The Golden Ring is a string of towns (some now large cities) within 200km of Moscow. Most were founded between the 9th & 12th centuries when what we now think of as Russia was ruled from Kiev – That’s right Kiev in today’s Ukraine !!! A very busy chap called Yuri Dolgoruky founded most of them before going on to found Moscow in 1147.
Most of them at some stage were nominated as the capital of Kyivan Rus – Russia to you and me. Uncountable Churches, Cathedrals and Monasteries were built. Most have been totally trashed by invaders including the Mongols, Swedes, Poles, French and of course the Germans and indeed the Bolsheviks . However major restoration has taken place continually and so still exist in all their glory – and boy it is glory – today.
The “Ring” is about 1000Km and is quite a challenge for many reasons inducing the following –
Roads are a recent concept in Russia as for centuries (before railways) rivers were the only way to get about. The roads that do exist away from the major cites are a total shambles and I still haven’t quite worked out on which side of the road they drive, except to say that they do it at breakneck speed, so have spent the last few days in the back seat of a car with white knuckles, eyes closed and prayers said !!
Also apart for my trusty interpreter and guide Lyuba not a word anything other than Russian was spoken or heard. My Russian is restricted to about 5 words but with my trusty phrasebook and some pidgin Spanish I was able to order a beer and get fed !!
So here we go – In at the deep end !!