We awoke this morning in St. Petersburg for our final morning there. So many of the participants commented on how they had come to feel quite safe to go out on their own in St. Petersburg; so many had spent a portion of yesterday exploring side streets, finding new churches, having a drink in a streetside cafe, or just walking in along the main drag: Nevsky Prospect.
So it was a little bittersweet as we made ready to leave this amazing city. We visited the Peter the Great statue on the banks of the Neva River first thing, and then toured the Peter Paul Fortress where we saw firsthand the resting place of all the Tsars including and after Peter the Great. Then one final walk out to the Neva from the fort, and a chance to gaze out on the Winter Palace, before we left for the afternoon train to Moscow.
The train was a hit! It was fast, smooth, and the large windows allowed us to see the landscape between these two great cities. Some dozed on and off, others visited as friendships deepened, and still others read or listed to audio books. We arrived in Moscow by early evening, had supper, discussed the schedule for the next two days, and a few of us walked down the Boulevard before we turned in the for night.
In some ways Moscow represents so much for people on this tour who grew up to fear this city, to be suspicious of it. But we’re discovering Russians with new eyes. We talked about tomorrow’s visit to the Kremlin and Red Square over supper and the excitement was clearly strong.
Oh, and we have begun each day with a verse that has focused some aspect of the day ahead. They have made it clear that Christ is everywhere for the Orthodox Christians, and that Icons are living breathing testimonies to the divine. One person said today that she knew this was going to be a special trip from the very first morning when we heard the stirring works of the 121st Psalm; one of her favourites. “I lift up mine eyes to the hills, from whence comes my salvation? My salvation comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and Earth.”
— Leonard Friesen