One week's travel in March

"I don't seek any adventures...
 They find me all the time!"

Part one (as drama)

I had little trip in the end of March. So I met my 55th birthday. It was first time when I met this day far from home. Of course, exclude army service. But it was too many years ago. End of the March isn't better time for travels around South of Russian North but I never was there in that time, which is named as inter-season period. So, I want to get a new impressions. Another cause was I had to repair my car.  Problem with the car began in July of 2011 and continued anyway since nowaday.  I repair my car now in Kostroma town now. May be it looks some strange to drive for repair three hundred kilometres but I find several causes to do it.  Firstly, I have patronage from my mates  to make repair there and I sure that all work will be made good. Secondly, the prices there lower that one in Moscow, sometimes very considerably. Thirdly, I can make a little travels and visit sights of Kostroma and nearest places. And time for routine maintenance just came - my car run about 60.000 km (routine maintenances of such cars are made each 10.000 km). 
   I made the plan of the travel, reserved housing and counted expenses. First part of the travel I planed to spent in Vologda region. I want visit Totma town and village Sizma and then drive to Kostroma. First day I planed to stay my car into workshop for maintenance and repair and to have a great walking around the town. Then I planed two days for two trips - to town Ples in Ivanovo region and ring route Kostroma - Gavrilov-Yam - Pistsovo - Nerehta - Kostroma. Ples is very famous and beautiful little town on the river Volga. Its population doubles due to huge amount of tourists in summer season and during holidays. During driving around ring route I wanted  to visit museum of coachman and to know if road between Pistsovo (Ivanovo region) and Nerehta (Kostroma region) is passable for cars. Final part of travel consisted of two trips. First trip was to Suzdal and last day I planed to visit natural fountain near Sudogda town and then return home.   
   So, I took seven days' vacation, visited all my extra jobs, collected all things needed for travel and decided to check my car. And I was very amazed when found layer of oil into
coolant tank. So, I had to change my plans and decided to drive to Kostroma town firstly. Also I was afraid that I wouldn't reach Kostroma by own car wheels. Last evening before departure was dedicated searching telephones of  car-wreckers in the towns along the way to Kostroma. By the way, cost of car-wrecker From Moscow to Kostroma would be about 10.000 roubles. And all cost of eight-days travel was about 30.000 by two persons (15.000 from each person). So, you can understand how I felt myself in the beginning of travel.
   My travel began on March 24th early at the morning. I waked up at three o'clock and started at a quater to four. I went to Moscow and "took aboard" my friend. Then we started to Kostroma. Firstly I was very nervous and counted the passable kilometers. When I reached Pereslavl (about 130 km from Moscow) I had felt better myself. Now cost of car-wrecker was only about six thousands roubles. My mood was becoming better with each passable kilometer since that moment. At last, we reached Kostroma and had arrived to workshop. Coolant tank was full with oil yet and mechanic called master and showed him tank. Then they significantly exchanged glances. And I stayed car into workshop till next day and went to see sights of Kostroma with the friend.

We went to see female monastery in the center of town but could visited only it church. Exit to internal part was closed. Then we went to bank of Volga and had walked along quay and saw the old town gates. Then we rose along the street with wonderful name "Milky mountain" with the monument of Ivan Susanin at it end.

Also we had a walk along center and went to have a dinner in the cafe "Horns and hoofs" (named from two satiric novels of Ilf and Petrov - "Twelve chairs" and "Gold calf" ) with heroes of novels into show-windows. Then we went to rented flat, visited supermarket and prepared supper. Then master called and said that repair I had last summer in Kandalaksha was very bad. Then he promised that their repair would be better.
Next morning I took my car from workshop and cost of repair suited me, though it was a little more then I want.
   Well, work was serious and mechanic ended it near midnight. Master said me that I have to change antifreeze after next two thousands kilometers. But we had to meet earlier. But then I didn't yet know about it and we started to Vologda. We chose alternative road and drove no quickly along it. There were several interesting names of villages and towns. How you like names "Red Elephant" or "Mikhail Archangel"? We arrived to Vologda about 8 p.m. and went to the rented flat near the center of town. We had supper and go to bed.
  Next morning was my birthday. The nice gift had waited for me after I woke up. It was new seven inches' navigator we immediately tested. We started to Totma town and it was leading us through the town along route I knew well. Navigator wasn't mistaken never! Day was sunny and cool and we enjoyed the road and weather. Adventures had began later. When I stopped at the turn to Totma I had seen that steam rose above front of car. When I had a look to engine I had seen that one of the hoses of injector tore. I cut off edge of hose with a knife and fixed it on its place. Hose tore again in the same place after I drove about 100 km. I repeated operation and then because hose became very short - my first aim became any car-workshop in Totma. We arrived there soon and found workshop. I asked mechanic for replacing hose and he agreed. We stayed on open air and mechanic appeared soon and told that can't replace a hose because the car has the injector engine. He took a piece of new hose and connected it to old one via the brass pipe. Then we started to visit Sailors' Museum,

a couple of nice churches of Totma and another museum into Spas-Sumorin monastery. Last museum represented funds of storage of various ancient things - distaffs,  boxes made from birch bark, bast shoes, clay pots, etc. There were another objects into monastery walls - nice church repaired outside and absolutely neglected inside,

old tower on the slope, several ruins of unknown buildings and little hotel. We left monastery and I had seen that temperature of engine was growing very fast. I stopped again and saw that old hose tore again and hot antifreeze was watering road and melting snow on the road. And I had to take my knife again...
   Then I had to seek shop where I could buy some antifreeze and after that we had driven to workshop again. My friend told me that would be better to stay in Totma till morning and let mechanic to make repair. I had another opinion. Mechanic refused to change hose again but he offered to connect hoses without strong tightened hose to pipe with loose strap use the glue instead that. Also he rolled up a junction with a soft wire. And we started to Vologda. My friend was very nervous most part of our way to Vologda. But I was quiet for some reason. And that trip ended without any incidents excluded penalty from road police. My friend forgot to fasten a seat belt. And policeman could to see that in the dark through dirty front windshield! There was late when we returned to Vologda. We visited supermarket and bought cake for birthday party. But then we decided to have a party next day when we return to Kostroma.
   So, we drove to Kostroma at the morning. First stop I had to make a photo of monument for Vologda drivers.

I didn't drive too fast but road police stopped me when I forgot about sign 70km/h. I had to leave my car and went towards the road police car across the road. Another car was stopped before my one. It was small lorry, very dirty. And I was amazed when I heard woman's voice into police car. Then I remembered that I must turn off ignition - after all I didn't get rid from cooler problems. I gave my license to policeman and went to my car. When I returned to police car I saw policewoman and heard: "Happy birthday! You can drive again but don't so quickly, please!" It was first time when I could avoid any penalty! Then I returned to police car again and presented our small cake to policemen. Then we returned to Kostroma and mechanic changed hose in fifteen minutes! I liked his work. Also he change faulty cover of a radiator because of which in system of cooling superfluous pressure was created. And we drove to the rented flat where arranged a birthday party.

Part two.

After our returning and the final repair I had decided to change our plans. I chose  not so long way as planed before - I was afraid that some problem with car would appear and it would be better if workshop will be closer, at least in the first part of route. So, we started from Kostroma towards Yaroslavl town. Weather was very good and spring, sun was smiling from sky, sky was deep blue and snow around road shined as silver. My car run fast along road, and I was afraid when I had seen the police car forward on the roadside.
- Oh, I mistook again. There is no police car - only model. But how it looks like real one each time!
We turned to the Gavrilov-Iam soon and had decided to check my new navigator. Firstly we tried to seek Lenin street but "our friend" didn't know such one. Then we chose the Lermontov street. Navigator led us exactly to chosen house but way which it chose was a little strange. It led us along snowy road instead main road with cleared asphalt. I had thought then that was the shortest way.
Then we started to coachman museum which stands on the hill above river. Unfortunately museum was closed and we couldn't find anyone who could help us. We had a walk around museum, which was constructed as van with the couple of big wheels and Pinocchio as a driver.

But we had found local "Paradise" (first letter was lost from word KRAY and it had become word RAY - "PARADISE" on Russian).



   Then we drove to big village Velikoe (Great) - to have a look on the fine local churches

and to make some photographs. We found stand there where we had read about a copy of well-known Lomonosov mosaic "The Poltava fight" would be set here in July 2012. Then we walked around churches which were restored. When we wanted to visit shop with funny name "Ours"

the old man came to me and began to talk about this place. Of course, he wanted to get some money from us but most part of such people consider that it is not good to ask about money at once. I pretended that I want to end this talk  and he asked me at once to give him  five roubles (about 15 cents). Very small sum - you can buy one roll of cheap toilet paper or small cheese cake or one fourth of 1kg bread. I gave him ten roubles. There is an yellow coin 2 cm diameter. Then we visit shop "Ours" and bought a couple of cakes with cabbage and berries and drank tea into our car at the middle of square.
  Then we drove along my route which included new for me and "wild" part between Ivanovo and Kostroma region. I did never drive here previously and only read different responses about it. Somebody wrote that it is very bad road which is suitable only for a tractor, another author said that any car could to drive there. I wanted to see that road by own eyes.
    I found my car was in good shape and was thinking that we could drive along that winter road without any problems. In town Pistsovo, last town before "wild" part, I met the road police car and stopped near to ask about the road.
- Oh, you can. Especially on your car...
- Stop! - I said - When I hear such words I turn back. Please, say me about another cars, not jeeps.
 - We drive there by usual Lada, especially at winter. There is zimnik (winter road) there.
- Thank you.  I'll be sure now.
   Then he talked me how to find beginning of road and we started. Navigator hadn't liked this road and said that we must return and drive excessive hundred of kilometers. It talked about that each five minutes but we drove forward.  
   We drove along fine asphalt road till the border between regions. Then it turn right and our road led forward. That was zimnik. We raised on the hill and stopped here to have a look on the winter landscape which was beautiful  and white under the sunshine and deep-blue sky.

   Road was very good but "our friend" talked and talked about turning back. We continued to go forward and soon had reached village Poemichie where clear water from puddles of melting snow splashed on car glass. We met many young women with baby carriages - may be it was local population boom. Road became more brisk after we left village.

And navigator agreed with that route soon. Then we reached town Nerekhta and drove through it without any stops. We returned to Kostroma by the good asphalt road at the sunset.
   The weather became worse next morning - grey clouds hid sun, cold and wet wind blew. I planned to drive big ring of roads and visit town Ples at the first one third of route. But I bothered about my car yet and decided only visit Ples and spend more time there. Road there was about 70 km, so I didn't hurry up. Sometimes low clouds came down on the road and I had drive through the grey fog. We passed two towns and turned to the road to Ples. "Our friend" was right and had led us to our aim. We drove up then drove down and reached the square near old local mall. We left car there and went hiking into town. 
   Ples town is situated on the Volga river bank. Bank here is high and enough abrupt and has some little rivers and brooks which come to Volga through the ravines between high hills. There are a couple of parts of town which had name "Mountain" - Cathedral Mountain, Levitan's Mountain.
   Firstly we raised onto Cathedral Mountain to look to the town from high place. Yards along street were the abrupt plots with the new houses on it. Each house looked to the river Volga. We decided that those houses are hotels but then we had a talk with local seller into shop and she told as that those houses are summer cottages which were constructed here by rich Muscovites. They are living here at the summer time and the houses are leaving empty in the rest of the time.  But most of the old merchants' houses on the Volga quay are the hotels now. And prices there is too high. However, such beautiful place and great demands allow to make so high prices.
   We walked from house to house and were raising upper and soon had reached street named Descent of the Freedom Mountain where little one-storeyed museums were situated. You could see Museum of Wedding, Museum of Old Russia, etc there. We raised along "Descent" to the top of Cathedral Mountain where Uspenskiy (Assumption) Cathedral and restoring old government building were situated.
   Despite  penetrative cold and wet wind, melted snow under feet and sad gray sky the view to the town from here was splendid.

We spent a long time on the top and walked along all its paths, were looking around - to town and Volga river. 

And then went down along abrupt and narrow street and had returned to our car. Dinner time had come and we started to seek some cafe. But firstly we walked to cat's monument

and had a look to  landing-stages on Volga. Then we had a dinner in the little cafe which was opened.
   After dinner we decided to visit Museum of landscapes. But it was closed to restore for the long time. Well, we had to go to the Levitan's museum, where we spent about a hour to see life of the XIX century and about a dozen of Levitan's and other artists' miniatures. Then we made some photographs with "Datchnitsa" (summer resident).

   Then we raised to the Levitan's Mountain to see wooden church of Resurrection, which was delivered here in 1970th instead church of Piter and Paul which burnt in 1903 . There was long wooden wide ladder from feet to top of mountain. Church was closed and  there were some workers near it who cut trees near church. We went down from mountain and visited another church of St. Varvara. After that we returned to car and drove along embankment with old houses. Good bye, Ples - I'll return here some time! When we arrived Kostroma the snowfall had begun.
   Snow lay around by thick layer at the morning. Winter returned again like beginning of December. I had to make much work to clean my car from heavy wet snow. Then we drove to workshop to change antifreeze. Cars near workshop were covered by a thick snow blanket and snowman - car mechanic met us at the entrance.

   After workshop we went to Suzdal town, where I wasn't never. The road was new for me and I made a couple of photos of interesting names of villages there. Blue Sedge, for example. I have no idea whence such name. I never saw BLUE sedge! 
I didn't hurry up because snow or rain flew from sky. We passed Ivanovo town without difficulties due to help of navigator. Then road had become enough empty and I was  driving in the pleasure and allowed my car to go as it likes.
We couldn't find parking near Kremlin and I had to go for another place. I found parking near some hotel at the Gunners' street. We had to make a long way along wet and dirty streets to Kremlin. In the ticket office we were offered to buy tickets for all sights. I asked that they give us tickets only for those places we would can see at one hour. Female-cashier answered me that we can to see all during only fourty minutes.I didn't belive them and I was right. We needed about two hours to bypass all offered. I liked hierarchal hall and, especially, Jordanian shade - great wooden construction for bathing into Epiphany ice-hole. 
We ended our excursion and had a dinner in the restaurant. Food was tasty but a little expensive. There was only one pair in the big restaurant hall besides us. The inter-season period.
I wanted to return to car another way. I didn't sure that this way would be right and I decided to ask passerby who was going towards me. I asked him: "Say me, please..." But he was continuing to go and didn't answer to me. I remembered time when I was in Vilnus (capital of Lithuania) in 1980th. Then I asked Lithuanian man something but he passed me and even didn't have a look on me. Despite we both were from one country - Soviet Union. They didn't like Russians. But Suzdal man didn't answer me by another reason. When he came closer he put earphones off and asked me what did I want.
We drove from Suzdal to Vladimir where we rent room in hotel. Next day was last one of our trip. We only visited "natural" fountain which is situated in 43 km from Vladimir near Sudogda town. Natural - because water beats top by itself, and "natural" because the hole was drilled many years ago. The ice flower "blossomed" around fountain at the end of each winter.

And its petals became melted and crushed when warm coming here. We met about a dozen people there who came to see the fountain. There was a last point of our travel. Then we drove home and had got into jam in Balashikha town in a couple of kilometers from Moscow.

  Here is some bonus - cat and dog into monastery (Vologda):