We also saw the Church of Santa Barbara and the Cathedral of Znamansky, there being no shortage of churches in Moscow.
Meals were at our hotel where we were seated around large round tables. For breakfast we were served platters of cheese, cold meats and bread, with only one cup of coffee per person. The coffee ‘ration’ upset many of our comrades on the trip who apparently were unused to the European way of only drinking one cup of coffee rather than our American tradition of being served seconds and thirds.
The food was not great, but it was adequate. However, one evening we were served some rather unusual meat that was mostly fat but had two bands of very dense, dark lean running through the piece. Immediately there were opinions circulating that it was reindeer meat but an older man from North Dakota at our table said, “No, this is not reindeer meat. I grew up during the depression and sometimes we ate old boarmeat that couldn’t be sold. I’d know this anywhere—it’s from an old boar!”
Noticeable on the street also were vendors selling many things, such as eggs. It seemed difficult for the people to earn a living. While they were quite well dressed, it seemed to us that they didn’t have much material goods.
Because we were on Friendship Force, one day there was a program relating to this. We met with Russian Friendship Force personnel and broke into small groups but communication was difficult as there wasn’t much English spoken. There was also a musical treat. The press were on hand, and had been on some other occasions, also. Unfortunately there were about a dozen people among the Americans that had come with a specific agenda in mind, which was to challenge the Russians about their not allowing Jews to emigrate to Israel. Whenever the Russian press interviewed any of the Americans, the Jewish supporters would ask, “Why won’t your government allow Jews to leave Russia?” This would cause difficulty with the press and typically the interview would be discontinued. I think we were all sympathetic to the Jewish supporters, but since the premise of this exchange was Friendship, it seemed out of place to many of us who assumed the purpose was friendship with Russians, and not confrontation.
What a surprise when we first took the subways in Moscow. They are very deep with loooong, kind of scary escalators going down, down, down—-and then the surprise! Each underground subway station had been decorated to be a gorgeous salon!
They seemed to be extra deep which somebody suggested was for the purpose of bomb shelters.
Another treat was a night at the famous Moscow Circus. It truly was spectacular with the strong man, men riding galloping horses standing on their backs, and, of course, the famous bears.
A short trip out of town took us to Kolomenskoye to the church of the Ascension with its Byzantine paintings. We also saw the Cathedral of Mother God of Smolensk and the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior.
Jeanne, Bob, Burt and I prepared for our night train trip to Leningrad by buying a bottle of Stolichnaya vodka, which we ‘passed around’ in our compartment until the small bottle was empty! We slept just fine on the train and by morning, we were in Leningrad!