How I spent my summer vacation, part 1. In addition to three weeks in beautiful Paris, I joined my parents for a Northern European tour that took us from Norway to Russia. Our last stop was Moscow, a place I’d been interested in since grade school when the biggest threat was the Evil Empire behind the Iron Curtain.
Moscow today is a thriving, chaotic metropolis. It’s home to roughly 15 million people and the traffic jams along its ring roads ensure you experience what that means! As the tour guide led us around, I was struck by how much of the city is built or rebuilt in the last 20 years, either by Russians seeking to replace what the Soviets had destroyed as too religious or czarist or the oligarchs spreading their newfound wealth.
A disappointment for me was that the U.S.S.R. played only a small role in our tour. Red Square had hosted an international military bands competition so we were only able to get an awkward look at St. Basil’s Cathedral and a visit to Lenin’s tomb will have to wait until another day. The “Park of Fallen Idols,” where many statues of Soviet leaders were moved after the 1991 revolution, was not on our itinerary. I tried to engage our guide, who was old enough to remember those days, but she seemed reluctant to speak of things 1917 to 1991. I realize Moscow has a long history; it’s believed to have been founded in 1147, but for an American kid of the 1980s, the Soviet period holds particular sway. Perhaps, следующий раз, or “next time.”