“Then we ran smack into the real problem: Russian roads, made worse by Russian drivers. On that first afternoon, heading away from Moscow we got a taste of both.” This is a little excerpt from an article penned today for the New York Times by Celestine Bohlen.
Quite appropriate, as I’ll be in Russia very shortly, like 24 hours, and can expect the same.
Among the” glittering onion-domed churches” and “medieval fortresses” writes Bohlen, are “charming hotels, functional phones, better restaurants and innumerable monasteries lovingly rescued from Soviet-era neglect.”
But, rather than visit the Golden Circle (10 ancient towns northeast of Moscow) our stops will include the Moscow and then Albany’s sister-city Tula followed by the magical countryside estate of writer Leo Tolstoy.
I’ve been to Russia with Benita Zahn a few years ago and will be repeating the adventure but instead with two essay contest winners from the Capital Region along with ATA board members Mary Emerson and Dawn Weinraub. For more information visit the ATA website.
Our 10 day sojourn includes visits to a Dacha (summer vacation homes), samovar and armament museums, Tula’s Kremlin, colorful cultural dance performances and, of course, copious amounts of Russian cuisine. Brace yourself, I recall toasting the following eye-popping appetizers: salmon caviar, boiled beef tongue, salted cucumbers and herring in sheepskin coat to large swigs of Vodka.
Our Tulan friend, Elena Molchanova, will be giving us a guided tour of Moscow the first day including Red Square, Moscow University, the Russia Exhibition Center, perhaps a gallery and St. Basil’s Cathedral. The rest of our stays will include bunking at Tula State Pedagogical and attending the International Tolstoy Conference on opening day.