This fog thing certainly has changed things with the tour. We have had to miss out on two ports and gained one. It is quite cold without wind. When the fog lifts, we move towards Saint Petersburg along the Svir Waterway, a canal between Lake Onega and Lake Ladoga.
We are two hours behind our original schedule for today so the program is moved around a little. The judging of the matryoshka doll painting continues for the full day. During the ‘Round Table Discussion’ many questions are asked of the Cruise Director and Scenic Ambassadors about how the political changes over the years have affected their lives. We are told that they have free speech and that there vote is counted, but it’s the way the votes are counted that matters to the ‘elected’ party on the day. Each of them has had good university education and some have been to USA for additional university education. To help fill in the time, we have ‘port talks’ for both Mandrogi and Saint Petersburg.
We arrive at the little village of Mandrogi at 2:00pm and, after being divided up into three groups, make our way to separate eating houses to experience local food and eating/drinking customs. Much vodka is consumed as people think of different things to ‘drink’ to; our health, our travels, our families, our parents, our … our … anything to get another swig of vodka. Us tee-totalers can tell some are taking in full glasses of vodka when ‘short’ glasses would pass the ‘enough’ stage. We are not sure they will make it back to the ship after lunch.
Mandrogi is a sort of holiday rest location with water sports on the canal. The houses are a large log cabin well done up, both inside and outside, and very warm. The first course includes some ‘hot’ cabbage. Lyn leaves that to the side of the plate. The second course is beetroot soup. I find it rather good and, of course, warming. There is also a main course – steamed rice and pork. I get through the rice and leave the pork on a stick thingo. We are entertained by some of the locals with old-age musical instruments. One has a wooden flute and a strumming type of zither. A second has a little bird shaped piece of wood that sounds like a high pitched little bird. Then there is a woman that has a very strong deep-throated singing voice. Without having the berry-pie dessert, I move outside into the misty rain to take video and photos of the Canadian-type landscape.
I check out the gift shops and a few of the other buildings before returning to the ship, not knowing that the departure time has been delayed 30 minutes. Oh well, the cabin is warm and comfortable.
The rest of the afternoon is free time. If you ever come on this cruise, Lyn and I now can say that the panorama room is the way to go. We can see what’s up ahead (during the daytime), and have been able to get some great shots and views. Our journey takes us into the large Lake Ladoga. Our ship starts to rock and roll a little so Lyn is off to the doctor for a seasickness tablet again.
This evening is the Captain’s Farewell Reception and so all the crew are dressed in white. We have ice-cream cake for dessert – and I get to stay to my three courses maximum this meal without duplication. The entertainment tonight, after the announcement of the winner for the ‘painted doll’ competition is completed, is a surprise package. There has been a ‘Russian Choir’ formed from the language sessions and they sing a few new songs to us – with some Russian folk dancing thrown in. The hotel staff often find things that travellers leave behind after the cruise. Our hotel manager reads out a ‘left behind’ diary. Oh the stories people write about on a cruise is mind-boggling, and when people get tipsy, they laugh at anything, and the rolling movement of the ship accentuates their belief that they are going to have a late breakfast tomorrow.
Lyn and I ‘retire’ at 10:30pm to watch some TV before dozing off.