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Footsteps of the Cossacks

Viking River Cruise Lines

August 5 - 20, 2006

This travel adventure began with a drive to Syracuse to catch a

Jet Blue flight to JFK airport.  My flight to Vienna and on to Kiev left at 6:05 pm. 

I arrived in Kiev in the early afternoon and transferred directly to the river cruise shown above. 

The part of my first day in Kiev was spent in settling into my cabin

that will be my home for the next two weeks.  There was time to sightsee before dinner. 

The M/S Lavrinenkov docked at Kiev. 

Walking along the river, I noticed a lot of river traffic

along with sun bathers on the opposite shore.

Standing in front of the St Nicholas Naberezhny memorial. 

This small church is dedicated to Nicholas Naberezhny (Nicholas by the River),

the patron saint of sailors and others journeying along the river to do business. 

It is a beautiful small chapel.

A World War II memorial near where my ship was docked..

A newly married couple arrive at the harbor to go to their wedding

reception on one of the many river boats.  There were many weddings

occurring on this Sunday in Kiev.

You could see the Friendship of Nations Monument from the harbor. 

This dull metal parabola arch is part of the monument celebrating the 1654 unification of

Russia and Ukraine. 

It is also called the "Rainbow Arch".

Upon returning to the river cruiser, I was greeted by the lovely crew members. 

They were serving the traditional native bread and salt along with a drink of

iced tea when passengers entered the ship. 

It was fun to be welcomed on board.

Sunset over the Dneiper River.  Thus ended my first day in Kiev.

Monday morning found our tour group off to see the city of Kiev. 

Our first stop was at St. Andrew's Church. 

One of the many street sweepers in Kiev doing their job early this morning. 

Note the broom made from twigs.

The monument to Bogdan Khmelnytskiy found in St. Sophia Square.

The reconstruction of St. Michael's Zlatoverkhy Cathedral near St. Sophia Cathedral.

New that looks old!  Much of Kiev has been destroyed during World War II. 

This is a reconstructed building that is made  to look like old Kiev structures.

The entrance to St. Sophia Cathedral. 

St. Sophia's with some of its thirteen spires, the cathedral was built in 1037. 

The dark spots show some of the early construction of the cathedral.

Leaving St. Sophia's with St. Michael's (built in 1108) in the background. 

 It was a beautiful morning in Kiev. 

The European Square with the Ukraine Culture Center on one side. 

This is the former Lenin's museum.

After our morning tour we returned to our ship for lunch and then it was off to the

Cathedral of Dormition.  

Above is the entrance to the Cathedral.

The Great Bell  Tower at Kiev-Pechersk on the grounds of the Cave's Monastery.

One of the several buildings on the grounds of the Monastery. 

There were many gold domes on the building in the monastery.

 

More beautiful gold domes.

The monument to the defense of the Motherland as seen from the Cave Monastery. 

The statue is also know as the "Steel Wrench".

We are on our way to the Near Caves which is an underground subterranean labyrinth which

holds mummies of monks who lived there in ancient times.

This stop ended my first full day in Kiev.  We set sail at 6 p.m. for our next port of call. 

Kiev is a beautiful and interesting city.

Tuesday dawned with clouds in the sky and the Viking Lavrinenkov

sailing along the Dneiper toward our first river lock.

The Kanev Lock with a height of 12.5 meters.

The Kanev  Lock preparing to opening to let us out.

Sailing out of the Kanev Lock.  Down river here we come!

 Next we passed under the Cherkassy Bridge, the lowest one on the Dneiper River.

One of the many river channel markers that have become nesting grounds for river fowl.

Entering our next lock, Kremenchug Lock with at height of 15 meters.

Kremenchug opening to let our river cruiser out. 

We are passing under the Kremenchug Railway bridge. 

It is one of the oldest on the river, built in 1876, and is unique  since the

center portion of the bridge is lifted up to allow passage of our cruiser. 

Later in the evening we will pass through the

Dneprodzerzhinsk Lock with a height of 12.6 meters. 

Our day of river cruising ended with a beautiful sunset.

On Wednesday, August 9, we docked at Dnepropetrovsk for a short stay. 

We had a traditional city bus tour.  This city was founded in 1787 and became a very

important industrial city.  Missiles were produced here in the days of the

Soviet regime and the city was one of the many closed cities of the country. 

Our first stop of the city tour was at the  Yavornytsky History Museum. 

There were many interesting exhibits of the history of the Ukraine.

Adjoining the History Museum was the World War II Museum. 

The tank and rockets above were on display in the museum courtyard.

Nearby was the beautiful Church of the Transfiguration. 

A classic structure dating from  1830 - 1835.

Our next stop on our walking tour was at the Potyomkin (Potemkin) Palace. 

Our last stop on the tour was at the World War II Monument above the city. 

From this park we returned to the ship and sailed on to our

next port of call at 1 p.m.

On Thursday, August 10, we continued our sail down the Dneiper river. 

The Lavrinenkov arrived in Nova Kahovka at 2:00 p.m. for a

brief two hour port visit. 

During our visit to we were treated to a native student performance

of folk songs and dance.  Above is the local cultural center

where the performance was held.

Upon returning to the ship, I had an opportunity to take several photos of our ship. 

In this one kids are fishing for their supper.

During our afternoon sail we pass through the lock of

Kakhovka which has a height of 14 meters.

August 11, found our cruise ship arriving at Odessa, our first

Black Sea port of call.  We began the day with a traditional city tour. 

There were many interesting sights in this older Ukrainian city.

Arriving at the port of Odessa.

Memorial to unknown soldiers.

School students served as the honor guard for the memorial.

The colonnade in front of Vorontsov Palace over looking the Odessa  harbor.

Checking out the old artillery cannon in downtown Odessa.

The Archaeology Museum.  They had a life sized mannequin of Peter the Great

on the front porch of the building.  He was one big man!  It was a

favorite photo opportunity spot.

My new Cossack friend.  Neat costume!  Two bucks a pose.

 

The Potiomkinskaya (Potemkin Steps) Staircase leads from the harbor to

Prymorsakya Boulevard in downtown Odessa. 

This evening I attended a delightful Chamber Orchestra of Odessa concert at the

Special Music School.  It featured the Chamber Orchestra and Soloists

of the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater.

We sailed into the Black Sea at 10:00 p.m.  The sea was a

little choppy as we cruised along.

Saturday morning dawned clear and bright with some swells rocking the

M/S Lavrinenkov.  We are sailing to Sevastopol for at  3:00 p.m. arrival.

As we sailed into Sevastopol harbor we were greeted by many interesting sights. 

This photo is of a World War II memorial on the edge of the harbor.

This is a memorial statue to the World War II Russian sailors who fought in the Black Sea area.

A brass band greeted our ship as we disembarked for our city tour of Sevastopol.

Our first stop was on a hill overlooking Sevastopol where

Lenin's monument was located. 

His pose is typical of all Lenin statues.

The artillery battery that protected Sevastopol during the Crimean and World Wars.

A monument to World War II female pilots who fought in the Russian air force.

After dinner I attended a concert of the "Black Sea Fleet Band." 

The program was most robust and included dancing and singing to typical Russian music.

The next morning we had an included tour to Bakhchissarai. 

We toured the local Khan Palace.

The ornate entrance to the palace.

The royal divan used by the Khan as part of his Harem chambers.

The Fountain of Tears glorified by A. S. Pushkin. 

The bust at the left is of Iranian sculptor, architect and painter Orner. 

This morning long tour ended with a chance for some shopping at the local small sales stalls.

It was back to the ship for lunch and an afternoon optional tour. 

The first stop of the afternoon tour was at the Sevastopol Panorama Museum. 

This museum featured a huge panorama showing the "Defense of Sevastopol, 1854-1855." 

It was extremely lifelike and had excellent detail.  The artist who painted the panorama was

Franz Alekseevich Roubaud (1856-1928).

Boats in the harbor at Balaklava.  We walked along the harbor promenade. 

The British navy made the harbor at Balaklava their base during the Crimean War. 

Many sailors died from the cold weather during the winter of 1854.

There is little if any reference in town to the war today.

The field where the Battle of the Light Brigade occurred. 

This battle site northwest of Balaklava saw the start of hostilities on October 25, 1854.    

Later Lord Alfred Tennyson would immortalize the battle with his poem,

"The Charge of the Light Brigade." 

The "Valley of Death" shown above is now this vineyard.

On the way back to the ship we passed the North Bay shipyard. 

If you look closely in the middle of this photo you will see a Russian sub. 

We had  sailed overnight to Yalta in the Crimea.  On Monday, the 14th,

we  started another cruise day with included city tour. 

This beautiful city greeted us with hazy skies and the promise of hot weather. 

Upon arrival at Yalta we were met at the dock by a local brass band. 

They were very good and made the day start off with a stirring march.

The Swan's Nest, the architectural  emblem of  Crimea. 

It is closed because of the need for repairs.

Our next stop was at Livadia Palace which is also known as the "White Palace.". 

This Palace was the summer residence of Emperor Nicholas II. 

In 1945, the Palace served as the site of the Yalta Conference attended by

American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill

and Soviet Leader Josef Stalin. 

Standing at Winston Churchill's seat at the round conference table.

The conference banquet table in the background.

The "signing table" where all three leaders signed the conference final document. 

This table at the conference time was in the billiards room of the Palace.

On Tuesday morning, August 15th we were off on an optional excursion to

visit the famous Alupka Palace.  Our bus left at 8:30 a.m. and promptly got lost,

so a 20 minute bus ride lasted an hour and ten minutes. 

We arrived at the Palace late and were met by a large group of sightseers. 

This the north entrance to the Palace. 

We were allowed to jump to the head of the line.

This is the room that Prime Minister Winston Churchill used as a

bedroom when attending the 1945 Yalta Conference.  It was heavily bugged by

the Russians as were FDR's rooms at the White Palace.

This was the perfect way to greet visitors, keep a cannon on the front porch!

The south entrance to the Palace.

This fierce, majestic lions guarded the south entrance. 

The entrance looked out on to the Black Sea. 

Fortunately we made it back to the ship without mishap but we were late for lunch. 

That is something you do not do to hungry travelers!

At four p.m. we sailed away from Yalta to begin our return trip to Kiev. 

This is a last look at the light house that guards Yalta harbor as we sail away. 

Yalta was a jumping summer resort.  Beautiful beaches and resorts. 

On Wednesday the 16th, we sailed on the Black Sea to the mouth of the Dneiper River. 

We stopped at 2 p.m. in the middle of the river near Kherson for an excursion to Fish Island. 

This is the boat we transferred to for a 45 minute ride to the island. 

 

 

Upon our arrival on the island the tour group was divided up for visits

to nearby farm houses for light refreshments which included "home brew" vodka. 

Then back to the river side for shopping at small stalls set up for our visit. 

All sorts of items were for sale including fur hats, lace and handicraft items. 

After a stay of over an hour, we returned to the boat. Then we had a long and

very hot ride back to the Lavrinenkov which had sailed further up river. 

This was a classic tour stop to kill of time.  It was a very uncomfortable excursion!

After returning to our river cruiser we set sail for an overnight cruise to Zaporozhe. 

Above is a picture of the busy harbor at Kherson.

It was a very warm day and many people were enjoying a swim in the Dnieper.

Our day of sailing ended with a beautiful Ukrainian sunset.

August 17th found the Lavrinenkov sailing north toward Kiev. 

At 2:00 p.m. our river cruiser docked at Zaporozhye.  We passed through the lock of Zaporozhye before docking. 

The height of the lock was 37.4 meters. 

After docking we ventured off ship for an excursion that took us to the

Cossack Museum and then to the island of Khortitsa for a Cossack Horse Performance. 

In the background you can see a major dam and hydro-electric

project that helps to control the river at this point.

One of several large murals found in the Cossack Museum. 

This diorama depicted a battle in the Ukraine during World War II.

Here come the Cossack horsemen!

Many riding tricks were performed. 

The Cossack Horsemen also performed native dances as part of the show. 

After the Cossack show we returned to the ship and set sail for Kiev.

As we sailed through another lock, I saw great amounts of algae in the river. 

The picture above shows the concentration to the slimy stuff just above the lock.

The water was green in color from the algae in the river. 

People were swimming in the river was we cruiser northward.

This beautiful sunset brought our day of travel to an end.

Friday the 18th, was our last day of river cruising as we neared Kiev. 

The two weeks of cruising and sightseeing has gone past very fast.  

On Saturday morning, as we sailed into Kiev, where we were met by a

view of the Cathedral of Dormition with its gold domes sparkling in the morning sunlight.

Our trip ended after a day of city excursions and a classical music

concert at St. Sophia's.  It was a fitting end to a wonderful

two week cruise on the Dneiper River.