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The road skirts the border of a lake so pure that motorboats are forbidden. Emerging from the mist on the far shore is the Monastery of Krillo- Belozersky. If we hadn’t been told, we would have assumed it was another kremlin – a fortress. Two kilometers of 7 meter thick walls enclose what was once home to 900 monks, and one of the largest monasteries in Europe.
Its beginnings were humble, a cave dug by two monks in 1397. By the end of the 17th century, the complex consisted of two monasteries (one dedicated to the Assumption, one to St. John), 11 churches and a huge library. Ivan the Terrible kept a cell here, but gave up his plans to become a monk, castigating the inhabitants for their high living.
The Soviets shut it down in 1924, arresting and/or executing the monks, and turning the complex into a museum. The monks are back, 50 or so, but most of the complex remains a museum under extensive restoration.
Next, on to the local high school where our 9th grade guide describes the school’s program in very good English, after which we are entertained by two students singing Russian folk songs. Jeans clad students racing through the halls, cell phones glued to their ears, would fit in anywhere.
The climax of our day is an introduction to Russian Vodka. There are six intimidating glasses waiting for us at our places, with vodka-friendly pickles and other snacks on the table to help absorb the alcohol.
IMG_1379Thumb on bottom of glass, first finger on top, holding the glass in the crook of your arm, and – best of all – the vodka waterfall – demonstrated in this video – two shot glasses, one draining into the other.
Don’t try this unless you’re in Russia!