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Russian guests visit Plymouth — with Нина Иванова, Elena Shtanova, Natasha Solovyeva, Юлия Самсоненко and Peter Barker at Smeaton's Tower Russian Guest with Dartmoor Pony — with Natasha Solovyeva at Haytor (Dartmoor) Спасский Монастырь, Ярославль / Spassky (St Saviour) Monastery, Yaroslavl, Central Russia Kremlin, Rostov / Ростовский Кремль



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Visit to Yaroslavl: 21 – 30 May 2017


Ours was a large group – 12 people – some “Old Hands” and others going for the first time. We enjoyed a varied and interesting programme put together with enthusiasm and commitment and as always with YEFS, delivered with great good will.


Monday 22nd May: A warm Welcome. Церковь Рождества Христова, ул. Кедрова, Ярославль, Россия / Church of the Nativity, Kedrova Street, Yaroslavl, Russia The Welcome Party on the evening of our first full day came after a tour of the City. This tour happened either side of a visit to the Museum of Time and Music where we were entertained by bell-ringing, listening to various musical boxes and gramaphones as well as seeing some wonderful old clocks.

At the Welcome Party we met many old friends from previous visits. We were entertained by Students from the University and this was followed by a delicious meal. Peter and Irena said a few words and Irena showed some photos of Tatiana Kasatkina as a tribute to one of the founders of our Twinning who had done so much for us in order to make it such a strong and successful Organisation.


Tuesday 23rd May: The day started with a tour of the Icon Museum, where we learned the meaning of the hand gestures etc. And admired the pictures. Afterwards we visited the Icon Restoration rooms and appreciated the delicate work and technical skill involved.

Later in the morning we boarded a boat bound for Tolga Monastery. It felt rather cold on the water. We enjoyed the journey with our boat stopping off from time to time on either side of the river to take on or drop off passengers.There were occasional Dachas to be seen along the way.

At Tolga the gardens were colourful with borders of Spring Flowers and the Monastery impressive – white with colourful domes.

We women were instructed to wear wrap-around skirts and head-scarves during our visit. We visited the Chapel containing a special Icon relating to the founding of the Monastery. Later Zoya gave us a brief history of Tolga, to the accompaniment of various large and noisy tractors. (She was not put off!)


Wednesday 24th May: Evgeni Shibaev, Mayor of a small town on the outside Yaroslavl, took us on a tour of a large modern complex that uses the hydroponick method to grow vegetables. We wore special coats and hats for hygeine and toured around these enormous “Greenhouses” where tomatoes, courgettes and many other vegetables were grown.

Young dancers entertain us on our visit to Dubki School — in Yaroslavl

After this, we visited the local school where the children put on a display of singing and dancing – I was particularly moved by a young girl who sang about her hopes for a peaceful world.

After lunch at the Sobranie Restaurant, it was time to visit the Photographic Exhibition. There among other speeches Marija, Photographer from Exeter and a member of our Group, and Alexei, Photographer from Yaroslavl spoke as well. Marija was exhibiting photos of Yaroslavl region and Alexei had taken photos of Exeter and Devon. It was wonderful to experience the birth of another link between our two Cities.

The photographs typical of our two regions and Alexei commented that he had fallen in love with Devon!


Thursday 25th May: A bright but cloudy morning and sure enough it started to rain when we arrived at Vyatskoe – a small museum town. So Zoya, ever resourceful, suggested we start by visiting the church. We then walked through the town and at the bridge saw people tending their vegetable plots. A small river was banked by green and on one side there were small wooden huts which turned out to be saunas. Zoya gave us pickled Cucumbers to go with our picnic. Vyatskoe is famous for these. Zoya explained to us that a rich man has invested in this town which altho’ you feel you are going back in time when visiting, functions as a modern town with school etc.

The day ended with a Concert featuring Sibelius, Grieg and Cakes – who could ask for more!


Friday 26th May: An early start for our trip to Moscow with Irena, Marina and Zoya being our Guides. It was a 3-hour trip and we arrived in Moscow to a hot and sunny day. Our Guides skilfully steered us through the Metro to Lubyanka. We walked through the City stopping at the Forecourt of the famous Bolshoy Theatre. Moscow was looking pretty with flowers and many grand buildings.

Our group in Moscow — with Marina Kofanova, Rita Watson and Irina Peneva at Большой театр России / Bolshoi Theatre of Russia.

We visited the famous shopping mall, GUM (Глáвный универсáльный магазѝн– literally meaning “main universal store”) and were impressed by the Food Hall which by this time was making us feel hungry. Zoya did warn us that, should we be tempted to buy anything, to bear in mind that the prices might be per 100 g rather than kg!!! We had lunch in a Soviet style restaurant located in GUM and afterwards found ourselves in Red Square, an enormous expanse with the gaudy and wonderful St Basils at the end. Of course, Red Square was not red at all – in Russian it is called Красная площадь the Russian word красная meaning both "red" and "beautiful” – so it could also be translated as Beautiful Square! We had a wander around and then it was time to make way towards the Kremlin, on the way admiring a statue of Marshal Zukov and the Changing of the Guard at the tomb of the Unknown Worrier

The Kremlin – Vast Red Walls and inside two Cathedrals with golden domes sparkling in the sunshine, the Czar Bell with its enormous broken off fragment and the Scar Cannon. The Kremlin is set on a hill, high above the City and is the Official Residence of the President. It was awe-inspiring. The building are set in beautiful formal gardens where the tulips were standing to attention, like soldiers.

Back in the City, had a refreshing cup of tea before starting back for Yaroslavl. A lovely sunset on the way back and Marina, Bethany and I enjoyed a drink in the Dining Car! We were very efficiently cared for by our Guides who had prepared carefully for this visit.


Saturday 27th May: The 1007th Birthday of Yaroslavl. Peter and three of us Committee Members attended a Reception at the Mayor’s Office. There were many speeches and awarding of medals and prizes. The Head of the Chinese Delegation gave the Mayor a gift of Ivory!

День города / City Day - Photographer Marija Lees — at Советская Площадь, Г. Ярославль

After the reception we went to the new Aqua Spa for refreshments then on to the embankment where we watched a flypast by Jets – dramatic!

We were joined by the Group at Sovietskaya Square for a magnificent display of dancing and celebration. Among the VIPs was Tereshkova, first woman Astronaut, who was born in Yaroslavl.


Sunday 28th May:This was a free day which was spent with hosts or friends.


Monday 29th May: Our Last Day. The morning was free. At 3.30 we met at Exeter House for the annual prizegiving for children who have taken part in a contest writing in English. Peter handed out prizes and certificates and then we mingled with the children, parents and teachers. We found the children were very competent in English and quite confident about coming to speak to us.

An early-evening Farewell Party at a pub which was a very jolly occasion. Many toasts and Zoya encouraged us to sing all the old favourite Russian songs. Lastly, our group sang Widecombe Fare with Pete taking the part of the Old Grey Mare!

An early night as we had an extremely early start the next morning – 4 a.m.


The Yaroslavl Friendship Society should be congratulated on a very successful visit and new members got an experience of wonderful Russian Hospitality!


Angela Samuel and Marija Lees (Who supplied the День города / City Day photograph)


More photographs from the visit as well as other events here