Our first destination after leaving Yaroslavl on victory day was the small, hilly town of Plyos (1 syllable, unlike Greek pronunciation – think “plop”). I first heard about this place in some of the materials used by my Russian teacher, where it was described as an idyllic, peaceful village loved by artists.
It wasn’t wrong.
The town sits on the south bank of the Volga, mostly nestled between two high hills, between which flows a small stream. A white bridge crosses the stream at the point where it joins the Volga. Each hill has a church at the top, the western church is the standard whitewashed building with green domes, but the eastern church, at the top of a wooden staircase, is a completely wooden building
Beside the wooden church there is a graveyard, with metal and wooden grave markers, and a little further away, a sculpture of the artist Isaak Levitan, who is strongly associated with the town and lived there for 3 years. Levitan’s house is at the eastern end of the white bridge.
Further west, on the other side of the hill with the normal church, is the town square, and the “oldest street in Plyos” which is lined with souvenir stalls. Souvenirs and fish seemed to be the only things you could buy here.
It is a very pretty and historic village with interesting buildings, but I didn’t enjoy climbing all the hills!
Our next destination, and the city where we would be staying overnight, was Ivanovo, another old, historic Golden Ring city. We arrived as the Victory Day celebrations were winding down, there were still lots of people out promenading in the parks and riverbanks.
Many regular attractions (such as the Museum of Russian Automobiles) were closed, the only one we could find that was still open was the zoo. It was a very sad zoo, a small, compact place with small, compact cages housing big, powerful animals like lions, tigers, a cheetah and a bear, that barely had room to turn around. I found it very upsetting.
We walked along the riverbank, we decided to go on the Big Wheel – exactly the same as the one I went on in Khabarovsk, but the views were not so interesting. We had dinner in a traditional canteen (stalovaya) – I had shashlik for the third day in a row.
There was not a great deal of interest in the city in terms of architecture or sculpture, there were no beautiful vistas, the riverbank was pretty sterile. I came away from Ivanovo with a feeling of disappointment.
I have seen pictures of Vvedenskiy Monastery and Victory Square which admittedly do look impressive, so it may just be that we missed some of the best bits of Ivanovo in the middle of all the Victory Day confusion and our keenness to set off early for our next destination.