A week has passed since my last post, and today I'll take you to a little excursion around Karelia. If talking about nature, it was the best trip ever in my life. Such an awesome northern nature, many lakes, cliffs, waterfalls and forests... I can show these photos forever, I guess :) And the post will be really long (I just don't want to divide it into two or more posts).
We went to Karelia in August 2008 with a group of people by bus. It's the best way to explore this awesome part of Russia. First we went to Novgorod, and our first stop was Alexander-Svirsky monastery. We visited many churches during that trip, and in all of them girls had to wear dresses, and I looked great with a dress, as I didn't take my jeans & sweater off :D. We had an excursion around monastery, drank some holy water in a chapel and saw many photos on the wall.
After monastery we went to Shuya river, where we tried rafting ^^ If you're somewhere in Karelia, that's the thing you really should try! Our guide said that it's possible not to get wet at all. Yeah, right! I'm glad that I didn't take my camera with me, as we were all completely wet and one woman even fell into the water. But there were many photographers on the shore, who took photos of us.
|Rafting. Me & my dad are on the left side at the end of the boat.|
After this we had a great picnic, while listening to national Karelian songs. The language sounds like Finnish & Estonian together, so weird (the full version of this song is here, it's even possible to understand part of lyrics, if you know Finnish or Estonian).
We spent the night in Petrozavodsk city, and the next day went to Marcial Waters resort. We tried water from 3 out of 4 springs in that resort, there is much iron in them, so the water tastes like iron. And after the resort we went to Sampo hill ^^ In 1960 a movie `Sampo` was filmed there, based on Kalevala. It's such an awesome view on the lake and forests from that hill!
Near this hill is another beautiful place - Girvas volcano. The cliffs are 2,3 billion years old, but were discovered only in 1960's, when it was decided to build something there.
Then we went to see Belomorsk petroglyphs - rock carvings of late Stone Age. The guide said that there will be dry river bed. But it turned out that sluice at Vyg river were opened, so the river wasn't dry at all (see first photo of this post :D). So we didn't get anywhere. At least we saw many mushrooms around ^^ I wish there were so many in Latvian forests!
And we had another awesome picnic there. But one of the local dogs stole about 1 kilo of sausages from us :D
At the evening we got to Kem city at the coast of White sea. Saw beautiful sunset and walked around the city a bit, and next morning, although it was raining, went to Kuzova islands. The nature was really beautiful there, but we didn't see many of it, as the rocks were really slippery and it was impossible to walk there.
|Beautiful northern nature|
After these islands we went to Solovetsky islands and Solovetsky monastery. Walked around the monastery, walked in some underground tunnels (it was only 12°C there, and with wet shoes it was very `warm` :D), was interesting.
|View on the island from a boat|
The island itself is very cosy. There were many cows, goats and dogs there ^^ And we also got to the coast of White sea.
|I love these goats! It looks like they're standing in a queue to pay for their mobile phones :D|
After Solovki we got back to Kem (where local boys were shouting `perkele` at us :D) and all night we spent on a bus. At about 4 a.m. we got to Kivach waterfall. There is a nature park with famous karelian birch. But what we could see during the night and cloudy weather? Not the birch. Or waterfall. I managed to take a photo, but the quality is so bad... (but it's a really beautiful place, according to photos on Google).
At the morning we were in Petrozavodsk again and walked around the city a bit.
|Monument at the embankment|
And then we had a ferry to Kizhi - an island at the lake Onega. The weather was very foggy, so we thought that the ferry won't come, but later the sun appreared and we finally got to Kizhi. There are two beautiful wooden churches and also many wooden buildings, so it's a nice place, and you can also walk into these buildings and see how people lived some time ago.
|There are actually two churches, they just look like one.|
|A wooden building|
When we got back to Petrozavodsk, we spent all evening walking around the city, and next morning went to Sortavala, which is just 60 km away from Finland ^^ I so much loved that all signs were in both Russian and Finnish ^^ There we took a boat to Valaam archipelago at the northern part of lake Ladoga. There is a monastery on one of these islands and many other related buildings.
|A cute puppy ^^|
After walking around we got to monastery's canteen, where we tried their food. Then walked around the island a bit, and got back to Sortavala. Walked around the city, too, and the next morning went to Ruskeala marble quarries. By the way, marble for building Saint Isaac's Cathedral in Saint Petersburg was taken from Ruskeala. But we had just 40 minutes of free time, so just ran around the lake and took some photos of this beautiful place.
|Such a beautiful nature|
And near this place are also waterfalls. By the way, just while writing this post I found out that Ruskeala was part of Kitee some time ago (Nightwish fans, I don't have to explain you, why this little city is important? :D).
|Me at Ruskeala waterfall|
Then we got back to Sortavala and went to Priozersk city to see Korela fortress (or Käkisalmi in Finnish).
And at the evening we got to Saint Petersburg. Spent a night there, saw famous bridges and a fountain at Neva river.
And next morning we went to Gatchina palace, where we walked around a bit and then we finally went home. On photos: a church in Saint Petersburg and a monument near Gatchina palace.
Once again - it was the most awesome trip I've ever been to! I can't describe it as good as I would like to, but if you ever have a chance to visit Karelia - don't miss it.
Have a nice evening! ^^