Prepping For Our Voyage
It is 5:20 am. I just completed signing and addressing birthday and graduation cards to four grands and wrote notes to Danielle who will move into our condo to take care of America. Then I phoned the credit card and phone companies to inform them we were traveling, made sure my WhatsApp and Pocket Travel apps were on my iPhone and saved Moscow weather conditions on my phone. That’s just for starters because I have musings to write, lunch with my mom, a meeting with Ines who is a Honey Bee and I have not started to lay out my clothes for a one week journey to Moscow, Russia.
I guess I am not a woman who can walk the straight line from A to Z. I do make my lists and I do check things off and my intentions are admirable but I get lost on the way, as my ultimate concierge says. Instead of going straight down a list, I will check off #1, then #4 and add numbers too. Do I sound like all of you? If I had to guess, I would say so!
A Classroom Without Walls
The urge to travel, to move beyond the familiar, creates a classroom without walls. Travel opens our eyes to places of wonder. Flying in a two-seater plane from Katmandu, Nepal to Tiger Tops was one of the most magnificent mountain sceneries. It was just as stunning as flying by Mount Everest. Machu Picchu will always remind me of the good luck pin I lost, which was later found by a rabbi in the sand. Standing in Times Square for the first time made me proud to be an American. Walking the streets of Iran and Syria, meeting the locals and conversing with United States Ambassadors opened my mind. Dining in an outdoor tent in the Sahara, riding camels at sunrise, walking along the sand of the ever-changing Hawaiian coast and praying for my family while tucking a handwritten prayer into the Wall in Jerusalem have all given me character.
Travel stretches the mind; once opened, it will never be the same.
I treasure the time I get to spend traveling. Today’s speedy transportation can lift you off and whisk you away to anywhere in the world within a day or two. Be a curious traveler; one who does not look but who sees. Travel is more than a page in my life; it encompasses a novel filled with wondrous adventures that continue to captivate and teach me with every trip I take. You will expand your horizons so I encourage those of you who do travel to never stop. For those of you thinking about traveling, please stop thinking and make a plan. Have wanderlust, my darlings. If you do, the best is yet to come.
A Brief History of Moscow in the ’90s
I was fortunate to visit Moscow in the ’90s in the midst of history during the collapse of the Soviet Union. Boris Yeltsin stood atop a tank and called on the people to resist the communist hardliners. Mikhail Gorbachev took the reins and fought for a democratic Russia and then resigned several months later. Yeltsin then returned, only to resign again. During this time, thousands of Muscovites marched on Red Square celebrating the breakup of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, in the long run, democracy did not win over communism.
As Russia experienced an economic, social and political transition, my ultimate concierge and I entered the city. What a fascinating time we had.
In 1990 there was no food–even vodka and caviar where nowhere to be found. I lived on tomatoes and lost seven pounds. The shelves of Friendship Store, a shop for tourist shoppers, were bare. The buildings at Moscow University had broken windows and our hotel across Red Square was a real hoot.
Our Experiences In Moscow
As we walked off the elevator to go to our hotel room, a grim-faced woman held out our room key. Once inside the room, the first thing I tried to do was move the twin beds together. They were glued to the floor! The lamps were glued to the table, the tables were glued to the floor and the small red TV was glued to another table. Mold clung to the white shower curtain and our bath towels were the size of hand towels. However, it was all worth it later that night as my ultimate concierge and I walked into a bar and danced to “Moscow Nights.” We then ventured to Red Square, which took my breath away! I could not believe I was standing in the middle of Red Square holding hands with my ultimate concierge on a night with a thousand stars overhead. I was in a state of wondrous awe.
Over the next several days, we visited the Underground Railroad, Moscow’s metropolitan rail system that is an art museum. At various stations, there are different works of art. They are beautifully opulent and I am looking forward to boarding the train on this trip. Darlings, you are always on my mind. If the government permits on this trip, I will take photos to share with you. Back in the ’90s, we passed through the gates of Saint Basil Cathedral in Red Square, walked into several gorgeous churches and passed by Lenin’s tomb. We took a primitive overnight train ride to Saint Petersburg, a stunning city filled with history. I learned about Peter the Great and saw his lavish summer home in person.
Moscow in 2019
We are once again off to Moscow this week. My energy level is high. I am excited and ready for new adventures. I am as excited as a kid in a candy store to revisit this city. It almost feels as though this is my first trip to Moscow all over again. I have heard and read stories of the new Moscow. I am anxious to once again explore Red Square and the Underground. We are going to the Bolshoi Ballet and I know the Friendship Store will be full of Russian culture.
On each trip, I aim to find a small item to bring back with me, reminding me of the history and vibrancy we experienced. In Cuba, I discovered an art piece of a Cuban woman smoking her cigar, wearing religious beads with a bandanna in her hair. In Africa, my girlfriend Jane displayed true friendship when she brought me home an ostrich egg that symbolized water. The Africans used the egg as a canteen. In Russia, I found the doll that you see in the photo. These are keepsakes that remind me of my opportunities and I am beyond grateful.