Oh sweet little Arkhangelsk. Despite being the biggest "city" in it's region it remind me of any small blue collar town in America. Except that no one spoke English, and we couldn't read any of the signs. It has a history that goes back to the vikings, and is one of the northernmost cities in Russia.
Being about 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle, it's certainly the farthest north we've ever been. While our translator explained that there had been ice on the river a few weeks ago, our weather was 50 degrees and sunshine. Lots and lots of sunshine. In fact it wasn't totally dark at 2:00 am on the day that I was awake for the day around 1:30. The sun was up enough to be shining in our hotel room window around 4.
(Sunset on the Dvina river. This photo was taken sometime after 9:30 on the evening we arrived)While Max currently lives in Severodvinsk (the next town over), both of his parents were from Arkhangelsk, so it's a pretty good bet that he's spent quite a bit of time here before entering the orphanage. Which is fine with us, because there were some pretty little buildings and monuments near our hotel that we were able to get out and see. No one offered to take us on a tour and we weren't brave enough to go very far from our hotel, but right outside where we were staying was a nice little river walk that we went up and down a few times.
(church off the riverwalk near where we ate dinner one night)We enjoyed our little walks along the river. You could tell that the city was glad to be free from the oppressive winter, because everyone was out soaking up the sunshine. Men were out fishing in the river, middle aged women did yoga on the pier, young moms chased their toddlers, and kids zoomed back and forth on their bikes. Like I said, not that different than your typical American town. Except it was all in Russian. And the sun was still up at 10pm.