The Golden Ring: Vladimir, Yerev-Polsky, Suzdal
September 18, 2011
Dear Family and Friends
Vladimir Vladimirovich was my driver In Vladimir. He spoke not one word of English. Somehow we managed to communicate.
Vladimir Vladimirovich and I scanned my map of “Russia’s Heritage Cities.” We decided on a circular clockwise route: Vladimir, Yerev-Polskoy, Suzdal, Bogolyubovo, and back to Vladimir.
The Heritage Cities are best known as “The Golden Ring.” North and east around Moscow are more than a dozen ancient cities with unique Russian architecture dating back to the 12th to 17th Centuries.
Vladimir Vladimirovich picked me up at 09:00 at the Monomakh Hotel (named for Grand Prince Vladimir Monomakh (1053-1125). Vladimir sped through the green-to-slightly-golden countryside. The towns were lovely. Monasteries, cathedrals, churches, markets, private homes and small shops called супермаркеты were the stops for the day.
The highlights of Yerev-Polskoy were the 12th Century ramparts and gardens of Saint George’s Church. Suzdal was the most popular destination. Carloads of day-trippers and weekenders from Moscow cruised the market in the central plaza to buy trinkets, souvenirs, assorted tchotchkes and bottles of the local honey. They hired buggies and horses. Along with them, I strolled to the cathedral complex at the edge of town.
I decided to stay an extra day in Vladimir. But my hotel had no room for me, so the next morning, Vladimir Vladimirovich picked me up and drove me to my new hotel. The name of the hotel? You guessed it: … владимир!
Vladimir is my kind of town. Small enough to wander. Large enough for many colorful sights. The highlight was my evening stroll. The historical buildings were all lit up, just for me, on my birthday.
In Vladimir, singing “Happy Birthday to You” to myself, from time to time during the day,
PS My dear New York friends: “Tchotchkes” is actually a Ukrainian-Slavic word meaning toys. I looked it up.
PPS In Suzdal I also bought a tchotchke. A tiny blue music box with photos of the main attractions. Turn the crank handle to play Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Vladimir Vladimirovich inspected my music box. On the back he read the small Cyrillic lettering. Vladimir declared, “Made in China!”