A luxury ship to Solovki

st-john-of-kronstadtst-john-of-kronstadt_shipThere is something incongruous, if anybody cares about my opinion, about a luxury cruise to a place of prayer. But I’m not here to influct my opinion to would be travellers to Russia, or else would lose even that small trickle of clients that keeps me afloat. solovkiI’m here to share the good news that a luxury liner recently renamed St. John of Kronshtadt after a fin de siecle religious figure who, among other things, strongly advocated ascetic practices will be crusing between Akrhangelsk and Solovki.  Before it was called Belinsky (a literary critic) and Shlisselburg (a fortress and a political prison at the mouth of River Neva, 30km west from St. Petersburg). Starting June 2014, Belinsky-Shlisselburg-St.John will be leaving Arkhangelsk every Tuesday and Friday. For details see www.solovkicruise.ru (link down as of April 3 2015).

Kem’ was a bit too much even for Pasha, our connoisseur of gloom

kemA town in Karelia, on the White Sea, about halfway between Medvezhyegorsk (“Bear Mountain”) and Kandalaksha, 15km off the main highway. Populaton ~30 th. Any train to Murmansk will go through Kem’. About 32 hours from Moscow, 25 from Saint-Petersburg, and 2-3 from Kandalaksha.

Visit Kem’ if you are interested either in the Pomors (an ethnic or cultural group, a subset of Russians), or the history of Gulag. A boat to the Island of Solovki – a popular destination among the Orthodox Russians because of the Solovetski monastery – leaves from the Kem’ port.

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