These VERY kind ladies were incharge of the church shop. Actually there two shops, one each side of the entrance. While both sold music CD's and tapes, this one seemd to have the "edge" on candles while the other seemed to have the edge on CD's.
Let no westrener doubt that the Russian people are friendly had helpful. While indeed many were a bit guarded around westren tourists, I fear that may well be due to exceedingly arrongant individuals who smear the reputaions of all by their behavior. These ladies listened to me struggle through my limited Russian and then made phone call after phone call trying to track down the one person they knew who spoke English. While we did not connect complety in language they connected with heart.
At all Russian Churches I have been to there are always elderly ladies begging by the door. In the US we have the phrase "poor as a church mouse" meaning there are few if any crumbs on the floor to feed a hungry rodent. Well here the rodents best be VERY careful, this church also had a hungry cat sitting by the door!
(Perhaps a variation on a "Russian Blue" by chance)
The plaintiff mew sounded rather like "me too"!
This church is on the main road leading to "The Bridge" I believe it is called St. Michael's.. Others have mentioned it's brilliant blue domes but I am still not certain of it's name. You can see it from the base of the memorial (almost) cross overlooking the city. Look east toward the bridge to Engles, you cannot help but see the blue domes. It is interesting to notice that the Saratov Cathedral is having a bell tower built for it, like many Russian Orthodox churches the bell tower is separate from the church. At St. Michael's it is integral to the church building, similar to a western style church.
(To all VTer's in Saratov, if you spot a mistake PLEASE tell me! My spoken Russian is limited and my understanding is poor at best!! I would be VERY happy to correct any details that I have wrong.)
Speaking of "off the beaten path", in that same direction... Walking along the street to St. Michaels there are several old, as in VERY OLD houses!
This one may date back to the origins of Saratov when when Catherine the Great of Russia encouraged "second sons" in Germany to emigrate to the area to help settle it. At the time "second sons" in a German family stood to inherit NOTHING, primogenator was the rule in Germany. Second sons got nothing in inheritance, they where "on their own", start a business of their own, marry rich, or beg!! Catherine offered them home steads to help settle the area and cement Russia's claim on the region.
That may have brought an influx of from the Jewish community as well. Noticed the Star of David in the leaded glass window of this house found along the strreet leading up hill from the bridge, that goes past St. Michael's Church toward the out door museum with the War Memorial.
This street seemed to sum up Saratov, old, new and inbetween, it all seemed to be there somewhere along that street!
A fastenating "time capsule" of Saratov!
This house was about as old as anything I saw. Yet it had "elements" of "today", electric wires, and a TV antenna that had been there long enough to get old and collapse!
This house was the largest one I saw that appeared to be a single family dwelling. It was built right on the edge of a deep ravine that runs through Saratov to the river. It seemed like it must have been a "dry" river bed, I would certainly hope it was dry, I was walking on a bridge that connected the north and sourth rims of the ravinen when I spotted this house on the westren segment, being curious what else I might see in the ravine I crossed to the east side of the bridge where upon I noticed a large sports complex built right in the bottom of the ravine so I certainly hope that it was a "dry" river bed!
The Volga is the MAJOR artery if not a path, through Saratov. The internal waterways in Russia connect the Black Sea to the Baltic sea with most if not all other conenctions passing through Moscow. Thus making Moscow the hub of the spokes of the waterways in Russia. The waterways took the place of major highway contruction for the movemnet of goods in commerce for Russia. It is not surprizing that maintenance of these pathways is a major concern. In the photo with this posting is a shot of what appeared to be a dredge being moved by a tugboat..
The bridge to Engles from Saratov is the longest bridge in Europe. I had the "privelage" of seeing just what car traffic is doing to modern Russia one afternoon when there was an accident on the bridge half way across. Traffic was tied up on the bridge for HOURS. If it had not been several days since my arrival, I migth have dreamed that i was still stuck in New York City!! It must have been a rather serious accident because i saw several emgency vehicles enter going the wrong way in the west bound lane and then return later seemingly to only deliver a "load" and then return to the scene. A man in the hotel with binoculars said he could see emergency vehiles approaching from the Engles side also, truning around and going back that way. Certianly if there were any accoutrements of "westren" life I would have spared Russians at least one of them would have been traffic jams!
The mist seen here is just the river rising to meet the car traffic, which in fact, migth contribute to traffic woes on the bridge, it was bright sunny day but no wind, so the haze hung right over the river.
I did not see a swimming pool here but perhaps that is indoors. This looked fairly new (15 to 20 years!) but as many structures in the FSU it was built with available funds but probaly no provision for up keep repairs, there appeared to be several areas where the sidewalk had aged prematurely with no evidence of repairs in progress.
I wandered along the road near the river just to see what i might find. Just before I got to the base of the brige there was work being done along the shore, That seemed to be the area where the dredge on the barge had left from the day before but I did see any work actually being done while I watched, it was a Sunday.
The monument errected to Yurij Gagarin, first man in space, is a couple of kilometres from Saratov on the East banks of the Volga.
Gagarin landed here on April 12th, 1961. He's one of Saratov's heroes as he studied and did his pilot training there.
In 1975, Victory Park was laid out on Sokolovaya Mountain above Saratov city proper.
It is an unusual open air museum. It is a picturesque, natural place providing a gentle green and pleasant oasis from the rush of the city.
A crowded city bus or a taxi can bring you to the rough street that leads into the park.
Once there, beautiful views of Saratov and the Volga are available from an observation point. Near the entrance is a memorial monument in honor of Saratov’s fallen soldiers during the many wars. This impressive monument, opened in 1982, is on the highest peak above Saratov. There are five flights of a grand staircase leading to three skyward pylons depicting Crane’s in flight.
The park is full of military war vehicles from trunks and tanks to fighter jets. In fact, the unique Yak-1 fighter plane is the park’s showpiece. There are also exhibits of various cultures that have now blended together to compose the population of Saratov today.
The park provides serenity in the high ground above the hustle and bustle of Saratov. Roads in the park lead to overlooks of both the city and vistas of the Volga River. This is a great place to take pictures and to relax in a very unusual museum setting.
Yuri Gagarin has been warmly embraced by the people of Saratov. There is a statue to his memory at the head of the riverside promenade not far from the Slovakia Hotel. On the weekends you will find people congregate nearby and children are happily playing in the park and around his monument. So why is Gagarin so beloved here?
Saratov has one of the oldest and most respected universities in Russia, and one of Russia’s top aviation schools, Aviatsonii Tekhnikum. It was this institute that brought Yuri Gagarin to live and study here from 1951 to 1955 before he graduated and then went on to distinguish himself as the first human in space in 1961.
An obelisk was set up on the site near the village of Smelovka in the Saratov Region, where Gagarin landed after his historic flight.
Her we have the total "ambitguity" of life in Saratov. A very old house, right next door a brand new house and the Soviet era partmenthouse in the background!
Like all Orthodox Churches the interior is richly and beautifully ornamented. I will let your mind's eye form the impression that my words can not adequately describe.