Sunday, September 18, 2011
So, the jarring realization that we have seen basically nothing of this country spurred us to drive out of town yesterday. We chose for our destination Sergiev Posad, whose monastery is considered the spiritual heart of Russia. It is named for St. Sergius of Radonezh, who became Russia's patron saint in the 14th century, and is about 70 kilometers outside of Moscow. Google Maps, taking into account Moscow's horrendous traffic, cheerfully estimated that the journey would take 15 hours and 25 minutes. Hmm. Now that I think about it, actually, Jeremy may have asked for walking directions. In any case, we made it there, and including the 25 minutes we spent looking for parking near both the monastery and food, the drive took about 2.5 hours.
We did not make our goal to arrive early and leave right around nap time - we actually arrived at Sergiev Posad right at nap time. So the girls were a bit cranky. Also, it was pouring rain. We managed to visit two of the three churches within the monastery walls, drink some water from the spring in the middle of the complex, and do a little shopping before getting a late lunch. Had Jeremy and I gone without the kids, we would have tried to visit one of the museums, but we were already pushing our luck.
Natasha also had ample opportunity to chase pigeons, which, as you can see, weren't exactly scarce. St. Paul's has nothing on the Trinity Sergius Lavra.
Then we headed inside to get some shashlik for lunch. The girls were reasonably well behaved, particularly considering how painfully slow the service was. But we left the table quite a mess and Natasha had some near-collisions with wait staff carrying heavy trays.
On the way home (which only took about 1.5 hours), we passed some little villages populated with adorable houses like these.
It's definitely a different world from the skyscrapers and fancy cars of Moscow. We were driving behind a Rolls Royce for several miles before this photo, just a block from the Embassy, was taken.
All in all, a successful venture and a good trial run for future road trips. We hope to go a little further and get to one or two of the Golden Ring cities before we leave next summer.