So to speak. But at any rate, after Swan Lake, the Nevsky Prospect, the Church of the Resurrection, the Admiralty, St. Isaac's Cathedral, The Smolny Convent, and the Cathedral of Kazan, each with its own awesome uniqueness, it was way past time to settle into the calmness and serenity of the great open air.
(I did not mention the stats on Peterhof: the "fountain" is referred to as the Grand Cascade is composed of three waterfalls, 64 fountains and 37 statues. Its system of waterworks has remained unchanged since 1721, conveying water over a distance of nearly 12 miles with of course, no pumping stations. He was not called Peter the Great because of his height.)
We embarked upon a journey to Moscow via a series of lakes, rivers and canals. We left St. Petersburg on the Neva River, enduring quite a middle of the night storm on Lake Ladoga, floating down the Svir River to Lake Onega. Here we entered the Volga-Baltic Waterway, an extended system of rivers, lakes and canals that link the Baltic Sea with the Volga River, with a total length of about 700 miles, St. Peterburg to the Rybinsk Reservoir. Here is the Dreamland, the Fairy Tale world of Russia.
It's this complex system of natural rivers and lakes, artificial reservoirs and canals that has made commercial travel between the two great cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg easy and commonplace and created the tourista bonanza that now exists here. Towns and villages once sequestered by the Iron Curtain now play host to the world, showing off exquisite and extraordinary monasteries, churches, museums and kremlins. Commercial investment in the west since perestroika is non-evident and the life of some of the people in these villages is not heart-wrenching, but troubling. Deeply troubling.
St. Petersburg provided us with one last OMIGOD moment after sailing; the city gave way to small settlements and dachas, with stand after stand of virgin timber and trees, the birch trees swaying in the soft summer air. Just as we burst upon immense horizon of Lake Ladoga, not only nicknamed 'The Street of Life' but also the largest lake in Europe, we sailed past Petrokrepost ('Peter's fortress'), a medieval fortress built in 1323. A man in a Scottish golf cap and camou stood on the rocks fishing, his bait in a plastic milk jug. It was not clear if this was real time, live or just a perfectly scripted, superbly cinematographed moment of sheer awe.
Because it was sheer awe.
The 'Kan EWA