29 September, 2011

{this memory} 19

You're looking at the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood in Saint Petersburg, Russia. This marvelous Russian-style church was built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in March of 1881. It was reopened in late August 1997 after almost 30 years of restoration but is not yet reconsecrated or functioning as a full-tme church. I took the photo in late June of 2003 as I stood on the bridge where Nevsky Prospekt crosses over Naberezhnaia Kanala Griboedova, the canal you see in the image.

My older daughter and I were there for a few days as I completed some historical research on Ivan Pavlov. We were received most graciously by Dr. Viktor Klimenko, the director of the Pavlov Department of Physiology, the oldest department at the Imperial Institute of Experimental Medicine which was founded by Prince Oldenburgsky in 1890. Today it part of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences.

Dr. Klimenko gave us a tour of the facility designed by Pavlov, Pavlov's office (untouched since he died), and one lab room of his, also kept unchanged. He also arranged for four of his scientists to explain their research programs to us. He arranged a private tour of Pavlov's apartment in Academicians' House (just as he left it in 1936). On our own we visited his grave in the Literatorskiye Mostki section of Volkovo Cemetery, an area reserved for famous writers, musicians, scientists, and other prominent public figures of Russian culture.

It was along our walk back to Hotel Astoria when I took the photo. Of course, after my work was complete, we had time to play. We enjoyed some good meals, some extended walks in a beautiful city, a Russian ballet, and the wonderful art on display in the Hermitage. Back in our decidedly upscale hotel, my daughter finished the last night of the trip with some caviar and vodka. Perhaps a tad more than she should have, in fact. I should have warned her. Bad dad.

It was a wonderful adventure - although I never fully relaxed there, product of the Cold War that I am. I shall always remember, however, those beautiful days with my daughter and the amazing white nights of late June in Russia.