The next day we met a chartered plane bringing the main portion of our group from St. Petersburg en route to Arkhangelsk. We got to the airport on time but the airport personnel did not. As a result we weren't all processed before the plane arrived. Eventually we were able to board and greet the folks we would be spending the next couple of weeks with. They had mostly flown in the day before and were pretty bleary-eyed whereas we had had a week to fight off jet lag.

We would be meeting our ship in Arkhangelsk, but it had just arrived that morning and wouldn't be ready for us until later in the day. When we got off the plane, our checked baggage went to a separate van that would take it to the ship. It's hard to convey the way that the locals pronounced the name of the city; the closest I can get is ar-HANG-elsk. We westerners know it as Archangel.

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Narrative

Swallows

As we waited for the airport staff to show up, I amused myself by watching several swallow families who had nests in the porch ceiling. Somehow swallows returning to Petrozavodsk isn't quite as euphonious as returning to Capistrano.

War memorial - Archangelsk

We were met in Archangelsk by three buses. Our group was now grown large enough that we wouldn't all fit in one. As we got further into the tour we generally broke into "long walk," "medium walk," and "leisurely walk" groups, but at this first stop it was simply whichever bus you came to first (except that our pre-trip crew were all directed to the same #3 bus).

Our first stop was lunch! After eating Jim and I took the opportunity to walk around the area. We found this Soviet war memorial not far from the restaurant.

Former Lutheran Church, Arkhangelsk

Nearby we found this old church, which is now the home of the Pomor Philharmonic.

Arkhangelsk was founded by Ivan IV ("the Terrible") in the 16th century. It became Russia's major trading center with Europe even though the White Sea is frozen for much of the winter. Peter the Great based his fledgling navy here at the end of the 17th century, but he never ceased trying to find a warm water port as an alternative.

As a major European trading center, many Protestants resided here year-round. This was St. Catherine's Lutheran Church, built in 1749.

Pomor is a term for Russians living on the northern sea coast.

Arkhangelsk Beach

Nearby is the Embankment, which was once part of the port, but is now a beach adjoining a leafy promenade. We were incredibly lucky in the weather throughout our trip. This was another warm and sunny day that brought the locals out to sunbathe.

We were beginning to regret not having brought more summer clothes!

Lenin Memorial, Arkhangelsk

We saw memorials to Lenin in most urban places we visited within Russia. This one will have to stand for them all. I captured it through the bus window as we never stopped at these memorials.

For years I have thought of Lenin as a person of some (comparative) integrity in the Soviet pantheon. Based on the lectures given during this trip, however, Lenin was a pretty cynical and ruthless fellow. I may have to read up on him.

We shocked one of our guides by asking if there were any memorials to Stalin around. Her response: "Heavens no!"

Arkhangelsk Market

We were taken to a couple of markets on our city tour. This one allowed pictures. It was a bustling and friendly place. Those who were so inclined were allowed tastes of caviar at one of the stalls.

Island Sky in Arkhangelsk

We finally were delivered to our ship.

It hadn't changed since our British Isles trip. Even most of the staff was the same. We were glad to find our luggage already in the room. We were even gladder to unpack. We had been essentially living out of our carry-ons for the first week.

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