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I first started thinking about a trip to Russia about a year before my departure. I have long been interested in Russia and have read quite a lot about the former Soviet Union, the breakup, and current situations in Russia and former republics of the USSR.

But a year ago actually going there seemed little more than a dream. However, the more I thought about it the more I began to see such a trip as something I could actually do, so I began planning in earnest. After plane tickets were bought, a visa was applied for and granted, and the time to fly drew closer, I started getting a little nervous.

You see, this was my first time out of the United States. When friends finally realized I was truly serious about going they'd say, "Russia? Why are you going to Russia?!" And their surprise and subtle but real concern for my well-being made me start thinking I was making a mistake. "Why not England or France? You've never even been out of the country," they'd say. "You don't speak the language. And I just read in the paper the other day that things are terrible there." As you can see these comments were not reassuring.

Well, I went anyway with a very ominous feeling I was in for something, but not quite sure what. I first left Atlanta on June 13th and flew to New York City, where I spent a few days with friends and falling in love with a truly great city. Then, on July 16th I boarded a plane and headed out over the ocean for my Russian Adventure.

As it turned out, what I was in for was the most exciting and educational experience of my thirty four years. I found an incredible country, steeped in one of the richest and most complex histories of any place on earth, wonderful and caring people from many of the former USSR republics who welcomed me into their lives and homes like a long lost friend. And finally, I found a little bit of myself. In the hearts and spirits of the people I could see very clearly the same hopes and aspirations that people share all over the world. And I became convinced, from real life experiences, that the fragile peace now forming between people once held as adversaries by their governments can only survive with a real committment to find these common values, and nurturing their growth.

The first leg of my journery took me to America's greatest city to visit with old friends for a few days and prepare myself for my adventure. By the time I left New York I had found myself thinking seriously about a move from Atlanta.

The butterflies in my stomach were really jumping by the time the plane landed in Moscow. There was no turning back now and I left the security of the plane and placed my fate in the hands of Mother Russia.

After a night on a train we arrived in St. Petersburg. I am sure that when the Russian economy finally gets on a par with the west this beautiful city will hold the same prestige and status as New York, Paris and London.

After St. Petersburg there was still time to explore more of Moscow and visit with my new friends before finally heading home to the states.

A brief stopover in beautiful Amsterdam, before the last flight took me back to Atlanta, had me wishing I had alloted more time for this terrific city.
  • A night in Amsterdam, before heading home. July 7, 1997.

Moscow's historic metro stations. A few interesting billboards.

Before I even left Russia I was already wondering how long I'd wait before I came back again. The changes happening there in every facet of life for the people of Russia and the former USSR are so fascinating and of vital interest to the whole world, I am already anxious to see how they take shape over the next few years.

I'm sure I'll be back to Russia in the not too distant future. In the meantime, I would definately encourage anyone who is thinking about a trip to Russia to go for it! It's an amazing place, wonderful people, and a fascinating time in history.

'Do skoroi vstrechi, druzia!'

Please visit...

Have you been to Russia, or planning a trip in the future?

Friends and Partners has given me permission to offer to add your pictures and stories to these pages in a new section called Our Russian Adventures. I'll be glad to scan your photos and create the web pages here on the Friends and Partners site for you. All you need to supply is the photos and the text to include with them. Email me if you'd like to participate in Our Russian Adventures!

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All contents and photos © 1997 by Skip Evans

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