy and hot. The day was getting hotter by the minute and we were both in need of food and water. 5 minutes stroll from the Archbishops courtyard we found ourselves in Vologda’s main covered market. We found row upon row of vendors selling everything from fruit and veg and clothes to Russian handmade furniture. The market is so busy and vibrant and great fun to walk around. A little while later we left having purchased lunch – two bottles of water and some really delicious cherries – all bought using Russian and, amazingly, we were understood!
Now window-shopping in Russia is an art in itself! As although Russia seems to be well down the Capitalist path, it has a lot to learn about PR and marketing. The outside of the vast majority of shops, large and small alike, are dull, uninteresting and give the shopper no clue whatsoever as to what’s inside. But then again, many of the premises are former soviet government buildings or accommodations, which have been adapted for commercialism.
Having window-shopped for sometime we headed back to our hotel room to catch up on some well-needed sleep. This evening we ate at the hotel attracted by the wonderful smell of BBQ’d meat and easy flowing beer!