As if to make up for past wrongdoing (day 164)

Sometimes things work out okay. Sometimes they don’t. Yesterday they didn’t. Today they have.

I spent the afternoon being blown around Kizhi Island by a bitter gale. (Maybe it is the same gale that was blowing around Kyem’ yesterday, since I am a bit further south now).

But there was more to look at on Kizhi Island, which is home to an amazing outdoor achitectural museum. The museum includes a truly incredible wooden church with, count them with me, 22 domes. I took a lot of photos. Maybe not quite 22 though. And lots of buildings made just from wood (mostly pine, some aspen) without nails at all. Most ingenious.

I must admit that I approached the boat ticket office with some trepidation this morning, remembering yesterday’s experience. But, as it turned out, the problem here was not the lack of a timetable – the next ferry was in just a couple of hours. The problem here was my fellow tourists. Specifically the ones from Scandanavia.

You see, Karelia (a region in north west Russia) is right on the border with Finland (and, by extension, Sweden and Norway). Lots of tourists come to visit. These three countries are some of the richest in the world. When tourists come, they expect to pay a lot for everything. So when you go somewhere frequented by these tourists, prices are high.

In this case, prices are laughable. I actually laughed out loud when the clerk told me. A Russian pays about $12 (these are New Zealand dollars) for the boat trip, and another $4 for the museum entry (and there are few other reasons to take the boat trip, particularly on a windy day when Lake Onega is not at its most gentle). Foreigners are charged about $65 for the boat trip and another $25 for the museum entry. They write just the foreigner prices on the English price-list and all the prices on the Russian one.

Lucky I had two hours while waiting for the ferry to think about whether I really wanted to go.

Those two hours turned out to be crucial. I rocked up to the ferry ticket counter ready to part with $65. And fate clicked her fingers and the clerk decided to sell me a Russian price ticket. Of course, she didn’t actually say “okay then, you can have a Russian priced ticket”. She just told me I had to pay the Russian price. But it comes to the same thing. I wasn’t sure if it was the done thing to thank her or not. I could have gone and bought her lunch for the rest of the week and still made money on the deal.

And it put me in a much better mood for the museum (where I also got a Russian price ticket, with much greater ease). Even the wind did not seem so cold with an extra 500 roubles lining my pocket.