It's official! My book has a place on the web.
The link to view the cover, read the notes on the author,
read a few excerpts and purchase, if that pleases you is
I spent more time in the largest country in the world than any other on my trip. Twenty-seven days in a country that is struggling with democracy
and capitolism, crime, drugs, alcoholism, and a terrorist threat not unlike the one facing my own country.
What I saw is a people, who are for the most part, friendly and helpful. I saw the beauty of centuries old buildings mixed with the ultra modern. I saw poverty on a grand scale, and luxury to excess. I saw a metro system built on military need. I saw memorials to the revolution and to WWII everywhere I went. I saw Red Square, the Kremlin, the Bolshoi, Palaces, and I saw Benny Hill in Russian.
I also saw two of my online friends, Carol and Helga, who both went above and beyond the call of duty to make me feel at home in a strange place. I was given information,
provided guidance, and watched after. I now have two more real friends.
I arrived in the country a little after midnight the 19th of September. I couldn't see a thing. I tried to sleep, but I don't sleep well on trains. About 3AM there was a passport check for Russia. And what else is new? They told me I was a day early. The start date on my visa was 20 August and it was 19 September. I'm sure, the look on my face told them I was tired of the border crap in the former Soviet Bloc countries; and that I thought, he was crazy. Someone should teach them that month 08 is August and month 09 is September. When I pointed that out to him, he became very embarrassed and apologetic. Entering Russia also brought my first customs inspection since debarking the plane in Belgium. There were about 8 customs agents in my car alone for a max of 30 passengers. The check was thorough.
My entry point was Br'ansk about half way between Kiev and Moscow. Russia was the first country where the entry stamp wasn't placed in the passport or on the visa. It was on the reverse of my entrance/departure card.
Most of the way there wasn't a lot to look at. The stands of birch trees were beginning. I originally thought they were white poplars, but decided they were birches. Somewhere along my journey across Russia, I remembered seeing a birch bark canoe. That is when I recalled the white bark. Anyway there are millions of them in Russia.
As I approached Moscow a nervousness settled in my stomach. I hadn't had that sensation since the landing approach to Dublin. I'm didn't know if the nearness of Moscow and the stigma of that place or the meeting of my friend, Carol, that was the cause of this.