July 01, 2017

Travel Notes

Russia’s railway monopoly, Russian Railway, has launched a rare commuter train for bicyclists aiming to pedal Lake Baikal’s picturesque trails. An elektrichka from Irkutsk to the lakeshore village of Slyudyanka has a special car outfitted with a bicycle rack that has a 30-bike capacity. The train car with the rack will be painted differently to make it easier for bike-travelers to find it. Most commuter trains in Russia do not have bike racks, so bicyclists have to hold their bikes near their seat, annoying other passengers, or stand with them near the train car doors.

Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir, one of the best known ancient Russian churches, has fully restored its fifteenth century frescoes, believed to have been painted by Andrei Rublyov and Daniil Chyorny. The cathedral, built in the twelfth century, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rublyov and Chyorny were invited to paint it in the early fifteenth century, but large sections of their work were lost or painted over in the nineteenth century. The cathedral is used for religious services by the Russian Orthodox Church and is also part of the Vladimir-Suzdal Museum Complex. The tenuous relationship between the two organizations, along with heat from candles and holiday crowds, threaten the delicate frescoes. Rublyov and Chyorny’s paintings of the Last Judgment were hidden by restoration scaffolding for over a year. The cathedral is open as a museum between 1 and 4:45 pm. vladmuseum.ru

The iconic fountains at Moscow’s VDNKh park – the “Soviet Versailles” built in the 1950s to showcase economic achievements – will be turned off until next year in order to enable renovations. The “Stone Flower,” “Golden Spike” and the “Friendship of Nations” fountains, among others, will undergo restoration in connection with Moscow’s grand plans for the park. VDNKh will also add new, modern pavilions, and the historic ones will be renovated. Some 11 new museums are to be opened, and an amusement park zone with rides and a Ferris wheel will be added.

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