Are you the least bit curious about how much Russia has changed from the Soviet days? You are in luck. A dear friend has sent some comments about her trip to Moscow back in the 1970’s. please read.
Interesting observations comparing my trip to Russia in 1975…being under “supposedly” strict rules but we were able to leave our tour and amble around at will. As a tour was the only way to enter the country and I still had to go thru an interview process at their embassy in London, it was a fascinating experience as it was still the center of communism where you would see marching groups from China, North Korea, East Germany, Cuba when we landed on the Tarmac in Moscow. Glad to hear Red Square is still delightful and the Gum Dept store is still there.
Me: The Visa process is still rather onerous, along with having to register at each hotel along the way. We are being tracked during our stay here, whether from hotel to hotel, or I am certain with our cell phones and ATM cards.
Of course all of us got tired of the statues of Lenin everywhere in the country. I don’t know if the subway system is the same (yes it is simply magnificent) but so immaculate with marble, crystal chandeliers, paintings..almost like being in a museum. I only visited Kiev, Moscow but was on the train to go to Leningrad (wasn’t called St. Petersburg til many years later). I remember older women sweeping the dirt streets in Moscow, the prevalence of alcohol in every age group hanging around in a stupor. But in Leningrad we would explore the stores for the public which were stocked with withered vegetables & few choices..very depressing.
Me: Cigarettes, along with alcohol and obesity are lowering the mortality rate!!! I see so few old people on the streets or in stores. Veggies and fruit all come from foreign countries.
Then I went to dinner with a group of Brits at a well-known restaurant with live entertainment (mostly native dances) but the table was over flowing with tower containing grapes, apples, etc as the table piece..and the caviar, Georgia wines and vodka were flowing. The food was stunning in taste and presentation but when the entertainment took breaks, tables represented with full uniform Communists from all over the world would stand & sing their national anthem. Of course, being with my British friends our table dressed in Western attire stood and & sang “God Save the Queen”! So much for their views of equal classes..but the old were taken care of til death under Communist rule.
Me: It is not my fault that you hang around Brits!!!! The fruit is from Greece, Turkey, and South America! But they are about to start buying even more food from China. Ouch!
The Winter Palace as well as the Summer Palace ( for previous tsars) were filled with paintings that I’m sure were the bounty from WWII.
It was a fascinating several weeks (Kiev was a relatively small town where a tour guide took us to a Russian Orthodox Church where a service was in progress but had no qualms talking loudly. We told her to lower her voice as to not be disruptive with a resulting look of surprise of thinking that should be a consideration. I kept a journal (buried somewhere) but contains few facts but mostly observations. I imagine the tomb of Lenin is no longer on display in Red Square but the view of St. Basil was a beacon of delight.
Me: Lenin’s tomb is still in Red Square, and his statue is prevalent all over the countryside. And Basil is still magnificent. Try to remember this country has a long and turbulent history. The United States is less than 140 years old, a baby by comparison.
We stayed in Moscow at the University dorms..The arrangement of these 5 tall buildings built identically, always made me think King Kong was going to be wrapping his way around one of them. But I imagine these are no longer the tallest in their city landscape anymore. As well as the only cars were one model, always black..forgot their mfg name..not as quaint as the London taxi. I do remember the food in Russia (especially the dorms, was not edible..borsht was given a bad rap! I will return perhaps one day to see the difference from Communist rule to scary Putin.
Me: Hotels are nice, but older and in need of refurbishing. They love nice cars here, with lots of Benz, Audi, and BMW cars. The food is still atrocious, especially on the train. Things are better, people seem happy, they enjoy a night out on the town in their finest designer outfits. Life is good here.