#4 (final) Finland/Soviet Union, Oct. 20, 1982

One of the first things that we did when we arrived in Leningrad was to visit the massed graves of that horrific event, the Siege of Leningrad, from World War II. Our leaders laid a wreath at the Memorial. The drizzle added to the atmosphere. Ironically I realized that the amplified music playing was ‘Traumerei’ by that German composer, Robert Schumann.img101

img106Moving on to Palace Square and St. Isaac’s Cathedral, we saw Foucault’s pendulum inside which rotates throughout the 24-hour day, visualizing Copernicus’s theory.

img105Another building on the Square is the beautiful General Staff Building.

We visited St. Vladimir’s img119img112img121img123Church where a Mass was in progress.  It was fun to interact to the parishioners as they exited the church.  One of them asked me if I liked Ronald Reagan.  I said that I didn’t like his administration very much since I didn’t agree with his party’s positions.  I asked him if he liked Bresnev.  He laughed a bit and said, “Yes, I have to!”

More tours around town allowed us to see img150many, many huge apartment blocks where most Russians lived.

We saw city buses, img133and Russian vending machines.img139 One day on the street Burt was approached rather surreptitiously by a man that asked him how much he wanted for his gloves.  Burt said that he needed them and didn’t want to sell them.  The man persisted, asking several times; Burt finally relented and gave him the gloves for some rubles.   The man sidled behind a post to exchange the money—apparently this was an illegal transaction.  The exchange concluded, Burt began to move on when the man tapped him on the shoulder and said, “How much for the hat?”

Our group was taken img156out of town on a day that it actually snowed.  I’m from Minnesota and thought our winters arrived early but this was in mid-October!

We saw rustic dachas on the outskirts of img177Leningrad on our way to Tsarskaye Selo or the Catherine Palace.  The luxury of these palaces are amazing.

We toured the img174palace seeing a img167table set for royalty—slightly different from our hotel tables!

Then finally it was time for the supreme treat of all—The Hermitage!  This museum was img128img186built by Catherine the Great in 1764 and img192opened to the public in 1852.  There are three million items in the collection with only a small perimg198centage on view at any one time.  We especially enjoyed the Impressionists—who doesn’t, but the main stairway sets the stage for this most exquisite art museum.

img206An evening at the Kirov Ballet rounded out our time in Leningrad.  The old European small theaters are so charming.  One of our group who seemed to know a lot about ballet didn’t think it was very good!  Still we were glad we went.  img204

We were ready to go home.  At the airport there was a delay because of the Jewish supporters challenging everyone that interviewed us or interacted with us.  There was talk about confiscating the film taken by the TV personality that came with us.  After a couple of hours delay, we were finally allowed to leave.

img207While we were not able to interact directly with many Soviet citizens, it was still fulfilling to have gone behind the Iron Curtain and to have spent some time in Moscow and Leningrad.  We exchanged lapel pins with a number of people.  We were pleased when Russians accepted lapel pins of the American flag, which they wore with delight!  We were very glad we went.

Carol

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