Travel Weekly associate editor Paul Felt cruised the Volga
River part-way from Moscow to St. Petersburg. His report
MOSCOW -- While the end points of the popular Volga River
cruise-tour programs -- Moscow and St. Petersburg -- are the main
attractions, points in between can make for intriguing travel
As our cruise ship, the Nikolai Bauman, sailed the canal from
Moscow into the Volga, we got a sense of the dark times Russia
endured under the Soviets.
The six locks that made it possible for our ship to traverse the
canal were built by gulag political prisoners.
Many of the reservoirs over which we cruised had been inhabited
areas until the Soviets ordered them flooded, making no provisions
for the residents, our tour guide said.
At one point, the belfry of what was St. Nickolas Cathedral in
the town of Kalyazin protruded from the water, a sight that drew
many of us to the ship's bow, cameras in hand.
We found a warm welcome in our first port of call, the 10th century
town of Uglich. Here river-cruise tour groups visit the
3-centuries-old Transfiguration Cathedral and Church of St.
St. Dmitry's was built in 1692 to honor the canonization of the
youngest son of Ivan the Terrible, Tzarevich Dmitry, who in 1591
was killed in Uglich amid much mystery.
A choir of monks sang for us inside the 1713 Russian Orthodox
Transfiguration Cathedral. Religious icon paintings, unobstructed
by pillars, line the cathedral walls.
The shops sell locally made cheese, which I found similar to
Muenster in flavor, and Chaika watches. My mother haggled over the
price of the wind-up watches before buying three at a discount.
My big purchase, about $25, was a watercolor of farm women, in
vibrant dress, dancing amidst brilliant fall foliage, a piece that
defied the gray stereotype of rural Russian life.
It reminded me of an oil painting that had grabbed my attention
earlier at the Tretyakov Gal-lery of Russian Art in Moscow.
Now, despite the great art and architecture of Moscow, which we
enjoyed on our pre- and post-cruise tours of the city, I think most
often of tiny Uglich, its people and its enduring Russian