Hegg's Italy and Russia Trip Summer 2011 travel blog

July 23rd, Saturday, Petrozavodsk

This morning we awoke to a light rain in Petrozavodsk, a city of the Karelian Republic, and has a population of about 290,000.  Our program director, Yulia, as well as 2 other directors call this home and is the sister city of Diluth, Minnesota, where all 3 of them came to study English.  This city is on the western shores of Lake Onega and is much different than either Moscow or St Petersburg.  It was founded in 1703 at the behest of Peter the Great who needed a new iron foundry for the production of cannons, bombs, and steam engines.  During WWII it was occupied by the Finnish troops for nearly 3 years before being liberated by the Soviet forces in 1944.

In the evening we attended a Karelian Folk Show with the presentation of the Finnish folk music and dance of the region.  Petrozvodsk is in the Karelian Republic, the composition of which is about 10% Karelians, a Finnish people.  The show was excellent.

Yulia was eager to show us her city so we boarded the bus on one of our first rainy mornings, though warm, and toured the city.  We also took one of their ancient beat up Soviet era trolleys and saw the Soviet era apartment buildings where most of them live.  To us it was quite depressing, the shabbiness of it all.  Particularly distressing was the fact that many of the buildings, including many wooden buildings had been built in the past 30-40 years and were already in quite a state of disrepair.  Most people, because of the lack of room, shop daily, in small rather squalid, by our standards, grocery stores.  Yulia, and the others from this city are quite proud of it and feel they have come a long way, though the older people still feel they had it better in Soviet times.

In the afternoon, it was hot, and there was an annual sailing regatta on the lake which was a very festive occasion with bands, rock bands, and many people strolling the extensive promenade along the lake dotted with modern sculptures, many donated by their many sister cities around the world.

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