I want to stay now 1974
7/22 Monday Leningrad
Peter and Paul CathedralI’m beginning to feel better about Leningrad now I want to stay. This morning we went to the Peter and Paul fortress and saw the prison, then we went to the cathedral. Many of the Czars are buried in this cathedral. http://www.saint-petersburg.com/cathedrals/Peter-Paul-Cathedral.asp
I’m afraid to write things because I don’t want my journal taken away, and I don’t want to get Alla in trouble but I have been having good discussions with her.
After lunch I went to St. Isaac’s the third largest cathedral in the world and waited to buy tickets. Just as I go to the window to buy tickets the office closed, What a gyp! Met a Russian student in line who was very eager to speak English to someone. He sail he had never spoken to anyone before outside of his English class. He was a Marxist philosopher and wanted to know about American philosophy and other things, especially American music. He wanted to know the top singers and rock groups. He said a Beatles Abbey Road album costs about 110 rubles unofficially (black market) but that there was no way to get records. He told us the big hassle there is to leave Russia (even for a vacation). He wanted to show us the bad parts of Leningrad, but I didn’t go because I didn’t know if it would be safe. He did take us up and down the Nevsky Prospekt and to other places, though. The Nevsky Prospekt is the big shopping street of Leningrad. It is 4 kilometers long and has many shops including a Beryozka. It is similar to the Via Condoti and Via Veneto of Rome and of the main district in Madrid too, but it is much more crowded and the goods they sell aren’t as high class. This guy took us to two Beryozka shops one on Nevsky which had high class things—jewelry, watches, china and appliances. The other shop was in the Astoria. I liked it better. I bought a Russian lacquer box there and also a book of stamps. The people were really friendly. I met a girl there from Connecticut who handed me a piece of gum for a pin, as a joke. She was dying for news from the sates but I had been gone almost as long as she had. Wadum kept trying to spend his foreign currency there but they kept giving him other kinds. He gave them Marks, they gave him Francs, and finally they gave him 5 cents and a 6p stamp. We tried to get home on a bus. I have never seen a bus so crowded before in my life. I lost Wadum on the bus, because I couldn’t get off. When I finally got off, I asked a man for directions in German.
He understood me. He walked all the way down to Nevsky Prospekt with me to the train station and made sure I got on the right train. This man had an interesting life. He was 70 years old and had lived in Leningrad for 50 years during WW I he was in Hungary and Rome. He learned German in school and I had a good time talking to him. After I got off the train I asked for directions again. I discovered that the young people would not help me only the older ones. I don’t know if this is because they’re afraid of strangers or Americans or just don’t know the city, but I doubt it.
Tonight I learned how to play a Yugoslavian card game from a Yugoslavian student and later went to a party in a guy’s room who was from Bulgaria. We had Havana rum and Bulgarian cigarettes. His name was Todor. I had and interesting experience as a translator. Going from English to, German to French to Russian to Bulgarian. He invited me back tomorrow for Russian Vodka and five Russian girls. (I nicknamed him Billy, I still corresponded with him while I was in college.)
- The Siege of Leningrad (chebdaddy.wordpress.com)
- Северная Венеция (The Ven ice of the North) (sarahamadden.wordpress.com)