Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Monday March 7th

Vladimir and lots of walking!
When we woke up the next morning we looked at ourselves and made sure we were still alive and had made it through the night ok we got ready and headed to the cafĂ© where they said we could get some blini. Now I know I said I ate that for dinner but it still sounded good for breakfast.  I decided I was going to put my pedometer on so that I could see how much we really would be walking. Boy I am sure glad I did that, when we came home I took it off and it read 24,000 steps which is about 9 miles or so. That’s crazy, no wonder we were all so tired and didn’t want to move when we made it in our clean and comfy place at the hotel. But yeah so back to Vladimir, Gulia took us to all these amazing churches and cathedrals and some of them still hold worshiping services and some are just a nunnery now. But it was still amazing to see and actually touch so many historical items.  The city of Vladimir was founded by obviously Vladimir the Great and he was the one that brought Christianity to Russia so it’s no wonder there are so many cathedrals in his town!  
I was able to go into one cathedral and just stand in amazement; I almost dare say it was better than St. Basils Cathedral.  There was gold everywhere and paintings and Old Russian writings of stories all over the walls, and there are tombs everywhere that people can come and worship on and pray over. Some people actually bend down and kiss the tombs, not really something I think I would want to do, but hey if it’s part of their belief why not?! So while exploring the cathedral we came across this tomb and we wondered who it was so this kid that was with us is Russian so he translated the writing and said that the guys name was “George the Miracle Worker” kind of a cool name, but defiantly one you wouldn’t want to mess things up with! We asked when he died and the kid said like in the 9th or 10th century. Talk about old and the best was his tomb had a class top so you could see that he was really still in there because I was able to see his hand sticking out of his robe sleeve. Creepy! but also very interesting to say I touched the tomb of a very, very old dead guy!  There were so many things to look at and try and take in and this particular cathedral hasn’t been restored so everything was the entire original work. It’s crazy to think that so long ago someone had this amazing vision and actually built it and followed through with such magnificence! 

We went to this church that was called “The Church of the Intercession” it was one of the first churches that Vladimir had built, and in the summer the only way to get to it is by boat because it is sitting on an island all by itself. So yes guess how we got to it since its winter? We walked across the entire river, which was what probably resulted in a lot of my steps that added up!  It was a long walk across the water and I just tried not to think there was water under me and I just kept my eyes on the church eventually hoping to reach it. So again that was neat to be able to see and touch one of the first buildings in the city. All the buildings are so beautiful from a distance away, but once you get up close and can see all the wear and tear the structure has, it’s amazing to think that they are still standing.  They still are really pretty up close because you can see all the amazing detail the architects put into building and creating their masterpieces. 

So then we just walked and walked some more and then Gulia took us to a nunnery and we were able to step inside a little souvenir store and look around. I was really close to buying a bible but everyone was like why? What will you do with an Old Russian bible? So I didn’t, I ended up buying a glass figurine that has the etching inside of one of the cathedrals. Which is nice since that is what I collect. We were also able to fill our water bottles with some “holy water”. There was a spigot coming from one of the outside walls and it was pure, crisp, clean spring water.  There was line of people just waiting to fill as many of their water jugs as possible. 

We then headed back to the bus stop to finish our wonderful weekend with the three hour ride home. The ride home was a lot better than the ride there; I think it was just because I was so exhausted from everything I just passed out as soon as I sat down.  By the time we made it home it was around eleven pm and we all just looked at each other and said goodnight. I jumped right in the shower though because I just wanted to feel clean after staying in that hostel and from all our walking and sweating because it was so warm. So after a nice long, hot shower I climbed into bed and prepared myself for the next day which was to be full of stress and anxiety with meeting Casey the ILP director for a second time to discus some major issues that were about to be worked out. 

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