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July 23, 2016
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A trip to Russia: Part II

That has been a great sorrow to me. And here were Sheila and I, mere tourists, trying to make sense out of 2012 Russia. We were aware from U.S. media of the foment of protest there right now, and it, too, is about how the move to a democratic society is being betrayed. But we saw none of it, nor met anyone we could talk to about it. The Russia we visited was mostly (except, of course, for the individuals we met) “guide book” Russia: beautiful and magnificent churches and buildings (now museums) of Imperial Russian times as well as wonderful collections of paintings. It was odd to stand before the single statues we saw of Lenin and of Marx, powerful figures of my youth, now compromised and dishonored ( and to realize how much history is about just such shifts.)

It was gratifying and jolly to be among the holiday crowds piling high their shopping carts for New Year’s celebrations. But it was saddening to realize that, as in our own country, have and have not had most definitely not been solved and was perhaps worsening, while civil liberties continue to be a constant struggle.

When Sheila had first asked if I wanted to join her Russian odyssey to see her grandson at Moscow University, I said “sure” with only a little hesitation. I felt we would be good traveling companions. So off I went to this land that would stir up so many questions as well as serve up many delicious versions of borscht, mushroom dishes and blini (though Beach Lake Bread makes a better version of pumpernickel than any we discovered).

I have always believed if a new experience is offered—take it. The best answer to “How was your trip?”—any trip—is “It was a great adventure.” Two individuals traveling together are, in a sense, having somewhat differing adventures. But Sheila and I completely agree those 10 days traveling in Russia were very special.