Pegontheroad in eastern Europe

Old Aug 6th, 2015, 01:18 PM
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Scylla,
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Old Aug 6th, 2015, 03:47 PM
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And Poland had been caught between Scylla and Charybdis for centuries.
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Old Aug 6th, 2015, 07:35 PM
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ANNHIG - thanks
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Old Aug 13th, 2015, 07:47 PM
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Just wonderful! Thanks so much for writing and all the information! And thank you to Percy also for the informative additions.
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 07:24 AM
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I loved your story about the nuns. I gave my walking stick to a very elderly Buddhist monk in Burma at the end of my SE Asia trip last year. He asked to see it. It was never my intention to take it home and it seemed like the right thing to do.

In Belarus 2 years ago I tried to give my leftover currency to a salesperson at a cafe in the airport. She was so honest that she insisted on giving me this large chocolate bar. If there is almost no chance I will use small amounts of remaining currency in foreign countries, I sometimes put it in an airport charity bin or in an envelope on the plane if there is a charity campaign.

Insofar as the links I posted to my blog are concerned, they were in response to questions about home exchange. Insofar as the "advertising" charge is concerned, my blog is not set up to make any money. You can read it or not. You can also be nasty on fodors if you have decided to dislike someone
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 07:25 AM
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I forgot to thsnk the OP for his thread. I read it all and really enjoyed it.
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 05:39 PM
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I've been thinking about the comment that Joachim, my driver in St. Petersburg said about how things were better before the breakup of the Soviet Union.

That's not how I remember it from my trip to the Soviet Union in 1967, so I was curious and looked up the subject of consumer goods in the Soviet Union. I found a long boring article about it in Wikipedia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consum...e_Soviet_Union

My experience was that you could get anything for a pair of jeans. My roommate had a very nice cable knit sweater that she traded for a beautiful icon. It seems to me it was illegal to do that, but people on my tour did it anyway.

It appears that it was even worse than I remember it. Even in the 80's, it was still pretty grim.
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 07:37 PM
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Peg,
I think many older people in former Communist countries felt safer and looked after
by the state in the past.
The free( er) market economy left them behind to fend for themselves while those with connections, good skills
and entrepreneurial spirit have done better. Even some Germans from the East miss the
old system.
I was amazed at the wealth I saw in Moscow : department stores to equal those in Paris,
luxury cars of all kinds, crowded restaurants , sold out Bolshoi performance ( my ticket was
3800 R - not the best seat), patrons dressed to the nines sipping champagne...

I also saw those infamous Soviet blocks in a suburb of SP where everything looked more
like the picture we had for years of the life in the Soviet Union.
BTW, if you are going East again, do visit Moscow.
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Old Aug 15th, 2015, 07:17 AM
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I've been thinking about the comment that Joachim, my driver in St. Petersburg said about how things were better before the breakup of the Soviet Union.>>

I don't think that it's how my friend who grew up in Leipzig looks at it like that either, though she said that her father hankered after the "good old days". In her living room she has a 3 foot high red plastic Karl Marx as a reminder of those days which I don't think would have been possible then.
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Old Aug 15th, 2015, 08:08 AM
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I took a city tour in Leipzig , the tour guide spoke about the communist days
with contempt and bitterness.
During the communist era there was little income disparity among
the population( except the Party officials and their families) .
Today, a pensioner with a monthly income of 6-8000 R , must find the
new world of Starbucks, Channel, Mercedes...etc puzzling .
Not to mention inaccessible.
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Old Aug 15th, 2015, 10:01 AM
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I took a city tour in Leipzig , the tour guide spoke about the communist days
with contempt and bitterness.>>

danon - my friend was a single parent student in the 1980s. Nevertheless, she took part in the Monday protests at the Nikolaikirche and every Monday morning she asked her mother to look after the children if she didn't come back. would I be that brave?

The first time we went we also met a tour guide in Halle who said that she learnt english and became a guide specifically to be able to meet people from outside the east. She had to be extremely careful with any "extra curricular" contacts because of the Stasi.

I'm not surprised that they look back on those days in that way.
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Old Aug 15th, 2015, 10:07 AM
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Been following and enjoying.

Here are a few points on St.Petersburg

when I was there.


1. Gas is $3.00 US per gallon

2.Salary average is $1500.00 a month

3.Mortgage rate is 14 % so no one can afford to buy a house,they rent apartments.

4. You pay $1.00 / month for gas(heating) no matter how much you use.
So not expensive to heat your home in the cold winter days.

5. You go into the Army at age 18 for 4 years BUT if you go to University, then it is only for 18 months.

6.Unemployment is 0.8 % only ,so it is easy to get a job.

7. Medical Services is free.


pegontheroad Did you have to convert to each country's currency.?
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Old Aug 15th, 2015, 11:19 AM
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I don' know where the average of 1500.00 dollars a month's comes from
but it seems high. (Or other statistics : unemployment, etc.)

my Russian teacher told us that her sister gets a pension of 6. 500 R
a months ....which would be more like 150.00 dollars.
Most of us travel to SP and Moscow and only for a few nights.
As all tourist , we barely get a glimpse of the cities and the realities of life in
a particular country.
I doubt there is a Dior store or Ferrari dealership in Saratov ( where my teacher is from).
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Old Aug 15th, 2015, 11:35 AM
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Percy: I got $100 in roubles/rubles at a Forex bank at the train station in Helsinki. When I needed more, I got them from an ATM in St. Petersburg.

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania use the euro. Poland, of course has its own currency, the zloty, which I obtained from an ATM.

P.S. Joachim was/is divorced. Perhaps if he still lived with his wife and shared salaries and expenses, it would be easier for him financially. He has two almost adult children; I'm not sure if they are self-supporting or if he helps them.

By the way, one of the checkers at my Safeway is Ukrainian. Ever since I told him about my trip, he likes to talk about Russia. He thinks that the taxi drivers work for the government as agents. Considering that the Hotel Viru, which at one time was the only hotel in Tallinn that foreigners could use, was set up to spy on rooms and especially on the help, that doesn't sound as far-fetched as it might at first seem.
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Old Aug 15th, 2015, 11:40 AM
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I agree danon, it's very difficult as a tourist to get a real idea of any country. Even if, like you, you speak the language, a few weeks a year aren't the same as living somewhere or being brought up there.
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Old Aug 15th, 2015, 11:44 AM
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Annhig: I had a teacher at Deutsche Sommerschule am Pazifik in Portland in 1992 who told about taking part in the demonstrations in Leipzig at the Nicholaikirche. At the time, I didn't realize how brave those people were, nor how important their actions were.

There's a reason the Germans have named Leipzig "Heldenstadt," "city of heroes."
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Old Aug 15th, 2015, 12:13 PM
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Peg - it really makes you appreciate living in a country where we don't have to risk our freedom or even our lives to get the right to travel and to have free elections. Ironically, our friends' children seem oblivious to what the older generation went through and take their freedoms for granted, much to the despair of their parents.
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Old Aug 15th, 2015, 12:58 PM
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I studied Russian intensively for three months before my trip . Could not
carry a conversation ,but was glad to get responses to my questions( usually looking for a bus or metro station) and to be able to read signs in Moscow's metro.
A waiter in Moscow asked me if I was Russian( he was just being kind) because, as he said,
I pronounced " da" so well!

SP is much more tourist friendly ...many signs are in Latin alphabet , some in English.
The city was full of Europeans- my hotel was completely sold out . If one did not
venture into the suburbs, it was like being in a beautiful European city.
Once I asked a lady who sells tickets on the bus ( they call them" conductors", always old women)
where to get off. After a while she came back and said " next" . in English!



For a ( too) short time I was in Moscow, I found it more interesting....
I am thinking about going back for another, longer stay next summer.
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Old Aug 15th, 2015, 01:11 PM
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A waiter in Moscow asked me if I was Russian( he was just being kind) because, as he said, I pronounced " da" so well!>>

lol, danon. The BBC did a "learn Russian" series many, many years ago, and I still remember about 6 words, "da" being one of them. I'd obviously fit in well.
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Old Aug 15th, 2015, 01:55 PM
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In the 67's I was living in Heidelberg, Germany, on an American army post. Two other teachers and I started studying Russian because we had this crazy plan to travel across Russian via the Trans-Siberian railroad.

Trudy, the home economics teacher from Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, (seriously) dropped out because she discovered she was incapable of learning Russian. I dropped out because it occurred to me that I was living in Germany but didn't speak German, yet here I was studying Russian. That was when I began my study of German, which still continues.

I don't remember much. Da, and nyet. I can also say "I live in the village, though I can't reproduce that in the Latin alphabet. I did learn the Cyrillic alphabet, but I no longer remember much.


I still know some Japanese.
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