Jeanne, Bob, Burt and I signed up for Friendship Force, a program started by President Jimmy Carter a few years earlier. Normally the exchange program involved staying in homes of the country we visited, and having the same people stay in our homes the following year. In this case, the country to be visited was the Soviet Union, which did not allow their citizens to visit us. We also would not be staying in anybody’s home, ostensibly because their apartments were too small, but it also discouraged too personal an interaction which was frowned upon by their government.
Upon arriving in Helsinki where we would spend two days in orientation, we were treated to a tour around the city, including visiting the Cathedral.
We spent some time in lovely Sibelius Park with the Sibelius Monument.
Our tour guide was a Swedish woman who told us that since there were many Swedes living here, all of the signs were in both Swedish and Finnish.
After two days spent getting to know our fellow travelers and learning about what was to come, we flew to Moscow on a Soviet airline, arriving at our huge hotel, called the Cosmos. We were finally in Moscow, behind the Iron Curtain!