Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thank God for America...

Good morning blog readers! First, let me say thank you to those that have posted comments - it's encouraging for me as the writer to read what you have to say! Second, let me apologize for the delay in writing posts. As Mom mentioned - there is so much activity that I fall exhausted into bed every night - usually around 9pm! LOL! There has been some difficulty connecting online as well.

Cha-Cha dance class was hilarious and a blast! I couldn't believe how much fun we had. Chantel, my Evil Twin, has taken pictures to share, as has Liz. Oy...

Tuesday night was our first Formal Night and it was lovely. We got a group picture as well as individuals - hopefully we'll purchase a few good ones to bring home and eventually post. :-)

Yesterday we went to Russia. After you read this, perhaps you'll understand why I titled this the way I did. We had a leisurely breakfast in the Lido as usual and then gathered as a group to go ashore. The immigration officials that boarded from Russia were very stern, no smiles and stereotypical of all the Cold War movies. We tendered across the harbor and stepped up onto the pier. We walked a short distance to the waiting motor coach and our tour guide, Marinka. Along the way, we noticed several people dressed entirely in black. Standing. Watching. Following us with their eyes. We were told we could not go anywhere without an escort. Who would want to? When we boarded the motor coach, Judy commented to me that it felt like we had just walked the Gauntlet. For an American with so many freedoms, this was creepy!!!

Our tour took us to the northernmost tea plantation in the world - in Sochi, Russia. We sat high in the hills on a steep hillside and learned through an intrepeter, about the tea grown here - it's black (as is all tea), and the smell was fragrant. We then ventured to a beautifully-made lodge where we were served tea from a traditional Russian Samovar, ate wonderful bread with jams and spreads and all the hazelnuts we could crack. We were entertained with live music from performers in traditional dress. In fact, it appears that Larry is now betrothed...ask Liz how she feels about that! LOL!

We returned to the pier and said good by to our tour guide. I should note that in all the hiking around, she was wearing stilleto heels that could poke a hole in the toughest canvas they were so sharp.

Remember, we were told that we could not purchase Rubles or get them in change as they are a restricted currency. Never one to be daunted by such a small challenge, I finally convinced a street vendor to sell me some. The whole exchange was very clandestine-feeling in that she fervently looked both ways and then seruptitiously gave me some. Next, Liz, Larry and I wandered off - taboo without an escort, but we were up for the adventure - to McDonald's! We went, ordered a Coca-Cola Light and after drinking half of it and parting with 33 of my precious rubles, tossed it as it was mostly water and no ice!

We got back on board in time to freshen up, eat dinner and go our separate ways - me to do laundry and the others to do who knows what.

Today, wer're headed into Sevastopol, Ukraine. Here, currency is not such an issue and we'll have plenty of resources.

I must sign off now, but look for another update as soon as I can!

1 comment:

Brenda's Mom said...

I am happy that you got to see Russia. After all, you have watched enough of those cold war movies. I am mostly happy that our girl in out of Russia. I breath a little easier because I know you don't always follow the rules and could get into much trouble. LOL
Love you,