Quotes:

I don’t suppose one needs to live a life of perpetual astonishment. After all it’s adaptive to forget. Our daily grind is perhaps easier to endure in a state of mild amnesia. Muscle memory sets in, routine takes over, and one day seems the same as any other. But days go by, the years hum along, and one can careen towards senility without being unduly startled by anything at all. Surely, there are times when we must be released from our moorings and free ourselves up to notice the peculiarities of everyday life.

Liam Heneghan on travel, at Aeon.co. Photo, the Liffey River, Dublin.

And Then, a Night at the Opera

After their cruise yesterday, Presidents Niinistö and Putin joined us at the Savonlinna Opera Festival for the Bolshoi Theatre’s performance of Pytor Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta.

It was an authentic treat to hear the The Bolshoi Theatre Choir and Orchestra play Tchaikovsky, but the presidents and their retinues kept largely to themselves.

Visit with Presidents Niinistö and Putin


We’ll be heading an hour or so up the road to the lovely little town of Savonlinna, Finland, this afternoon for opera with the Presidents of Finland and Russia. This year President Putin attends the annual Savonlinna Opera Festival  to mark Finland’s centennial anniversary, celebrating 100 years from it’s 1917 declaration of independence from … oh … whoever.

The performance, and dinner for dignitaries beforehand, will be held in this castle:

As we are no dignitaries, we will not be dining. Maybe just some maalaisperunalastu in the car over (they’re mighty good). We are just hopeful the tickets we bought online several weeks ago will get us into the same room as the Great Men.

Looks like the Russian and Finnish armies have pretty well taken over Savonlinna:

Quotes:

According to the President’s Office, Putin and Niinistö are not in sight in the Savonlinna region. President’s spouse Jenni Haukio is not involved in the visit. Presidents do not meet the ordinary people at any stage.

and: the police of Eastern Finland have distributed a newsletter where residents are asked to avoid staying on the balcony and opening the windows between 15.30 – 17 and 20 to 24 (on 27 July). The residents have been told these two slots.

  • From Itä-Savo, the local paper

We’ll be back here tomorrow to report.

Weekend Reading

By the time this post goes up I’ll have pulled back from the internet in part for some longer form reading, but mostly for sausage grilling, beer drinking, bonfire-making and swimming in Lake Saima in Southern Savonia, Finland. Meanwhile, I leave you with a few intelligent articles to enjoy:

Down on the border. One day on the Canada-U.S. line by Jason Markusoff, Nancy Macdonald, Aaron Hutchins and Meagan Campbell in Maclean’s.
Turkey’s Hidden Past by Christopher de Bellaigue in the New York Review of Books
Russians in Estonia by Cody L. Zilhaver at thestretegybridge.org
The Time of Our Lives by Raymond Tallis at thenewatlantis.com
Now to Stride into the Sunlight by Ian Jack in the London Review of Books

All week I’ve been staring at a stack of too many books to fit in my bag. Two or three of these will make the final cut:

Bears in the Streets: Three Journeys across a Changing Russia by Lisa Dickey
The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold: Adventures Riding the Iron Curtain by Tim Moore
Congo: The Epic History of a People by David Van Reybrouck
Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War by Lynne Olson
Lenin on the Train by Catherine Merridale

and as for page turners, at least one of:

The Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth
The second book in the Faroe Islands trilogy, The Killing Bay by Chris Ould
The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen
The Good People by Hannah Kent, imported in advance all the way from Australia

Do you have any suggestions? What must-read am I missing?

If you’re stuck where it’s hot, may I suggest for your summer reading the cooling goodness of my own book, Out in the Cold?

CS&W the blog will probably be mostly quiet for the next couple of weeks. For now, kippis!