July 1, 2010

Last night was the first truly bad night I'd had.  I could not get to sleep for love nor rubles.  I watched a movie, I stayed in bed trying to relax for 2 hours.  I got up and used the computer at 2 a.m. (I actually saw the sky get dark, briefly).  I finally fell asleep around 5:30, and Walt was up getting ready for our early excursion at 6 a.m.  I was at breakfast by 6:30 feeling like death warmed over.

I had planned to skip Uglich until I heard Katherin's briefing on it and then it sounded like it would be a nice, easy, interesting excursion, but after breakfast, I just wanted to sleep, so I skipped it after all and slept for a couple of hours.  When the group came back. Walt said there was a whole line of vendor stalls and asked if I wanted to check them out.  I said no. I already had something for Brianna and didn't need to be tempted.

Then Char came and accused me of being a bad grandmother and said there were some "darling things" that she'd been looking at for her own granddaughters.  Well...nobody's going to accuse me of being a bad grandmother, so I agreed to go and look at the stalls.  Oh my....  Shops as far as the eye can see.

Junk interspersed with good stuff.  Toys, t-shirts, kitchen ware, magnets, faux lacquer boxes, more of the nesting dolls, and the "darling things" Char had promised.

So many choices...

Walt bought himself a new red hat.  It says "Uglich" (in Russian) across the top.  He was very happy with his purchase.

We bought several things, possibly some unique to Uglich, and I was very happy with our purchases.  I have now pretty much gotten something little for everyone I wanted to buy things for and a couple of cheap things for me (a magnet and a pair of earrings) and anything else I get will just be frosting on the cake.  We haven't really spent all that much either.  I am nothing if not a cheap gift giver!  And, as I keep saying, it's easy to be frugal when you have left your credit card at home!!!

So I didn't see any of the beautiful churches, or hear today's mini concert by a local choir or hear any of the history of Uglich (where, I have read, the son of Ivan the Terrible either died or was murdered), but I have visited the shops and contributed to the local economy and I suspect the town residents would rather I did that than listen to their history!

The ship took off at noon, with our next stop Moscow (we have our first of 3 days in Moscow tomorrow and will get a briefing on that excursion in the morning).

As we were finishing lunch, Gunter, the guy who did the vodka tasting the other night, came to us and said he had just heard from the home office that they had missed our anniversary and wanted to apologize and tell us he had received nothing in his paperwork about that before the cruise (and that someone apparently learned about it from Facebook), and also to tell us that he had just put some champagne and chocolates in our room, along with a bowl of fruit.  We will bring the champagne to dinner tonight to share with whoever decides to eat with us!

In the afternoon, there was a round table, an opportunity to question the tour guides about life in Russia.  Very interesting, especially the question asking them to compare life before and after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Dinner tonight was the Captain's dinner, which started with a big table of champagne waiting for us at the Neva Restaurant.  Everyone who wanted one got a glass and then we all went down a reception line, clinked glasses with everyone in charge, saying "na zdarovye" to each one (except to Gunter I asked "what? no vodka tonight?")

Dinner was huge, starting with caviar and ending with Baked Alaska with little topknots that looked like the onion domes of all those churches we've been seeing!

And THEN (as if the day wasn't full enough already), we all went up to the Sky Bar for a talent show, which consisted of a bunch of Canadians singing two Canadian songs, a guy who once played Tevye doing "If I Were a Rich Man," a wonderful woman pianist playing a bit of Rachmaninoff and a bit of Chopin, and then the "Bolshoi choir," which consisted of the people who have been taking Russian, singing two songs in Russian.  The choir included Walt and Mike but unfortunately both were on the far side and hidden.  This was all I got of Walt (though I videotaped the whole performance)

As the day was ending, we were entering the Moscow Canal, to be greeted by a giant statue of Lenin overlooking the river.

Tomorrow we have our first look at Moscow.


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