15-Jul-2002 -- After so many offshores I believe it is time to submit a point from ashore again.
This time I borrowed a car from a good old friend, a Russian Lada.
From the ship's berth in the suburb of Avtovo in SW St. Petersburg I rounded the town in its South and took the Highway M-18 (E-105), direction Murmansk. Murmansk is located 1,344 km North of St. Petersburg, a port of utmost importance, as it is the only Russian ice-free port throughout the year, dueto the warm Gulf Stream ending up there in the White Sea, on the Arctic Circle - but of course Murmansk is not the topic of this today's visit.
A 22 km farther East, I took the exit for the A-120 towards North, and after another 6 km I had a first stop at Petrokrepost' (Peter's Fort), directly on Europe's largest lake, Ladozhskoye Ozero (Lake Ladoga).
At Petrokrepost' there is a recently rebuilt new railway station, and infront of it is a steam locomotive of historic significance. It is the famous 3M 721-83 of the OKT. ZH. D. (Oktobrskaya Zhelesna Doroga -October's Railway). St. Petersburg, in these days still named Leningrad (the Town of Lenin), during WW II (the Russians do call it "The Great Patriotic War") was sieged by the German aggressors and succeeded to stronghold this siege heroicallyfor a full 900 days!!! And when the German troups were finally forced to withdraw, this locomotive was the one to pull out of Leningrad the first train after this long-lasting blockade.
Lets have a look from there to the Southern tip of Lake Ladoga. It's the Bukhta Petrokrepost' (Petrokrepost' Bay), having an outlet from where Riva Neva flows to St. Petersburg. Opposite across the Petrokrepost's Bay we see Schlüsselburg.
To learn what is important with Schlüsselburg we have to go farther back into Russian history.
What happened in Russia until 1613, the Russians call "smutnaya vremya" (the Russian word "smutnyoe has several meanings, as: uncertain, confused, foggy, misty ..., vremya means: time)
But then, in 1613, Mikhail Romanov became the first Emperor of the Romanov-Dynasty, which ended cruelly in 1917 with the execution of the last Tsar (Emperor), Nikolay II. by the Communists. Hardly any other European imperial dynasty has such a tragic history, full of sins, mistakes and fornication on one side, but hardly any did so much for art and culture, and picture the almost impossible task to rule such a huge country! And we must not say that all the Romanovs were either bad or good. Let me say, as a non-Russian, but quite an expert of Russian history: They were all neither pure angels, nor were they all devils. Most of them took indeed care for their people, and their care was based on a deep faith and their respect for the soul of each individual.
Back to Schlüsselburg: From 1730 to 1740 Anna Ivanovna (2nd daughter of Tsar Ivan V.) ruled the country due to non-availability of a male successor. She was a pure venomous snake and additionally extremely vulgar. When she died in 1740, nobody was really sorry about. Her marriage with Friedrich Wilhelm von Kurland remained childless.
A three-month old child was left as the only Romanov for the succession, - Ivan, son of Princess Anna and Prince Anton Ulrich von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (so Ivan was the grand-nephew of the former Empress Anna Ivanovna). And in October 1740, aged five months, he followed on the throne as Ivan VI., and in December 1741, in a starry and bitterly cold night, unknown kidnappers took the baby Ivan out of its small bed. His14th month of regency was his last one, too. They wrapped him in furs and scarfs, and His Majesty the Tsar of Russia was first brought to a fortress on the Baltic Sea and later to Kholmogory in the North of Russia. Meanwhile Ivan VI.'s parents were imprisoned as well. The later Empress (Tsaritsa) Elisaveta I. ruled in lieu.
Ivan VI. was finally then transferred to Schlüsselburg. All reports available today call him only the "nameless prisoner". In this fortress Ivan grew up in an extremely narrow prison cell, where he could not move himself. He never learned more than to stutter a few words in the human language; his mind was in a permanent stupid doze. Schlüsselburg is a building of stone and iron, and Ivan VI. had never seen earth, grass, or the sky, he never saw the leaves of the trees changing their colors in autumn, Ivan did not know that there was still another world, with people missing him, praying for him and not knowing his whereabouts. It was prohibited to pronounce his name in public.
But there were courageous men, planning to free him, and when these plans became known his guards in Schlüsselburg received immediately the order to kill poor Ivan. That was 1764, so he had spent 23 years in a cell of this fortress. He was not buried in St. Petersburg's St. Peter & Paul's Cathedral, but close to the fortress of Schlüsselburg itself. The official report about his death mentions:
"an accident with fatal result occurred to the nameless prisoner".
Ivan was the grand-grandson of Tsar Ivan V., and his only "mistake" was to having been the fully legitimate heir of his great-aunt, Empress Anna.
Well, back to the present time, we have still a point to visit.
From Petrokrepost' I drove a little bit farther North, passed the small town of Im. Morozova (this means: Iminye Morozova, "in the name of Morozova", obviously a former famous family there) and then the map left me in the lurch.
Always the same problem ashore:
Unreliable maps, never in what you are looking for, you rely on mere intuition. If our navigational mapps were so poor as those for car drivers are, half the merchant fleet was already run aground and sunk somewhere.
When I reached 60°00' North and 31°03' East, I saw a dirt road in the vicinity, leading towards West, and that was exactly what I needed.
The dirt road passed several "dachas". A dacha is a kind of Russian weekend house, their size and style depend strongly on the wealth of the owner. The dacha we see here is already something very nice.
Finally I stopped the car about 1 km East of the Confluence, where a birch-forest began.
After having crossed the forest with basically no major difficulties I have suddenly been stopped by barbed wire. A glance to my GPS told me 60°00,008'N and 31°00,076'E.
Oh Jeeez, I swore, that's out of the 100-meter-range! What I m doing now?
But a good Captain should always think twice:
" ... just a moment, I thought, I am not at the equator, I am on 60° North - well, according Pythagoras ... 8 times 1,852 equals roughly 15, and 15 squared gives 225, ... grumble mumble ... 76 times 1,852 equals roughly 141, the cosine of 60° is 0.5, i.e. 141 divided by two equals 71, ... grumble mumble, then 71 squared equals roughy 5,000 ... well, 5,000 plus 225 equals 5,225, and the square root of that equals roughly 72 metres away from the confluence, and therefore the visit is successful!
Have a closer look to the view to the West. There is a plate mounted, and certainly it has not been placed by a confluence visitor.
Unfortunately it shows the rear side only, but I travel long enough to Russia to picture exactly what is written on plates within barbed wire areas there...
I attach the view to the South as well, not very different from the other directions
My only companion was a butterfly when passing the birch forest, obviously trying to pollinate me, but due to my age my fertility is already rather limited ;-)