Mandroga--July 28, 2005--Locks, Crafts, Vodka Museum, Concert
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During the night, we crossed the largest lake in Europe, Lake Ladoga. In the morning, we viewed our first lock on the Svir River. This was one of about 15 locks we would encounter on the journey, the deepest of which was 54 feet.
Eventually, we arrived at the small village of Mandroga which is a town of about fifty persons specializing in Russian handicrafts. These were the most beautiful crafts we would see on the cruise and some had prices to match. We toured the village for a couple of hours looking at the various craftpersons creating their objects. The Matryoshka Dolls (nesting one inside the next in seemingly endless layers) were especially nice here (298). We took a photo of two cute kids who live in Mandroga (299) and saw that even the children were put to work in a children's section of the craft area (307-308). We never did figure out the two helicopters (296) in town but they did not appear air-worthy.
The town boasts a vodka museum and shop (more shop than museum-311-313) which has 2,636 kinds of vodka of which a few were sampled. Vodka is ubiquitous in Russia. The ship served it with breakfast juice and, as we left the ship on the final day, a bottle of vodka was at the gangplank with a sign, "One for the Road."
Our final event in Mandroga was a delightful picnic lunch put on jointly by the town and the ship's crew in a large tent, accompanied by some fine Russian music.
Once back on the ship, we viewed some of the ship's musicians in an after- dinner show (314-318). The musicians were very good; all had other jobs on the ship in addition to performing.
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