In the past three days, participants in the Olympic Torch Relay experienced a fair number of hugely exciting moments: they ended up under the first snow, visited spots loved by Russian painters, rode a Russian troika and emperors’ coach. Take a look at the Journey reportage about all the adventures of the Olympic Flame.

The Olympic Torch passed the banks of Volga – a major Russian river – on October 18. The first stop on the relay was Ples – a town often described as a Volga gem.

Torchbearers carried the Olympic Flame around the spots which inspired Levitan  and Repin back in the day to create some of their best landscape paintings. It was here that Isaak Levitan created his world-famous canvasses: Gold Ples, After the Rain, a Quiet Monastery: they brought fame to this small community in the Ivanovo Region.

More than 7,000 Ples residents went out to the streets to greet the heroes of the Torch Relay. Torchbearers descended from the Cathedral Mountain, by the monument of the town’s founder Vasiliy I, to the  ancient market square. Here the Ivanovo Region said goodbye to the Olympic Flame, passing the Flame further down the Golden Ring, to Kostroma.

Her Majesty Kostroma offered a czar’s welcome to the Olympic Torch Relay. Actors with the local Alexander Ostrovsyky Theater (playwright Ostrovsky was a local native), staged a scene from the Life for the Czar opera. And then, the Flame was carried in a real Russian troika! The Olympic Torch was in the hands of Nadezhda Torlopova, silver Olympic medal winner, and world and European boxing champion. It was at that moment that snow started falling, for the first time anywhere on the Torch Relay so far. This sign of an approaching winter reminded everyone that the first Winter Olympic Games to be hosted by Russia were only 111 days.

The Olympic Flame moved from the troika to Catherine the II’s carriage. It was in that carriage that Victor Saveliev, distinguished Russian speed skating coach, carried the Flame. The Olympic Torch Relay in Kostroma ended on Susanin Square: here the Torchbearers and guests were greeted by Kostroma favorites: Snowmaiden, Lel and Mizgir, as well as by 200 participants in the Olympic Dance flash mob.

The Olympic Torch Relay moved on to the Yaroslav Region on October 19. The Olympic Flame was carried to the center of Yaroslavl by rail, and started its journey along city streets from there. Prince Yaroslav the Wise starred in a theatrical performance devoted to the city’s history, while performing bears turned out to be “guest performers”! The right to light the Olympic Cauldron was given to one of the most famous women in the world – native of Yaroslavl, the first female cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova.

The Olympic Flame arrived in Vologda, another ancient Russian city, yesterday. The main New Year’s character, Father Frost, greeted the Olympic Flame in the central square by the walls of the Vologda Kremlin. Father Frost came here especially from his family estate in Velikiy Ustyug, to carry the Olympic Flame across the Kremlin square in his three-horse sleigh. The Olympic flame flared into a ball of flame in the winter magician’s hands, so it had to be extinguished. However, the Flame as was lit again soon.

Father Frost (the Russian Santa Claus figure) will take one of the 2,014 torches home to his residence  in Veliki Ustyug. Follow Journey to get the latest news of the Olympic Torch relay. Vlivaisya!