To the Solovki-Islands

It is already a tradition, that the participants of the Jazzfestival Arkhangelsk are invited to a boat tour to the Solovki Islands in the White Sea. This means two nights on sea, and one day on the beautiful island.

2 Vladimirs

Resitsky, Tarasov and Gödecke

If you find yourself between two Vladimirs, one wish is free!

Before the bus took us to Severno Dvinsk in the afternoon, where the boat was waiting for us, most of the musicians joined the excursion to Malye Karelye, an open air museum near Arkhangelsk, where old wooden farm houses, churches and bell towers are re-constructed to keep the memory of this architecture of the Northern Dvina Region alive.

We didn't join this excursion because we had been there before, we had more important things to do: we had to buy a new coat for my husband, because his leather coat was stolen the night before (without any money or documents, we were lucky). We found a good coat in the local department store, not to expensive and really warm. This department is one of the few stores I know in Russia, where you still can find 'old fashioned' toys, like they had been sold before the invasion of the Barbie Dolls and the Lego Construction sets. Nearly all russian toys are not produced anymore and so you can find interesting things only in the stores in the 'province'. Here in Arkhangelsk I found really beautiful metall mechanical toys and all russian friends told me later that these gadgets were exactly the toys they played with 20, 30 years ago. It is really a shame, that these beautiful things are not produced anymore.

Russian department stores also offer a great choice of soviet design cups and dishes as well as beautiful reproductions of traditional tea services (farfor), and you can always find strange kitchen accessoires. Jason Hwang conferred me the 'master degree in russian shopping' because I helped to find souvenirs and presents for some of the musicians.

My best bargain were 'bleeding glasses' (I don't know if this the right expression for it, in german it is Schröpfglas), glasses which you hold over a flame and place them on the back of ill persons. This traditional glasses were one rubel each! Remember, that one dollar is 5,400 rubel. So you can see that inflation is only touching those goods which are traded. Some old fashioned items just keep their price.

The trip to Solovki is also known as a vodka trip. Before the bus left to bring us to the harbor, everybody of us was given one bottle of vodka, for the way.

At the boat, you could always go to Resitsky and ask for more. Most of the people did.

controlling the vodka delivery
Resitzki, controlling the vodka delivery

Three busses left to Severno Dvinsk in the afternoon, escorted by a police car. We crossed the country side in the Dvina region and enjoyed the beautiful landscape in the autumn sun.
As the streets were not the best ones, Kuznezow made a joke: «You germans have autobahn, we russians have kegelbahn! » (this german word is used in russian, too and means bowling alley).

I got a very special entertainment: I was sitting inmidst of russian musicians who endlessly told Stirlitz jokes. Stirlitz is a well known person in Russia: he served as a spy in the german Wehrmacht and I don't know exactly if he ever lived or if he is pure fiction. I think I am one of the few germans who ever heard of him or who know these jokes. However, these jokes were a good starter for my coming adventure.

Severno Dvinsk is a small city, with a nice center in classical stalinistic style and by this you get the illusion to be in a city in the fifties. This city was a closed city, so no foreigners could come and even russians needed special permission. Because of its harbour, which is not a civil harbour, and the ship building industry, which is not civil industry, our group was escorted by police.

Although nowhere were signs, that shooting photographs is forbidden and nobody told us that it was not allowed, we could have imagined that it is not allowed. But nearly all of us were so impressed by the old rusty iron remainings which lay around everywhere and by the submarines in the harbour, that most of the people took photos. Nobody thought of any consequences.

Our ship to Solovki
Alushta, the only passenger ship which is going to Solovki from Arkhangelsk any more.

We took our cabins and waited, that the ship left. At 7.00 pm we left the harbour. And nearly immediately after supper, 60% of the people got sea sick, maybe because of the food, maybe because of the storm on the White Sea, maybe because of the free vodka.
The rest of the people stayed and listened or took part in the jam session which lasted until the early morning.

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