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St. Basel’s Cathedral


This is such an amazing building. It looks even more fantastical in real life. Don’t look to closely at me. It’s been a wild ride and the temperature inside our plane today must have been near 80 degrees. It took us over 6 hours to get from Ulan Ude to Moscow.

We look ragged and I think we all smell terrible, but maybe everyone else will stay away from us on the flights home tomorrow. I am really looking forward to going through the rest of my photos and writing more as the summer progresses and I can process the multitude of things I have learned on this trip. It has been life-changing for me. I will never look at the world in the same way.

I hope all of you get to take a trip like this in your lifetime. One that surprises you in beautiful and profound ways, that changes your mind and your spirit, expands your view of the world and helps you to see more than you did before. It’s the best kind of education.




This is from another station, positioned at the end of the corridor that runs through the center of the station. Trains come and go on either side.


Metro Soviet Art


The Moscow Metro Stations are kind of amazing. It rained here and ruined our shopping time, so we went underground and checked out some of the more decorated stations. The Metro system here is an enormous achievement. Construction began in 1935 and the first lines opened in 1938. The artwork in some of the stations reflects communist achievements and served as propaganda in the city. Millions of people ride on this well-developed, clean and safe system everyday. Some of the cars are quite old, but they are fast and frequent. Cars arrived within 2-3 minutes here on a Sunday afternoon. Pretty incredible.


Cosmonaut Mosaic, Ulan Ude Airport


This was what we saw when we went to board the plane to Moscow this morning. Super duper!

AP Scores

I am spending one last night in Russia, in Moscow and I am starting to get emails about AP Scores. If you get your scores, please email me at my school email address and let me know how you did. I won’t be able to see your scores until Thursday or Friday.



Old Believers Lunch


These wonderful people fed us like we were royalty. We started with solyanka, a traditional Russian soup, bread, cabbage soup, tomatoes with cheese and garlic, homemade rolls with the most delicious filling, homemade bread with currant jam that was to die for, and smoked fish.

Then they brought out mashed potatoes and meatballs, followed by an unbelievable roasted chicken with rice. Finally we were served these doughnut-type things that we put the currant jam on and I ate until I thought I might burst. It was by far the best meal we have enjoyed during our time here.

After the meal, we went outside and they sang us traditional songs and showed us how the marriage rites were conducted, by “marrying” two of the lovely people in our group. Then we sang them a traditional Russian song we learned on the bus ride out to the village. (We were terrible singers.) Then we sang a short version of “American Pie” and we laughed and talked until it was time to leave. None of us were ready to leave, by the way. It was a perfect day.


Old Believers


So, here is your history lesson for the day. The Old Believers is a term used to describe a group of people who, for various reasons disagreed with Patriarch Nikon (no, I am not making that up) around 1666, as he was advocating reforms that would bring Russian Orthodox practices into line with Greek Orthodox practices. Some of these reforms seem fairly insignificant, like how to hold your fingers when you cross yourself. However, there were also other social and political issues involved. Some of these people who objected to the reforms were also suspicious of state control over religion and Czar Alexis I supported the Patriarch in his reform efforts. Eventually, the Old Believers came under such persecution that many of them left Russia for Poland and Ukraine, where they lived for years. Others continued to live in Russia and were eventually exiled to Siberia, where they were forced to live in this harsh environment. They were forced to wear their traditional clothes as further punishment and to help identify them to others. These people were considered to be dangerous and powerful to the religious and political structures of their time. Many of them fled on their own, as far afield as Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and even Australia. Most of them wanted to isolate themselves and to preserve their religion and heritage, so they did not seek to integrate into the societies into which they moved.

Thus concludes your brief history lesson of the day. I hope you enjoyed it. I will show you the videos when we get together. I hope you will not find them too boring. In the meantime, here is a photo someone else took of the “marriage” they conducted today of the 2 30 year old single people of our group. This was after a long lunch of some of the finest food I have ever eaten. It was the best meal I have had on this trip and was followed by some of the Old Believers singing their traditional songs and acting out a “marriage” of 2 of the people in our group. We finished by singing a terrible, horrible version of a traditional Russian folk song we learned on the way there and a short version of “American Pie”. It was altogether lovely.