October 20, 1992
In the latter part of the 80's and so far in the 90's our travel mode and social life has changed. Our experience with Grand Circle Tours was good and we used them for our foreign travel. They provide a fair amount of choice and freedom, eliminated a lot of the hassle, and are a better value. Also our visits to Orcas were not on an annual basis and are shorter since we no longer have the trailer and everyone works and they have little free time during the summer. Even our everyday social life has cut back. Our age group is doing less entertaining and we meet for a lunch or dinner dates.
This year I went to the Rickelmann reunion and we decided to drive and combine it with genealogy and our visits to Civil War battlefields. The reunion was in Marlin, TX. Kay and Carl Evans entertained the group most graciously at their factory. Mary Liz and I provided a Friday night party for the group in honor of Mary Liz's mother, Barbara's, 100th birthday.
We visited the historical societies, in Shelbyville, TN. and in Henderson, TX., to look up genealogy records. Shilo, in Tennessee, was added to our list of visits to Civil War historical memorials.
On May 15th we signed a Living Trust agreement. The Living Trust seemed to us to be the best way for us to leave our estate to our heirs by avoiding the expense and delays of probate and to take full advantage of the marital deduction.
Ed Jr. married Carol Ferris, an Orcas resident on September 15th. Carol has a secretarial service on Orcas and has one son, Jim, who is about the same age as Chris. We made a short trip to enjoy a nice wedding and seeing the young Suttons again.
A short trip to Bermuda completed the unusual happenings for 1990. We went to Bermuda to visit Tina, Carolyn Sr.'s daughter, and to meet her husband and children. We stayed at our usual stop, the Oxford House, and visited Edward Bottone who now lives in Bermuda. Aside from seeing Tina and Edward, we found the trip to be a little pointless and boring.
Peggy Hill and Gina Manning, old friends and part of the bridge club, died this year.
The Lyme disease is becoming a problem in our area and sure enough I found the tell tale rash on my chest and the doctor picked the sesame seed size tick off my chest. After a session of antibiotics, the test showed that I was cured.
SCANDINAVIA & RUSSIA
This year our travels were unusual and very interesting. Again we took a Grand Circle Tour to Scandinavia and Russia and we left on August 20th. on Finnair. This tour was much different than the one to Spain. Our activities were planned and in most cases we made two night stop overs at each location. Most of our transportation was via a super motor coach. It was uncrowded and the other travellers were good company. Except for some meals, it was practically an all expense paid tour, which was great because of the language and currency problems. Two legs of the trip were on very large, cruise ship type, ferries. One was from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Oslo, Norway, and the other was from Stockholm, Sweden, to Helsinki, Finland. Another leg was on an unusual rail trip from Oslo to Stockholm. At each stop we had plenty of time to explore on our own. Everything was handled very efficiently and the tour guides and the accommodations were excellent.
Our trip started in Helsinki where we stayed for one night at the Ramada Presidentti. We took the city tour and walked around the town and took in the National Museum. We flew to Denmark and checked in at the SAS Scandinavia Hotel.
A nice touch was a dinner arranged at a typical Danish family in their home. The Pierre d'Hermilly family were very gracious and we enjoyed the herring an Akvavit.
The next day we explored the Walking Street and made purchases at the Royal Copenhagen. We continued our walk to the Rosenborg Castle to see the Crown Jewels and took the scheduled City Tour which included a look at the Little Mermaid. Dinner at and a walk through the Tivoli completed our evening.
We took two optional tours. One took us to various castles and palaces and the other to Viking Land. The Viking ships were fine restorations and the museums were very interesting. Our transportation to Oslo was via a large overnight ferry. We had a nice stateroom and a relaxing trip.
We stayed in Norway for about a week and toured the countryside by a luxury bus, travelled the fjords on small ferries, and took a famous train trip at Flaam. It's a 12 mile trip with a steep change in elevation, a gradient of 1 in 18. It's a slow decent through a wild beautiful area with 20 tunnels and hair pin bends.
Bergen and Lofthus were interesting stops on our trip. The home of the composer Edward Greig, was visited in Bergen. From Lofthus we headed for Oslo driving on a picturesque twisty road paralleling the fjords. Quite often we travelled on the fjords on small ferries to reach locations on the other side.
In Oslo we visited the City Hall where the large Central Hall is covered with famous beautiful frescos. On an optional tour we visited the Bygdoy Peninsula and a museum which housed the Kon-Tiki and the papyrus boat RA 11 from the Thor Herdahl's expeditions. We ended our stay in Oslo with dinner at the Olympic ski jump site at Holmenkollen.
The trip to Stockholm was via the Bergen Railway. It was a 6 1/2 hour slow hot trip but it was very scenic over mountainous terrain with good views of the Flamm Valley. When we reached our destination, we found that we had great accommodations, an executive suite, in the Hotel Amaranten.
Stockholm is a beautiful city and again we took the city tour. One highlight of which was a visit to the City Hall. A very large building where the Nobel Peace Prize banquet and activities are held. The tour also took us to the Vasa Museum that houses an old Viking warship that sank shortly after it was built. It was top heavy.
We took an optional tour that took us on a boat trip through Lake Maelar to the Royal Palace of Drottningholm with beautiful gardens and parks. From there we visited the Milles Sculpture Garden and the home of Carl Milles.
Again it was time to move on and we took the overnight ferry to Helsinki. This ferry was really a cruise ship. Over 2 foot ball fields long, 12 decks high, and with 2500 berths.
Our stop in Helsinki was a brief one to leave our excess baggage before going on to Russia and for those that were returning home to leave the tour.
Our short stay of four days in St. Petersburg (Leningrad) was a tremendous experience and one that I'd like to relive. We were lucky to be able to get it in just after the failed coup attempt and before the new freedom created a problem. Our accommodations, the meals, and the people exceeded our expectations.
There is so much that could be said about this part of the tour but again I feel that these memoirs have deteriorated into a travel log. I'll try to keep my comments brief.
We stayed in room 13056 of the Hotel Pribaltiyskaya. Our stay was very active, everything was planned and, because we were a good group, our guides did even more. We took two optional functions. The Georgian Folk Festival was excellent but the Circus was a bore.
There were street peddlers everywhere. Even the waiters try to sell watches. On one of our walks we stopped in a store where there was a long line and found only a few dozen eggs inside. Another stop was Leningrad's largest department store. It was large, a square city block, but it was like a run down warehouse inside and there was nothing to buy. Russia was a mess of contradictions. Everything was dirty and run down on the outside. On the inside there has been a lot of restoration in places like the Hermitage and other important buildings to show their old elegance and splendor. The many fountains and gardens at the Petrodvorets and the Great Palace were beautiful.
The subway system was an example of what the Russians can do. The trains were clean and modern and the stations were like museums. Beautiful marble sculptures and design. We got off the train at several locations just to enjoy the stations. The fare to ride the subway was only about 3 cents American.
In contrast the roads, exteriors of important buildings, the living quarters, the airport, etc. are all run down and need major repair. There are two economies. The state stores, hotels for natives, and certain things, like the subway fare, are highly subsidized. The other things are scarce and not cheap. I learned that the typical pay is about $10 per month. I imagine that some like the tour guides do OK because they get good tips in dollars.
Our farewell dinner and party was a joy. There was always plenty of vodka and caviar with all of our meals in Russia but this time it was exceptional. I made friends with some young people at the next table celebrating a birthday. Mary Liz and I joined the dancing to good music. It was a ball, the Russians were very exuberant and did their impression of the "Big Apple". When it was over, a couple that were in the group we had joined, gave us each a rose and kissed us good bye.
Our visit to St. Petersburg concluded with a visit to the Fortress of Peter and Paul. The Cathedral housed the tombs of Peter the Great, Elizabeth, Catherine 1, and others. It was a beautiful cathedral and many Icons were on display. We later visited the St. Nicholas Cathedral which was very old and also very beautiful. There were many people worshiping inside and lighted candles were everywhere. Some older ladies were begging outside.
Our tour ended with an over night stay in Helsinki to pick up our baggage and the flight to JFK where we breezed through customs, picked up our rental car for the trip home.
This tour will always bring back fond memories of a good time and a different feeling about the Russian people.
Debbie Kline another close friend and one of the famous card group died after falling down the steps.
My hoarseness continued and I decided to have a second opinion. In November, I had an examination by Dr. Lowry at the Jefferson Hospital and he arranged for an MRI. I continued with Dr. Lowry into '92 but he didn't contribute anything constructive. I've decided to stay with periodic examinations by Dr. Welsh and not to have another operation unless there is a change in my condition.
The rest of the year was about as usual with a short visits from Tina, our niece; the Rusty Folks, and Susan and Lib Hawthorne; Mary Liz's cousins. We had made a trip earlier to visit the Hawthornes in their new home in the Norfolk area.
next: The Nineties (1992)