“Life is an adventure, it’s not a package tour.”

When I woke up, the day was bright and sunny, but it isn’t any more. Clouds have blanketed the sky. The weatherman claims those clouds will be intermittent, but I’m skeptical. A little rain would be welcomed, forecasted or not.

The spawns of Satan have mounted a new assault. They are chewing my outside lights. The gate had a trail of white lights coming from the giant star near the back door. Last night I noticed the trail had gone dark. I checked and found chewed wires. On the deck rail, two sets of colored lights have been chewed. I found bulbs from the newest set laying on the deck, chewed off the wire. The spawns seem to like the red bulbs, cementing their Satan connection. What perplexes me is those lights have been untouched for a couple of years. I’m guessing there’s a new spawn in the neighborhood. The next set of colored lights is here, but I haven’t put it on the deck rail yet. I’ve ordered a new white set. It’s crazy I guess. I’m beginning to feel like Sisyphus.

I went to Russia in the 1970’s. My friend and I took a train from Helsinki to Leningrad. We were in the last car. When it got to the border, the car was uncoupled and joined to a Russian train. A Russian train lady boarded our car. She brought us tea over and over throughout the trip. In Leningrad I learned there were two lines for taxis, one for women and children and the other for the rest of us. At the hotel they asked for our passports. Visions of the KGB jumped int my head. When I refused, I was told no hotel room so I gave in. Yup, I gave in that quickly. We had a tour guide. In those days everyone had a tour guide. We liked her. She brought us to the Hermitage Museum. Women sat in chairs in every room at the Hermitage, and it was the same in every museum. They also sat at the bottom of escalators in every metro station and on every floor in the hotels where we stayed. We saw the Winter Palace and Peterhof and the Peter and Paul Fortress. We saw a memorial commemorating the Siege of Leningrad. On buses, the honor system was in effect. At the hotel, the food was terrible. We went to a few Beryozka shops, which no longer exist, where you could buy Russian goods for hard cash. We bought snacks and some beautiful small wooden figures.

When it was time to move to our next stop, we got a new guide. We didn’t like her. She told us nothing and didn’t answer questions. We then got on the train which the Frenchman, a fellow tourist, likened to a cattle car in France. We were on to stop 2, a city on the Volga whose name I can’t remember for good reason. The tours in that city included a dental school and a publishing plant where they gave us all sorts of Lenin material. It was the worst.

We had more adventures, but I’ll save those for another day. I will say we had a spy who was uncovered in Moscow.

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9 Comments on ““Life is an adventure, it’s not a package tour.””

  1. Hedley Says:

    Great post Kat,
    Never been but the World Cup is in Putinworld next year and if I was to pull a ticket to the Final I would go.

    • Thanks, My Dear Hedley

      I was in the USSR which was so regimented then. We cut out from the tour in Moscow which drove our tour guide crazy. We ate dinner one evening in the Metropol Hotel, one of the grand old buildings in Moscow. We did stay with the tour some days so we could get into places like Lenin’s tomb ahead of the crowd. Tours went first.

      I think you’d have a great trip. Moscow has such beautiful old buildings and museums.

      • Hedley Says:

        Kat, its whether or not I come out of the lottery with the ticket. I have had luck in the past with the Euro final last year and a Champions League final in Gelsenkirchen, so you never know.

        Your favorite team Tottenham Hotspur, are on ESPN2 at 8 pm tonight in a pre season friendly with PSG in Orlando. It has some fancy dan name (International Champions Cup) but is really designed to sell t shirts to the Americans, and I have responded by loading up on the new Nike sponsored polos, jackets and t shirts. If you watch tonight they will be going at 3/4 speed with minimal contact but good intentions

      • My Dear Hedley,
        It seems as if the season just ended, and here we are into a new one. I’m happy you’ll be appropriately clad to cheer for our team.

        Good luck on that ticket, but you do seem to have great luck.

  2. Bob Says:

    A friend and his wife just returned from a Baltic Cruise and mentioned how uncomfortable and oppressed they felt in St. Petersburg. Even though the Soviet Union is long gone they have a long history of official oppression going back to the Czars. I sometime think that some nationalities don’t fare well under a free society. Freedom carries responsibility and some cultures seem to prefer a strong man to tell them what to do. Russia is not on my bucket list.

    Today is another hot and humid day. We are already at 99 degrees. When we moved to Dallas in 1953 we were in the middle of a seven year draught. The city’s reservoirs were so low that the city drilled water wells where people could get free water. In those years summer days were hotter than now but with very low humidity more similar to Phoenix. Since then the U.S. Corps of Engineers have built dams across the streams and rivers creating several large lakes. No need for the water wells but the humidy has risin over time.

    • Bob,
      I wonder how much time they spent in the city. Usually a cruise limits your time to explore. Even when it was the USSR, I didn’t find it uncomfortable or oppressive. We wandered the city, rode buses and ate wherever.

      Many Russians have made a huge amount of money, but even the ordinary Russian is finding it easier to buy goods as they are far more available;e now. You used to have to stand in lines to get even toilet paper. I saw those lines when I was there.

      We never get as hot, but we do have that humidity. It is worse in August.

  3. Birgit Says:

    I love your travel stories. Visiting the SU as American was quite courageous back then. In soviet times I just made it to Czechoslovakia to meet my East German cousin.
    This evening we saw live African music, the annual world music open air summer season started today with musicians from Mozambique, Cape Verde and other countries. It was fun.
    It looks like a video of the last song of this concert is already on facebook but I can’t watch it so I don’t really know.

    • Birgit Says:

      Funny, I can’t even see the link I’ve posted in the comment. OK, no video, it doesn’t matter.

    • Birgit,
      I noticed no one ever smiled except one woman in Moscow so we figured she was an immigrant.

      Nobody I knew had gone to Russia, a good enough reason for us to go. The guide wasn’t too happy we bolted the tour as often as we did. She was supposed to keep tabs on us. We met only one other American. I guess it wasn’t a tourist’s hot spot.

      The video appeared. I couldn’t identify the country from which the music came, but the dancing seemed familiar. It was fun to watch!


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