Mrs. Irina Zakharova, the matryoshka owner of the inn and hyper-attentive hostess puts the finishing touches on the kitchen.
Shortly thereafter, he incurs a lengthy briefing in Russian that delays the gastronomic adventures of his newest guests.
Alexey Kravchenko absorbs each of the lady's machine-gun words and responds as little as he can in a delicate compromise between courtesy and hunger.
Barely freeing himself from the pen, he peeks into our room and gives the alert because we were waiting. “Free Kitchen!
Buckwheat, Cucumbers and Lots of Suzdal Conventual Beer
Let's go to lunch!”
For days, this easygoing petersburger has been trying to foist us, in English, such a buckwheat. We didn't have the translation present.
When we bought cereal at the supermarket, we were almost in the same ignorance. At least Alexey's theory that it was easy to prepare was proven.
A few minutes on the frying pan later, we are at the table enjoying an improvised fish meal garnished with buckwheat and vegetables that we accompany with different medovukhas, honey ciders with sweetened beer flavor.
This convent drink from Suzdal became a damned delicious habit that would accompany us all the way to northern Russia: Novgorod in our case; to your domicile of Saint Petersburg, with regard to the cicerone.
Alexey had placed several small, washed but unpeeled cucumbers on the table. He was devouring one after the other when he noticed that we weren't touching them: “What about the cucumbers? “ asks us indignantly.
We explained to him that we are not looking forward to it, because we shared the Portuguese notion that cucumber was indigestible and could easily ruin the afternoon of exploration that was approaching.
In his Slavic-restrained way, Alexey almost jumps out of his chair: “What? They're kidding, aren't they? I'm crazy about cucumbers and I have no idea what they're talking about. Indigestive? But it's just water. It doesn't give me any problem, quite the opposite.
By the way… in Russia, we are almost all addicts. In these parts, even more. in a few days, when the festival arrives, will be able to see how much.”
And it goes on devouring mini-cucumber after mini-cucumber.
After the meal and restoration of the kitchen for use by the other guests, we returned to discover the bucolic Suzdal.
The Special Historical and Political Statute of Suzdal
Unlike many of the medieval cities on the Golden Ring that had to give way to modernity because of their prime importance, Suzdal gained federal protection status that limited urban development.
It allowed it to remain as if frozen in time, given over to the sumptuousness and elegance of its many and varied churches and Orthodox cathedrals, monasteries and convents.
As with other buildings inside and outside the kremlin .
À As we walk along the banks or when we cross the bridges that cross it, we see the grace with which the river Stone it winds slowly through the village.
And how their apparent immobility reinforces the atmosphere of the time when Suzdal reached the peak.
Suzdal was the capital of several principalities, centuries after the settlers vikings have sailed up the Volga River, occupied a substantial part of western Russia, Bielorussia and Ukraine current – including these places where we walk – and founded the one they called Surdalar ou sudrdala (Southern Valley), a term that is repeated in the Nordic sagas.
All this took place under the leadership of a dynasty of name Rus' that would give rise à Russian nation.
Kamenka lacks the dimension and fluidity of the Volga. Even so, some less fearless descendants of the Scandinavian founders have a hard time getting into it.
We walk with a privileged view over the river when we notice a father and son afraid to dive into the freezing water.
Meanwhile, the family matriarch urges them on and despairs for the moment with the camera at the ready.
Later on, one of the many painters in training in the city sketches on canvas the scenarios and what happens in them. We see him sitting against the wall, under the green and gold domes that protrude from the interior.
Between Ancient Suzdal's Thousand-Year Wall Domes
In Suzdal, Orthodox churches and cathedrals are everywhere. Its dispersed but harmonious proliferation lends the place a strange fairy-tale look. Once we pass by the entrance to the Monastery of the Savior, we take the opportunity to learn a little more about the real story.
We examined the bell tower and the Father Superior's apartments.
We leave the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior for last. When we enter, five men all dressed in Matrix-black style appear to guard the entrance to the main ship.
In a moment of imaginative fertility, we conjectured that they were waiting for some multi-millionaire Muscovite mobster to visit their homeland.
We advance inland. We examine Orthodox religious paintings in the company of two children and parents who do the same in reverse.
Ring the bell outside. The men in black burst into the room and closed the door.
Unexpected Liturgical Chanting in Matrix Mode
It occurs to us that we could be in trouble. The “security guards” line up on a raised step leading to the altar. A lightning choral singing recital in Russian begins, amplified by the temple's perfect acoustics.
Less than two minutes later, the fabulous singing ends. We and the other adults clapped our hands, held back by the lingering wonder. Children recover from the surprise. The hurried interpreters, these, rush out the door as if nothing had happened.
The surprise events would not stop there. On one of the following days we had planned to leave early towards Bogolubovo, one of several smaller towns in the vicinity. Alexey wakes up late and delays the match.
In good time.
It's already eleven in the morning when we approach the center of Suzdal.
Without expecting it, we saw a gaudy procession that enters a secluded street lined with dozens of izbas, the wooden rural houses typical of these rural areas, built without the use of metals, painted in strong tones.
We asked Alexey to park on the curb. we run to ourselves join the procession.
And An Orthodox Procession in Honor of Saint Euthymius
In the tail of the march follow male and female blesseds. It is led by sacristans and standard-bearing acolytes, followed by Orthodox priests, most of whom are bearded and grey-haired.
It's uncomfortable hot but the religious wear phelons e phelonions, liturgical cassocks all black or embroidered and edged that combine gold with bright colors.
Four of these priests carry on their shoulders a small shrine also gilded wrapped in a scarlet velvety cloth.
After a few hundred meters, we found that it was a ceremony dedicated to Saint Euthymius, a 1332th century ascetic who, blessed by another more respected monk named Dionysus, won the admiration of Prince Boris Konstantinovich of Novgorod and Suzdal and, in XNUMX , founded the Monastery of the Savior, in this last village.
Respected for his deep faith, Eutimio would rise to Father Superior of the monastery, where he used that devotion to improve his ecclesiastical life.
His hagiography also describes that he prayed with Spartan discipline, sometimes in tears, and that he transposed to the monastery the cenobit lifestyle he had led years before, with the inspiring example of Dionysius.
Euthymius died in 1404. He was buried in the Cathedral of the Transfiguration. In 1547 he was canonized. His cult spread throughout the nation, with increased vigor among the Suzdal faithful.
Almost all the participants in the procession sing orthodox religious psalms out loud, far more out of tune than the blitz-quintet that had frightened us before.
They sing until the procession enters the tight gate of the Synod Church of the Iberian Icon of the Mother of God, their final destination end.
The Muffled and Ecstatic Religious Ceremony of the Church of the Mother of God
The priests climb the short staircase, deposit the reliquary inside the temple and stand in front of the altar, prepared to begin the liturgy. The believers are distributed standing, behind a large chandelier and an exuberant panoply of gilded religious artefacts, wreaths and images of Saint Euthymius.
When the priest who leads the Mass begins the prayers and songs, they imitate him with dedication.
In a slow chemical mixture, the profusion of lighted candles, the many believers and the weather in the area generate a heavy breath that intensifies the mixture of the smells of burnt wax, incense and sweat.
The faithful follow the Eucharist given to God.
We enjoy communion, other rites and rituals that end shortly after believers kiss a golden crucifix that the priest who says Mass holds to his chest.
After the ceremony, the believers return to the street, followed by the priests who take the opportunity to greet the Mother Superior of the annexed convent with sentiment.
Suzdal, a Millennial City with No Worries about Time
On this and other evenings, we enjoyed Suzdal's quiet life.
Groups of friends gathered around beers and guitars in front of a meander of the Kamenka, on the grassy backs of the market's arcades.
On the opposite side, sellers entertain themselves with long dialogues that are only interrupted when buyers of their wild fruits appear.
We see huge flocks of crows now fluttering and now perched dedicated to devouring the worms and insects on the lawn in front of the wooden church of São Nicolau.
Over there, we still admire cumulus nimbus menacing to slip behind the projection of orthodox domes and crosses of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin.
These would be Suzdal's last days of undisputed calm.
We arrived on Saturday morning. We were delighted with the rice porridge that Dona Irina had prepared for us for breakfast.
We left Alexey once more on the seventh sleep and left on foot.