This site contains the archives of my travel blogs from 2010-2016.

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Sunday, August 08, 2010

Onion Church

One of my earliest memories is of sitting in the playroom among stacks of old National Geographic magazines.  A friend of my mom's had had a subscription for over 20 years and had kept every issue.  When boxes full of them showed up in our extra room, it was like I had struck gold. 

I remember reading articles about shirtless, tribal African women, fact sheets about how Indian elephants differ from African elephants, and an exposé on the great number of people who are buried in the Great Wall of China because they died on the job and were left there to become part of the wall, among other things.  But do you know what has for years been my most vivid memory of these adventures in National Geographic?  It was a feature-length article on Russia, complete with several photographs and a map with a big red star on Moscow.  

The first photograph was in black and white.  It had a flap that, when flipped out, showed a landscape view of a group of children.  I had only to read the caption to discover that these sandy-haired, fair-skinned kids were orphans .  On the following page was a beautiful, full-color photo of a matryoshka, a Russian nesting doll.  It was painted to look like a babushka, a typical Russian grandmother in a flowery-print dress with a mismatching flowery-print scarf pulled over her hair and tied under her chin.  My favorite picture was a glimmering sunrise shot of a beautifully colored Orthodox church.  The one in the photograph was decked out in gold, greens, blues, red, and yellow.  The recognizable rooftop ornaments reminded me of onions, and so I dubbed all churches of that style "onion churches."  

st petersburg church on the saviour blood

I can't wait to visit my first onion church!


  1. St. Petersburg is so beautiful, you will love it there Shirah!

  2. You went there, right Garrett?
    I thought you did right after you came to visit me in Brussels. Is that where you got Russian Monopoly!!?

    We need to have a Russian Monopoly night before I leave :) Will you be home at Christmas?


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