Friday, July 25, 2008

Lake Ladoga

Europe's largest lake is our sailing "medium" for today. Later this afternoon, after our Russian class and a film about the czars, we'll reach the Valaam Archipelago where there is a monastery that was destroyed twice by the Swedes when it was located at the border with Sweden. It has been at its present location since the 14th c.

Yesterday we spent the entire day at a resort called Mandrogi. The distance between Mandrogi and Valaam is about 134 miles. There is a vodka museum at Mandrogi. We were all invited to taste four types of vodka -- I tasted two. The first type of vodka was cranberry, and it looked like syrup. I didn't like it. The second type was for colds -- honey and pepper vodka. Someone in our group bought a bottle called "Five Lakes" and served it to us at our cocktail hour on the ship. He had heard from Russians that this type of vodka was among the best.

Shopping in Mandrogi was a little more expensive than we had been accustomed to on the trip so far, but the craftsmen were there in the shops to show us their work and answer questions. Painted wooden dishes, lacquer boxes, linens and wools, bead and leather work -- these were some of the crafted items we saw being created firsthand.

We sail for St. Petersburg tonight and will reach the city by tomorrow morning.

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