Thursday, August 25, 2011

St. Basil's Cathedral - on the inside

St. Basil's Cathedral - Interiors - Images by Pam Lane

Now to the inside of St. Basil's Cathedral. As I mentioned in my previous post, the cathedral is actually eight churches arranged around a ninth central church, joined by a labyrinth of corridors. And each room is uniquely decorated.

Friday, August 12, 2011

St. Basil's Cathedral

St. Basil's Cathedral - Exteriors - Images by Pam Lane

In the 16th century, Ivan the Terrible ordered the building of the Cathedral of the Protecting Veil, or the Church of Saint Vasily the Blessed (Saint Basil in English) to commemorate the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan. According to legend, Ivan had the architect blinded so that he could not create a more beautiful building. The story is somewhat doubtful, but the beauty is not exaggerated.

St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square
St. Basil's stands just outside the Kremlin walls, at the far end of Red Square. When you enter the square from the typical entrance to the north, St. Basil's rises up in the distance, across the huge stretch of the square, like something out of a fairy tale.

The cathedral is actually eight churches arranged around a ninth central church. The building's design is unlike anything else in Russian architecture.

The cathedral was originally all white. It must have been beautiful that way too, but it's hard to imagine. The color was added in the 17th century.

The cathedral was secularized in 1929 and remains the property of the Russian Federation, serving as a historical museum.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The orphanage then and now

The orphanage is much the same in 2011 as it was in 1993. See the earlier post Memories -- the rooms for our reactions as we wandered these rooms. Here, I just want to show the pictures of the rooms now compared to 1993.

The eating area

Khmelnitsky orphanage eating area 2011Khmelnitsky orphanage eating area 1993

The kitchen

Khmelnitsky orphanage kitchen 2011Khmelnitsky orphanage kitchen 1993

The living room

Khmelnitsky orphanage living room 2011Khmelnitsky orphanage living room 1993

The bedroom

Khmelnitsky orphanage bedroom 2011Khmelnitsky orphanage bedroom 1993

Where is that orphanage?

Finding Erinna's orphanage was much more difficult than I had expected.

Before the trip, I had Googled the orphanage, found the address for the only orphanage listed in Khmelnitsky, and located it on Google Maps.  From above, it looked pretty much like I remembered. So at 10 in the morning, we headed out. We knew how to get to the highway it was listed on, and I was sure we'd recognize it once we got there.

We drove up and down the highway several times, and couldn't find the street number or see anything that looked familiar. We stopped at a gas station and got hand gestures pointing us back in the same direction. We wandered in the area. But nothing.

Around noon, we headed back to our favorite restaurant so that we could use their wi-fi. By doing so, I was able to use my phone's GPS and offline map to guide us to the street number. But no orphanage.

Now I wasn't sure what to do next. Obviously, I had the wrong address. But we could hardly wander around town showing people a 1993 picture of the building and asking for directions.

So, we headed to the Department of Education.

Department of Education 2011
Department of Education 2011
Department of Education 1993
Department of Education 1993
Department of Education Security
Our knight in shining armor, posing for us when we
went back later in the day to say thanks.
This was the building where the process started in 1993. Inside the main entry, there was a security person. I showed him my prepared statement, then the picture of the lady we met with 18 years ago. His whole demeanor changed—he smiled and motioned us to follow him upstairs. He stayed with us as we got passed from group to group, until a young woman took us to her office. All this time, we had no language in common other than my prepared statement.

This woman was grumpy. She kept talking to me in Ukrainian, apparently on the theory that if she just kept on talking, I'd surely get it sooner or later. But she made some calls, and eventually put me on the phone with someone who spoke some English. The English-speaking woman eventually showed up in the office too, and we started to make some progress.

Orphanage sign
Khmelnitsky Specialized Children's Home
Grumpy or not, this first woman was determined to help—not just to get me the address, but to coordinate a visit and everything! But in the end, she couldn't reach anyone at the orphanage, so she called a taxi for us, and the English speaker took us downstairs and told the taxi driver where we were going and not to lose Joan following in our car. (The taxi driver laughed at me when I tried to put on my seat belt, and just shook his head.)

We were so close earlier! But where our earlier drive never stirred up any memories, this one did. And at last, we turned the corner to see that oh-so-familiar building!

Orphanage 2011
The orphanage in 2011. Trees and apartments have grown up around it.
Orphanage 1993
The orphanage in 1993. Even though it was April, winter was still holding on tight.

So, to ensure that I can always find it again, here is the map:

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