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Ecurb’s Travels

 
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25 July 2019 10:07
 
EN - 25 July 2019 08:57 AM

It’s a plain, so Napoleon and Hitler had few natural obstacles invading.  But then they encountered the Russian winter, and learned why not too many people live out here.

Ask about the mud season known as “Rasputitsa.”  It occurs in the Spring and Fall.

 
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30 July 2019 07:23
 

Back in the USA.  Great trip (in spite of a few issues), but even greater to be back.  I will have to say that I was incredibly impressed with Moscow.  It’s hard to overstate what a spectacular city it is, and it is impossible to capture Red Square in words or photos. You have to be there to take in its grandeur, and even then it’s a bit overwhelming and ineffable. It’s a rectangle rather than a square, with the Kremlin walls and the grand GUM department store covering the long sides, and St. Basil’s Cathedral and the State History Museum standing at the ends.  In the day it is magnificent and at night it’s brilliant.  Really can’t describe it.  Much more prosperous city than in the Soviet days, when things were bleak.

 
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30 July 2019 07:37
 

Is Lenin’s body still on display there?  (A morbid factoid I learned as a schoolboy and forgot about until your above post.)

 
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30 July 2019 16:22
 
Skipshot - 30 July 2019 07:37 AM

Is Lenin’s body still on display there?  (A morbid factoid I learned as a schoolboy and forgot about until your above post.)

Yes, his mausoleum is right outside the Kremlin walls on Red Square.  There are a few folks who want to keep him preserved and no one has pressed the issue.

We had four Russian program directors on our ship who gave daily lectures, which I attended. They were excellent. These guys spoke good English and were funny, which made it better.  We also had tour guides on our excursions who lived in the areas we visited.  My knowledge of Russia increased 10 fold in two weeks.  We had a monarchist guide who wanted the Czars again, a very religious one, one who was basically atheist and hated Putin, and then a variety of others. So it wasn’t just a bunch of propaganda - it was a mixture of diverse opinions. I now have a better context for understanding the issues related to Russia.

 

[ Edited: 30 July 2019 17:31 by EN]
 
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30 July 2019 18:33
 

What do they think of Trump?

 
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30 July 2019 19:19
 
Skipshot - 30 July 2019 06:33 PM

What do they think of Trump?

Hard to say.  The folks I met were not very forthcoming with opinions about him, but they were catering to Americans.  What I saw was not complimentary, such as a cutout of him on a Moscow Street next to Stalin, which was not positive.  But I can’t say much about the general attitude.  They like Americans, and copy a lot of what we do, but Trump is not on their minds as far as I could tell.

Since most of us were from the US on our ship there were both pros and cons.  Our guides were more concerned with telling us about Russia and most people were about peace between us. A general attitude was that they make fun of politicians in general.

[ Edited: 30 July 2019 19:29 by EN]
 
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03 August 2019 23:14
 

EN, how about an overall capsule of the trip?

 
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04 August 2019 06:46
 
burt - 03 August 2019 11:14 PM

EN, how about an overall capsule of the trip?

In a word, it was eye-opening. I have a new understanding and appreciation of the country.

1.  I truly was not prepared for Moscow. It’s vastness, beauty and prosperity took me by surprise. When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, the people had very little.  Now they all seem to have cars, single-family apartments, dachas in the country, and grocery and department stores that are full.  This has come about since Putin.  While there are probably 30-35% of the people who oppose him, the majority are more concerned with their new-found prosperity and just stay out of politics.  They have it better than before, so why rock the boat.?

2.  There is a police state, but it is not like the KGB.  Don’t oppose Putin too loudly, and they don’t bother you. People know he and the oligarchs skim money off the top of their enormous oil and gas industry, but they get their share so they don’t complain too loudly.  They joke about him, but they don’t oppose him.  They are doing fine.  The longer he stays in office, the more opposition he will probably draw.  But he is not making the same mistake the Czars and the Communists made - he makes sure the average guy gets his piece of the pie.  As people learn more about democracy, that may not be enough, but it is for now.  The Russian Orthodox Church is also growing in power, and may be a factor in the future political course of the nation.

3. The people are extremely talented and generally like and copy Americans. The cultural events we attended were excellent, and they seemed happy to perform for us.

4. Most people are moving to the big cities where the money is and some of the smaller towns are drying up.  We see the same phenom in the USA.

5. There are 10 million more women than men.  Go east, young man.

6. Anyone in uniform is not that friendly, but some are helpful. The rest of the people don’t show a lot of emotion out in public, but in their homes they are very open. 

7. The areas we visited are, for the most part, uninhabited.  You can go for miles on the river and see nothing but forests.  It’s even more sparse the further east you go, and when you get to Siberia, hardly anyone lives above a certain latitude.  They had plenty of water in the areas I visited.

That’s a summary - it was worth the money and the time to go there.

[ Edited: 04 August 2019 06:50 by EN]
 
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04 August 2019 08:50
 
EN - 04 August 2019 06:46 AM
burt - 03 August 2019 11:14 PM

EN, how about an overall capsule of the trip?

In a word, it was eye-opening. I have a new understanding and appreciation of the country.

1.  I truly was not prepared for Moscow. It’s vastness, beauty and prosperity took me by surprise. When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, the people had very little.  Now they all seem to have cars, single-family apartments, dachas in the country, and grocery and department stores that are full.  This has come about since Putin.  While there are probably 30-35% of the people who oppose him, the majority are more concerned with their new-found prosperity and just stay out of politics.  They have it better than before, so why rock the boat.?

2.  There is a police state, but it is not like the KGB.  Don’t oppose Putin too loudly, and they don’t bother you. People know he and the oligarchs skim money off the top of their enormous oil and gas industry, but they get their share so they don’t complain too loudly.  They joke about him, but they don’t oppose him.  They are doing fine.  The longer he stays in office, the more opposition he will probably draw.  But he is not making the same mistake the Czars and the Communists made - he makes sure the average guy gets his piece of the pie.  As people learn more about democracy, that may not be enough, but it is for now.  The Russian Orthodox Church is also growing in power, and may be a factor in the future political course of the nation.

3. The people are extremely talented and generally like and copy Americans. The cultural events we attended were excellent, and they seemed happy to perform for us.

4. Most people are moving to the big cities where the money is and some of the smaller towns are drying up.  We see the same phenom in the USA.

5. There are 10 million more women than men.  Go east, young man.

6. Anyone in uniform is not that friendly, but some are helpful. The rest of the people don’t show a lot of emotion out in public, but in their homes they are very open. 

7. The areas we visited are, for the most part, uninhabited.  You can go for miles on the river and see nothing but forests.  It’s even more sparse the further east you go, and when you get to Siberia, hardly anyone lives above a certain latitude.  They had plenty of water in the areas I visited.

That’s a summary - it was worth the money and the time to go there.

Great insights, Bruce, I’m inspired to make the trip. May not happen, but we’ll see.

 
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28 August 2019 05:08
 

Heading to South Padre with the wife and two grandkids.  It’s our annual Labor Day trip to Texas’ best beach on Friday.  I look forward to seeing the sun rise from the Gulf, early walks on the beach, listening to the waves and sea gulls, sipping on Pina Coladas, and eating fresh sea food.

[ Edited: 28 August 2019 05:49 by EN]
 
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28 August 2019 10:08
 

Sounds a fab way to spend some time.

 
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28 August 2019 11:44
 
EN - 28 August 2019 05:08 AM

Heading to South Padre with the wife and two grandkids.  It’s our annual Labor Day trip to Texas’ best beach on Friday.  I look forward to seeing the sun rise from the Gulf, early walks on the beach, listening to the waves and sea gulls, sipping on Pina Coladas, and eating fresh sea food.

Bruce, I appreciated your superb reports from Russia so much that I’ll leave you alone for this excursion. Many thanks.

 
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20 September 2019 17:31
 

Heading to West Texas tomorrow for four days, to Big Bend National Park, the most beautiful place in the Lone Star State.  No Wall In Texas!!!!

 
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20 September 2019 17:42
 
EN - 20 September 2019 05:31 PM

Heading to West Texas tomorrow for four days, to Big Bend National Park, the most beautiful place in the Lone Star State.  No Wall In Texas!!!!

Enjoy!

 
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20 September 2019 17:53
 

Staying one night in Cabin 103, the most difficult room in Texas to book (I got it 1 year 9 months ago, barely), where LBJ and other dignitaries have stayed.  I stayed there twice when I was younger, but it’s become almost impossible to book because of the view.

 
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