Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia,
                           Finland, and Sweden
           A travelogue by Mark R. Leeper and Evelyn C. Leeper
            Copyright 1994 Mark R. Leeper and Evelyn C. Leeper
Table of contents:


"Vilna's crooked streets, with their worn cobblestones and their picturesque arches, were the ubiquitous landmarks of the city's distant past. Bust just as enduring as any architectural relic was the abiding presence in Vilna of Jewish history, a history of faith and learning and matters of the spirit. Vilna was the city of that powerful eighteenth-century Talmudic mind, Vilna Gaon; it was the stronghold of rabbinic Judaism, the fortress that withstood the assault of Hasidim. Modern Hebrew literature had originated in Vilna and Yiddish literature thrived there. In Vilna the Zionist movement experienced its first stirrings and there too the Jewish labor movement and the Jewish Socialist Bund had their origins. In Vilna, even as late as 1938, one could still witness the powerful and passionate conflict between tradition and modernity in the Jewish community. In Vilna I lived at the heart of the Jewish community." --Lucy Dawidowicz, WHAT IS THE USE OF JEWISH HISTORY? (page 25)

From Evelyn's log: "Yaakov Smirnoff says that a person can move to France and live there twenty years and still not be French, but if a person moves to the United States, as soon as they step off the plane they are Americans--perhaps not United States citizens, but still 'Americans.' And our language reflects this. In Bosnia, there are 'Bosnian Serbs' and 'Bosnian Muslims'--Serbs and Muslims primarily, Bosnian only as a secondary characteristic. Here there are 'Chinese-Americans' and 'Polish-Americans'--Americans primarily; Chinese, Polish, etc., secondarily. True, this has not always held firm--the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II is an example of a time we set this aside."

"But on the whole it is true, and yet as Americans we have so little of our own history. It is said that America is a place is a place where a hundred miles is a short distance and a hundred years is a long time. (Mark adds, 'And two languages is a lot of languages.') So when we travel, it is almost inevitably to someplace with a longer history. And we try to find places with a distinct culture, not part of the Euro-American-Japanese post-modern soup."

"That I rejoice in living in the 'soup' yet seek out places which are not makes me wonder at times if I'm not viewing these places as a sort of museum, or giant EPCOT exhibit. I hope not--I think what I am searching for is a global culture that can retain its individuality in subcultures without restricting or restraining people. Whether this is possible is more than I can answer."

May 5, 1994: Mark notes, "It is 4:30 the night before another trip. It is just barely over six months since our last trip. I am coming to the end of the pre-trip all-night vigil. Readers of previous logs will know that I consider the most valuable resource to take for a long international flight is a good stock of fatigue and exhaustion. That way I sleep through much of the flight and totally confuse my internal clock. It then looks to the position of the sun for guidance. It is my way of almost entirely avoiding jet lag."

"The effect it has on me is somehow surprising. The next day I feel wide awake, particularly if I keep moving. If I sit at my terminal I still feel fine, but if I close my eyes for five seconds I feel myself dozing off. Then I will have a moment of drowsiness and I will realize that I've typed two lines of M's without realizing it," he concludes.

At least this trip there were no really negative omens like the last time when we discovered a mouse in the house the night before the trip. Concern over damage lasted the whole trip through India. As far as we know there is no little creature messing up our house. Mark spent the last night doing work on the computer (to make up for leaving work early the next day). He saw three films: FINAL MISSION, THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT, and CANDYMAN. The only one he can recommend at all is THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT. He also did some reading. Evelyn, in keeping with other advice on how to avoid jet lag, got a good night's sleep.

We got a ride to work from Virginia Savitsky, a friend from work who also travels.

Work was fairly uneventful. Mark says, "My supervisor had not given me any real work for a week or so. That is not uncommon. The vast majority of what I do does not come through him; it is from reports of problems or requests or just me doing what I think needs doing. I actually did a fair amount of running around to help customers. You know how it is: some people's computers just have off days."

Discussion at lunch was about Michael Fay, who was sentenced to caning in Singapore. Apparently today was the day of the caning as punishment for vandalizing cars with spray paint. There was little sympathy for Fay. Particularly since we've been there and seeing the warnings all around of fines, we figure the man had to be really a couple of bulbs short of a full marquee. Mark says this is just a case of evolution in action.

Came 15:00, went Leepers. (Note: in the interests of globalization, times will be expressed using a 24-hour clock. We will also try to give distances in kilometers, etc.) Our friend Jo Paltin drove us to the airport. We are flying SAS. That stands for Sacrifice All Schedules. First we got into the queue for the ticket check. It seems that their computer was just having an off day. Mark estimates we were in that line not moving for twenty minutes before they started doing things manually. Then we went to the gate where we were in line a good forty-five minutes to get our boarding passes. A sort of beefy guy was behind us in line, his arm around what Mark seems to remember as being a bleached blonde. He was telling us about lines he had been in and bad service he had gotten in the past. A plane to Cancun was four hours late, so he said he would not go there again. Besides, you cannot leave when you want. Planes out go only a few times a week. We told him about a plane we'd taken to Lima that was nineteen hours late. He also told us how he'd been to New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman's Inaugural Ball. He'd waited seventy-five minutes in line and the food was terrible. He'd never do that again either. As we got up to the desk at last, he gave Mark his card. He said if we ever need anything collected we should contact him. "If we don't get it, we don't charge you!" Mark wanted to be polite so he told him if we needed something collected we'd call him. We'll tell him no rough stuff, though. Unless it's absolutely necessary.

Well, eventually we boarded the plane for a 18:05 take-off. We actually took off about 19:40.

Not much eventful to say about the flight. In keeping with Scandinavian cuisine, the snack was Japanese rice crackers. (Did you know that the Swedish word for seaweed is "tang"?) The meal, which came about 21:00 New York time, was served with French wine and started promisingly with a calimari salad. (One of the passengers asked the purser what was in the salad. "Squid." "I ate squid?!" "Squid." As it happens we are something of fans of squid. American airline companies would never serve anything as adventurous as squid, of course.) The main course was over-cooked vegetables with under-curried chicken. There was a very nice crispy roll. Dessert was apple tart with too much whipped cream and not enough apple. There was a one-inch diameter disk of Bel Paese cheese.

May 6, 1994: Mark was awake long enough to write down what he had eaten, but the combination of digesting his meal and his own sleep deprivation came flooding over him and he slept very soundly for six and a half hours. (Evelyn woke him when a light breakfast of cheese, rolls, and fruit was served.) Evelyn slept an hour of the time. Of course, she didn't bring much exhaustion with her.

The flight magazine had a story which answered some questions Mark has had, namely, how does Robert Duvall give such a good performance? People who know claimed he got the accent wrong for TENDER MERCIES. Right area, but he was one county off. That's pretty accurate. He apparently immersed himself in the Texas country music business, even singing with a band. Then he drove over the state recording locals reading parts of the script. He mimicked them with a very good ear until that was the way he talked. Evelyn does not feel so strongly about Duvall, but Mark considers him to be the best American actor.

From the reading, the Baltics look to have folklore and customs that are a link between those of Scandinavia and those of Russia. The folk costumes look a lot like you used to see in Soviet fantasy films: lots of bright red. These countries have been victims and ideological battlefields of invaders from the West for centuries. Poland has long had designs on Lithuania. Sweden has wanted and occasionally gotten Estonia and Latvia. Russia and the Soviets grabbed all of the Baltics, and of course Germany grabbed it in trying to grab all of Europe. Of course independence is welcomed.

Lithuanians are aggressively hospitable and anxious to bring visitors into their homes to sample home produce and meet family and pets. Estonians are more stand-offish, and Latvians are somewhere in between. At least that's what the books claim.

After an hour's wait in Copenhagen, we boarded the place for the final hour's leg into Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Lunch had more of an ethnic feel, with an open-face ham sandwich with a strip of what seemed to be gelled meat gravy, but firmly gelled, like Jell-O. Also there was an open-faced shrimp salad. For dessert there was chocolate-covered marzipan.


Finally we started descending outside of Vilnius. Mark says he wishes he'd had his camera out to get a picture of the crackerbox little cottages we flew near. On the other hand, we would see more cottages during our trip.

It was kind of a dismal day in Vilnius. Luck of Leeper dictates that we left New Jersey just as the recent dismal weather was getting nice and Vilnius is overcast.

We had a particularly bumpy landing. Generally Mark doesn't mind these, but Evelyn had not been feeling very well, probably from lack of sleep.

We got off the plane and there was a shuttle there to take us to the terminal. At first it looked as if the terminal was only a few feet/meters from the plane anyway. Actually, it turned out to be an entrance not a whole lot further. Maybe the bus took us four hundred feet (a hundred meters).

Immigration was very fast--someone took a quick look at our visas and stamped them. We then claimed our luggage. Mark had checked his and it came extremely dusty but otherwise fine. The other thing we'd checked was a box of twenty pounds of books from the National Yiddish Book Center. We are acting as couriers, taking the books to Mejeris Shubas at the Vilnius University.

Customs was merely getting in a line called "Nothing To Declare" and walking out. There were crowds waiting for arriving, a good third of whom were holding flowers. Flowers seem to be a very popular thing. You see many people carrying flowers. The other thing you see is a lot of bananas. More than candy or ice cream people eat bananas, people sell bananas on the street, and you see banana peels in just about every public wastebasket. We don't know if this is banana season or if it is year-round, but it is the particular local fun food.

There is a bank right there and we exchanged US$300 for 1188 litu. (By the way, for those getting the printed version of this, that little tail under the "u" is an ogonek. Mark points out that an ogonek is a European diacritical mark, not to be confused with Ogadai, whose dying was a critical European mark.) The national unit of currency is the litas, which is very close to US$0.25 right now. (There was a 1% commission. It turned out that places in town had lower commissions, and also that US$300 was far too much for six and a half days--though if we had paid cash for our bed and breakfast it would have been about right.)

A taxi driver asked if we were looking for a ride and we said no. He walked away. This may not seem like a remarkable exchange, but it was *very* different from India, where cabbies rarely took "no" as an answer and swarmed over you in great numbers. Sometimes it is a real pleasure to be left alone. The area of the bank was dustily under construction. Perhaps some stores were being put in. The labor was done to the sound of American rock and roll, the one product we have absolutely no trouble exporting around the world. American rock and roll, even American Afro-pop, thrives wherever it is planted, like zucchini.

Another taxi driver asked if we needed help. We asked what it would cost to get to Litinterp. (We initially had the impression this was like a hotel with several buildings. Our misunderstanding, but we didn't realize that until later and it wasn't a problem. We had also wanted to call, but couldn't find a telephone at the airport, probably because of the renovation going on.) The driver said it would cost $US15. (Taxi drivers love to quote prices in US dollars.) That was orders of magnitude more than the "Lonely Planet" guide ("Baltic States & Kaliningrad" dated March 1994) said it should be. We wouldn't pay more than US$5. He came down to US$8. (It turns out that most prices seem to have gone up by a factor of about 6, so maybe this was reasonable.) However, there was a bus right there. We jumped on. There were a couple of minor problems with this approach. One, we had no bus tickets, and two, we were on the wrong bus. We could not find out how to pay, but we were getting off right away anyway when we discovered we were on the wrong bus. There was a sign in Lithuanian saying the fine for black-riding was 5.9 litu (about US$1.50). We got off at a junction to try to catch the correct bus. Evelyn tried to find a kiosk to sell us bus tickets and could not make herself understood. We hoped we could pay on the bus.

We were waiting for bus number 1. Unfortunately only number 2 buses came by. We discovered that a bus number 31, which did come by, would have been okay, but we discovered it too late. We ended up waiting about an hour. Finally a number 1 bus arrived. We jumped on, but it was really mobbed and nobody was selling tickets. Somebody asked to see Mark's ticket. Mark pointed to Evelyn, who said she didn't understand what he was saying. (Well, she didn't right away. The lack of sleep meant by the time she realized he was checking tickets, he had given up.) He smiled and let it go, but we really should have paid the fine. (It turns out tickets are 20 cento. A litas is a hundred cento.)

We got off and took a taxi. It was 5 litai. (By the way, you'll notice that sometimes we say "litai" and sometimes we say "litu." That's because the plural varies based on the tens digit *and* the ones digit, and whether there is a fractional part. Maybe we'll just stick to "Lt," which is the abbreviation in all cases.) We went where he dropped us, but there was nothing called Litinterp there. Instead there was something called "Vilnius in Your Pocket." They turned out to be the publisher of the local "What's Happening" magazine. You know the kind we mean. If you get a hotel room in Chicago there will often be a little magazine with a name like "What's Happening in Chicago." It will have advertisements and maps and listings of activities. They gave us a copy of "Vilnius in Your Pocket," which is often given away free in spite of saying "Price: 3 Lt (as long as it is stable)."

They said Litinterp had moved and gave us directions. They said it was a ten-minute walk. (We later discovered that *everytime* we asked how far a walk something was in this part of the world, it was a tenminute walk.) We had to walk about a kilometer, which wouldn't have been so bad but we had those twenty pounds of books to carry going to the University. Mark put a strap on the box and carried it supported from his shoulder.

It struck us as odd that a hotel might move. Well, it turned out that Litinterp was an agent for several independent bed and breakfast houses. So they got on the phone starting to find a bed and breakfast for us, but at 15:00 supposedly it is hard to reach anyone. We didn't follow just why, but apparently this was when lunch ended or work ended or something. We tried to call Professor Shubas. It took three different numbers and then it turned out he wasn't at the library. We will try him again over the weekend. If we still can't contact him, we can just go to the University and drop the books off. Litinterp tried to call bed and breakfasts again. We decided to give them some time, so we left our luggage there and went out to see the sights of the Old Town. Litinterp is really just about on the campus of Vilnius University. We went out walking and taking some pictures. We walked right by the library.

The Old Town of Vilnius is listed as one of the top ten sights of Scandinavia and the Baltics by the "Lonely Planet" guide and it is very picturesque, with lots of interesting architecture. (Many of the buildings have plaques that say "Architekturos Pamlinkas"-- "Architectural Monument.") The "worn cobblestones" that Dawidowicz talks about have been replaced in many places by bricks (those some streets are still cobbled), and some of the buildings seem to be in need of repair--though oddly enough, these may be newer buildings, since this area had been damaged in World War II. The Soviets were not known for quality construction techniques.

Evelyn had expected the Baltics to be somewhat drab, but this was not the case. Maybe--probably, in fact--a lot changed during the 1989-1991 revolution, but the buildings (in the Old Town anyway) seem to have been cleaned and generally spruced up. Pastel stonework and painted walls and dome in the *many* churches give it a fresh look. (The churches, certainly, have been worked on. The main cathedral had been an art museum during the Soviet occupation and was reconsecrated in 1989.) And the people all dress in the latest Western styles, not at all like the drab Russian/Soviet clothing one might have expected.

We stopped at a kiosk and got some ice cream. It was a small cone but it wasn't bad for 0.9 Lt (about US$0.23).

This is a more modern city than we expected. Evelyn keeps saying we didn't get here in time. We see things like bands of Krishnas walking the streets and graffiti saying things in English like "Fuck you." Actually, a symbol you see a lot is an "A" inscribed in a circle with the bar extended to be a diameter of the circle. Evelyn thinks it may have something to do with anarchy, but Mark says he would be surprised if there was a strong anarchist movement. How would it ever get organized? Who would be its leaders? Who the loyal followers?

We walked through a park on the campus before going back to Litinterp. They did have a bed and breakfast for us. The cost would be 750 Lt for the six nights we would be in Lithuania. We could even charge it on our Visa card at a rate of 4 Lt per US dollar. That's about US$31 per night. That is probably a tad high for what we get, but not too bad, particularly considering other Lithuanian prices.

The family who runs the bed and breakfast sent their daughter to show us the way. We followed her. The room was okay--not great, but okay. There is really not enough light in the room and it is quite cold. The heat has been turned off now that spring is here and the hot water is out until tomorrow. As Mark writes this the first night it is getting very cold in the room, probably below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees centigrade). Evelyn observes, "On the one hand, a more comfortable room would be nice; on the other, this certainly gives us more feel for how people live here. The people we are staying with are very literate--the room is full of books (all in Lithuanian or Russian, alas). There is a set of books something like the 'Harvard Classics' with great works translated into Lithuanian, and there are even three Jules Verne novels: MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, and one other we couldn't identify." There is also an encyclopedia, and a bunch of books we couldn't recognize.

We went to the room and wrote in our logs. Evelyn took a nap and even Mark fell asleep while writing. About 20:00 we went out to find dinner. We found a place recommended in the "Lonely Planet" guide (Kavine Arkadija). We walked a fair distance looking for it, then it turned out to be on the same street as our bed and breakfast. What we ordered turned out to be a very lightly fried chicken breast, nearly unfried potatoes, and peas. It was fairly small, served on a plate only five or six inches in diameter. Cost was 15.80 Lt (about US$4) for two. We were hit up on by a little boy begging.

After dinner, we walked for a little while, seeing some of the Jewish section and a marble plaque commemorating the Jewish community destroyed by the Nazis. We are curious if the attitude is "this is what the Nazis did to Lithuania," or if they acknowledge that there was anti-Jewish feeling and co-operation in Lithuania.

Excerpt from Mark's log: "I think it may be time for a history lesson. One for me actually, since I am reading about it as I write, but I will bring you along with me. In the 14th Century, Lithuania's Grand Duke Vytautas openly invited Jews to settle in Lithuania. Vytautas, incidentally, is the great national hero of Lithuania. With his cousin, King Jogaila, he defeated and threw out the Teutonic Order in a stunning victory at the Battle of Tannenberg (a.k.a. Grunwald). He conquered parts of Ukraine and made Lithuania, for a while, the largest state in Europe. Every piece of Lithuanian paper money bears a watermark that is a picture of Vytautas on a horse. At that time Poland and Lithuania became one due to a marriage between the ruling families. Jews came to both Poland and Lithuania for their tolerance of Jews."

"Vilnius (in Yiddish, Vilna) became a great center of Jewish learning. When there were philosophical differences between Orthodox Jews and the newer Hasidic movement, the center of the Orthodox resistance was in Vilnius. It also had a synagogue the size of a cathedral, even though land-owning was still forbidden to Jews. Vilnius and Kaunas (sixty miles away) were great Jewish cultural centers."

"But there was also resistance to Jews in the Baltics. When the Soviets got control of Lithuania in 1940, some Jews supported them as a power that could oppose the Nazis, though most Jews liked neither Soviets nor Nazis. Because of this minimal support of the Soviets by Jews, the initial massacres in the Holocaust in this region did not even involve the Germans and were conducted by partisans and volunteers who saw what the Germans were doing to the Jews and decided to do the same. This may have been also in part to curry favor with the Germans. It is not clear it did them much good."

"It is claimed that the government is still not interested in pursuing Lithuanian war criminals and that the government still does not accept that Lithuanians had a big part in the genocide. Others say the government has accepted this. In any case, the truth seems to be known. Even today there seem to be strong anti-Jewish policies by the government and the Jewish population continues to decline. The governments of the Baltic states condemn the Holocaust, but have never admitted the magnitude of this part of the Holocaust. There is certainly still anger on both sides. If the government really thinks that Jews supported the Soviets and Balts did not, they have not explained why more Jews than Balts were exiled to Siberia during the Soviet occupation, in spite of the fact that Jews were never a large proportion of the population by that time."

Mark concludes by adding, "The preceding is based on descriptions in the "Insight" guide. When we travel Evelyn likes the "Lonely Planet" guidebooks, which are very good but also very compact. "Insight"guides are big and heavy, but they are better at telling you about the region. They are so cumbersome, partly because they are full of really good photography that really shows you the region in detail and captures a spirit. Also, Evelyn had to agree in India that some of the city tours were better explained in the "Insight" guide than in the "Lonely Planet" guide. Lonely Planet grew out of the 1960s books "X on a Shoestring" and tend to appeal more to the back-packing sort of tourist, but for some countries they are really indispensable. "Insight" guides are just better at, well, insight. And they make terrific souvenirs."

Well, back to the room and some writing. There are only a few things wrong with our room. It's too damn cold, it is too dark when you want it light since most of the lights don't work, and it is too light when it should be dark since it has big windows and only lace curtains that cover only some of the window. And we are fairly far north so the days must have about seventeen hours of light already. The bed is too narrow--it is really a single bed. We are both struggling to get under the covers. When we travel Mark tends to catch cold easily since he keeps hitting different strains and he has more trouble than most people fighting them off. (When Mark woke up the next morning after less than six hours of sleep because of the light, his throat was a bit scratchy.)

Mark set up the Walkman with traveling speakers and we listened for a while to a local classical station and then switched to Voice of America overnight. When he travels he carries a Walkman, some very compact speakers, earphones that wind up onto a cassette-shaped holder that can be kept in the Walkman, and an AC adapter, and he says he really has a sound system that folds up very small. It turns out that the 220V to 110V converter we got for India works here also. He is only a little afraid to plug Thing in here.

Mark explains, "Oh, yes, Thing came along on this trip too. Thing--named for the compact character so useful in THE ADDAMS FAMILY--is an HP 95LX palmtop PC. It is the size of a pencil case. It is a rare hour that I don't access it for something, at home or traveling. When I travel I use it for currency conversions, for taking notes during the day (if I took them by hand too many would be illegible). It paces me on my film and on pages in the log. Currently we are 4.59% through the trip. I should be on roll one, shot 31; actually I am on 26 so I am okay. I should be on logbook one, page 27. I am actually on page 35. If I keep up at this rate I will have to finish my log in Thing's memo application."

"I had downloaded a fair amount of correspondence from the Internet on what to see in this region. Like the Walkman, Thing is a really good investment in space. Last trip I referred to Thing as if it were a person, a literary device that Evelyn does not like, but I have to admit that when an accomplished travel writer like Fred Lerner sees me using Thing and tells his daughter, 'Oh, look, it's Thing,' I am just a bit tickled. It also strikes me as surprising, because I still think of these logs as just notes I am writing to myself and there is a flash of 'Wow! How did he know that?' Then when I know he has read my log, I like that too. That is the real kick of writing the log: when someone shows familiarity. I started writing logs as an alternative to photography that I could do in my spare time rather than during sightseeing time. Now I do both. But frankly, the logs are better portraits of where I have been. They are also a lot easier to share with people. In person I tend to be quiet and a bit shy, even with friends. But when I write I take on a whole different persona. That's also a reason I write," Mark concludes.

May 7, 1994: Evelyn had difficulty sleeping, but whether from jet lag or the cold temperature she can't say. She *is* glad she brought her thermal underwear--she's sleeping in it.

Breakfast was bread, butter, cheese, two kinds of hard sausage, hard-boiled eggs, and coffee, laid out for us when we went into the kitchen at 8:00. This is *not* the "heart-smart" diet. We see very little of the mother and daughter whose apartment this is. If we have a chance we need to ask about heat and where we can throw our trash. The former may not be possible, but there must be a trash can somewhere.

For those who think mathematics is essentially a humorless discipline, Mark has just decided not to use the usual currency conversion program in Thing, but has given it the following formula to solve:

At 9:30 we went out to see the city, but Vilnius does not seem to wake up very early. It is just one very dead town, and nothing much opens until 11:00 (since it is Saturday). Just as well. Mark says he is suffering that most American of ailments, the bad hair day. So we sat in the sun outside the Cathedral and wrote in our logs.

Now for you to understand our next site, let us remind you that we said Jogaila and Vytautas were cousins. That meant they had the same grandfather. This was a man named Gediminas. Legend says that he once had a dream of an iron wolf howling on a hill right near the Vilnia River's mouth. Such a hill did exist. (Did he know this in advance? Mark assumes so.) He interpreted the dream to be saying that a powerful fort could be built at that place and a great city would arise from it. At this point the Vilnia flows into the Neris River. He built his fort and invited merchants, craftsmen, and religious people to settle at the foot of the hill. In the 20th Century, when Lithuania achieved its independence from the Soviets, it was on the tower remaining from this fort that the old yellow, green, and red flag of Lithuania flew once again on Friday, October 7, 1988.

The hill, now called Gediminas Hill (or Castle Hill by books that want everything in English), is 150 feet (44 meters) high. That is roughly 0.38 times the size of Godzilla in the American version of GODZILLA, or 0.6 time the height of Godzilla in the original Japanese version. That's just to help you get a feel. It is about sixty paces high--assuming you have the talent to lie on your back and pace straight up. The iron wolf did not pick a really big hill to howl from. Iron wolves don't, as a rule. Iron is heavy. Leopards tend to climb. Mark says, "I have been told that close to the western summit of Kilimanjaro there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude. I suppose what might have happened is that some hyenas got sick of having to cower in the presence of the haughty leopard and ganged up on him. Then, fearing they would be discovered, they dragged the body someplace where no other leopard would ever discover it. Well, at least it is a working theory."

We climbed the hill and there was a tower. It was made of red brick. There is a museum in the tower with medieval war weapons: crossbows, pikes, and maces. These were either donated or found at the site. And there were the usual models of what the fort looked like when it was in its full glory. It is only a very tiny museum: three small rooms each little larger than our rented room. (Of course, the charge was small as well: 70 cento, or about US$0.17, each.) Also, as was common, everything was labeled only in Lithuanian.

After that we climbed the seventy-four steps of the tower. Between the hill and the tower you get a nice view of the Old Town of Vilnius. You also get to see the modern (or Soviet modern) sections of town, which are not nearly as interesting. Off to one side you see the nice stadium that the Soviets built to please the local populace. Earlier, the land had been a Jewish cemetery, but after the Soviets pulled up the tombstones to use as paving stones a la Auschwitz, nobody really thought of it as a cemetery any more, so the ever-practical Soviets built a stadium on the site--which was the original idea. It is enough to make you wish the film POLTERGEIST could really happen. The Soviets had also knocked down the original 17th Century Three Crosses Monument, but a copy/replica was re-erected in 1989 to commemorate three monks who had been martyred there. Actually, there had been seven monks--four were thrown into the river and three were crucified, which goes to show you that if you're not martyred in an easily memorialized way, you lose out on the monument.

You also get a nice view of the confluence of the two rivers. You can look down on Cathedral Square and the University.

From there we went to find the Lithuanian State Museum (which used to be the Revolution Museum of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic). It was across the Neris River over the Zhhaliasis Bridge, about a thirty-minute walk away. This bridge, by the way, has one of the few remaining hammer-and-sickle symbols in Vilnius, atop the statue on the northeast corner of the bridge.

Walking around here one certainly gets the feeling that the United States economy is booming. The movie theater is showing HOME ALONE 2 (Heaven help them!). (Tickets are 1.5 Lt, or US$0.40, but we weren't that desperate for a movie yet.) You see stores selling Texas Instruments products, images of the Simpsons, and Pepsis for sale. The United States sure must have an economy second to none. So why don't we get that feeling at home?

When we got to the museum it turned out it was now the National Gallery--or perhaps we got lost, though it's probably the former. It still has the art exhibits of the Lithuanian State Museum, but apparently not the exhibits on the Resistance, Lithuanians in America, or the 1991 Revolution. (At least we didn't see anything like that, though the "Lonely Planet" guide mentioned them.) Tickets were 60 cento each.

The visit starts with folk art. Practical items like paddles and pulleys have decoration carved in. A particularly popular motif is what Mark calls a "compass lily." It looks like a flower with six petals inscribed in a circle. Most people who have played with a compass and paper have drawn it by starting with a circle and drawing arcs with the same radius with centers on the edge of the first circle, starting new arcs where previous arcs intersect the circumference. We see pottery and painted chests. Then there is a room with giant road-side crosses and icons in what look like birdhouses. Supposedly the best of these are by Vincas Svirskis (1835-1916), though we couldn't really make any artistic judgments. Mark notes, "I have never understood why icons are put in these little houses. But then I am not big on religious statues. They confuse me. Idol worship was the worship of the statues of gods. The rejection of magic was the rejection of appeals to spirits to intervene. Monotheism was the belief that there is only one god to worship. Yet there are current religions where people pray to statues and believe that prayer achieves it ends, as does prayer to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. This may well be monotheism, and the rejection of idol worship and of magic. But on the face of it, that is not obvious. It could be questioned."

A very popular local theme is St. George and the Dragon. We see all sorts of Georges from handsome and brave to one in our final museum today who looked terrified and wounded. Dragons also look from fierce to exhausted. One looked very wolf-like.

There is an old painting of cherubs floating around an eye of God in a triangle, the symbol we see on a United States one-dollar bill.

Some of the impressive works are from more modern collections, including more recent sculpture. There is an odd painting of a running wolf in which you see the wolf's internal organs. Perhaps the most impressive piece in the museum is a small metal sculpture showing a fusion of bat-like wings and a modern aerodynamic shape. Except for the modern gallery, the museum was somewhat dark, and the lights for the cases were turned on only if a visitor was in the room. (Each room had a woman watching it, waiting for people to come in. It didn't look like there were a whole lot of people. In fact, the hour or so we were there, there didn't seem to be anyone else.)

We had lunch on the way back in a restaurant called the Viola. It is an Armenian restaurant in a really ugly Russian-style building. The dining room itself is very nicely appointed with carved moldings around velveted walls and crystal chandeliers. On one wall is a painting of a gored matador lying dead on the ground dripping blood, as an admonition not to order your meat rare perhaps. We tried to order the Armenian dishes, but only about half of them were available. (If there is no price next to an item on the menu, it's not available, or at least that's what the guidebooks say.) Busturma was what Evelyn ordered. It turned out to be the word that our word pastrami is a corruption of. Our pastrami may also be a corruption of theirs, but theirs is at least decent. It seemed to be in little chips reminiscent of butterflies. We each had borscht, which was very good. Regarding borscht, Mark comments, "I think when I was growing up the whole idea of borscht was disgusting, but I am smarter now. It was at the holiday party at work last December as an example of Jewish ethnic food. Nobody was touching it. It had been many years since I'd had borscht, but I felt it was a shame that nobody was eating the Jewish food, so I took some to save the maker's feelings. That was why I took the first cup anyway. I had better reasons for the second cup and the cups of borscht after that. Just so it would be a little festive I put in some sour cream. Okay, so now I have a better idea why anyone would eat borscht. This was odd borscht since it was also a little piquant. I don't know who brought it, but I do hope they found out that I and others actually found it to be pretty good."

Mark's main course was shaslik, made with mystery meat (perhaps chicken). Evelyn's meal was salted cheese, which is an appetizer, so was served before Mark's main course. The salted cheese was like feta cheese, only not as dry. With lime sodas, this all came to 36 Lt (about US$9) for the two of us.

Returning across the Neris we were pan-handled by a beggar wearing two very fancy crosses who shook them at us as if to say, "Look, I am a religious Christian. Give me money." We won't say we were less disposed to give him money because he was a religious Christian, but it didn't make us more charitable to him either.

Mark would say that the degree of being pan-handled here is on a par with what you'd have in Manhattan. On the whole you are left alone when you walk around. The experience was very different from India. There you often literally have to fight off the beggars and street hawkers. It is a very daunting thing to have to tell people "no" thirty-one times in ten minutes.

Something else we saw on the way back was a motorcycle procession. There was some sort of biker convention (we had seen the posters earlier) and maybe three hundred motorcycles drove down the main street of town, preceded and followed by police with flashing lights and blaring sirens.

Next stop was the KGB Museum, a site intended to keep alive the hatred for the Soviets. (We're not sure if this is an official museum at this point or not. Posters on the wall said something about exinmates occupying it since February to try to get the government to act against former KGB agents. Also, there is no admission charge, but rather a box for contributions.) This was a prison built by the local police and used by both the Nazis and the KGB to hold suspected enemies in the philosophy that an enemy deserves no mercy. Apparently the facility was somewhat larger, but somehow the one hallway one walks down had a large variety of cells. The tours are led by former inmates. The guide we had was an older man, certainly of an age to have been interred here, who spoke no English, but guided us around by letting us read the printed sheets he had describing each room--he's point to a paragraph with headings in English and Lithuanian but with the description in English and then to the room. This made the tour even eerier for its silence than a spoken tour would have been.

They show you the little boxes where people were held many hours to be processed, and rooms where people were finger-printed. The actual cells were about fifteen by eight-and-a-half feet (five by tahalf meters), and into this area twenty people would be crowded together. That gives each person an area about tahalf feet square (six-and-a-half square feet). There are stories of the monthly showers with nearfreezing or scalding water. The exercise area was fourteen by ten feet (five by three meters). There were padded rooms used for mental torture. Before being shipped to Siberia you were held in a holding room in cold water over your feet. It was pretty barbaric and brutal. (Mark says, "I hate those words since this kind of torture would rarely or never be employed by either literal barbarians or literal animals.")

Maybe in purposeful contrast to the Soviets' attitude toward the Jews (pretend they didn't exist and weren't specific victims of the Holocaust), the signs in the KGB Museum specifically say that these tortures were performed on Jews as well as partisans, and that the Jews were rounded up by the Gestapo when they used the building during World War II--and the mention was in the Lithuanian version as well as the English version. (Evelyn has heard that Jews are specifically mentioned on only the English-language tours of Auschwitz, not on the tours in German or Polish.) If we are to believe the "Insight" guide, it was more often Jews than partisans despite the fact of their relatively low numbers. And of course the partisans often did not get along with the Jews, blaming them for the coming of the Soviets. There are also boards of photographs of partisans who were killed and pictures of people who'd been beaten.

After this we walked back down Gedimino prospektas, the main street of the New Town, to Cathedral Square, on the boundary between the New Town and the Old Town. Gedimino prospektas contains many government ministries, shops, and restaurants. We stopped by a bookstore and sounded out the names of authors of books printed in Cyrillic--names like Poul Anderson, Samuel Delany, and Sidney Sheldon.

Earlier we had seen trucks from Lithuanian Television and Radio arriving at the Cathedral, and now we saw why. There was an international concert of religious music to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's elevation. We went inside and listened to the beautiful music, including the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's MESSIAH, for a while. We did get to see the inside of the Cathedral this way, which still looks a bit like an art museum.

Next stop was the Museum of History and Ethnology. This museum had artifacts of the area from prehistoric times through the 1940s. Included are woodcuts, paintings, and lithographs. Particularly interesting were lithographs of Vytautas and Jogaila. There were devil masks, some of them with distinctly Jewish features. Artifacts go up through the time of radio. This was where we saw the very woundedlooking wood carving of St. George after killing his dragon.

Interestingly, when you buy your tickets, they are in a big book, but the seller has to cut them out with scissors. She cuts through several pages at once, leaving only about a half-inch of the boundary uncut, then as she sells the tickets she tears them out. While Lithuania strikes me as being better off than Romania was when we visited there in 1991, it is certainly no better off than most of Eastern Europe we saw on that trip. Of course, we are traveling differently. Still, it is clear that no country did very well under the economic policies of the Soviets. Many will probably find capitalism does little better for them, at least at first.

This museum did have one gallery with English translations of the labels, but even the Lithuanian labels were sometimes understandable, since they were just names or dates, or cognates borrowed from Greek or Latin. What Evelyn noted was that although Russian and Polish works were in the displays on literature and the arts, there was no Yiddish. This was in spite of the fact that Vilnius was *the* center of Yiddish literature and the home of YIVO. In fact, the only reference to the Jewish community of Vilnius was a painting of Zhydu gatve--"Jewish Street." As she said earlier, in the United States everyone is an American, but here not everyone is a Lithuanian, though their families have lived here for generations.

On the way back to the room, we stopped and got soda. It is 2.5 Lt for 1.5 liters. That is about US$0.84 for two liters, a standard size American bottle. We got one bottle in the morning and drank it over the day. Then we got another on the way home after the museum. Both were what we call diet soda, though we didn't realize it until after we got it. It has the Nutrasweet swirl on the label, meaning no sweetener but Nutrasweet.

Back at the room we wrote and Mark dozed off a little. Mark has been waking up at sunrise since it is tough to keep the sun out of the room. He does fine with jet lag, but lace curtains are a problem.

We went to Blynines, a cafe that serves pancakes for dinner, but we found it closed (even though the posted hours seemed to indicate it should be open). Instead we went to the recommended Lokys. There is a film called "Lokis" that is about a bear and the symbol of the restaurant is a bear so we assumed that "lokys" means "bear," especially since the restaurant features game. (Later, the "Lonely Planet" guide confirmed that.)

The inside is all stonework with a narrow staircase eighteen inches wide to the basement where there are tables. We could see as soon as we got in the door they thought we'd have problems with language. The menu items were all translated into English and then crossed out and replaced with untranslated items. We were able to do some guessing about what we wanted and rather than pronounce them, Mark typed the names in Lithuanian into Thing. He'd written a program the previous night not only to order, but also to tally the bill. In Lotus 1-2-3 it takes all of about two minutes to write such a program, including getting the word "saskaita," meaning "bill."

We shared an appetizer plate that had sardines, a half red pepper stuffed with egg salad, a salad featuring mystery meat, and some sausage slices.

Evelyn had pork cutlet (we think) in lieu of the stewed elk meat in a sour cream sauce she had tried to order, but that they were out of. Mark's dinner featured elk sausage.

Mark had shown the waitress what we'd wanted and the program tallied the bill. Rather than us trying to explain what we wanted, the waitress was explaining why it would cost a little more. We have no idea what she said, but the whole meal was 45 Lt for two. If we go for Chinese at home US$11 is cheap for two.

We walked a little after dinner and then went back to the room, where we listened to the BBC on shortwave radio. Apparently they had just opened the Channel Tunnel and had the ceremonies. Then they immediately closed it again. Mark's guess was that it was because the French Army now had longbows and were running through the tunnel ready to take bloody revenge for Agincourt.

We have hot water! Well, we can get it only through the shower head--on a hose so we can aim it in the sink, but still awkward. Still, having hot water is a plus.

We went to bed about 23:30, but kept being awakened by drunks partying in the street below.

May 8, 1994: Mark woke up at about 5:30. Evelyn also slept a little better. We may be getting used to the cold. Breakfast was sausage and cheese again. There were also some sweet biscuits.

We had to re-arrange our schedule for Lithuania. Evelyn had managed to schedule things precisely for the days they were closed. "Vilnius in Your Pocket" was a life-saver here, since it is more up-todate and complete than any of our guidebooks. So instead of Jewish Vilnius today (the museum and synagogue are closed Saturday *and* Sunday), we're doing Kaunas (a.k.a. Kovna) (where all the museums are closed Tuesday and the Devil Museum Monday). (All of this is subject to change, of course, but it may be helpful to some for a while.)

We left the room about 8:00 and walked to the bus station (about a half mile, or a kilometer). It was pretty quiet at this hour, especially since it was Sunday. So Evelyn suggested this would be a good time to get our train tickets, since the lines are usually very long and the reservations was only a block from the bus station.

Evelyn was right--there was no line. In fact, there was hardly anyone there. We knew what train we wanted from "The Baltics & Russia Through the Back Door" and verified this on the schedule. And a good thing, too, since no one spoke English. So we wrote the date, train number, and "Vilnius->Ryga" down and handed it to the clerk. She asked, "Dva?" and we said, "Dva," pointing to both of us and then making a pillow with our hands and putting our heads on it to gesture "sleeper" (since the word in Lithuanian in the "Lonely Planet" guide didn't seem to be understood). And sure enough, we got two sleeper tickets for 51.07 Lt each (US$12.75). This is quite a bit more than the "Lonely Planet" guide said (though that book didn't list the sleeper price). In general, prices seem to be about four to six times what the latest (March 1994) "Lonely Planet" guide says: 20 cento versus 4 centai for trolleys, 6 Lt versus 1.5 Lt for a menu item, etc. Things are still cheap compared to home, but certainly not as cheap as India (our last trip). And Scandinavia will probably be more than at home. (It was.)

We then proceeded to the bus station where we discovered we had just missed one bus to Kaunas, and would have to wait fifty minutes for the next. Still, for this wait we got to sit down instead of standing in a queue, so we still came out ahead anyway. It is funny to see the ticket seller getting your ticket consulting a computer terminal, then figuring the ticket cost on an abacus. The cost for the two-hour ride was 4.70 Lt (US$1.20) each.

It turned out to be not a bus but a small van, so the ride actually took less than two hours. The woman next to Evelyn is reading a book from her purse. Mark sounds out the Cyrillic on the cover: "Earl Stanley Gardner." The driver has a bunch of stickers on the dashboard, including one blaming gays for AIDS.

The ride was over very good (and almost empty) roads, through countryside that the books describe as "rolling," with forests and fields. In the fields we saw horse-drawn machinery as well as people cultivating by hand.

In Kaunas we established what the return times were by writing "Vilnius ishvykata?" on a piece of paper and passing it to the woman at the information desk. Then we went through our usual drill--we bought trolley tickets, then realized what we needed were autobus tickets (they're the same in Vilnius, but two different companies here), and then we stood at the wrong bus stop before finding the right one. Eventually, however, we got on the correct bus, number 45.

Now, the "Lonely Planet" guide says, "Bus no. 45 goes to the Ninth Fort." Wrong! Bus no. 45 goes as close as any bus, but "to" is hardly accurate. A better description would be, "Take bus no. 45 up Zhemaiciu plentas. It will turn left and drive around a large cluster of apartment buildings. Get off on the third side (Baltiu prospektas) and continue in the direction of the bus to the corner of Zhemaiciu (or get off at the first stop back on Zhemaiciu and backtrack). Look up Zhemaiciu away from the bus and you'll see the top of the monument (so find a picture first--the "Insight" guide has one). Walk towards it along Zhemaiciu, which is at this point a divided highway and cross a cloverleaf with another divided highway to get to it. (This is sort of like saying, 'Cross the New Jersey Turnpike,' except luckily there's very little traffic.) It's about a two-kilometer walk." Mark's directions are even simpler: "Take a taxi."

We left Vilnius at 9:20, got to Kaunas about 11:00, caught the bus about 11:30, and got to the Ninth Fort about 12:30. There were two cars in the entire parking lot; it didn't seem to be drawing a lot of people. Of course, it could be that most people don't look forward to visiting death camps. Not that we do, of course, but it's something we guess we feel we have an obligation to do.

The Ninth Fort was a pre-existing fort that the Nazis turned into a death camp and there killed 80,000 people, including just about everyone in the Jewish Ghetto, as well as Jews from all over Europe. 30,000 Jews at a minimum were murdered here. Mark says he is still a bit confused by what he saw, though Evelyn thinks his conclusions are probably correct. But we will get to that.

There are three structures currently at the Ninth Fort. There is a museum, there is a piece of the original prison, and there is a monument to the dead. (Buying tickets was confusing, since they have tickets for just the museum, for just the fort, for combinations, etc. A combination ticket was 80 cento each.)

First we went through the museum, which is pictures, artifacts, and text about the Holocaust and the Ninth Fort. Because we know little Lithuanian it is hard to tell this for sure. There is nothing visual to indicate that this site had anything to do with Jews. There are prisoners' crosses and rosaries, but not one Star of David to be seen in the whole museum. The pictures are not obviously of any Jews either. There were lots of paintings up about the emotional toll of the camps, often with motifs of crosses. No Stars of David. As far as the museum is concerned the fact that there were Jews here was a minor footnote or perhaps is forgotten.

Then we went into what remains of the prison and in spite of the fact it was a warm and sunny day the inside was like a cave. The floor was wet and the whole place was cold and often bad-smelling. Rows of cold, dark, dank cells with rope cots or wooden-slatted shelves; cold, dark corridors; and the overall oppressive atmosphere add to the general feeling of depression and horror. A tight room under some stairs was called sarcastically "health resort." Some rooms had long wooden bunks; some had foul-smelling canvas beds. A particularly wet room was called "wet cell." One cell we went into Mark paced and found to be three by twelve feet. We went up to the second floor and suddenly there were three cells filled with the pictures and text that were missing from the museum, even including a jar of ash and charred bones. "Jews and the Holocaust" was the theme. That whole piece of the museum was segregated out and moved someplace where visitors might or might not see it. Perhaps tours are set up so they can show the Jewish part or not as seems appropriate to the audience. This part did have English, but that may be because newer exhibits everywhere have English translations. The woman who was taking tickets at the prison piece did make sure we went up to the floor where we would see the Jewish part. Perhaps she does that only for certain nationalities of visitors. Americans see that part; perhaps Europeans do not.

Walking out from the Ninth Fort into the warmth and sunshine was a great relief--the contrast was emphasized by the temperature. When you go out to the memorial at the top of the hill it mentions Jews prominently and a wall has plaques that say Jews were lined up at this wall and shot. The monument itself is about a hundred and fifteen feet (thirty-five meters) high, with hands and faces carved in it as if trying to break free. This overlooks the trenches where the Nazis shot and buried their victims.

The gloomy history of the Ninth Fort was certainly in sharp contrast to the children skate-boarding around the monument, or the families sitting on the lawn taking advantage of the nice weather. "There's something strange about a family outing to a death camp," Evelyn says, "or maybe it's just me."

After walking back to the bus stop and taking the bus to the center of Kaunas, we started to walk to the Vytautas the Great War Museum (a.k.a. Vytauto Didziojo karo muziejus, a.k.a. Vytauto Magnus Military Museum--every book translates all the museum names differently, which makes things *very* confusing). We passed a blue and white building that we assume was the town synagogue on Ozeshkienes. There were people around it in yarmulkes. Mark was a little sorry not to have told them we were American Jews and perhaps see the inside. But some sort of event was going on and we didn't want to interfere. (It's listed as being open to visitors from 20:00 to 21:00, if anyone cares.)

We got a box of orange juice, drank it, then went to the museum, which was 40 cento each.

As Mark describes it, "The real centerpiece of this museum is based around the Lithuanian heroes Steponas Darius and Stasys Girenas. These are the people on the 10-litu note. These people are odd national heroes and--how can I put this?--their choice as national heroes may indicate a certain dearth of more suitable choices. Both of these gentlemen were born in Lithuania. That part is certainly true. Both had emigrated to the United States and were in the United States military at some point. Darius went back to Lithuania and served in their new Air Force, then returned to the United States."

"Girenas was the son of a poor farmer in Lithuania, orphaned at an early age. He settled in the United States and joined the Army Air Corps, but did not fly. He bought an airplane with a friend and was seriously wounded accidentally crashing it on the maiden flight. It was around this point that Darius met him and suggested that the two should fly non-stop from New York to Kaunas (then the capital of Lithuania). They bought a plane, equipped it for long-distance flying, and prepared to fly to Kaunas. These were to be the Lithuanian Lindberghs in spite of the fact that both had renounced their Lithuanian citizenship and taken United States citizenship. 25,000 people gathered at an airfield in Kaunas to welcome them as Lindbergh was welcomed in Paris. It was Monday, July 17, 1933--a proud day for Lithuania."

Mark continues, "And on the second floor of the museum they have the actual pieces of the airplane that the German government picked up in a forest near the town of Soldin. Both pilots were killed, but they certainly made it most of the way and in Lithuania that counts, I guess. 'Almost' counts in hand grenades, horseshoes, and heroism. Brecht said, 'Unhappy the land that needs heroes.' Of course, we need more than Lithuania does. Like many of Brecht's comments, this has a great deal of truth in a very compact form."

Similar to the museum the previous day, this museum starts with prehistoric artifacts and moves you along in chronological order. The first room shows spear points that have been found and various metal weapons that have long since given over to oxidation and corrosion. You get the general shape on some, but really have to rely on the pictures to tell you what they looked like originally. There was the hub from a shield--the thing that looks like a giant Hershey's kiss but that sits in the middle of a shield. We have never known what that was for and do not know now, partially because we do not read Lithuanian.

(By the way, if you're reading this after traveling to Lithuania, we'd be curious if more English is appearing in museums and such.)

Continuing on, you get to a stairwell that looks like it has three bombs standing there without much explanation of what they are, even if you read Lithuanian. They are certainly out of historical context, but if you have three bombs and they don't seem to go in any of your rooms, hey, a stairwell is as good a place as any to store them, right?

Uh, lady, could you ask your child not to play with the bombs ... uh, lady ... LADY!

Mark writes, "Nah! I expect they have been disarmed. Up the stairs you see a commanding statue of King Vytautas. This guy looks really majestic and very scary. If this guy was my enemy, I think I'd think real quick about changing any policy he doesn't like. The funny thing is that just the previous day I saw a lithograph of Vytautas and that made him look like he had a few too many cepelinai."

"Oh, that's a really good digression. I've been looking for a good cepelinas. Wuzzat, you ask. It is a local dish of ground meat surrounded by something like jellied mashed potatoes and having a sour cream sauce. The name means Zeppelin. So what I was saying about Vytautas was that he looked like his weight was a bit off the Graf. Actually, a cepelinas sounds to me a lot like our shepherd's pie, just in a different shape."

The same room that has the your-worst-nightmare statue of Vytautas has its share of pikes and weapons of his time. Of some interest were two cannons that were shaped like architectural columns. That actually sounds like a clever idea. What invader would think to look inside a column to find your weapons?

There is one room with more rifles than you can shake a fire-stick at. (Strangely, the only exhibits labeled in English were the guns, which Evelyn suggests may be fitting. Perhaps the NRA provided the translations.) There is also a suit of armor with foot-long pointed toes, the idea being to kick your enemy to disable him, we guess. And there are lots of pistols. Continue on and you see the remains of the plane that killed Darius and Girenas. They have it in a realistic forest setting. They even have a little model of the plane coming down so you can tell the front end of the plane from the back which--to be frank--would be a little hard without the model. They did quite a number on themselves and the plane. The museum tour ends with World War II artifacts. There are a lot of pictures of people who we don't recognize and cannot figure out who they are, in part because of the language barrier.

As Evelyn says, "When you don't read the language or know the history in detail, it's amazing how uninformative a historical museum can be. There were a lot of pictures, documents, memorabilia, etc., of people I assume were Lithuanian war heroes--although I suppose they could have been great enemies of Lithuania just as easily. After all, American museums might have an exhibit on Benedict Arnold. 'So what did you know as a bird that you didn't know as a boy?' (That's an old Merlin to Arthur line, in case you didn't recognize it.) 'That someone can look like a great hero and be a great villain, or vice versa. Or that you can't judge a person just from looks.'"

Our next stop was the Devil Museum. Mark says one measure of a museum is to see what proportion of the exhibits are of personal interest. When you come right down to it, most museums are doing well if 10% of their exhibits are of interest to the average attendee. It is hard to imagine a museum in which 90% of the holdings are really interesting. There are almost no uninteresting pieces in Kaunas's Devil Museum. (Actually, its official title is "the A. Zhmuidzinavicius Collection.") This is a whole museum devoted almost entirely to the representation of devils in the arts. It is not a big museum, but it is three floors of carvings and paintings and masks of devils. (There are supposedly 1700 pieces in the collection at this time, but not all are on display. One book warned that many of the images are anti-Semitic, but we didn't see many of those, so perhaps those are not on display now.) There are many touches that may be part of folklore or may be comments of some sort. Many of the devils seem to be smoking, drinking, or playing the accordion. I don't really know why accordions are considered diabolical. Maybe it is like harps are angelic. Or maybe the artists just have it in for accordionists.

Many of the pieces are too good really to explain. A facial expression will be just too delicate to describe fully. There was a nice grinning devil head very reminiscent of 1960s book covers. One figure I particularly liked showed a devil on a man's back. The man's face showed agony and terror. The devil seemed to be in ecstasy. This is one fun museum.

Of course, there were a few uninteresting pieces. It's hard to get excited about a mass-produced statue of a devil from the United States that says on the base, "Good girls go to heaven, but bad girls go everywhere."

By this point we were well and truly exhausted. Mark suggested we might be getting too old for vacations. No, but we might be getting too old for this sort of vacation, which can best be described as "nonstop." Well, that's not quite true--there are two "slack days" built in, one presumably in Riga, and one in Helsinki. In the Southwest two years ago we did 4300 miles by car in three weeks. Last year in India it was nine cities in three-and-a-half weeks. This time it's six cities, which sounds like a slower pace but doesn't feel that way.

In any case, we decided to skip the funicular and return to Vilnius for dinner (there is reputedly no good place to eat in Kaunas) and a collapse. So we headed back to the bus station. At the station a boy was selling what looked like cream-filled flutes of ice-cream-cone material for only 40 cento (about US$0.10). Mark bought one and the little scoundrel tried to convince him that he hadn't given him enough money. Mark had given him four 10-cento pieces. We showed him that was the price he had posted. He knew that, of course, but business is business. It turned out there was a dab of cream at each end and the cylinder was hollow. You'd think we'd be more cautious after our last trip.

The trip back was pretty uneventful except for a tire blowout with a loud bang. Luckily we had plenty of time so we just waited as the driver changed the tire. This did not seem like the driver we had on the way and we sort of liked him.

On the way back Mark noted an ad for Uncle Ben's Spicy Stir-Fry Sauce. Yes, it looks like the same Uncle Ben, but rather than sticking to apostate rice, here he has kicked up his heels and branched out. He has a regular and a spicy stir-fry sauce. Mark says he always thought there must be more imagination behind the bucolic face.

You do see a lot of American brands doing unexpected things here. Mars is a really popular brand of candy bar which you buy either room temperature or frozen. Mark thinks there is also a line of Mars ice cream.

Dinner was pizza. There really is a pizzeria here, Picerija Vidudienas. Evelyn had a herring and mushroom pizza; Mark had a vegetable pizza. (For those of you going "Yug!" is a herring pizza much different from an anchovy pizza? We realize 75% of you will still go "Yug!" but we figure we've achieved a 25% gain.) Mark observes, "The pizza actually may be better than you might expect from Lithuania. It might have even been good for Latvia. Now Estonia is another matter. And by the time you include in northeast Poland I would assume you would find the pizza quickly out-classed."

Nor would this culinary delight stand on its own in the United States. *Anywhere*. It was kind of juicy and bland. But not half-bad for Lithuania, and 19 Lt (US$4.75) (including three sodas). That's okay. Mark bets you would be hard-pressed to find a decent cepelinas in the United States.

Mark wrote for a while before bed; Evelyn sacked out at 21:00. Mark stayed up to 23:00, then surprised himself by sleeping until 7:30.

May 9, 1994: Breakfast was two kinds of hard sausage again (picture salami and pepperoni, only a little more ragged), bread, and something like jelly but in the shape of a tin. Right after putting out breakfast, the mother and daughter both left for the day, so when we were done we put the perishables in the refrigerator and the dishes by the sink. The daughter goes to school and the mother works, so we have the run of the hallway, making it a little more convenient to shower and use the bathroom. We washed out a couple of things and hung them on the clothesline on the balcony outside out window to dry.

We probably should tell you a little about our living quarters. Our hosts appear to be a mother and daughter who live alone in an apartment with a kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms, not to mention water closet and a bathroom (literally--no toilet because that's in the water closet). They give us their living room which has a couch that folds down into a bed (more like a twin bed than a double). The rooms with plumbing are not in great shape. There is no hot water in the sink. There is an electric water heater that heats water as it comes through, but it is not really powerful. You can have a hot trickle, a warm spray, or a cool shower. There is no good place to put things down by the sink. The sink is also loose from the wall. Several tiles have fallen off the wall and are covered with magazine pictures of women.

The water closet is even tinier, so that if you stand up without being careful you bang your nose on the wall. The toilet is not in very good condition and is designed mostly to use very little water. As Mark writes, "How can I put this tactfully? You do most of your flying over dry land. Only in the final moments of your flight do things end up where you want them. The toilet paper is standard Soviet-bloc issue-- stretchy crepe paper. It has an annoying tendency to tear in the wrong place at the wrong time. It can also be abrasive. I hate the toilet and the toilet paper, but alternatives are limited." Also, the fact that you have to go to another room to wash your hands makes the whole operation more complex.

Well, this morning we decided we should deliver the books to Professor Shubas. Mark put a strap on the box so he could carry it on my shoulder. We already had seen where the library was, so it was easy enough to find. The door was locked. Well, maybe there is a way to get to it from inside the main University building. Yes, that worked. There was a woman behind the desk, one who spoke no English. We showed her a copy of the invoice with "Professor Meyer Shub" on it. (Clearly part of the confusion was that Mejeris Shubas used an Anglicized version of his name when he wrote to the United States, but we didn't realize this until later. The other half of the problem was that he was with the History Department, not the library, but again, this is in hindsight.) The woman pointed to the hallway we had just come from. Oh, great--now what? Well, there was an office that said "Direktor." Great. Go to the top. The director was talking to what looked like a tall, clean-cut graduate student in a tie. We asked for Shubas. The graduate student offered to take us. We went with him back to the library. "This looks familiar," Mark told Evelyn. The librarian threw us out a second time. The student took us to a second office. There were several people there and in the back room a thin man in his fifties who greeted us with "Shalom!" Great! We'd found Shubas. He spoke no English, but it became clear he wasn't Shubas, since he got on the phone to try to call Shubas. "Shalom," he said into the phone. The first number gave him a second number to call. He called the second number. Again, he said, "Shalom!" and again lapsed into Lithuanian. It was clear this was a wrong number. Evelyn showed him the number we last tried on Friday. "Shalom!" he said. More Lithuanian. We don't know much Lithuanian, but we do know "does not understand" since our phrase book includes a phrase saying "I don't understand." Mark thinks he told the room it had been a wrong number, since when he got off the phone he said something that is like the phrase for "I don't understand," probably quoting the bewildered callee at the other end. He wasn't having any better luck than we did a couple of days ago--and he spoke Lithuanian!

Finally he gave up and took us over to Shubas's office. The door was locked and had a mezzuzah. The man pointed it out to us. However, somebody said Shubas would arrive in about a half an hour.

"Will the books be safe here?"


Great, we can sightsee carrying twenty pounds of books on a strap.

We sat down to write in our logs. Finally Shubas arrived, a small white-haired man in his seventies but still very spry. He did not expect us and at first we think was not sure who we were. Mark just sort of walked in, dropping off the heavy box on his table, and Evelyn showed him the packing slip. As soon as he understood, he seemed very happy to get the books and to talk to us, saying how much he had to thank his good friend Aaron Lansky (president of the National Yiddish Book Center). (By the way, the address of the National Yiddish Book Center is 48 Woodbridge Street, South Hadley MA 01075, and they would greatly appreciate any donations of books or money. You might mention where you heard about them if you contact them.) As Mark said, "These writings were unavailable to him for so many years ... authors he had read as a child but which were forbidden by Nazis and by Soviets ... a piece of his youth confiscated, seemingly gone forever except as a memory and now two funny-looking strangers barge into his office and drop them on his table."

We talked to Shubas for about twenty minutes. (His name appears variously as Shub, Shubas, or Shubas.) His Institute for Jewish Studies is three years old, since it was never allowed under the Soviets. He had been a teacher of philosophy before that, and even then he had to describe Spinoza as a Hollander, not as a Jew. (Actually, in an odd coincidence, the formal title of the institute is the Camilla and Fritz Hollander Center for Judaic Studies, the Hollanders being a couple from Sweden who are supporting it.)

As we said, he is on the history faculty. Mark relates, "During World War II, he had been pulled into the Red Army because of his ability to translate German to Russian and vice versa. When he left, Vilna was a Jewish city. When the war ended there was no Vilna, only Vilnius. Pretty much his whole community was murdered. So he taught history and philosophy in post-war Lithuania. Before the Nazis, there were 75,000 Jews in Vilna; after the war there were "a few thousand" left in Vilnius, and they could not practice their religion or teach their culture. With the coming of independence there also came an interest in Jewish studies and history--mostly from non-Jews. The University asked Shubas if he could teach Jewish Studies and he told them it had been his dream for years. Now he has seventy students. One is fully Jewish on both sides. Five are half-Jews [his distinction, not ours]. Sixty-four are Lithuanians interested in Jewish literature and philosophy. He opened a cabinet and showed us his library of Jewish books to date. They are undoubtedly better quality Jewish books than we have at home. But we probably have more than he has, and ours are in better condition. The National Yiddish Book Center will not ship via some international shipper like DHL because there is less danger of confiscation if they send the books with someone who will fight for them. They don't say that, but if you read between the lines, their mail to us was telling us what we should argue if there was an attempt to stop the books. So Shubas's dreams of getting the books of his youth waited until the NYBC could find someone willing to drag twenty pounds of books and stand up for them if necessary. Today two funny-looking Americans were sitting outside his office and he had his books."

Evelyn adds, "When he showed us his library of Yiddish books, it was with great pride, and that was perhaps the saddest part. It was by most standards a very small collection--a few dozen books--yet to him they were are precious as gold. If he saw the supply at the National Yiddish Book Center--over a million volumes--he would probably have the same reaction that Robin Williams had to the coffee aisle in MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON. (In that movie, Williams has defected from the Soviet Union and goes into a grocery store. He asks, 'Where is the line for coffee?' and is told, 'Coffee is in aisle 4.' On going to aisle 4, he sees dozens of brands of coffee: ground coffee, instant coffee, espresso, coffee beans, etc. He walks down the aisle mumbling 'Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee....' and the next scene shows him being wheeled out to an ambulance in shock still mumbling 'Coffee....'")

We should note that we spoke in English, his English being considerably better than our Lithuanian (or Yiddish, or German, or any other language). He attributed the small percentage of Jewish students in his classes to the fact that most of the Jews who were interested in their heritage had emigrated to Israel when they had the chance after the Soviets left, and the remaining Jews were enrolled in computer science, economics, or other more practical studies. He was also surprised that we were visiting Lithuania if that was not where our grandparents were from. He made more distinction between Lithuanian Jews, Hungarian Jews, etc., than we in the United States do--which is somewhat consistent with Evelyn's comments at the beginning of this log.

We talked to him for about thirty minutes, but then he had a meeting to go to, so we wished him luck with his Center and parted company.

Our original intention was to go to Paneriai, but the bus system let us down. By the time we got to the right bus stop, it turned out that bus number 8 no longer goes to that stop (near the train station), and bus number 45 which connected to bus number 8 wasn't going to be running again until the afternoon.

Okay, we'll change plans. We'll go to the local synagogue and the Jewish State Museum today and then Paneriai either a different day or later today (but not tomorrow because the museum there is closed on Tuesday). We walk to the synagogue. We can identify it easily--it's the building covered with scaffolding. So far in Eastern Europe we have seen nine synagogues. Three were covered with scaffolding (Budapest, Sofia, and Vilnius). One was post-World War II (Salzburg). One has since been destroyed by bombing (Sarajevo) and one damaged (Dubrovnik). We couldn't see the inside of the Altneuschul in Prague or the one in Kaunas because they were closed, and we only drove by the one in Bucharest. Churches we can see all over the place, but seeing synagogues seems to be really difficult for us. The Vilnius synagogue is also not open to the public outside service hours (9:30 to 10:30 and again in the late afternoon). So that turned out to be a short visit.

We continued on to the Jewish State Museum. Actually there are only two Jewish museums in the former U.S.S.R. and this is both of them. It is two dissimilar museums in two different buildings. Both museums as a whole would be tiny. The one on Pylimo gatve is a small collection of artifacts, mostly from the Great Synagogue which was heavily damaged by bombs in 1944 and then leveled by the Soviets: candlesticks, two Torahs, spice boxes, and the decoration of an Aron Kodesh (the resting place of a synagogue's Torahs). The latter was from another synagogue and was unusual in that it had carvings of animals--usually representational art is forbidden. There was also a Book of Esther written in such a way that the lines of tiny print, when viewed from a distance, formed a picture of Queen Esther. All together there were maybe three dozen items--so little to survive from so much. (Mark thinks that there may be more still used by the Jewish community, but with only 3,000 Jews left--there were 75,000 before the Holocaust--that still doesn't account for much.)

The other museum documents the community of Vilna and the Holocaust in four little rooms. The latter has yellow stars, photographs of victims, and an article in English about Chiune Sugihara, the heroic Japanese consul who sacrificed his career as a Japanese consul general in Lithuania to save several thousand Jews from the Nazis. As the June 4, 1994, "San Jose Mercury News" relates, "With a multitude of Jewish refugees camped out around his consulate and pleading for help, Sugihara decided to defy his superiors' orders and spent several days and nights scribbling visas for them, often skipping meals and sleep. Historians put the number of Jews he helped from 2,000 to 10,000 with most estimates near 6,000. Noted for his fluency in foreign languages, he once had been considered among the fastest rising stars in Japan's consulate corps. But for helping the Jews, he lost his job and, some accounts say, was forced to live out his life in dishonor in Japan-- selling light bulbs, running a military store and translating for living." John E. Burman details, "In July-August 1939 he signed hundreds of visas for Jews fleeing Poland before the Nazi invaders. He saved between 2500-4500 Jews, including all the 300 staff and students of the celebrated Mir Yeshivah. Sugihara was invited to Israel in 1969. By the time he was honored by Yad Vashem in 1985, he was too old and frail to attend the award ceremony at the Israeli embassy in Tokyo, and he died a year later aged 86. The Mir Yeshivah, relocated in Brooklyn, established a Sempo Sugihara scholarship fund to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Kovno escape." And when his government closed the consulate, he continued issuing visas from his hotel room. (For those interested in learning more, there was a book called THE FUGU PLAN written about the escape of Lithuanian Jews into Japan with Sugihara's role detailed, and a section about Sugihara in THE BOOK OF THE JUST by Eric Silver, ISBN 0-297-81245-9. Another book, mainly about the Mir Yeshiva's part of the story, is THE SHANGHAI CONNECTION by Rabbi Dr. Chaim U. Lipschitz, ISBN 0-932351-20-4.)

Evelyn writes, "As we have noted earlier, Lithuania's history visa -vis the Jews has been checkered. First Jews were welcomed and even invited in the Middle Ages. The various books claim that Lithuania doesn't have a history of anti-Semitism as does Poland and Russia, yet until after World War I, there was no separate, independent Lithuania distinct from Poland or Russia. After a brief period under Soviet rule, Lithuania was invaded by Nazi Germany. As we said, the "Insight" guide claims that the reason some Lithuanians were so enthusiastic about helping the Nazis kill Jews was that they blamed the Jews for supporting the Soviets. Of course, after the war, when the Soviets were back in charge, they deported and killed most of the remaining Jews. Maybe now the Lithuanians have decided that if the Soviets hated the Jews, that's a point in the Jews' favor ('the enemy of my enemy is my friend'). Certainly Lithuania seems more interested in studying Judaism and Jewish and recognizing that the Jews were the prime target of the Nazis than other Eastern European countries seem to be. I suppose one might also be cynical and say that Lithuania wants to put a good foot forward for tourists, since most of the Jewish-oriented exhibits and sites are among the few that are in English. (But it can't be just this--the entrance to Paneriai specifically mentions Jews on the sign which is in Lithuanian, Russian, and Hebrew, but not English.)"

We bought a cassette of Jewish music at the museum, in part to support the museum and in part to give us something to listen to here and at home.

Lunch was at a fairly good kavine (that's a cafe) called the Victoria. Mark had hot borscht with sour cream (very good, he says) and something that turned out to be very like chicken-fried steak. Evelyn had an appetizer of herring and mushrooms, a vegetable soup (not tomato-based), and a chicken cutlet. Everything was very salty compared to what we're used to back home. Yes, you *expect* herring to be salty, but the fried potatoes and the sauce for the meat were also loaded with salt. Mark had two Pepsis, Evelyn had coffee, and the whole bill came to 35 Lt (US$8.75).

For dessert we each had a banana--the natural snack. You see banana peels everywhere and Lithuanians seem to love bananas. Mark tells the story, "I don't remember the details of this anecdote but back in the days of the Soviets a Soviet was in Scandinavia somewhere working with Scandinavians. One day they were walking in the streets when the Soviet excused himself and disappeared for an hour. Strange. It happened again the next day. When he was asked about it, he said that he saw that someone had bananas for sale. In the Soviet Union, when you see bananas for sale, you buy them. They are a rare commodity. He was not aware or could not comprehend that many places bananas are *always* for sale."

A not too dissimilar story happened to a Romanian-born friend. Her mother had given a reliable refrigerator to someone who had just come from Romania. Then within a few days the person reported that the freezer had broken. On investigating, they found the refrigerator was so full of frozen meat it had broken down. What possessed the newcomer to buy so much meat? It was on sale. It not only was available, it was on sale. Our friend had to tell them that meat is *always* on sale. When a product is denied, then is available, people tend to go "hog wild." It is possible that bananas were very hard to get prior to independence. Whatever the cause, there is unlikely to be a trash basket anywhere in public that doesn't have one and probably many banana peels. And all the vendors use abacuses (abaci?) to total up your bill.

On the way to the museum Evelyn had noticed the trolley signs for trolleys that the "Lonely Planet" guide said went to Paneriai, or at least to a bus that did. So we decided to go to Paneriai from here. (It certainly fit in thematically.)

Paneriai is actually about an hour's bus ride six miles southwest of Vilnius. Yes, we are afraid it is one more gruesome spot, our last for a while. This is a piney forest where the Nazis murdered 100,000 people, about 70% of them Jews, although one book points out that Lithuanians did at least as much of the killing as the Nazis did. This was where Vilna died. The site is right next to a rail yard which conjures up other images of the Holocaust, though inaccurately here. The job was done right here rather than sending Jews to some death factory elsewhere.

Another false but evocative image is the trolley we took which was absolutely packed. The trolley was packed more tightly than the ones on our last Eastern European trip. Evelyn was left unable even to reach a bar to grab onto. She was held in place just by the bodies around her. Mark was a little amused by the sight of a teenager trying to eat a banana in this crush and getting banana smears on the back of another passenger. (In fact, it was so crowded that they had problems getting the door to close!)

After crowding onto this trolley, we bounced along and the trolley got a little less crowded. Since our transfer (Vaduvos) was near the end of the line, the trolley was pretty empty by the time we got there. (The trolley map in "Vilnius in Your Pocket" was a real help in figuring out where we wanted to go.) We got off and waited in the cold and wind for bus number 8 for a long time. (The fact that it was gray, cold, and windy probably made it seem longer than it was.) We got on and rode another mile or two to the last stop, at the Paneriai train yards.

We got off and crossed the tracks using the pedestrian overpass. A lot of people just walked across the tracks, but this seemed dangerous and besides, you have to wait for the trains to pass if you do that. On the far side, we turned right and walked down a road into the forest (about half a mile, or a kilometer). At the end of the road was a small parking lot (empty except for one car) and a stone memorial saying that 100,000 people were murdered here, 70,000 of them Jews. The car belonged to a clean-up crew, who were raking the dead leaves and branches away from the bases of the memorials and then burning the collected refuse. There was something eerie about seeing this smoke rising where the thousands of bodies had been burned before. Now all that remains are the pits, filled in and covered with grass, where the ashes are buried. There are fresh flowers on the stones marking the spots, and we saw a couple more people walking around with tulips to put on the memorials. Apparently red tulips are what people put on graves here. I assume these were all put there by Christians, since the Jewish custom is not to place a flower, killing a plant, but to place a stone to help bury the dead. (On the Internet many people were not sure what was happening in the epilogue to SCHINDLER'S LIST. The people were placing stones as a mark of respect.) The memorials also had a few stones on them, and we put stones on as well.

One practical note: We had a hard time at first finding stones. If you want to place memorial stones, you should pick up a few stones on the way along the road.

There is also a tiny museum, similar to those at the Ninth Fort and in Vilnius. There was more English translation here, though often the text of documents was left untranslated. There was one other person (besides the caretaker) in the museum. As we left, Mark commented that no one would understand why we were spending our vacation going to death camps. This isn't the most fun way to spend a vacation, but we had only one more and that wasn't for another six days. Why do we go? A sense of obligation, we suppose--a feeling that as long as people see that these crimes are remembered they may also realize that they need to be guarded against. If people see that no one remembers these atrocities, they may decide that no one will care if such things happen again.

Evelyn writes, "Walking to Paneriai we walked in the footsteps of thousands; walking back we were alone."

From there we returned to Vilnius. We had eaten a big lunch, so we just got a small package of (very good) Swedish cookies and we worked on our logs in the room all evening long.

May 10, 1994: Same breakfast and routine as yesterday. Right now Thing tells Mark we are 16.46% through the trip. That is discounting seven hours a night for sleeping. With sleep time, we are 17.54% through. But he doesn't write in his log or take pictures in his sleep (yet). He should be on shot 12 of his 5th roll of film. Safe there--he is on shot 13 of his 4th roll. However, he should be on page 96 of the first book of his log and he is actually on page 105. Thing allows some extra for an early start and extra writing for the end of the trip. (It also assumes he won't start taking pictures until he gets to my destination and will stop taking pictures when he boards the plane.)

Well, Lithuania is obviously not doing really well economically. There appear everywhere signs that it has not fully recovered from years of Soviet economics. That is to be expected of the Baltic states. Estonia probably recovered fastest due to trade with Scandinavia. Here the scars of the perfectly managed economy will take longer to heal. Our hosts--whose name we've never gotten, by the way--are hard-working but the house, particularly the outside, shows signs of real poverty. By American standards we are paying high for our comfort level, but I know our hosts need the money. And their extravagances are all in the room they have rented out: the color television and VCR, the stereo, and the books. They have a china cabinet with place settings for six people, yet a table that seems to indicate that the china service was not purchased for use in this apartment unless they can make it a cramped six people.

When we left this morning it was to go to the Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit, the Philharmonic to see if anything was on, and the city gates. The Philharmonic office was closed until 13:00. The Holy Spirit Church is the chief Russian Orthodox church of Lithuania, dating back to the 1600s. It has a high ceiling, maybe fifty feet (fifteen meters) high, with a dome that goes up higher. We did not go in because there was a mass in progress. (And a very well-attended mass, though most of the worshippers were elderly women. This may be because this was a work day, of course.) Everyone was standing (there are no pews in Orthodox churches). There was a table with candles and loaves of bread. There were crystal chandeliers and paintings edged in gold. There were a series of arches on the left and right going to the ceiling and delineating chapels on each side. The color scheme was pastel blue and beige. (The guidebook calls it pink, but it was closer to beige.) There were mouldings over the arches and a life-size angel's head. Actually, since we have not really seen an angel, it is only what we surmise to be life-size. The one touch that struck Mark as odd were two words in Cyrillic at the front. The letters were drawn in bulbs, giving it a very Broadway look. It is interesting to have Russian Orthodox and Catholic cathedrals getting along in one city.

As you might have detected, this log has a definite Jewish orientation and is heavy on Jewish sites and light on churches. We get the impression we could have filled six days in Vilnius just going to churches--there *are* a lot of them. But someone else can write up that tour.

At the end of the street was Aushros Vartai, the Gates of Dawn, which are part of the original wall of the city and on the outside decorated with what looks to be a wrought iron picture of the sun. Above it is a chapel with a (supposedly) miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary. But we could see it was very crowded so skipped climbing the stairs just to get a glimpse of it.

We walked back on Zhydu gatve where the great cathedral-sized synagogue once stood. It is now a kindergarten and a playground with a basketball hoop.

Then we sat in Cathedral Square and wrote in our logs. A television crew was doing Lithuanian-in-the-street interviews. Mark turned the tables and took their picture. What wasn't there were the hordes of tourists and tour buses that one would find at a similar square in a Western European city. We don't know if it's just early in the season or if we really have come before this area has gotten discovered by tourists. We suspect the latter--are other cities empty of tourists in May? Certainly there is less English spoken and understood here than anywhere else we've been on our own, and comparable to Romania and Bulgaria. Not that this is a problem. It is good that Litinterp spoke English, but other than that we're making do with the mini-glossary in the "Lonely Planet" guide.

Since we don't read Lithuanian and there's very little English here, where did we go next? Right! A bookstore! First we went to the Penki Kontinentai (Five Continents) at Vilniaus gatve 39, which is described as a "foreign-languages bookshop" and was expected to be large, according to books published before it opened. Well, it does have one shelf of novels in English and some textbooks and technical books in English, but it's several blocks off Gedimino prospektas and not worth the walk unless you actually *need* something in English. The Vilnius Bookstore on Gedimino and Vilniaus gatve is a more complete bookstore, but basically all the books are in Lithuanian or Russian. There was a lot of science fiction (a lot of Robert Silverberg, especially) and we got DRACULA in Lithuanian and KING KONG, KILLER CRABS, and SPIDERS in an omnibus Russian edition. Some Russian printer grinds these out with little concern for niceties like copyright. The layout of this bookstore was similar to the others we went into (all except the Penki Kontinentai). There are several "stands" which form one long row against the back wall. A table in front of the stand has a copy of each of the books it carries. You can look at those, but when you want to buy, you tell (or point to or show) the clerk behind the counter what you want and she retrieves it from the shelves along the wall. You pay separately at each stand for the books you buy there. Again, everyone uses abacuses to total the bill. There is no overlap that we could detect in the books carried by the various stands, but from one bookstore to the next there wasn't much variation. Evelyn suspects the average B. Dalton or Waldenbooks in a mall in the United States has a wider selection. But books are cheaper in Lithuania--usually under US$1, and sometimes as little as 1 Lt.

Evelyn notes that she asked at one stand, "Sherlock Holmes?" The woman said no, but she clearly understood what was being asked for.

We also got some film music on cassette.

After the music store, Evelyn had this idea for what to do with some spare time. Our train is 23:20 Thursday night. The question was what to do until time to go to the train. We can check our luggage at the station but still things close about 19:00. What is there to do until 23:20? We dropped over to the opera house and got tickets for RIGOLETTO that night. The tickets are 7 Lt each, or about US$1.75. Not a bad price for opera.

Lunch was at a place called the Baltu Ainiai. This place was founded by the local temperance union so there is no alcohol--no loss. It was recommended by the "Lonely Planet" guide as a good place to get cepelinai (as well as other good stuff). Well, they didn't have cepelinai--no one seems to have cepelinai. It's as if they've decided that cepelinai were Soviet or something and no one wanted anything to do with cepelinai. However, the food they did have was terrific. Mark ordered a plate of herring, and then had a potato kugel--sort of a potato pudding, a national dish. Both sound a bit odd for our palates perhaps, but they were just wonderful. Evelyn started with a rice salad with bit of ham, and had pancakes (more like blintzes really) with jelly and sour cream. Curiously, the place has a Lowenbrau sticker on the door, perhaps as a joke, but it is clean and brightly lit with flowers on each table. We had to order off a board in Lithuanian, but the server was happy to translate and it was probably the best meal we have had yet this trip. Mark thinks we may be back for lunch in a couple of days. The one disappointment was that it did not have cepelinai; Mark doesn't really want to leave without a taste of this national dish.

After that we went back to the room and listened to some of the cassettes we got. One was Lithuanian pop. Mark comments, "When I said before that you have mostly American music, I am not sure whether that was, strictly speaking, true. I was including in music done in an American style, though it might be Lithuanian. One of the cassettes we got is "LIETUVISKAS C*O*U*N*T*R*Y" by a group called Suris. This is music done in the style of American country and western, but it is done for Lithuanians by Lithuanian performers. This is not all that uncommon. If you saw the Irish film THE COMMITMENTS, it was about an Irish musical group wanting to do soul music. A good deal of the music you hear here really is American music sung in English, but there is some of the local music. But there is also music just of the American style. At what point do you have to say that this style belongs to the world? I really am not sure. Certain black jazz has been co-opted by the rest of the population. Benny Goodman certainly was not black."

After listening to music, we decided to take a leisurely walk up Gedimino prospektas to see the government buildings. Gedimino prospektas is sort of the Fifth Avenue of Lithuania. It is the prime street of the most celebrated city of the country.

We had been down the street several times already to various distances. This was where the pizza place was; also the KGB Museum is on the street. As we passed it, Mark noticed graffiti in the streets saying, "KGB=SS." Mark muses, "Now this is a bit confusing, since you would tend to assume that graffiti is supposed to be a medium for counter-culture sentiments. One would assume that the current government would hardly be pro-KGB. Now what Evelyn thinks is that there are people who think that the government is not being harsh enough on the Russians and former KGB forces that are still in the country. I suppose there is more I would probably like to know, but the best way to find this stuff out *in the country* is by pub intelligence. You go into a nitery and with a beer in your hand you talk to some local and find out what is what. Since I don't drink, I have the next best thing open to me. I can ask on the Internet. Of course, I cannot access the Internet right here. I will have to wait until I get back home, but my guess is that is what is going on."

We crossed the street to Lukishkiu Aikshte, which used to have a statue of Lenin in the center. Now all it has are tulip beds. Tulips are ubiquitous--the country must be more enamored of the tulip than the Netherlands is. And with the good reason that tulips once wreaked a terrible toll on the Netherlands. They were the center of a great financial madness where the value of tulip bulbs went to incredible heights before the market fell apart. Mark says, "It makes little sense to me because the Dutch seem such a level-headed and intelligent people. I would say that in all of my travels the people I have come away respecting the most are the Dutch. Yes, yes, I know that there are negative aspects of Dutch history. I still think that in the 20th Century they come the closest to being a good example to the other countries of the world." Boy, was this a digression!

We walked around the square, stopping to read (translate from the Russian, actually) the inscription on a cross at the back of the square. It was a memorial to two people who were instrumental in leading a movement against the Russians in the Rebellion of 1863.

It was also interesting to note (as Evelyn pointed out) that the lights had symbols removed from their bases. They were undoubtedly pro-Soviet symbols such as hammers and sickles. After all, the local lodge of the KGB was right across the street, complete with the lovely prison we saw Saturday.

We continued up the street, stopping at the Vaga bookstore (which the "Lonely Planet" guide has conflated with the Vilnius Bookstore--Vaga is at Gedimino 50, but Vilnius is at the corner of Vilniaus gatve and would have an odd number). Evelyn couldn't resist spending a single litas for a Jules Verne book we'd never heard of--in Lithuanian, of course. The title is something like FIFTEEN YEARS A CAPTAIN, and it seems to be some sort of adventure in the South Seas. Mark says he will carry the KING KONG and the DRACULA, but Evelyn gets the Verne, or we can contribute it to our hosts' Verne collection. We continued on to Parliament Square.

As we stood looking at the majestic columns of the Parliament Building, we read an account of how the Soviet tanks stood outside this building in 1991 and how the members of Parliament said they had cast their fate with the Lithuanian people. The tanks never fired, though one person inside died of heart failure. Eventually the tanks withdrew.

The description also said the more classically designed building in the square was the government library. To us the other building looked more modern than the one we were facing. It was then we realized that we were standing in front of the wrong building and picturing Soviet tanks threatening a library.

Sure enough, there was a stone block in the ground showing where the tanks were. You know history has a lot of rough edges. The tanks looks a lot more dramatic in front of the library. It was something about the barrels and the cannons. I hope the movie-of-the-week version uses the library.

Dragging these heavy books from one building to another in our imaginations and the hot sun left us with a serious thirst. We stopped at a grocery and got some Coca-Colas, bottled in Latvia, and drank them right there on the street on the way back. (Evelyn always carries a bottle opener with her on trips.) There was no place to recycle the bottles and we just threw them out.

On the way back we saw two men in their thirties who were doing something with their money, but they dropped a small coin and were looking for it. Mark pointed out to them where the coin fell. At this point it became clear the two had been drinking and decided to treat us like heroes for our good deed. They thanked us profusely. It was clear they could tell by looking at us that we were Americans, though it is not clear to me how they could tell. Maybe someone reading this can tell me how people know Americans when they see them. One tip-off, Mark thinks, is a striped shirt. At least a Hyde Park speaker once said that while Mark was writing.

As we tried to cross a street with one car coming, our grateful drunks jumped in front of the car and motioned us to cross the street. We ducked into a store to be rid of our all-too-friendly friends. (Incidentally, they did speak good English, which was nice. Not expected, but as Evelyn pointed out, this is the country we have visited in which the fewest people seem to speak English. We have no right to expect differently and don't, but it is nice to find people who are fluent in English.) In any case, we were rewarded for our deed and embarrassment. The store we ducked into sold cassettes. For 15 Lt we got the entire opera NABUCCO (with Placido Domingo) by Giuseppe Verdi. That is an entire opera for US$3.75. Mark is a little sorry we did not get LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR by Donizetti, also for the same price.

Mark asked Evelyn a complicated question. A litas here is equivalent to how much money at home--not the exchange rate, but the cost-of-living equivalent. Mark says he can't be sure, but he thinks that roughly 1.2 Lt will buy what we think a dollar will buy at home. If a dish costs 5 Lt, it might cost you US$6 at home. The threecassette set at home, with no libretto, would be worth US$18.

Evelyn pointed out that one of the joyful signs of the new economy is the rusted gray vending machines. We remember seeing them in action in Leningrad. You put in a coin and you get a stream of water to clean off the glass sitting there. Then it fills with soda. We never actually saw anyone using these vending machines and we suspect they were never very popular. Now there are lines in front of kiosks for products that the sellers have been forced to think about in terms of what the buyer wants. And in this headlong race to please the customer, products have gotten more pleasing. We got some cookies at one such kiosk yesterday and they are Swedish-made and very good. The soda we buy there is also very good. Today we bought what appears to be the second most popular snack in Lithuania. (Quick: what is the most popular?) The second-most popular is the stand-up ice cream cone. You buy a flat-bottomed cone of the type we sometimes see in the United States pre-packed at the factory with chocolate ice cream. The price is about 45-60 centai, or between 11 and 15 cents. By having the ice cream already in the cone and the whole thing frozen, the cone is the consistency of wet cardboard. The ice cream is hard and does not have as much flavor as one might want, but you get a fair-sized refreshing nugget of ice cream. And I can tell you that you get solid ice cream. There are no air pockets to speak of in that cone. And if it fails to be great chocolate ice cream, it isn't bad either. By the way, there is no cash register. There are no cash registers that we have seen. We just lied. The grocery had a cash register, now that we think of it. But that is a rarity. What they have is a cash box and an abacus. It may be a hold-over from the days of the Soviets, but while you do see some electronic calculators, the most common by far is the abacus. And your change is dumped into a little plate.

Back to the room to log-write and listen to a little NABUCCO. At about 20:00 we went to dinner at the Menininkai kavine, a little kavine just opposite where we dropped off the Yiddish books. We ordered some variety but all they had were karbonadas, the popular little fried meat cutlets. They came with fries and marinated cucumber.

A random note here on languages: A Russian-English dictionary is handy for deciphering signs in museums and such. There isn't much visible Russian elsewhere (no Cyrillic street signs, etc.), but maybe the logic is that it's okay to have foreign languages in museums, because they're for tourists as well as locals.

Back at the room Mark just had time to get caught up in his log for 23:00, the time he has been going to bed. Evelyn has been going to bed at 21:00, but she has been writing a much shorter log this time. She also has time to read a novel. Mark takes notes all day long and writes at night, gabbing and gassing with who knows who will be reading this.

May 11, 1994: Mark woke up early and could not really get back to sleep. He says, "I did read a good article from the April 6 "Economist" stating the Lithuanian government does not deny the collaboration of some Lithuanians in killing Jews in the Holocaust, but they point out that there were also Lithuanians who protected Jews. The policy of the government is to say, 'Let's just forget that some did one and some on the other when faced with the situation.' The position of Israeli Jews is very much that it very much matters who was on the murdering side and who was on the protecting side. Protectors should be noted and mass murderers should be punished. The 'Economist' says 'curiously absent' from the debate are Lithuanian Jews. And the Israeli government calls them 'stooges.' I don't happen to believe they are stooges at all. These are people who have suffered under Soviets, Nazis, then Soviets again. Now the policy of the government is as positive as any they have seen in sixty or more years. For example, the government is sponsoring Jewish Studies programs at the University of Vilnius. The situation is not unlike a woman who is married to a man who beats her when he is drunk but is friendly when he is sober. She does not want to provoke him when he is being pleasant. Nor does she have the courage to divorce him. Instead she will take what positive attention she can get from him and hope he stays sober. Nothing excuses the drunken beatings, but they are married. The husband tells himself, 'Sometimes I am good, sometimes bad. It evens out.' Israel is taking the role of the shelter for battered wives, and tells the Jews they are foolish to stay, but knows how difficult divorce is. I think Jews are not blaming Lithuania--they are blaming lots and lots of Lithuanians, and that is an important distinction. Perhaps they are worried about just which Lithuanians will be tarred. It will also be divisive over incidents that happened over a half a century ago. Lithuania is funding marble plaques, Holocaust memorials, and Jewish Studies programs, to make clear that the current regime is not anti-Jewish. They would like that to be enough after fifty years. Is it enough? I'm not sure I would know even if it were my place to decide. Thank God it isn't."

Our goal for today is the island castle of Trakai. To understand what Trakai is, we will remind you of Gediminas. (Yes, all Lithuanian history fits together. The country is too small and poor to be able to afford a history so complex as to have pieces that don't fit together. In the United States we are used to being able to say that the Iroquois had nothing to do with the San Francisco earthquake. That is a luxury not afforded to the poor but poverty-stricken people of Lithuania.) At the time Gediminas dreamt of the iron wolf, the capital was Trakai. The castle there on an island is considered to be one of the most beautiful sights in Lithuanian. Now it is more of a resort area on a peninsula in Lake Galve. Very picturesque from the postcards.

Breakfast was a minor variation on breakfast every other day. In addition, there was something like a cookie loaf filled with jam. But basically it was sausage and cheese.

After breakfast and a little clearing up, we packed up our stuff and headed out to the bus station to ride the hour or so to Trakai. There are two styles of bus going to Trakai, fancy (costing 1.30 Lt) and plain (costing 1.05 Lt). The bus to Trakai in the morning is fancy, with reclining seats, though perhaps it was a bit on the warm side.

The lake is only eighteen miles west of Vilnius, so it is not a long bus ride (about forty-five minutes). The gray sky we had awakened to had cleared and we had another beautiful day. The bus station is the base of the peninsula; you walk north to see the sights, all very close by, since the peninsula is only a mile (two kilometers) long and 500 yards (a half a kilometer) wide at its widest. Lake Galve is actually only a tiny lake, but the peninsula has a Cape-Cod sort of feeling, with nice photos to be taken of people repairing small boats. (Mark called it "the Cape Cod of Lithuania"; for those of you on the left coast, think of it as "the Monterey of Lithuania.") Actually, the peninsula really divides the lake into four smaller lakes. To the west of the peninsula the lake is called Totorishkiu, to the east it is Lake Luka, to the north it is Lake Galve, and punctuating the base of the peninsula is a disconnected Lake Gilushis. But this is Lithuania's resort area and it is rather nice. We walked two kilometers north to the Lake Castle, which was restored from ruins.

Most of the buildings around the edge of Trakai are small wooden cottages, many of them built by Karaites. The Karaites are usually described as a "Judaist sect"--Evelyn says she isn't sure why they're just not called Jewish. As she writes, "It's true that they reject the Talmud and later rabbinic teachings and adhere strictly to the Law of Moses, but that hardly seems to put them outside Judaism, since they would almost seem to be between Orthodox and conservative (assuming there is a true spectrum). There were 383 Karaite families brought to Trakai by Vytautas to serve as his bodyguard. Though the Karaites originated in Baghdad, these came from the Crimea and are often described as a Turkish ethnic group. I read somewhere, though, that Hitler wasn't sure that the Karaites were Jews and so didn't have them rounded up. I would have thought that their being Turks would have been enough, but 'Traveler' magazine speculates that he may have found them enough of a curiosity to leave them alone. In any case, there remain about 130 Karaites today."

One comment Mark made here about the Lithuanian people: "They are very stand-offish. I have tried smiling and nodding to them and with the exception of the occasional child and maybe the drunks yesterday, they just look back with no change of expression, as if nodding and smiling were like wearing rubber Spock ears and a Bozo suit. If you come to visit, don't bother with being friendly and/or don't be bothered if people are not friendly to you." Of course, this is no doubt the effect of fifty years of Soviet control, when even being friendly to foreigners was considered suspicious and could get you in serious trouble.

But he adds, "I did find some children who smiled at us and were just tickled pink when I waved at them, not once but several times."

We walked to the end of the peninsula and over what looked like a fairly light bridge, except that we had just seen a micro-bus drive over it. This bridge led to the island with the castle on it. We paid 1 Lt for a photography permit, but admission, normally 1.40 Lt each, was free because it was Wednesday. (Museums here seem to be mostly closed on Tuesday and free on Wednesday. Back home they're open every day but never free. Given how expensive museums are back home, a free day to let the more financially strapped see the museums wouldn't be a bad idea.) Because it was free, there were several school groups taking advantage of the opportunity. This made the castle the most crowded site we've visited so far, but still it was almost entirely Lithuanians.

The efforts to restore the castle have not been to recapture the original look, but only to recapture the original shape in materials that would not be mistaken for the original building materials. That way you know when you are or are not seeing the original stonework.

The castle of turrets and a drawbridge is in general pretty impressive. The collection in the castle museum seems almost interchangeable with the collection in Lithuania's Museum of History and Ethnology, though considerably larger. It starts with prehistoric stone tools and continues up through this century. There are impressive versions of what Vytautas looked like. The man looks like he was carved out of granite with a chin you could build a skyscraper on. This guy is a real man's man. And then some.

Mark asks how they determined what items went into which museums, as the Castle Museum had an exhibit about an independent Lithuania between the wars. There were some entertainment posters, including one for Molly Picon playing in MAZOJI MAMYTE (MY YIDDISCHE MOMMA. Why was that here? Who knows?

Outside the moat, but within the castle proper is a collection of artifacts from the furnishings of the castle. Of special note are some canes with handles in the style of Japanese netsuke, as well as some very interesting carved pipes with human features and other interesting motifs. There is also a historical note about Jean Nicot sending tobacco to Catherine de Medici. That must be the origin of the word "nicotine."

In the room of fine glassware, Evelyn heard someone else speaking English. It turned out to be an American living in Vilnius. He was from Georgia, USA. He always has to make clear it is Georgia, USA, since if he says just "Georgia," people think he is a Soviet. When he heard we worked for AT&T, he said he was thinking of throwing out his Sprint card since it always gives him a busy signal when he calls the United States. He says that with AT&T he never gets a busy signal. We suggested that throwing out his Sprint card would be a very good idea.

Mark relates, "I asked what he was doing living in Vilnius. He is a missionary and he said he would love to have us come worship with him and his group. I didn't tell him, but he probably would not like it at all. I am Jewish, agnostic, a mathematician, and an empiricist with a penchant for arguing religion. This is not a combination he wants. In the month before this trip, I spent two very enjoyable sessions with Jehovah's Witnesses on my porch. As they left the second time, their parting comment was that at least I had convinced them that they need to know what they are talking about before they come again. (I told them I had hoped I'd convinced them of more than that, but I'd settle for that. They won't de back, however. Every five years or so they send someone around and I show them holes in their reasoning. A week or so later they will show up, bringing their "big guns"--their expert arguer. After arguing for ninety minutes or so he leaves, promising to come back and explain the holes I had found in *his* arguments. He never comes back. And I am safe for another five years or more until they forget that it isn't worth their time to come to this house. By that time, their cast of characters has changed. I wish that they argued a little better, but too many of them assume their arguments must be good because God is on their side. I doubt God is on their side, and even if he is, bad logic is bad logic.) But at least I am working a bit on their side albeit unintentionally. One, and perhaps two, friends who considered themselves atheists before discussing religion with me later said that they too decided they were agnostics. I don't try to change anyone's thinking, but some people who consider themselves atheists are really agnostics, and I do try to get people to think about what they themselves believe."

"In any case our missionary friend would not find me making what he would consider a positive contribution. I would end up liking him, but I am not sure he'd feel the same about me," Mark concludes.

Oh, one more room Mark wants to mention was what he called the "Gaston Room" after the character in the animated BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. You can imagine what this is all about if you've seen the film. The room has furniture made from bones of slain animals. You see chairs whose feet are elk hooves. The backs are antlers. Feh!

After the castle we felt it was time for lunch. We had heard that there was a restaurant called "Kibinine" near the Karaite Museum, which served traditional Karaite food, including kibinai. We could not find it. We did find a kavine that seemed to have no name on the corner of Vytauto and Birutes, and for US$2 we got two beet salads, three kibinai, two glasses of orange-apricot nectar, and a cup of coffee. We had been curious to try kibinai. It is essentially meat loaf in a glossy pastry shell. We think it is what is called elsewhere a pasty. It's fairly tasty but the grease was a little heavy. And where it comes off it seems to congeal like candle wax. (The Kibinine turned out to be on the mainland, across the bridge at the northern end of the peninsula at Karaimu gatve 65. We suppose it might recently have moved, as it is now close to a large lot where tour buses can park.)

From there we went to the Karaite Museum, another one of those "two-dozen-item" museums. Perhaps not surprisingly from their background, we see a lots of things that look more Arabic than Jewish. For example, there was no Hebrew and no Stars of David. You see in two small rooms swords, bows, arrows, and shields. You see pipes and hookahs. There are beaten metal trays that one still sees a lot of in Arabic countries. There were small tables and some nicely decorated boxes. Some of their weaving was represented. Evelyn spent some time translating the Russian descriptions with the help of her dictionary, but there wasn't very much here.

Some interesting pieces were wooden shoes for the wet weather. They were platforms on two-inch thick blocks to walk above the rain or snow. Mark got a chuckle from a cradle with a built-in drain. That seems like a good idea somehow.

After that we just walked around the peninsula leisurely. We saw from the outside the Kenessa, the prayer house of the Karaites, but it was not open to visitors, so we don't know if the inside looked more liked a synagogue, a mosque, or what. We finished up with the Peninsula Castle, pretty much still in ruins though they seem to be building a historical museum there. Things here are taking less time than we've allotted. For example, we almost always overestimate how long a museum will take. We probably could have made do with five and a half days in Vilnius instead of six and a half. Still, we can take an extra day in Riga and another in Tallinn if we want without being late for our scheduled meeting in Turku. Then again, it's likely we'll have already scheduled more time than necessary in those places.

We took the 16:00 bus back to Vilnius. This was a "local" bus, rather than a "long-distance" bus, so the seats were not as comfortable, but it was cheaper. In any case, that was what was going at the time we wanted to go. It stopped at Vaduvos (near Paneriai) so people who wanted to combine the two could take a local bus (listed on the *blue* board in Trakai rather than the red), get off at Vaduvos (right after the trolley lines come in from the right), cross the street, and catch the number 8 bus to Paneriai. Just a suggestion, of course.

We were not really hungry when we got back, but we've wanted to try cepelinai and a bistro we passed had it, so we figured we'd give it a try. (A bistro is like a kavine, except that you eat standing at a table instead of sitting down.) Mark's initial impression of cepelinai was "Lithuanian Dim Sum." It is ground meat, not too different from kibinai but wrapped in a ground potato paste and topped with gravy (actually butter or bacon fat) and mushrooms. Mark thought it was pretty good. Evelyn thought the kibinai were a lot better. Mark also had a glass of cherry juice and that was really good. It was like liquid cherry pie. Two cepelinai, two glasses cherry juice, and a coffee came to 6 Lt (US$1.50). The coffee, by the way, is more like Turkish coffee, in small cups with grounds at the bottom, than like the coffee we get in the United States.

Local fashion seems to dictate that young women wear sunglasses with stickers on the lenses. Local fashion is stupid, no two ways about it. Mark hopes this fad does not spread to the United States. Why limit your field of vision to advertise your brand of sunglasses?

Back to the room at around 18:00 and we've been writing in our logs since.

May 12, 1994: Mark writes, "I figure that this trip is 609 hours long, but only 434 waking hours. 101 hours, 12 minutes, and 51 seconds of these waking hours are gone. That means we are 23.32% through the trip, according to Thing. In a couple of minutes we will be 7/30 done with the trip. (Thank you, Thing.)"

He continues, "Thing has become to a small extent a hobby. I spend most of the evening writing. When I want a break I try adding features to programs in Thing. I wrote myself a program today to give me good simple fractions for currency conversions in my head. I have improved my program for giving percentages through the trip and where I should be in my logs, film, and chewing gum (hey, I'm serious). If my mind wanders when I write, I've even got a program which keeps my nose to the grindstone. It tells me what page I should be on if it takes me six minutes to write a page. It will even sample my writing speed for, say, half a page, and keep me going at that rate. It's about the only way I can get through all the notes, also written in Thing."

"Most people I have talked to who have the 95LX don't use it and cannot figure out what they would use it for. I find that with a little imagination it is part of nearly everything I do. I wish it were smaller to make it easier to carry and I wish the keyboard were bigger to make it easier to type. But for something about the size of a pencil box, I think it carries its weight."

The other thing we do in the evening is listen to either the BBC on the shortwave or the Voice of America on the Walkman. VOA tends to have unpleasant rock music but it is decent for news. The BBC has even better news, and the rest of its programming is a mixed bag with some good stuff thrown in.

As Mark told Evelyn earlier this week, "Stick with me, kid, and I'll have you in Latvia." Well, today is the day he will make good on that promise. Well, maybe tomorrow is more like it. This is our last day in Lithuania. Sausage and cheese for breakfast. We said goodbye to our hosts without ever learning their names (well, they're on the receipt, but we can't read the writing very well). We packed our bags, dropped off the keys and walked to the train station. The Lithuanian word for railroad is "gelezinkelio." That has the word for iron in it, and Mark figures it probably means "iron horse."

We put our bags in the lockers. The lockers are an experience in themselves. They are 0.7 Lt (70 centai) each and work as follows: Pay the attendant 0.7 Lt. Get two 15-kopeck coins and a receipt. (The fact that they are 15-kopeck coins is meaningless. Think of them as tokens.) Save the receipt--you will be asked for it when you return. Find a free locker. Set the dials on the *inside* of the door to your combination- -one Cyrillic letter and three numbers. Memorize or write down this combination. Also memorize or write down your locker number. (Good security practices indicate you shouldn't make them both the same, but it probably doesn't matter a whole lot.) Insert one token. Close the door. Randomize the dials on the *outside* of the door. (Well, you couldn't do the inside if you wanted to at this point.) When you return, set the *outside* dials to your combination. Insert the other token. Open the door. (Note: one saving grace is that it won't take the second token unless you get the combination right, so if you can't remember which of two numbers you used, you get to make multiple tries.)

The reason the 15-kopeck coins are used, of course, is that the lockers were built during the Soviet occupation and used those coins. It's easier to keep the coins around as tokens now than to re-tool all the lockers. People are willing to put up with the hammer-and-sickles on the coins rather than spend as much as it would take to re-tool.

One slightly confusing aspect is that the combination on both the inside and outside go left-to-right (letter on the far left), so the corresponding letter/numbers are *not* back-to-back. If the door were hinged at the top, or the dials went top to bottom, then associated letter/numbers *would* be back-to-back. (You probably don't even care.)

We stopped at a couple of bookstores on the way. They were number 22 and number 10 on Pilies gatve. There seem to be a lot of stores here with no names, just a description of what is being sold--or sometimes not even that. (They may have names, but they're not visible on the store front.) But books in the window means a bookstore. In number 22 we got a pamphlet in Lithuanian and English about Darius and Girenas, and in number 10 Evelyn found a Lithuanian edition of Sherlock Holmes. She thinks it's THE VALLEY OF FEAR, but with our ability to read Lithuanian, it could be VALLEY OF GWANGI.

That accomplished, our next stop this morning was to see St. Anne's Church. St. Anne's is a very nice church built between 1570 and 1572 of thirty-two types of bricks, and is called "the jewel of Lithuanian Gothic architecture." It has a high arched ceiling. It is maybe half again as wide as it is tall so it feels very spacious overhead. At the front there is a high decoration indicating levels to heaven and at the top are clouds with light beaming through and the eye of God in a triangle. On either side of the altar are paintings of Christ on a cross and around are lucky charms. There are two chandeliers suspended by cords longer than the church is wide. Napoleon supposedly saw the church and said he wanted to take it back to France in the palm of his hand. He was something of a diplomat. I don't quite remember the story, but he came to Vilnius with some gift for the Jews to show his positive intentions. I think in the United States we tend to think of Napoleon as a tyrant, perhaps because of our ties with England *after* the time of Napoleon. In fact, many people still think of Napoleon as a positive force. Today we would probably call him a liberal reformer. He was also a man of immense charm. Most Americans today who even know there was a Napoleon remember him almost as fascist and that is just not true.

On the way into the church, an American tour group passed (the first tourists we had seen other than a half dozen Japanese). One of the women saw Evelyn holding the "Lonely Planet" book and said it was the best guide to the Baltics. Evelyn responded that it was the *only* guide. The woman said it wasn't the only guide but it was the best.

From there we continued on to the Museum of Decoration and Applied Arts (your translation may vary). We had the whole museum to ourselves. There were two floors, a ground floor for pre-20th Century art and a second floor for 20th Century art. The lower floor is mostly decorative items like furniture, tapestries, chairs, and cabinets. The second floor is more decorative pieces without function. There was a tapestry on the first floor of a king looking at what looked like a city burning. We could not place the story, but it could be local history. Evelyn preferred the 20th Century pieces: they seemed more Lithuanian and individual and less like French/German/Austrian pieces from the same period. Oddly enough, Mark liked the older pieces better.

For lunch we went back to the temperance restaurant, Baltu Ainiai. Mark had herring again. That stuff we get in a jar back home is garbage. The Lithuanian word for herring is "silke" and it is very apt. The consistency of the fish is silky. The taste is a little like anchovy. But unpickled and with sour cream it is good stuff. He also had a thin slice of beef that had some melted cheese and an indeterminate sauce. It came with good fried potatoes. Evelyn had herring and pancakes, along with a cup of tea which turned out to be herbal tea. The meal came to 27 Lt (US$7).

From there we went to the Vilnius Art Museum right across the street. (Most things are very close together in Vilnius.) This is all art by Lithuanian artists, but many interesting styles are represented. There are six paintings from someone's (Juozas Mikenas's?) "Jewish Ghetto" cycle commemorating the Jewish ghetto and its destruction. They were striking in themselves, and also in the fact that here was something with a Jewish theme in a regular (i.e., not specifically Jewish) museum. There are some nice sculptures. But the piece Mark would most like to own was the very last piece we saw. As he describes it, "It is a nighttime scene on a rolling ocean. There are mountains and valleys and snowy whitecaps to the waves. In the upper right corners, in fact going off the canvas, is a fanciful image of the back end of what could be a pirate ship with bright sails. It has a terrific story-book feel. The artist is Fernandas Ruscicas and the painting is 'Nec Mergitur.'"

We were done there about 14:00. We had some postcards to write and send, so we went to Cathedral Square. The one problem with sitting in a public place is that beggars come to ply their lack of trade. One fellow sat down next to us and tried to talk to us, first in Lithuanian, then in German. "Essen," he'd say, pointing to his throat. His German did not serve him well, since each time he said, "Essen," he aspirated out alcohol vapor, easily detectable. One aspirates far less with the English word "eat." English is generally accepted to be the international language of panhandling. More money is obtained panhandling in English than the total of the next three languages combined.

Then we had a bunch of small errands including changing money and mailing the postcards we'd just written. Rather than change litu to dollars and then dollars to Latvian lati, Evelyn figured we could change the litu to lati, since we had seen rates for lati posted here. Well, just because a change booth lists a certain currency doesn't mean they have it. The first had only 5 lati (about US$9 or 36 Lt--we had 550 Lt to change). We tried the Vilnius Bank and even they didn't have lati, so we changed to Estonian krooni (EEK) instead. Evelyn thinks we did better than we would have by changing litu to dollars here and those dollars to krooni in Estonia, but it's hard to tell yet because the spread between buy and sell on krooni here is much larger than the spread on the dollar. 550 Lt got us 1774 EEK and would have gotten us US$137. So when we get to Estonia we'll see what the rate is there. If it's more than 12.94 EEK to the dollar, we guessed wrong.

Then we went to the Post Office. We hadn't noticed it before, even though we'd walked by it several times, because they were doing construction on the main entrance and it is behind a wooden fence. We found the side entrance, though, and got our stamps (0.6 Lt for a postcard to the United States--cheaper than a postcard *in* the United States). We couldn't figure out where to mail them in the Post Office, so we mailed them in a mailbox on the street.

Mark had liked the NABUCCO he'd gotten for 15 Lt on Eurostar, so he decided to get also their LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR by Donizetti. The cassettes are actually sold independently among the cassettes of American rock and Richard Clayderman. You have to look through a lot of rock cassettes--mostly American--but there are some opera cassettes, including Puccini and Verdi. It all seems to be a brand called Eurostar, and the cassettes themselves do not label content. You have to do that. The cassettes have only the brand name. But it is nice to get an opera.

Well, we got some ice cream after that and sat in one of the many parks writing in our logs. (We spent a lot of time relaxing today. As we said earlier, we probably could have spent one fewer day here.)

Came dinner time we went back to the Picerija and Mark tried the herring pizza. Not a whole lot different from an anchovy pizza actually. He thought it was fairly tasty. He also got a local soda called "Jo-Jo" and it wasn't bad. Evelyn was not hungry and had only a Coca-Cola. Two sodas and an individual pizza came to 8.70 Lt (about US$2). Prices are fairly good in Lithuania.

After dinner we headed over to the opera house. There were a surprising number of children which Mark sees as a good sign. We saw an odd sight as we went into the opera house. A woman was giving first aid to a man who appeared to have been badly beaten and was very bloody. Not a sight you usually see in an opera house. We climbed to the appropriate floor and spent some time finding the proper entrance. They were selling as souvenirs the same Eurostar cassettes we had bought.

On the way into the opera we heard some English again. It seems the tour group we met in front of St. Anne's Church is from the United States and is on a music trip. The woman who spoke to us beforehand was from San Francisco. In Riga they will be seeing an oratorio of Hayden's, THE CREATION, and we may also. The opera we saw was RIGOLETTO by Verdi. The story involves a handsome duke who beds all the beautiful ladies within reach. When a cuckolded husband accuses the Duke, the Duke's hunch-backed jester Rigoletto taunts the husband and gets cursed by him. When Rigoletto's own daughter falls under the Duke's charms, Rigoletto plots to have the Duke murdered, but it ends up badly for the jester and not for the Duke. The curse has had its effect.

And from this tale we learn three things: From the husband we learn that if you are going to curse someone, curse the right person. From the Duke we learn that good looks make up for a multitude of sins. From Rigoletto himself we learn that sometimes following your hunch can be worse than your hunch following you.

For one litas they have a program that explains the action in three languages: English, Lithuanian, and Russian. There were three reasons this was useful: 1) Mark wasn't sure he remembered the plot, 2) there were no super-titles, and 3) it was sung in Lithuanian, not Italian. We suppose if it were sung in Italian, any super-titles would have been in Lithuanian, but at least Italian has some cognates with English and we would have had some chance of picking up the plot from the words.

A few comments on the production. Evelyn pointed out that the sets must have been used a lot. There are canvas-covered stairs. The canvas looked like it was torn on each stair. Given the general disrepair, it's unlikely that money will be spent for super-titles in the near future.

The singer who played the Duke must have written into his contract that all his costumes would be low-cut. Each one showed the swirl of hair on his chest.

It seemed odd to Evelyn that in a country which appears to work at employing as many people as possible--doormen in restaurants, extra people in shops, etc.--there are no ushers to help you find your seats at the opera. Everyone's ticket is checked at the entrance and then you're on your own.

There is a scene early in the opera when an assassin for hire offers his services to Rigoletto. Mark leaned over and whispered to Evelyn, "If you need anything collected...." He reminded Mark of the fellow we saw in line the first day. But the opera was well done and Gilda was sung very well, as the woman from the tour group pointed out to Mark. She had asked him how much our tickets cost and must have been a little surprised when we told her how little. She bought this as a music tour of the Baltic states and one of the reasons that they offer it is that the music itself is so cheap. The most expensive seats to the opera are US$2.25. The woman had the highest price tickets and sat two rows ahead of us. (Ours were US$1.75.) We think that the opera is at least partially subsidized by the government and it does not pay very well for the performers, but the costs are maybe 10% of what they would be in the United States. Of course, a part of what you are paying for on the music tour is for the organization for someone to make all the reservations, to determine where buildings are located, and to have things run close to perfect. That is nice, too. Do-it-yourself is a lot of work. A lot of the organization work for us Evelyn does, which Mark says he much appreciates.

The sign outside the opera house listed something (pagaiba? pabaiga?--we didn't write it down) as 21:00. Evelyn had thought that must be the ending time, but it seemed to be the time of the final intermission instead. We got out about 21:40 and took a trolley to the train station. It took longer than expected. Somehow, in spite of what the signs say about how often trolleys come, somebody else's line will always have a lot more trolleys than your own.

The station is not quite as bad as "The Baltics & Russia Through the Back Door" would have you believe. They have installed some seats in the waiting area, but it's still dimly lit and we had to pick up our bags and our feet so they could mop the floor under us. Our train was listed for track 7, but the signs were only for "I," "II," "III," and "IV." We asked at the information window and the woman said, "Riga? Platform 4." It turns out there are two tracks per platform, and we found our train.

It took a while to decipher our tickets and figure out our car on the train to Riga. "The Baltics & Russia Through the Back Door" was again useful in this regard, but we at first thought that some brightly colored (yellow or orange, if we remember) cars were the sleepers. They were clearly post-Soviet. The Soviets never used bright colors for anything--witness the battleship-gray soda vending machines. Mark thinks the Soviet idea was that people could be perfected to a state where they would realize that bright colors were not important. Human nature could be overcome with logic. All they really ended up doing was making life depressing for the good of the state. And for such a minor good at that. Whether Communism works or not, the Soviet version was handled so ineptly that it proves nothing. Evelyn went onto one of the bright cars and said it smelled bad. She had been looking for someone to tell her which car to get on. Finally it turned out that our car was one of the old Soviet-style sleeper cars on the train at the other end. It was a dull dark green.

The sleepers are more like Indian sleepers than southeast Asian ones. That is, the lower berths are seats during the day and the upper berths are folded up. However, thin mattresses (futons) and pillows are provided. (Why are all the pillows here square?)

When the conductor collected our tickets she asked in Russian (the lingua franca of the trains here, we suspect) if we wanted bedding. (Well, she used sign language as well.) We thought she meant only sheets and since it was 10 litu each we said no. Later--as it got colder--we realized it was sheets and a blanket. Luckily we were the only two in the compartment so we took the other two futons and used them as blankets!

This was now 23:15, so it was dark and our car had a little light on a switch. The light was probably no brighter than a flashlight bulb--probably less. In fact, calling it a light is probably not accurate. It was a "dim." Turn it on and it sucked all the light out of the compartment. Turn it on and all you could see was the light itself. Mark says he would say we are talking about one jack-o-lantern power. This was determined to be all the light that a person needs, according to the perfect workers' state. The perfect workers' state just naturally balanced the needs of the individual against the needs of the state, and this little firefly light was what popped out of the equation. Shades of 1984, the compartment also had a radio that could be turned down but not *off* entirely. Even there the knob was missing. Still, compared with the trains on our last trip, this was a real luxury sleeper.

The train car was cold and there was no way to block out the light, unlike our rented room which was cold and there was no way to block out the light.

May 13, 1994: We spent a restless night. Sometime about 5:00 the train stopped. It was already light in the compartment. At 5:20 there was a knock at the door. Passport check. Mark tried to open the door, but it would not open. Mark didn't know which position the handle should be in to open it, but it would not open in either position. Finally Evelyn gave it a try. She could not open it, then suddenly it gave way with such force that it threw her on the bunk (which got a smile from the guard waiting outside). It turns out it wasn't the mechanism. There was something wrong with the door and it seemed either to jam open or to jam closed. The people next door to us had the same problem.

The train stopped next to another train. Mark sounded out the Cyrillic on the tank cars: "Fermi Synthicorp." Now Mark says he greatly respects Fermi, but he doesn't want to spend a whole long time next to a tank car that says "Fermi" in Cyrillic.

The train eventually started again but stopped about 6:00, and about 6:20 they came around for a customs check. One quick look in Mark's suitcase and they passed us on. Another passport check at 6:30 and we were officially in Latvia.

In the next compartment were a mother and daughter from Michigan (though the daughter is currently living in Moscow). After we helped them unstick their door, we got to talking and lent them the new "Lonely Planet" for fifteen minutes, since they were using an old USSR one.


Our first view of Riga was certainly impressive. We crossed a river and there was a skyline of a thriving metropolis, but it certainly did not look like a United States city. The building silhouettes were of different shapes.

We arrived in Riga 8:30, two hours late.

Mark notes, "I had a sort of personal reason for being anxious to get into Riga. It seems that the bathroom door was either locked or jammed in our car. I tried a couple of times and could not get in. I had pressing reasons for wanting to get in." (Luckily we had used the facilities in the opera house, or we might have had to take drastic action.)

We changed US$100 and got 56 lati. (That should be enough for four days, not counting the room. Since we paid for the last room with our Visa card, we figure it's better to see how we pay this time before changing a lot.) Latvia is only the third country we have visited whose currency unit is more than a United States dollar. It shouldn't make a difference, but psychologically it does somehow.

Mark writes, "Once I had a lats in local currency, I could go to the men's room right next to the currency exchange. In fact, you could see the sinks from the line. People rarely gave them a whole lats and asked for the 0.95 lati change, I take it. It is a little disconcerting having women in there cleaning while we are using the plumbing, but different cultures have different customs."

We came out of the train station and started walking to the Hotel Riga. The area really looks a lot like Manhattan close up. The buildings have more of a European--particularly German--feel. There are lots of carvings in the stonework, like some giants holding up corners of buildings. (Our architectural vocabulary is lacking, we are afraid, or we could better describe how the carvings are used.) Over the doorway of the electric company is a statue of Zeus (or is it Thor?) holding lightning bolts aloft in one hand. Most buildings that are more than fifty years old have some sort of distinctive decoration. Some show Russian influence with onion domes that look science fictional, like something out of THE INVISIBLE RAY. If a roof looks too plain, someone will put on a bronze cat, its back arched. This is certainly one of the cities with the most interesting architecture of any city we have visited.

There seems to be the same Baltic dourness we saw in Lithuania, however. But we are getting ahead of ourselves here. We are over a day behind in our log-writing so some of this is reflecting experiences we have not yet had at this point in our narrative.

The Hotel Riga looks expensive from the outside, but our information said that it cost only about US$35 a night. We went in and got a price. US$99 a night. Inflation has really hit this area. We decided this was a bit much, so we found a phone and tried to call other hotels. No dice. No vacancy. The hotel situation in Riga is somewhat sparse. There are two middle-range places, neither very conveniently located. The only other hotels left to try were places that supposedly charged prices like US$0.40 for a dormitory bed, catered mostly to travelers from the Central Asian republics, and didn't like to take Westerners. Now what? Well, when we go to science fiction conventions we will often spend US$100 a night. And we like Barbara Iskowitz's motto: "Tour hard, rest easy." Actually we are not sure if she said that or if the wording is Mark's. We think he may have combined her idea with a paraphrase of Marshall Zhukov, who said, "Train hard, fight easy." Anyway, the sentiment applies very well. So we took the room. And it is an improvement. It is the first warm room we have had in the Baltic republics. The curtains are still translucent and the window faces east. The appointments in the room are--well, not what we would expect from a hundred-dollar room at home. The light fixture hanging from the ceiling is orange plastic and looks like a sand toy a store would sell just before Halloween. There are two twin beds which are basically wooden boxes in which mattresses had been inlaid. Not a really comfortable bed. The night stand has a Russian radio--broken. And a Russian digital clock--hard to figure out. The bathroom has a heated towel rack and a tub rather than a shower. There is a hand-held sprayer, but only enough hose to get it about four feet above the floor of the tub. The toilet has a little indented area to go under you and when you flush it, water rushes over that little pool and washes it into a lower drain. There is something about toilets here taking pride in showing you your output and letting you assess it. Perhaps they were designed by doctors to make it easy to take specimens. In any case, it is a design that assaults both the eye and the nose. There is a refrigerator in the room that says in big letters (in English) that it is for beverages, not for food.

We settled into the room and Evelyn took a hot shower and started washing out some clothes. We had accumulated quite a lot of dirty laundry and this seemed like the right time and place to catch up. (Because the air seems very dry here, and because the room is warmer than the outside--which was *not* true in Vilnius--at least the clothing is drying very fast.)

We then rushed out to see Riga. Our first stop was St. Peter's Cathedral in Vecriga (Old Riga), which has a high tower with an observation platform that shows you a great view of the city. We walked over, struck by the German beauty and the architecture. The Cathedral itself is nice, but the statues are most unusual. Most religious statues are intended to be impressive and show idealized people. For some reason the statues around this building show people who are not so good-looking. Some are even ugly. Mark says that he has no objection, but that we tend to live with the equation of beauty=virtue and it is a little surprising when saints are portrayed as homely people. (He also admits that it may be that they were just not to his taste.)

We went in and asked about tower tickets. The woman said something in a foreign language we did not understand. I think she may have been talking in something like Latvian. We looked confused, so she said, "Elf." Now, "elf" is German for "eleven" (German is very common here), so we gave her a piece of paper that said "11:00" and she nodded yes. Well, that was only about fifteen minutes away, so we decided to walk around and come back at 11:00. We came back at 10:55 and tried to buy tickets. Again, she wrote "11:00." Okay five more minutes. We waited and went back. More Latvian and she again said, "Elf." But it was elf! Had we changed time zones without knowing it? We left confused. Eventually we found out time zones had not changed, but why she was saying "Elf" we have not figured out. Maybe she meant there was an elf blocking the elevator shaft.

Also, the price of going up to the tower had increased ten-fold since the last time it was quoted--it was now 50 santimu (US$0.78) each instead of 5. Clearly inflation has hit tourist-oriented things here.

Okay, we'll try St. Peter's some other time. We then walked over to the Dom (the other major church in Vecriga) to see if there were any organ concerts, since the Dom is famous for its 6768-pipe organ. All the guidebooks say that the concert office is across from the main entrance. All the buildings across from the main entrance were being renovated. Things were certainly *not* going as planned.

We walked around Old Riga a bit, looking at the various styles of architecture and building decorations. Buildings have classical statues decorating their facades, or silhouettes of cats perching on their roof towers, or carved frogs on either side of their doors, or gargoyles, or flowers, or ... you get the idea. Architecturally, Riga is fascinating; Mark called it "the Chicago of Latvia."

Next stop was lunch. One of the books recommended the Kafejnica Balta Roze. We each had a small piece of bread, buttered, with smoked salmon and onion. I had a glass of juice, Evelyn had coffee, and the bill came to 2.81 lati (US$5)! Sticker shock or what? This was *not* Lithuania any more. On the other hand, we had some pastries for dessert--a good-sized piece of cake for each of us--and they turned out to be fairly inexpensive: 35 santimu (US$0.63) for the two. We learned from this that even here, lox is expensive. We'll stick to cakes for the rest of our stay. :-)

Next we went to the Powder Tower. This is the last remaining tower of the eighteen towers in the 14th Century city wall. The "Lonely Planet" guide says it has been a gunpowder store, a prison, a torture chamber, and a Soviet Revolution museum. Now it is the Latvian War Museum. It is a tribute to the brave heroes from the Latvian military. As military museums go, it is pretty tame stuff. The Soviets must have gotten most of Latvia's big armaments. Most of what you see in the museum is photographs of Latvia's military history, and small objects-- both the sorts of things that could have been concealed from the Soviets. There are lots of photographs of planes. There are frequent explanations that the swastikas you see over everything do not represent Naziism. The Latvian swastika is a red swastika and they were using it before Hitler. Color is all-important. The American military uses a white star. The Chinese use a red star. The coincidence of shape does not indicate sympathy.

Of course, you never actually see that the swastikas are red since the pictures are all in black and white. Mark had bought a photo ticket (50 santimu, while the admission was only 10 santimu each) so he could take pictures. He still couldn't find much to photograph.

This museum had somewhat more English than in Lithuanian museums, and less Russian. Although Riga has a very high percentage of ethnic Russians, Latvia is trying to eliminate Russian from official use. All the street signs, for example have had the Cyrillic versions of the street names painted over (except for the streets that have been renamed altogether, like "Lenin Boulevard" becoming "Freedom Boulevard," which get totally new signs). And the museums have labeled things only in Latvian, or in Latvian and English.

One of the exhibits was about the Latvian legions in World War II, which fought on the Axis (German) side. The explanation given at the beginning was that Latvia did this because Germany agreed to grant it independence whereas the USSR, whom Latvia were fighting, wanted to absorb Latvia into itself. This may be true, but it may also be an attempt to rationalize or excuse their collaboration with the Nazis. The whole issue of the role of the Baltic states during World War II is bigger and more complicated than can be addressed in this log.

After the museum we walked past the "Three Brothers," three houses including one dating from the 15th Century, making it the oldest house (not building) in Latvia. Here, as at a few other tourist spots, people would come up to us asking if we wanted to buy postcards. This is more frequent than in Lithuania, but certainly less than many other places.

After that we headed back to the room for a rest and reconnoiter. Mark had remembered seeing a "Riga This Week" there and we had found the parallel "Vilnius in Your Pocket" very useful in figuring out what was closed when there. The guidebooks had said that "Riga This Week" wasn't as good as "Vilnius in Your Pocket," and this one was even less useful than most--it was Sep/Oct/Nov 1992, and someone had torn out the map of Vecriga. Still, it did have a list of opening hours and days for the various museums that probably had some connection with reality. (We kept looking to see if there was a current edition of "Riga This Week" available, but didn't see one until late our last day in Riga.)

We decided to do the Motor Museum, cemeteries, and miscellaneous stuff Saturday, go to Sigulda on Sunday, and do the Ethnographic Museum, art museum, and random stuff Monday. We also need to buy our tickets to Tallinn tomorrow (Saturday) since the advance sales window is closed on Sunday. And we decided to skip Salaspils--two death camps is probably sufficient for one trip.

To fill in the afternoon, we went over to the Central Market, a ten-minute walk away. This turned out to be a huge flea market, not unlike our American flea markets, but more densely packed. All sorts of odd things were there. You see everything from candy to electrical parts (including a lot of batteries, if you trust them). We started with the book section, not that we intended to buy any, but it happened to be along the street (Pragas iela) leading to the main part of the market and it is fun to read titles and authors in Russian and to try and figure out what the novels are. You phonetically read the author's name and find out it will be something like Stephen King or James Fenimore Cooper. Then you sound out the title. Often you get verbal fruit cocktail, but occasionally you find something like "Spion" by James Fenimore Cooper. That's what we call THE SPY.

Evelyn writes, "I'm not sure what conditions were like here under the Soviets, but there certainly seems to be a large quantity of consumer goods here now. Latvia seems more prosperous than Lithuania-- more cars, more books, more everything. True, Riga is 50% larger than Vilnius, but I think there's more to it than that."

However, people still provide their own shopping bags. (This is common throughout all of Europe, which is in general less into wasteful packaging than the United States.) Here, the most popular bags seem to be ones with American designs on them (the American flag, the Statue of Liberty, and so on), and there were several vendors at the Market selling plastic bags.

We continued on to the food section. The food section is the original market, housed in five Zeppelin hangars left over from World War I, though the market has sprawled out over a huge area around them. One hangar is devoted to meat dealers. You go in and you see pigs' heads and sheep's heads lying on counters. This makes for some very good photography. When you travel there are more interesting pictures to take per square foot in a meat market than just about any place else. People come in with their dogs on leashes and the dogs walk around wide-eyed. Who knows what goes on in a dog's mind in a place like this? In general it is pretty tough to figure out why animals do what they do. Mark says, "I am told that if you climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude. Perhaps the heat finally got to him and he wanted to get up where it was cooler. But who can even guess what was going on in the leopard's mind?"

Evidently what we were seeking was cookies and soda. In all events that was what we bought and took back to the room. Mark also got a Mars bar, which is considerably cheaper here than at home, maybe half-price. We passed up buying any hogs' heads.

The bread is interesting also. All sorts of fancy-looking loaves costing US$0.30 to US$0.80.

We returned things to the room and then went out to eat and hear the concert at the Dom, since we had managed to find out from someone near the church that there would be a concert tonight at 19:00.

We could not get tickets yet at the Dom. We went to a restaurant called Pie Kristapa. This place was founded by three farm collectives as a place to sell their goods. Evelyn had two local dishes: a mushroom salad and gray peas with smoked fat. Mark thought he saw squid on the menu and ordered it thinking it was in a sour cream sauce, only to find it was not very good fried calamari. All together, dinner with beverages was 8 lati (US$14.40), which seemed a bit high. Maybe squid is another expensive thing here.

After dinner we went back to the Dom, but it was still not ready for us. We sat and talked until 18:30. By then we could get tickets (1.5 lati each). The program was a one-hour organ concert played by Martin Vests. He was playing organ music by J. P. E. Hartmanis, Felix Mendelssohn, J. Brahms, and J. Reinbergers.

We found the concert a little disappointing. The organ was impressive, but there was little melody to any of the pieces. It was all music you might march out of church to. Evelyn and I agreed we liked the opera the night before a lot more.

On the way back we got hit by the "Postcard Mafia." Things are not nearly as bad as India but it is hard to get very far in the Old Riga area without being hit upon by someone trying to sell you postcards. Back in the hotel we tried to see if there was anything interesting on the television, but in English they have just news, sports, and MTV. It is odd to see MURDER, SHE WROTE in German.

May 14, 1994: We slept well last night. Evelyn says that if anything she was too warm, having put the extra blanket on the bed, just in case. We still woke at 5:30 with the sun, but she managed to go back to sleep for a while.

Mark writes, "One of the first things I wanted to do this morning was figure a way to keep sorted coins sorted so I could more effectively use up coins rather than keep giving bills. The situation really called for a wallet with eight pockets for the eight denominations of coins. I found a clever way to fold an 8.5-by-11-inch sheet of paper into just such a wallet. A little facility with origami is useful for travel."

We tried the television again and discovered that there was some English television. They had an infomercial for wrinkle cream that Mark says he almost wishes they had dubbed into German. Last night there had been some odd sporting event involving riding a motorcycle over an obstacle course with things like piles of rocks with water tunning over them, tables with their tops placed at various angles, etc.

The weather is much better today. Yesterday was cold and windy, and we were afraid that was normal Riga weather. But today is warmer and not at all windy.

Breakfast was pretty good at the hotel. It is included with the room. There are four kinds of fish (perhaps five--there was something in aspic we could not quite identify). There was beet salad. There were three kinds of juice: tomato, apple, and pineapple. Evelyn seemed to be the only attendee who realized there were choices other than pineapple. Incidentally, you never see juice in cans here. They seem to have gone over entirely to juice in boxes. There were also some nice pastries with breakfast, including poppy seed with chocolate frosting. With a breakfast like this, we're set until dinner.

We went to the train station to try to get tickets for our trip to Tallinn. We won't go through the whole "kase commedia" but we kept being directed to windows we could not find and into wrong buildings. Somebody looking for a handout decided to try to earn a gratuity by directing us around. All he ended up doing was joining us as we were repeatedly misdirected. We finally found the window we needed (after three windows in two buildings) in the advance booking hall. We had been looking for an outside entrance, but it is reached from the suburban train booking hall through a not-very-obvious door. The "Lonely Planet" said this, but somehow it didn't register, and Evelyn was trying to use the (aptly-named) "Baltics & Russia Through the Back Door" instead (which has a better map of the train station complex). We had written down what we wanted so it was fairly quick once we found the window, and cost 10.28 lati for the two of us (US$9.25 each). (The odd amounts you will see for prices in this log are not because of any sales tax. Apparently the Soviets were really into precision pricing, maybe to make people think that they were paying exactly the right amount for something and not a little extra.)

Our first sightseeing stop of the day was at the local VolkswagenAudi car dealership, for which we grabbed a bus. We caught the bus in front of the Orthodox Cathedral. They use a zone system for the buses, so we each needed a zone 1 ticket and a zone 2 ticket for each direction. At 4 santimi each, that makes a one-way ride US$0.14. Public transit is much cheaper here than back home, that's for sure.

We kind of like just grabbing a bus and riding. You learn a fair amount about a country just by riding a bus and keeping your eyes open. The differences between the well-maintained city to attract tourists and the outlying areas is very striking. It looks as if, much more than Lithuania, Latvia is trying to attract tourists. There was some of the same difference in Vilnius, but not so much differential, we think. Because Riga is so metropolis-like it is surprising to see how badly kept the suburbs are. More observations from a bus come later. Oh, one more detail: the younger the people are, the more Westernized they are. You see a lot of older women around whose only advantage under the old system was an opportunity to get fat. Some are a third as wide as they are high, which is not very. Both indicate a poor diet. You see than in their babushkas going around fulfilling their business and paying little attention to anything but their business, almost like little beetles. And you see girls maybe thirteen or fourteen years old with plastic watches but with the local stylish stockings and mini-skirts. After years of modest, utilitarian Soviet fashions, this Baltic area-- chilly by our standards for May--has gone in a big way for the miniskirt. If your thing is blondes in mini-skirts, at least for the time being the Baltics are for you. (At least so Mark says.)

We got off the bus, apparently in the middle of nowhere, because we were headed to the local car dealership. (We stopped to take pictures of a goat.) Well, our destination is more than that; it is also the local Motor Museum, a museum dedicated to the history of the car.

The museum is located on S. Eizenshteina iela half a kilometer from the bus stop. Evelyn notes, "I guess Latvia (and Riga) are proud of Eisenstein if they named a street after him (and kept the name). On the one hand, he was from Riga and one of the great filmmakers. (His father was one of the major architects of Riga, responsible for many of the buildings we've been talking about.) On the other hand, Eisenstein made films for the Soviets about the glorious revolution. I guess the Latvians decided he was great but misguided."

The Motor Museum was the brainchild of the Antique Automobile Club of Latvia, apparently one of the more enthusiastic antique auto clubs of the world. Russia got her first cars from a factory in Riga, so automobile history goes back quite a ways here. So even though we're not much on the way of car buffs, this is a major local attraction that we figured we should see. This is a collection of famous cars that would do any casino in Las Vegas proud. They have historical cars and models of many more as well as photographs. Included with some of the classic cars are actual waxwork figures of the original owners. They have an armor-plated 1949 Zis weighing eight tons. Its proud owner was a pleasant-looking moustached gentleman named Josef Stalin. Standing next to his 1934 Lincoln is Maxim Gorky, or at least a wax image. There is a Rolls Royce whose original owner was a gasoline enthusiast named Molotov. Erich Honecker's Mercedes 460 has had all symbols of Mercedes removed. Why advertise capitalism? Of course, the centerpiece is a badly wrecked Rolls Royce Silver Shadow (black despite the name). The driver apparently piled it into a truck. Behind the wheel is a stunned-looking wax statue of Leonid Brezhnev. Apparently after his accident the Soviet press claimed Brezhnev was not making appearances because of a "bad cold." The truck driver, Mark speculates, went on in his career to deliver frozen fish someplace where he did not need a special freezer truck.

There are two floors of cars, most with famous owners, or perhaps famous only to car enthusiasts.

After we stopped for a Coca-Cola. The woman short-changed us 10 santimu. Mark tried to explain, but language got in the way. Evelyn popped up and wrote "5.00-2x0.35=4.30". We find pen and paper make communications a lot easier. Walking back to the bus stop, we walked via some high-tension lines that actually buzzed. We walked a little faster, unlike the two women who were sunbathing under them. Instead of taking the bus from the nearest stop, we walked down a couple of bus stops because there was supposedly a film studio, Kinostudija, along that road (Shmerla iela). We found it, but it was pretty much closed up for the weekend. (We could see the top of what we suppose was a sound stage.) We returned to the heart of Riga, getting back about three hours after we left, but only to catch a bus to the local cemeteries which supposedly have many interesting monuments.

This was when we started our wait for the infamous bus number 9. First we had to search for the bus stop. When we bought the tickets, the woman pointed us to a group of bus stops, none of which said "9." The books all claimed that bus number 9 stopped "opposite the Orthodox Cathedral," but there were no bus stops there. (We suspect that they changed some of the traffic patterns around to ease congestion on Brivibas iela, as the buses listed for there seemed to stop a block further down and around the corner on Raina bulvaris or on the east side of Merkela iela.) Evelyn had seen a bus stop labeled for bus number 9 on the way back from the museum, so walked up the road to the next bus stop and it did say "9" so we started to wait. We were not sure when we started to wait, but it went on and on. After about seventy minutes we gave up. But we had seventy minutes to talk and wonder if we were going to be arrested for vagrancy. (It's possible that the schedules have changed as well, or that there is a fuel shortage. There is a trolley that goes to the cemeteries, and that may be more reliable.)

Mark told Evelyn that if you see Gene Kelly in AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, you see how much everyone seems to love Americans in that film. We know that was sort of a post-war fervor. The French have gone back to hating the Americans, something they tend to do when they don't desperately need us. What Mark wants to know is, where are Americans loved like that? Or even liked. These days about the best we can hope for is "not unwelcome." What is welcome is American food and music.

We gave up on bus number nine 9 went to Janita's (Little Johnny's), the pizza parlor a block away. This is American-style pizza and is recommended by the tour book. It is basically frozen pizza but, hey, even bad pizza is pretty good. Mark says he takes back what he said about Lithuanian pizza not being bad for Latvia. The wall is decorated with a sort of mural of Monument Valley and the cavalry riding through with an American flag. The staff wears Western plaid shirts. Given the choice, we prefer local food, but in Riga pizza may be the best deal. A slice was about US$0.50 (depending on toppings), so the food value isn't bad, and it's worth seeing as a curiosity. (Hey, people go to Hardrock Cafes all over the world, and this at least is a local chain.)

We also went for ice cream afterwards. The local chain is Pinguin, which boasts not just two or three, but *five* flavors.

Evelyn thought the next thing we should do was to visit St. Peter's again. Mark's vote was going to be just to pick a trolley and ride one full circuit. We decided we could do both. Trolley-riding could be done when nothing else was open, especially since it stayed light a *long* time. So we walked back to the Cathedral by way of the elaborately decorated French Embassy.

We also went by way of the Freedom Monument. This is a tall monument of a woman holding three stars over her head. It was built in 1935. It replaced a statue of Peter the Great, so it was especially symbolic. When the Soviets moved in, they decided it was a silly sentiment and instead put in a serious monument to help memorialize Lenin. To help the Latvians remember which was the important monument, they made it illegal to visit the Freedom Monument. When their power started to subside, the Freedom Monument became the central focus. On Sunday, 14 June 1987, there was the first of several illegal rallies. When the Soviets could no longer enforce their laws, they retreated and the Latvians put an honor guard back on the monument and that guard remains there to this day. And we bet these two guys are beginning to wish someone else had been chosen for the honor guard.

On to St. Peter's, a red brick cathedral with some ugly statues (as we said earlier). It has a tall spire that was built four times because it kept burning down. It was built first in the 1660s. Amazingly, we had no problem getting up the spire, even though it was the same woman at the office. Maybe there *had* been an elf blocking the left.

The view from the spire really shows you just about everything in or near the main part of the city. You see the bridge, the television tower (very unusually shaped), the Central Market, the synagogue, the shipyards, the science academy (very Soviet), and the big hotel, which is even more Soviet--the locals think it ruins the skyline and should be torn down. The most popular way would be to invite the Russians back and knock it over on them. Well, let's just say that all the stuff we've talked about you can see, with the possible exception of St. Peter's.

(By the way, the 20-santimu charge for photography is apparently for the church itself, not for the for the observation platform, since no one said anything about Mark's camera at the ticket window and there's no one on the platform checking people.)

We wanted to check out the synagogue, but it is only open short hours so we could see it just from the outside. This is the only synagogue left in Riga, though one guidebook says there are 28,000 Jews in Riga. We suppose that many of them are not observant and others have services in homes rather than all trying to use the synagogue. Maybe with the Soviets gone, more synagogues will be built.

Evelyn says, "I should mention one complaint about the "Lonely Planet" guides. The key in front (the same for all the guides) shows special symbols for churches, mosques, and cathedrals. In fact, they also have a special symbol for synagogues (a Star of David, what else?) but it isn't listed in any key, even on maps where it is used. And the Riga synagogue isn't shown on the map (nor was the Kaunas one). On the other hand, the newer edition has more information about the Jewish ghettos and sites of Jewish interest than did the corresponding sections of last year's 'Scandinavian and Baltic Europe on a Shoestring,' so maybe the next issue will add the synagogues."

Part of the problem may be that this is the first edition (though based on "Scandinavian and Baltic Europe on a Shoestring." For example, the maps don't seem to be quite as easy to follow as in the other "Lonely Planet" guides. (We never could figure out what streets or roads led to either end of the cable car in Sigulda.) We figure they think you'll buy city maps, but for the smaller towns this isn't always possible. (We should be okay in Helsinki--I brought the map we got on our last trip. Little did we know we'd actually have a use for it when we saved it as a souvenir!)

That brought us to about 17:30. We went over and grabbed the first trolley going by, number 5.

The beginning of the ride is in the center of the city: very cosmopolitan, but with some architectural touches that are very European. All this we have said before. We pass a fancy cathedral. There is now a little more nature around; buildings have grass lawns. We passed a building on Kronwalda bulvaris one block south of where that street meets Eksporta iela and Elizabetes iela which had Stars of David above some of the windows. The plaque on it, as best Evelyn could read it from the trolley, said something that looked like it would mean "Anatomical Theater." Does anyone know what this building is and if it has any Jewish significance?

Mark describes what we see: "We pass a shipyard but cannot see much from the trolley. You start to see more of the buildings with wooden siding like we saw in Lithuania. Now not everything looks so clean. And the area looks distinctly suburban. Mostly you see houses with big house numbers. Some houses seem much better kept up than others. There are some stores. At one trolley stop we see two women kissing. Are they sisters? Lesbians? It is unusual because Latvians show very few public signs of affection. There are apartment blocks in sort of the Russian style. At one stop two girls run on to the trolley and gesture to a third not on. They get off at the next stop. The trolley that started so crowded in the center of the city is now nearly empty. The trolley driver stops the trolley, climbs the footholds on the side, and on the top of the trolley makes some adjustment, then turns the trolley around at the end of the line. We are now returning the way we came. What I thought before was a movie theater Evelyn tells me is one of a chain of private clubs. They often show films to members, which is why I saw the Russian name for cinema (Kino) on the poster in the window. Gradually the trolley gets more crowded. Back in the middle of the city it is again tightly packed. An inspector asks for my ticket. It takes me a moment to find them, but they are correctly punched. This, perhaps, needs some explanation. Each trolley has punches with its own distinctive pattern. You have up to fifteen possible holes in a three-by -five pattern. You buy tickets at kiosks, get on the trolley, and punch your ticket yourself in the machine provided. There are spot checks. If you don't have a ticket punched with your trolley's pattern of the day you pay a fine. I know of no reason that you couldn't just hand your ticket to someone getting on the trolley when you get off, but the price is so cheap there is little point. The trolley continues past where we got on, passing the Soviet monument memorializing the 1905 Revolution. We cross the Daugava River over the October Bridge-- obviously named by the Soviets."

"A noisy drunk gets on the trolley. He carries on a noisy conversation with somebody else. There is a lot of public drunkenness. A woman brings a child on the trolley. The child is crying loudly. The drunk tries to talk to the child, who screams all the louder. This section is perhaps a bit more run-down that what we saw on the other side of the river. We pass a grocery--Latvian-style. All the goods are items a shelf. Much like our own general stores, you request the items you want and the selection is small. Finally we return across the river and are back. It was a quick education about conditions in Latvia. The ride took about an hour and forty-five minutes and cost about 15 cents American," he concludes.

We walk back to the train station because we did not get the times for the train to Sigulda. The only possible times were 6:30, 8:25, or 10:52. Looks like we'll take the 8:25, as it takes about an hour and fifteen minutes to get to Sigulda.

While Evelyn is getting the time, ten feet from her (on the other side of a window) two men are fighting. Some people try to stop the fist fight, but it starts again. Two police officers break it up and question the men what the fight was about. They drag the two off. Mark had seen all this through the window while Evelyn was puzzling out the schedule. Mark later asked her if she had even known there was a fight. She didn't.

The evening was spent in the room writing in our logs and listening to LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR.

May 15, 1994: Basically the same breakfast buffet, but it was orange juice rather than pineapple. Pineapple is more popular.

Tickets for the train were easy to but, and cheap--25 santimu each (about US$0.40). We caught the train to Sigulda. This is a big local tourist attraction for both historical interest and natural beauty.

The countryside reminded Evelyn of Maine, with a lot of pine forests and not much else. Oh, there were a few towns and farms, but on the whole it was relatively undeveloped country.

When we got to Sigulda we immediately went to check the times of return trains. It seemed as though everyone else on the train had the same idea, and it took us a while to get through to see the schedule. There seemed to be four possible return trains: 15:37, 18:10, 19:08, and 19:55, though the 15:37 was listed as going to "Zemtiani" rather than Riga even though it was on the "To Riga" board.

Sigulda is first of all a nice piece of river valley with lots of pine trees and some nice nature walks. It also has caves and castles. This was the home of the Liv tribes as far back as 2000 B.C.E.

There are two castles and a church. Most people apparently find some way to ride from the train to points of interest. We walked. Of course, we didn't rush, but it was an eighty-minute walk, including walking a kilometer *down* an 11% grade on one side of the valley and then a kilometer *up* an 11% grade on the other. The bridge we crossed over the river has bungee-jumping in the summertime, but apparently this isn't considered the summertime yet.

Mark smiled at a passing middle-aged woman who immediately looked the other way rather than smile back. We suppose the people are suspicious of strangers after repeated invasions, and fifty years of Soviet occupation when being friendly with foreigners, especially Westerners, got you in trouble with the police, but most seem unfriendly. Not all. Some of the younger people are nicer (not surprisingly). On the train on the way in, we sat opposite a young family. The parents were probably not yet thirty and they had a son about six years old. We passed by a complex with armed guards and barbed wire and were talking about whether it was a prison. "Jail," said the young mother. It was uncharacteristic of the people we met. Mark thanked her. Mostly we just smiled. But we do run into a few people who are not shy about strangers.

Sigulda turned out to be more nice walk than anything else. In fact it was a walk right out of Sigulda into neighboring Turaida. At the end of the walk is the Turaida complex. By this point we were thirsty and sweaty, so after we bought our tickets (50 santimu each), we went into the shop to get Pepsis. This gave us enough energy to continue.

First is the grave of local legend Turaida Rose. Now we know what you are thinking. But, no, she is not someone who made radio broadcasts in Russian playing Russian music and telling the Russians why they'd rather be home. No, she was from much further back than that.

In 1620 Maija, the Rose of Turaida, was a young girl in love with the castle gardener. An invading Pole lured her off to a cave to rape her. Rather than face dishonor she told the Pole that her scarf was magic and she would give it to him if he let her go. She offered to demonstrate its protective powers and put it around her neck, telling him to try to behead her. He swung his sword, beheaded her, and fled. Death before dishonor is what she is remembered for.

What Mark asks (and a darn good question it is, too) is, how does anybody know what happened? Maija didn't tell the story. The Polish soldier probably didn't. Mark supposes there could have been witnesses, but it seems unlikely.

Then there was a church with a few exhibits, but no interesting legends or history connected to it that we could tell. Luckily most of the exhibits are self-explanatory, since the only English words we saw were on a box that said, "For Donations."

There is a castle with a tower and a museum showing artifacts of the Livs, a people who lived in this area. There is a mannequin of a Liv woman. She has a small spherical bell on a necklace. Mark told Evelyn this was a "Liv tinkle-bell." There are exhibits of Kurzemewoven ribbons an inch wide used in decorating. However, unlike Trakai, which had artifacts from all periods, this museum seems to have a surplus of prehistoric bronze artifacts, a lot from the early inhabitants of the region, and then nothing until some modern handicrafts.

We climbed the tower (139 steps), which gives a marvelous view of the river valley far below. The fact that the weather was beautiful helped, of course. (Actually, considering all the walking we were doing, it might almost have been too warm, but better that than too cold.) Again, the castle is restored in red brick to show what is and is not original. You climb with about seven levels of floors. The tower is maybe seventy feet high.

After climbing the tower, we walked through the nice modern sculpture garden. If that seems a bit odd, it's because it was created to commemorate Krishjanis Barons, a local collector of folk songs (dainas), and daina concerts are held on the hills around it during the summer. The sculptures reminded Evelyn a bit of those in Vigeland Park in Oslo, though the latter has considerably more and considerably larger sculptures.

Leaving the Turaida complex, we took the 126-step flight of stairs down the side of the hill rather than walk all the way back to the entrance and double back on the road.

On the walk back we walked along the pedestrian path rather than the road, and stopped in two sandstone caves. Gutmanis' Cave, where the Rose of Turaida met her fate, is the bigger, but still only about thirty-five feet deep. The smaller is half that size. The soft sandstone shows carvings going back four hundred years, though we saw nothing older than 1820. Mark was a bit disappointed in the smallness of the caves. "It doesn't even get dark!"

"What did you expect, Carlsbad Caverns?"

"Well, no, but at least something like the Batu Caves [in Malaysia]."

We walked back to Sigulda. Oh, they have a peculiar insect here. It looks a lot like a mosquito, but it is the size of a small fly. It seems to bite right through pants cloth. At first Mark thought the bites were his imagination. Days later he had large red welts where he itched and a few places where he didn't. We hope this is not a malaria region.

We had planned on walking to Krimulda Castle and then taking the cable car back across the river, but we couldn't figure out which path led to them, and all the choices involved fairly steep climbs. In the end we opted to walk back across the bridge. The 11% grade on the road was less than the paths, and we knew this would get us back. Even on the near side, we couldn't seem to find the cable car station. (We thought we might just ride across and back.)

We looked for lunch. Nothing seemed all that inviting and we were really more dehydrated than hungry, so we bought a box of juice and shared it. We waited for the next train back (the 15:37) and rode back. Zemtiani is apparently a section in the eastern part of Riga. So on our return we found ourselves in some unknown part of the city. What to do?

Easy. We followed the crowds getting off and after a couple of blocks got to some busy streets and trolley stops. We picked a trolley that said "Central Station," and sure enough, ended up back at the train station. It did cost us an extra 8 santimi (US$0.14) each, but that beats sitting around the Sigulda train station for another hour and a half.

At the train station, or rather, across the street from it in the angle where Marijas iela and Satekles iela meet, was a market selling books, with a couple of dozen vendors. Lots and lots of books, mostly American science fiction translated into Russian. There is no way to enforce American copyrights, and so Russia and other eastern European countries are taking lots of American science fiction and even some American art and producing these garish hardbacks wholesale. (At ConFiction Robert Silverberg got quite irate at a fan from an eastern European country about these practices, which are winked at, or even connived at, by the governments of those countries. His pleasure at being so popular in that area was certainly diminished by the fact that they were basically stealing his work.) Table after table is full of these books for sale: Kenneth Bulmer, Keith Laumer, Henry Kuttner, Larry Niven, a lot of Andre Norton, and a whole lot of Robert Silverberg, for about 2 lati (a little over US$1) each. Evelyn asked Mark if he thought it was a political statement that there are so many books in Russian for sale at this unregulated market since the government is trying to stamp out Russian. He said you didn't have to look for anything so obscure as political motives. The books are available cheap due to the Russian publishing policies. There is always demand for imaginative writing. The demand is high and the supply is plentiful. That is all it takes to make the market thrive. One of the dealers said something to Mark in Russian, perhaps asking if Mark could really read the books. Mark could only shrug. He is not sure why we are so interested in these books. Perhaps to play the recognition game. The books are certainly too bulky to take as souvenirs.

On the other hand, Latvian books seem to be sold only in the bookstores, and we haven't seen any science fiction in Latvian yet. (Nor did we later.) Of course, there is a much bigger market for Russian translations of English-language science fiction than for Latvian translations.

Back at the room we cleaned up. We noticed that in this deluxe hotel they do not empty candy wrappers from ashtrays or replace dirty glasses with clean ones. We guess you wash your own. On leaving for dinner, Mark asked the maid if we could get some clean glasses. She said she would check, but she didn't think they had any extras.

Our plan for the evening was to visit the synagogue and to have dinner. This takes us through the prime tourist area. From a distance Mark sees a girl about nine years old sitting by a wall with a baby carriage. As we approach, she looks our way, sees us, and starts holding her head and crying. Not surprisingly, she has a tray in front of her with coins. We might have been more moved but she was not a very good actress. She should have been a little more subtle so it was not so obviously an act. Begging seems to be very common, particularly in tourist areas.

The synagogue, despite the times listed on the door, had the outer gate padlocked, which made it even more closed than when it was officially closed (then, we could get into the courtyard to read the sign on the door). Walking to dinner, we heard a group of Americans talking who turned out to be living in the area. They seemed to be mostly fans of the local beer, but they did give us recommendations of where to stay in Helsinki and Stockholm.

Dinner was at the Bistro Argentina (though the music over the speakers sounded more Mexican than Argentina), and it seems to be one of the better places to eat in town. Mark had Beef Stroganoff and a salad that was peppers filled with grated carrot. Both were very nice. Evelyn had a beet salad and a chicken dish, pildita vestas filetij. She just picked something because she had no idea what it was. We think it was chicken breast stuffed with vegetables. Sneaky way to get you to eat your vegetables. That is how you give a dog a pill. Still, it was all very nice. Getting the salads was probably unnecessary, though, because the main courses came with fries, sauerkraut, and a small green salad already. Here a "bistro" seems to be a sit-down, cafeteria-style place.

When we got back to the room there were two teacups set out on the table. They could not find glasses but they did find teacups.

The evening's entertainment was writing in the logs, since we were a day and a half behind. Mark went to sleep with a bandana tied over his eyes to block out the morning light. However, he went to sleep about 22:00 so it is not surprising that he woke up at 5:30.

May 16, 1994: Well, our luck with the weather came to an end. We woke up to discover it was raining. Since two of our possibilities for the day were the Ethnographic Museum (outdoors) and the cemeteries (outdoors), this was not something we were happy about. We decided to have a leisurely breakfast, pack, and rest a bit, hoping the rain would stop or at least ease up.

Breakfast was the same selection as two days ago. Mark had fish and pancakes ... uh, not together. We have a big meal and then a small lunch. Breakfast is the big meal of the day when we have a good breakfast buffet. Of course, then we are a little sluggish through the morning.

Back at the room Mark took a shower. He reports, "It is a little difficult dealing with faucets here. In specific, with faucet handles. In the United States we are used to a given handle position corresponding to a given volume of water, either hot or cold. If the water is coming out at a given speed and temperature, and you give the handle one-quarter turn clockwise, then one-quarter turn counterclockwise, the speed and temperature of the water will return to their previous state. This is patently not true in the Baltic republics, at least in neither our first stop, a cold-water flat, nor in our second, a posh hotel. Generally, turning the handle means that there will be an upward or downward change in the speed of the water and it will be in the right direction, but the degree of change will be determined by factors not generally obvious to the user. If you have turned on too much hot water and are scalding yourself, turn the hot water all the way off. This will momentarily freeze you, but that is actually probably good for the burn you just got. Then start over on the whole concept of hot water for this bath, easing up slowly. I think that the mechanism may actually be that there is a man who manages water for the floor you are on. Turning a handle clockwise turns on a light that says 'More hot water to the bath in 532,' and when he gets to it, he increases the amount of hot water. This model best describes the phenomenon that the guest in room 532 sees. In particular it explains why you can turn the water off entirely as far as the handle is concerned, but the water will continue to run for some random and indeterminate number of seconds and then suddenly stop."

Little drama going on under our window: Mark noticed a car had a "boot" attached to the tire. This is a vice-like locking device designed to decrease driving pleasure for someone parked at an expired meter. A few minutes earlier he had noticed the car had the boot. Now Mark sees somebody who doesn't look like a policeman, but probably is an official, taking off the device and writing out a receipt as another man, the driver, pays him. The first man gives the receipt to the driver, who wads it up disdainfully and shoves it in a pocket. The official returns to his work and the driver drives away.

The art in the architecture we have been describing is art nouveau. One of the great civil architects who used this style was Mikhail Osipovich Eisenstein. His son Sergei (whom we mentioned earlier) became one of the most respected directors in film history. When Sergei uses stonework in BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN (the cuts of stone lions: one sleeping, one awake, and one standing and alert), that was probably the influence of his father. According to Leslie Chamberlain in the "Insight" guide, Eisenstein led the way but was followed by Scheffel, Scheel, and Schmaeling. Eisenstein was unique, and not just because his name didn't start with "sch".

On the elevator this morning a man asked where our English was from. He was from Michigan. When we said we were just vacationing here, he asked if we had family here, and when we said no, responded, "Well, why are you here then?" This is apparently not a supremely popular tourist spot. The prices are not as good as India or southeast Asia, but they are not too bad either as long as you stay out of the touristy part of Riga.

About 10:30 we decided the rain had eased up as much as we could hope for, so we took our luggage to the train station to check it. The book says that the left luggage office is open 24 hours a day. That is a great load off our minds. You don't want to be rushing to your train and suddenly find you cannot get your luggage. Luckily they run the luggage check on a "never close" basis. We got to the luggage check to find nobody there and the place was locked up.

Somebody showed up eventually. He asked the value of our luggage. (It seems the amount you pay is 2% of the value of your luggage.) We shrugged. He said, "Fifty dollars? A hundred?" We said fifty dollars. (The suitcase itself cost more than twice that. But Mark figures things depreciate real quick.) So it cost us 76 santimu, or about four times what the lockers in Lithuania cost. We are just afraid we will show up and he will give us 38 lati and say he's keeping the luggage. "I'm sorry, sir; my assistant got a little careless in moving your bags. He accidentally melted the padlocks off." Of course, there didn't even seem to be a record kept of what you had paid or what you claimed the value was either.

Well, we shall see when we pick up the luggage. In the mean time, we have a bus to catch, bus number 1 to the Ethnographic Museum. For the first time this trip it is actually raining on us. And it is dark. At least gray. This time of year dark is hard to come by. Twilight is at 22:00. Sunrise is at 5:00. Yet on May 16 it is still fairly chilly. Now let's turn the calendar around one half year. Sunrise is at 8:00; sunset at 16:00. It is bitterly cold. Most office workers are reminded of the color of their cars only on the weekend. There are heavy snows that you clear after dark because that is the only time you aren't working. Mark writes, "There are a lot of nice people here in the Baltics for whom my best wish is that they get the heck out. I guess they are used to it, but it would drive me screaming right out of my gourd. I grew up in Massachusetts and got used to deep snows and cold, but if I had to live under these sort of conditions I would really learn to fear the winter. People adapt to all sorts of conditions, I guess. But it is no wonder that some of the places we are visiting have high alcoholism and suicide rates. I believe that science now accepts the concept that there are depressions brought on by light deprivation. I know Finland is plagued by a high suicide rate and there is bound to be a connection."

Anyway, we were waiting for bus number 1, taking turns holding the umbrella. The street looked like a giant spider had been here, leaving a web that the trolleys used for power. The kiosk where we'd bought the bus tickets was selling PENTHOUSE. Mark says it is illegal to import pornography, and wonders how they get away with it.

Other observations standing in the rain: It is easy to tell we are in eastern Europe just by looking at the short compact cars. They look like eastern European cars, which of course they are. Riga seems to have a lot of parks in the city, more than Manhattan, certainly. The bus stop is beside one of the parks.

Well, bus number 1 at last comes. We punch our tickets and within five minutes we have to get off. Bus number 1 is at the terminal and we have to switch to another bus number 1 just starting out.

The new driver has a big sticker that says "Killer Kommando." It is a black skull with silver wings. Makes us feel real secure. He also has stuck up a big picture of a nice lady who has opened her blouse to demonstrate she is a mammal. You wouldn't see that in the United States.

The bus went down the main street of Riga, which has three different names, all of which are "Freedom (Brivibas) {something}." The road leads to the Freedom Monument. Mark wondered what the road was called when the Freedom Monument was outlawed and replaced with the Lenin Monument. Actually, then it was Lenin (Lenina) Road, Evelyn tells him. We found the Ethnographic Museum fairly easily between the bus driver (Killer Kommando) and a woman whom Mark had given his seat to. Both were anxious to help us find the museum. (This was good, because we almost got off on the *near* side of the lake that the guidebooks mention instead of the *far* side.)

The Ethnographic Museum is one of many in Europe and at least a few in the United States. Some places call them "open-air museums." It is a collection of buildings transplanted into a pine forest so that you can see what houses, farms, smithies, mills, etc., looked like. There are four regions of Latvia and there were four sections of the museum, one for each region. The regions are Latgale, Durzeme, Riga, and Kurzeme. There was little enough English but Mark has to say if you put a Latgale and a Kurzeme house in front of him and told him to pick which was which he is afraid he would have even less than the expected 50-50 chance. But still, you can walk through and get a feel for the Latvian lifestyle even if you can't pick out the Kurzeme lifestyle.

We arrived about 12:30 and wandered the park for about three hours. Mondays most museums are closed and this one, while officially open, was mostly closed. Most of the houses were padlocked so you could not see the insides. Enough were open so that we could get the general idea. We saw a tour group in the pub when we arrived, but there seemed to be only two other people wandering around. Maybe the early rain, which pretty much let up, had scared off most of the tourists who might have come here. Maybe Mondays nobody would come.

At the end of our visit we went into the souvenir shop, since we had read that this museum was a good place to buy souvenirs. Maybe it's too early in the season for the shop to be stocked or something, but there were only a couple dozen items. We bought a clay medallion-- apparently a popular souvenir in the Baltic states, because the apartment where we stayed in Vilnius had several dozen from different tourist and cultural sites decorating one wall. (There are also supposedly demonstrations of various crafts. All we saw was the blacksmith--and when we passed that way a second time, even that was closed up.)

From there we returned to the center of the city via bus. Evelyn wanted to check out the bookstore opposite the Hotel Riga for postcards and Arthur Conan Doyle in Latvian. We found a Fantomas novel for 2 santimi (4 cents!), but no Sherlock Holmes or science fiction in Latvian. We also got a couple of postcards to mail (all the ones up to this point had been of churches), and a pack of early 20th Century street scenes on postcards. The store was piping in a song in English. Some sort of ethnic ballad about someone called Billy Joe McAllister and the Tallahatchie Bridge. Big hit in Latvia!

We had a fair length of time until our train and really only one major activity, seeing the local cemeteries, which are regarded as a tourist attraction. They encompass major monuments to Latvians who died in the two World Wars, mostly in the Bralis kapi (Brothers' Cemetery). There is some large statuary and an eternal flame, but for us that was the only enticement. The real interest value was in just the common graves in that cemetery as well as in Meza kapi II and Rainas kapi. There are Christian graves, Russian graves, and Arabic graves. Oddly enough, the Russian graves tend to be the oddest. Some have little cameos two inches high with photographs of the deceased. If you look for young children's pictures you see little boys with years like 1940- 1943. Obviously wartime was hard on them in some way. Some of the Russian gravestones actually have photo-quality images etched into the stone. Mark thinks he found this interesting because it gave him a chance to try out his Russian reading.

Mark explains, "For those reading these logs for the first time, let me explain: If you are going to anyplace that uses the Cyrillic alphabet, learn to read it phonetically before you go. Make yourself a set of flash cards. When I was a child it took me months to be able to read Hebrew phonetically. You can read Cyrillic phonetically in thirty minutes. Believe it or not, at least Russian in particular is very close to an internationalized English. English uses a lot of international words; Russian takes a lot more. In Bulgaria a store had the name 'Universalka Centralka Magazin' (or something like that) if I sounded out the name. I knew immediately it was a department store. Most of the letters are the same. Reading Hebrew phonetically was a skill. Reading Russian if you know English almost qualifies as a trick. And it adds a lot."

Evelyn found the prize tombstone. (Mark says he didn't know there was a prize tombstone and so was not looking for it.) In a section of Rainas kapi in which most of the tombstones had Arabic letters there was a plain tombstone that said (in Cyrillic): POLLAK

                 NATHAN AARONOVITCH [i.e., son of Aaron]
                             VERA ILINITCHNA
                            OT DETEI I VNIKOV
      That last part is probably what Vera's maiden name was.  From the

names it must be someone who was Jewish. Mark's mother's maiden name was Pollak. They were Hungarian Pollaks and it is a common name, but it is possible this was a relative. (It's quite possible that during World War II, some Pollaks from Hungary fled in this direction and ended up in Riga.) So when we told the couple this morning we didn't have relatives here, that might not have been true. (If anyone in Riga is reading this, are there any Pollaks in the telephone directory or anywhere else you know of?)

We completed the circuit on the number 11 trolley. This goes through much nicer neighborhoods than the trolley we grabbed at random the previous Saturday. The neighborhoods were more up-scale. The route included the zoo and some metroparks.

Two absolute staggering drunks got on and without realizing it did a drunk act that put the early Chaplin to shame. First they stumbled to a seat, taking full disadvantage of the trolley jerking them. They carried on an animated conversation. At one point one of them looked at the other's head, pulled out a comb, and proceeded to change the configuration of hair to another but one not noticeably better by any objective criterion. One kept his arm around the other so that the two stayed upright in much the manner that two playing cards stay upright in a card house where neither could remain upright by itself.

Also of some interest was a partially blind daughter leading a fully blind mother. No, they weren't begging and it wasn't a put-on. These were genuine unfortunates. Most of the real ones don't beg.

We saw some nice examples of art nouveau on buildings and the ride was really over too soon.

Next order of business was dinner. The best place for this was the Bistro Argentina.

After they were out of the first thing Mark ordered he settled for Beef Stroganoff again. How very sad. :-) A local favorite fruit is the black currant. You see juice, soda, candy, all sorts of things in the flavor black currant so Mark toasted our last night in Riga with black currant juice.

From there we went to the train station. Retrieving our luggage, we went to the well-lit but none-too-fresh-smelling waiting room near our platform. (There was another waiting area but it was rather dim.) We had about 3.5 lati left. Mark went out to spend it on candy bars. The man in the kiosk could not believe someone would want six Mars bars and six Snickers. That enormous purchase was 3 lati. Of course, that isn't really small money even in the United States. That's about US$5.36. They are made in France and shipped to Latvia and sell for 44 cents. When they are made in the United States and shipped to our convenience store they are 65 cents. Something's wrong someplace.

The waiting room in the Riga train station has the same drunks sleeping and panhandlers you'd find in a New York City train station. They just don't speak English. Actually, we're not sure the ones in New York do either.

The train came and we went to our sleeper car. Same model as the last one, but this one had been better maintained. The door jammed a little but was easier to unjam. There was a full set of overhead lights and bedside reading lights. Both had fold-down trays for pocket goods, but these stopped when horizontal rather than dumping your things on the bed as the last ones did. There were hangers.

The radio was worse here: it could not be turned off or even down. (But they apparently turn it off at a master switch at night.) Both had broken shades that would not stay down. After a few minutes of fooling with it, Mark took one of the hangers and hung it from the shade, then attached his suitcase to the hanger. That kept the shade most of the way down. Mark had to find the way to collapse the table but it kept the shade almost all of the way down. Luckily it was on the west side of the train.

This train line goes from St. Petersburg to Berlin. We think the trains were Russian-owner and operated, designed and implemented at the time of the perfect workers' state. The train left at 23:39.

May 17, 1994: At 2:30 the train stopped and the knocking on the doors started. Mark shook Evelyn who at first was not happy he was waking her when it was still dark out. He could tell she blamed him for a second or so, then realized that he had a good reason. First they wanted to see passports. Then suitcases. Particularly that one hanging from the shade. Oh, so up goes the shade. We opened the suitcase and there was the Free World's largest stash of Mars candy bars. Well, ten anyway. Evelyn had taken two. Well, we suppose it isn't illegal to smuggle candy bars out of Latvia. We shut off the lights and tried to go to sleep. Mark told Evelyn there'd be another passport check. "There was only one last time." "No," he said. "There were two at the last border, one each side." "Only one." A few minutes later the train stopped again and they started knocking on doors. Another passport check. We closed the door. Another knock. Baggage check. Evelyn opened her bag. Mark started to unhook his bag from the shade. "No," said the woman inspector. "No?" "No!" she said, closing the door. Nice of her. Or as Mark said, "Of course the checks here have not seemed punitive the way they seemed in India. India is the only country where I think we were intentionally treated badly by people we dealt with. I like most of the Indians I know in the United States, but India was by far our hardest trip. We genuinely were not having a good time for much of it. I would never do anything to harm a country I visit, but customs checks make me a lot more nervous even this trip than they ever did before India. Most countries have rough edges. India has sharp edges with barbs."

Well, at 6:45 or so we woke up. The train had changed direction at some point and the window was on the east with the sun coming in the few inches below the shade we could not pull it down.


It was about 8:15 when we pulled into Tallinn, Estonia. "The Baltics & Russia Through the Back Door" had said the train got in at 9:30, so we were somewhat surprised, though a glance at the schedule on the wall indicates that 8:15 is indeed the arrival time. "The Baltics & Russia Through the Back Door" also said there was an 8:00 train to Tartu, but the tourist office listed a 7:15 and something around 11:00, so probably many of the schedules are still in a state of flux. We did not know what to expect from Estonia. We had fewer pre-conceived ideas than for the two previous countries. Immediately Mark was struck by with fusion of traditional and modern. The previous two cities had a modern section and an older section. It may be just that the train station is further from the older part of the city, but the two seem better integrated. Maybe that was true in Riga also. He is not sure why immediately he liked Tallinn so much.

Mark relates, "I strapped my luggage to me. Hey, I am a big fan of luggage that hangs on to me rather than expecting me to hold on to it. L. L. Bean sells suitcases with standard handles and straps that also has backpack straps. That's pretty convenient. I also carry a bag that is really a soft-sided briefcase. It and my camera hang off me on straps. I carry all my luggage and my hands are empty."

We got off the train and started looking for phones. None were to be seen. Mark suggested we buy a couple of bananas for breakfast and ask where the phones were. The seller pointed. (Incidentally, there are public phones, but no pay phones. Calls within the city are free.) One of the books liked the Hotell Mihkli, so we called. No doubles left, but we could have a suite for 680 EEK (about US$52). That's less than half the price of the Hotel Riga. We decided to try it.

It was maybe a fifteen-minute walk from the train station. The town is more spread-out than Riga or Vilnius, with lots of green and lawns on most houses. The room turned out to be very nice. It was on the third floor with no elevator, but it has a nice sitting room with a television (which has what appears to be the European equivalent of CNN), a big refrigerator, and much more furniture. It also has hot water and may have some kind of heating--at least it's warmer inside than outside.

We paid with our Visa card, as we had at Litinterp and the Hotel Riga. Credit cards seem to be catching on--even the Bistro Argentina, not a fancy place by any means, accepts them. Since we weren't sure who'd take what, we ended up bringing more cash than we'd need, plus more travelers cheques, plus the Visa card. Well, we'll spend it all eventually after we get home.

Oh, the exchange rate posted here is 13.24 EEK per US dollar. (The rate we got from Visa was 13.12 per US dollar.) So we lost 30 EEK, or about US$3, by changing our litu directly to krooni. On the other hand, we didn't have to worry about changing money as soon as we arrived. All in all, it's not worth spending valuable vacation time on the chance you might save a couple of dollars.

We settled into the room and washed up. Mark had a hard time getting the adaptor to work, mostly because it was an inexpensive adaptor and it just was not making the proper connections. He got it working, but he may have to get himself a new adaptor.

We then went out to see Tallinn. There is apparently less concern here about a Russian-speaking minority. The street signs still have the Cyrillic while it has been painted out in the last two countries.

We checked to see if there were any operas playing while we were in town. Yes, a different one every night, and a music concert every night. Nice town. Friday night they have Verdi's LA TRAVIATA That sounds like the best to us. (Tonight they have Rossini's BARBER OF SEVILLE, but we think we're too tired for one tonight. Tomorrow was something by Benjamin Britten--a bit too modern for Mark's tastes.) But the ticket office was closed because it was Tuesday so we'll have to come back another day to buy the tickets.

We stopped at a bookstore on the way to the Old Town and got a Tarzan book (7.40 EEK, or about US$0.55) and a Sherlock Holmes book (13.30 EEK or about US$1), both in Estonian. We're bookaholics, especially Evelyn, who adds, "One of the first places we went *in* the Old Town was a recently opened bookstore called Homeros on Mundi which has a large stock of foreign-language books (and not much in Estonian). Books are cheap here--well, cheaper than Finland or England, and some even cheaper than in the United States. Books in the United States are pretty cheap compared to most of Europe (and Canada). However, Homeros did have a series called 'Penguin Popular Classics' (Dickens, the Brontes, etc.) for 25 EEK (about US$2) each. Since I have only one reading book left (everything I've been buying has been in languages I don't read), I may end up buying Anne Bronte's TENANT OF WILDFELL HALL, as she is an author hard to find back home. I had read Marge Piercy's SMALL CHANGES earlier this trip--and disliked it, so I abandoned it on the Vilnius-Riga train. I'm now reading Herman Melville's TYPEE, which I also have in an omnibus volume at home, so if I finish it by Turku, it goes to the science fiction club there. (Well, it's sort of a first-contact story.) And I need something for the plane."

We walked around the Old Town for a little while, seeing the Town Square. We had lunch at a nice restaurant, the Eeslitall. Mark had Russian vegetable soup with some meat and sour cream ("Seljanka a la Jazz"), salad, and coq au vin. Evelyn ordered mushroom soup flavored with garlic ("Sennesupp") and "dragon chicken." Mark expected the soup to be nothing special and the chicken to be imitation Chinese. Wrong on both counts. The mushroom soup was very good and the chicken was a chicken leg and thigh in a fiery cream sauce spiced with turmeric. Evelyn found it too spicy (always a good sign!), so let Mark finish it. "Oh, was that good! It was creamy and piquant at the same time. The food had been good this trip, but this was the best single dish so far." The service was very slow, but the food was very nice. With Coca-Cola for Mark and a glass of white wine for Evelyn, this all came to 160 EEK, or about US$12.

We continued our walk, first down Pikk through the Lower Old Town to the Fat Margaret Bastion, then back up to the Upper Old Town and the Alexandr Nevsky Cathedral and the parliament buildings. We followed the city wall around and photographed several towers. This is a very photogenic town. We were following the walking tour in the "Lonely Planet" guide, but later when we got back Mark checked the "Insight" guide and he thinks it explained the tour better, so we may take it again, especially since we didn't go into anything this time.

Mark was practically falling asleep over lunch and Evelyn was little better. Between sleep we'd lost the previous night, and early rising previous days, we were both pretty bushed. We headed back to the room. We expected just to rest, but we ended up taking a three-hour nap.

We spent the evening (when we weren't sleeping) getting caught up in our logs. At about 22:00 Evelyn went to sleep. Mark went to check out the news on the television in the sitting room and saw that they were running THE NAKED PREY a very good adventure thriller, in English with Estonian (or possibly Finnish) sub-titles. Actually there is very little language in the film at all. Cornel Wilde, who directs, stars as an African safari guide in the 1890s. His client refuses to pay tribute to a local tribe. The tribe kills everyone in the safari but the guide, has everything taken from him, including his clothing, and gives him a chance to run for his life while the tribe hunts him. It is a lot like MOST DANGEROUS GAME with less set-up time and more of the actual chase. Very engrossing film.

This far north the sky stays light very late. At 23:40 Mark could still see light in the sky enough to make out the outline if the building across the street--not so light as Leningrad which never got dark the whole time we were there, but still amazing.

It is now 00:37. THE NAKED PREY just ended and they are running American ads for E-Z-Glider and contour pillows in English subtitled in Estonian.

May 18, 1994: Mark woke up when it started to get light and discovered it was 3:30. That's almost five hours of darkness. Evelyn hopes she's caught up on sleep--she says she'd hate to think she needs that much every day.

The bathroom in our hotel is designed with sparse resources in mind, but it has no loss of convenience. It is a style you see in other countries a lot, but never in the United States. Essentially the whole bathroom is one shower stall. The floor is more cleverly designed than most since it is covered with what looks like a net but with inchdiameter disks of plastic, so it is comfortable to walk on, allowing the water through but remaining mostly dry itself. The toilet is on the left, then the sink, then the water control, then the shower head. There is one set of handles for both the sink and the shower. A toggle determines if the water goes downward to a directable faucet over the sink or up to a hose connected to a hand-held or mounted shower-handle, and unlike in the last hotel, it is mounted six feet off the floor. The facilities are much less expensive than what we have at home, but at very little loss of convenience.

Breakfast was not great. A hard-boiled egg, a slice of ham on buttered bread, another of cheese, a little container of yoghurt, a small orange or an ugly apple, and some juice more like watery Hi-C. All is set out for you. It was as mechanical as an airline breakfast and not quite as tempting.

Marks adds, however, "But if you eat the egg with the ham and buttered bread you are halfway to eggs Benedict. I could get used to that breakfast for the next few days. We took the fruit and the yoghurt for evening snacks. I think maybe my reaction is not so positive to Tallinn; it was negative on Riga, which I thought was generally overpriced and too touristy. Vilnius was an enjoyable visit and I should not sell it short."

The weather is equally depressing--gray, cold, windy, and threatening to rain. Well, we've been lucky so far with weather, so we probably can't complain. Evelyn remains happy she brought her thermal underwear.

Estonia was a province of Russia since 1721. They were always treated fairly shabbily by Russia, but even more so in the late 1800s. Came the Russian Revolution, there was chaos throughout Russia, and a small piece of it was one little province that said, "We aren't Russia any more." It took so fighting, but they made it stick. So Estonia became the first country that ever seceded from the Soviet Union. Later, of course, they could not avoid being pulled back in, but even then Russia did not say she was part of Russia.

Well now, as for today's activities: After breakfast we walked back up Toompea to see the Alexandr Nevsky Cathedral. Nevsky fought off both invading Teutons and Mongols from the Russian homeland. The Russian Orthodox Church sainted him. The Soviets like him and had Sergei Eisenstein make a now-classic film lionizing the warrior. The great American philosopher and writer Mark Leeper has said that with such opposites as the Soviets and the Russian Orthodox Church both loving him so much, he must have been a real schmuck. Of the cathedral, Tuglas Friedeberg is quoted as saying, "It looks like a samovar and should be blown up." (It is a really garish mustard color on the outside.) It has eleven bells on its top. Walking inside you see a high-domed sanctuary. It has a turquoise ceiling maybe sixty feet (twenty meters) high and a dome going up another twenty feet (seven meters). It has lots of paintings in the Russian Orthodox style. Everybody appears dark and swarthy with pronounced wrinkles under eyes and in the face. The face also shows shadows for a dramatic effect. Generally there is a lot of gold ornament in the picture and/or the frame.

There are big brass candle-holders that seem to have budded little candle-holders. Evelyn suggests that you probably light the small candles from the large one. There is one panel that has little two-byfour -inch paintings of the Madonna and child. There are thirteen paintings across and ten high, so there are 130 paintings in one frame. They look a little like trading cards.

There was a funeral going on in the cathedral at the same time buses were letting in an army of tourists. They ought to ban tourists when they have a funeral, or have a side room that gives some privacy to the bereaved.

Across from the Cathedral was a post office, where we mailed our Latvian postcards. Postage from here to the United States is 4 EEK per postcard (about US$0.30)--more than in Lithuania. It used to be so much cheaper to mail internationally from Lithuania than Latvia or Estonia that companies in the latter two countries would have a courier go to Lithuania to do their bulk mailing. This may still be true, though prices are changing so fast that nothing is predictable any more.

Just down the hill from the Cathedral is Kiek-in-de-Kok Tower (literally, "peek in the kitchen" tower), a combined photographic art gallery and military history museum. It is so named because it used to be possible for people in the tower to look into the windows of the kitchens in the town below. Now there is the museum in the tower, and people in the town have put curtains on their windows.

Wednesday appears to be "free-admission-to-museums" day in Estonia as well as in Lithuania, so we were waved on in. The military museum part features weapons and exciting battle art. The photographs feature a lot of attractive women, many in varying states of undress. They too are exciting in their own way. Each level you climb up corkscrew stairways gives you a different period of history and a different selection of photographic art.

Mark writes, "Somehow the circular stairs in castles and towers make me nervous, though if truth be known you can fall only a short distance without being stopped by a wall, so they may be in some ways safer than they appear. A few places they have on display plaster replicas of historic cannons because the Soviets decided there were better places to keep the originals, like the (then) Leningrad Museum. The Soviets were really thoughtful people."

Most of the items had some English description, but then Tallinn has the most tourists of any of the cities we've been in so far. And related to this may be the fact that Tallinn had the first tourist information office in the Baltic republics, though which the cause and which the effect is not clear. We visited this historic site, founded in 1991, and used it to plan our train ride for the next day. True, the office was small by Western standards and seemed to function mostly as a place where one could buy maps and books such as "Tallinn This Week," but they could also provide some information on trains and other transportation. And a good thing they could, because it turns out that the 8:00 train that the books list has apparently been replaced by a 7:15 one.

Continuing on the walking tour from the "Insight" guide, we walked the Town Square with its 14th and 15th Century Town Hall. It combines the Baroque and Gothic styles. The tourist office had told the person ahead of us where there was Estonian music to be bought and we had eavesdropped. We looked for the music store, first finding a bookstand (Raamatu Ari) where we got Estonian editions of Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN and Isaac Asimov's END OF ETERNITY, both old enough to have their original priced printer in kopecks, but we paid 15 EEK each.

We found the music store and got two cassettes of Estonian folk hymns for about 21 EEK each. We looked at the Niguliste Church, built 1316, gutted by fire in the 1400s, restored, destroyed again in World War II, restored again, but now used only as a museum.

That brought us back to the Eeslitall Restoran at what just happened to be lunch time. This time Mark ordered what Evelyn had ordered yesterday, the Dragon Chicken and the cream of mushroom soup. Evelyn had the Russian meat soup and trout. Mark says that he has grown to like fish a lot more since when he is not traveling he tries not to eat red meat. Fish adds some variety. Pizza when it is bad is no worse than okay, and fish when it is really good is rarely better than okay. He tasted Evelyn's trout and it was pretty good for fish, but not as good as his chicken.

After lunch went back to Homeros. Evelyn bought the Bronte and the new Tom Holt (for 66 EEK, or about what it would cost in the United States--when it finally got there); Mark got a Graham Greene collection. We need to stock up--books will be much more expensive in Finland and Sweden.

We rejoined the "Insight" guide walking tour down Pikk toward the Fat Margaret Tower. Mark was reading descriptions of the buildings as we walked and we decided to visit the Great Guild House to see the History Museum since we were right there, instead of saving it for Friday. (Again, we suspect out planned activities will not take as long as scheduled. Museums here are much smaller than we're used to from other parts of Europe and therefore take less time.) As before, exhibits started with this area's apparently inexhaustible supply of stone tools. Exhibits included things like weapons, musical instruments, weaving, and looms. The final display was of Freemasonry paraphernalia. There had been a similar display in Trakai Castle (at any rate, some place in Lithuania). Freemasonry was apparently banned by the tsar at some point.

We stopped at the Raeapteek, claimed by one book to be the oldest pharmacy in Europe, operating since 1422. Of course, since we saw one in Zagreb (Croatia--then Yugoslavia) that has been operating since 1355, we wonder how they define "oldest." The Raeapteek is currently not at its traditional location on the Town Square, since its building is being renovated, but is at Pikk 47 instead. It seems like there are a lot of buildings here being renovated. They must have heard we were coming--we traditionally find large numbers of churches, buildings, and airports covered with scaffolding when we arrive. The most ironic was the mosque in Sarajevo, which we couldn't see in 1991 because it was being renovated--and then was destroyed in the war less than two years later. Hopefully this will remain unique in our experience.

At any rate, we Americans dropped into the Estonian Raeapteek to get some medicine using our Finnish phrase book and ending up with Danish medicine. How cosmopolitan!

On the same street is the Meremuuseum (Maritime Museum or Sea Museum), housed in the Fat Margaret Tower. The tower is called that, incidentally, because it housed Fat Margaret, whose mouth was known to be deadly to anyone within range. Fat Margaret used to look out from the tower in the 1500s. She was a cannon, by the way.

The focal point of the Estonian Maritime Museum--or at least the first item you see, and a very eye-catching one--is a big brass deep-sea diving suit made in Tallinn. There are also maps, figureheads, models, dug-outs, compasses, and ships in bottles. Mark says, "Somehow maritime museums are always interesting, even if it is only commercial fishing, but certainly more so if it is warships. The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, is one of the most fun museums I've ever visited. This one in Tallinn conjured up memories of 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA." The final exhibit takes you up onto the roof of the tower to watch what is going on in the shipyards just a short distance from the tower.

After the museum we went to the concert hall and got tickets for Friday night's performance of Verdi's TRAVIATA for 40 EEK each (about US$3). This seems like it is going to be a major Verdi trip: counting cassettes, LA TRAVIATA will be the fourth opera we will have heard and three are by Verdi. As it happens, Mark is a big Puccini fan. Had we stayed one more night in Estonia we would have seen their production of LA BOHEME, but we decided not to, since there wasn't enough to do to fill the extra day. Also, we would also have to wait until the afternoon on Sunday to sail to Helsinki (there don't seem to be Sunday morning sailings).

There is a grocery store just next door to our hotel. We went in. The store works like our delicatessen, with everything in cases or on shelves. You ask for what items you want. Prices are considerably higher than at the kiosks.

We went back to the nearest kiosk to get a 1.5-liter bottle of soda which is 11.5 EEK (about US$0.90), rather than the 15 EEK in the store (we don't remember exactly--15EEK would be about US$1.17). The brand of soda we like is Dutch and is called Hershi. They have a very good lemon soda. We got back to the room about 17:45. At 18:00 our trip was just about half over.

Well, the evening was spent log-writing and reading about Estonian history. Mark summarizes the history as follows: "Up until they got plucky in 1917, their history was a lot like Lithuania's and Latvia's. They were always grabbed by the greatest power at the time: Teutonic knights, the Danish, the Russians led by Peter the Great. Then in 1917 they won their freedom. Hitler and Stalin agreed that Stalin would grab them. The sweethearts had a tiff so Hitler marched in. Hitler lost, so Stalin got Estonia back. In 1988 we had the 'Singing Revolution.' That's when a Soviet bloc country starts waving its own outlawed flag and singing its own outlawed national songs. Estonia once before sensed when Russia was not really able to fight very hard for its claims on Estonia. They sensed it again and by gosh it wasn't easy but they were right again."

"It is tough to tell in the Baltic states when the failed freedom movements ended and the successful freedom movements began, so it is tough to say which country really led the others to freedom. But they all went."

Mark continues, "Gorbachev just told the mob that the Soviet Union would be better off if it had only believers. And the crowd cheered. Gorbachev said that anyone who does not believe in the Soviet cause may now leave, and suddenly he found himself standing all alone."

"The truth is that the world may never know if communism works, but the Soviets and the Chinese have shown that a badly-run feudalism called 'communism' or anything else isn't going to cut the mustard any more," Mark concludes.

Mark wanted to watch a movie at 22:30 the way he had the previous night, but they turned out have be a documentary about the "Righteous Gentiles" of Scandinavia. Mark thinks the people most revered by Jews are the great Rabbinic teachers and the righteous Gentiles who risk their lives to save Jewish lives. As he said in his SCHINDLER'S LIST review, it is unfortunate that the world gives such ample opportunity to people to be honored in this way.

They interviewed a Norwegian minister who smuggled Jewish children on his back across the Norwegian-Swedish frontier. When they would cry for their parents he would tell them to be quiet or they would wake the birds. When asked if he wasn't frightened for his own life, he said of course he was frightened, he was no hero.

Mark, however, writes, "I am sure I am not alone in respectfully disagreeing. Unfortunately, I had to get up early the next morning so I could watch only a half hour. I think it was Hannah Arendt who pointed out that Hitler might have been right about saying something there was special about the Nordic types of Scandinavia and Holland, since those were among the countries whose people fought the hardest to save others from the Holocaust."

May 19, 1994: We had to get up early. No problem. The sun woke us at 5:30 though we slept well up to that time.

We missed breakfast but we had the yoghurt and fruit left over from the previous morning.

Mark reports, "Last night's news had the story of Yassir Arafat telling a South African rally that the jihad will continue, then backpedaling, saying that he meant a peaceful jihad. I am concerned that the signs all point to the current 'land-for-peace' deal as being treated as an appetizer. From the stone peltings it seems to involve more land than peace."

So we set out early for the train station. We had a bit of difficulty finding the right window, but it was easy after that. Evelyn was going to buy tickets to Tartu, but Mark drew a diagram indicating two-way tickets and that was understood and allowed. Rail fares are as cheap as operas here. A three-and-a-quarter-hour train trip costs US$1.64.

Finding the train was a bit more difficult. Trains are listed only by their final destination (and origin), so you need to look at the route map (luckily there's one posted), figure out which destinations' trains go through *your* destination and which of those you want to take. Ours was listed as Tallinn-Valga and once we knew that, it was easy to find the train.

The Estonian countryside looks a lot like the Latvian countryside. It has a thick growth of trees. Perhaps there are even fewer buildings to see.

We wonder if the forests are getting thicker as the years go by. We are cutting down rain forests very quickly and that has been calculated to lead to a certain increase in the atmosphere. We have heard that the increase is slower than anticipated. It is thought that what may be happening is that the forests are taking some pollutants as fertilizer and the excess carbon dioxide and are growing much more thickly. Nature may really have more balance mechanism than we realize.

Well, it looks like a nice day. Yesterday was gray and ugly all day, but only a few little sprinkles of rain came. We had a little rain in Riga but we have been fairly lucky so far.

Mark reports, "There is a small but widespread movement to return to aspects of older pagan religions much like what we see in Britain and the United States. We have a good friend who is a neo-pagan. At one point I assumed this meant that she believed in ceremonial magic, since she did call herself a witch. I don't know if she does believe in ceremonial magic deep down but a lot of (otherwise?) rational people do. In fact, depending on what you count, most people do. If you believe prayer achieves results (as most religions do) or that wine turns into blood, or that people can change themselves into deer, or that atoning for sins gets you written in a Book of Life, or that Elijah comes to your house to drink wine, you believe in ceremonial magic in some form."

In any case, the belief in the old "pagan" ways is coming back to the Baltics. It is something the people of the Baltics can claim as being their own. You see oak leaf motifs returning to decorations. There are knitted sashes worn on special occasions. One of the leaders has said, "God is a Latvian--at least our god is."

Hint: when riding a train, bus, etc., to someplace unfamiliar, try to ride near the front so that you can see the names of the stops *before* the train or whatever stops to let people off. We sat towards the back and ended up reading the names of the stops after the train had started up again. This wasn't a big problem, since we knew about when we should arrive in Tartu and it was big enough and popular enough to be obvious. (Dozens of people got off there.) We arrived about 10:15, a little earlier than expected. (We had read it was three and a half to four and a half hours by train, but maybe the trains go faster now.)

Tartu is a university town. We can tell you what we saw, but only one or two sites were really of great interest.

Tartu University was founded in 1632. Now 8000 students go to the university. Evelyn described it as the "Amherst of Estonia" and sure enough, on the Raekoja Plats (Town Square) was a store called "Amerest." The "Insight" guide tour starts on the Raekoja Plats at the Town Hall, a pink-and-white building and dating back to 1798, and also mentions the many neo-Classical buildings which would be quite attractive if they got a fresh coat of paint. Also on the square is the Barclay House which was built on a marsh that has since dried, making the whole building lean noticeably (sort of the "Leaning Building of Tartu").

Next on the tour is the University administration building. It is yellow with six columns and was completed in 1809. Now here Mark and the "Lonely Planet" guide disagree. It claims the columns are Corinthian. The caps are simple geometric shapes, making them Doric columns if anything. Doric columns are plain, Ionic have scrolls, and Corinthian have fancy decorations like leaves.

We went on to the next building on the tour, a 15th Century church that was closed for renovation with a big fence around it so you could see only a bit of the outside with some terra cotta statues.

There were some other sites of lukewarm interest. We passed the police station. There 192 local citizens were rounded up by the Communists. Each and every one was a threat to the perfect workers' state so all 192 were killed. Between Hitler and Stalin the Baltics must have been horrible in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

We continued on the tour, hitting a department store. The selection turned out to be better than what we saw in eastern Europe in 1991, but it is still small by Western standards. Evelyn read that the Communists used to tell their people that Western store shelves were so full because nobody had the money to buy the items. We guess you needed a lot of faith to be a good Communist.

Next to the department store was a new-style grocery. It is one of the kind where you pick up the goods yourself and take them to a central cash register. (The department store was the older kind where a clerk gets what you ask for.) Self-service is a new concept here. Obviously it employs fewer people, so in countries with guaranteed employment (like Communist countries) it's a negative thing. It makes life easier if you don't speak the language, though, and we bought some food for the trip home, including some cheap Russian halvah. It turned out to taste as if they had mixed peanut in with the sesame. In any case, it tastes more like peanuts than Joyvah at home, but it was for a pretty good price. The grocery store even had an electronic scanner.

We also went to a more traditional market and get some pictures of people selling meat. One woman selling radishes thought it was funny that we wanted to take pictures of the market. We bought some of her radishes and ate them as a snack. Mark is not normally a fan of radishes, but we get these little ugly dry radishes at home. These were big, crispy, and juicy, with just a touch of sharpness. He says he will miss the terrific produce when we go back home. We have better apples and oranges than eastern Europe has, but most of their fruits and vegetables are fresher and taste better than ours.

Our next site of interest was Toomemagi Park. In the park is a statue to the first Estonian to attend the university. He is shown with a walking stick since he walked more than 155 miles from Riga to Tartu to attend classes here.

There is a mound of sacred stones in the park. Bridegrooms are expected to carry their new brides to the top. This is also a place where people would like offerings to pagan gods on full-moon Thursday nights. (Evelyn asks, "Why Thursday? But even more, where did they get the concept of Thursday? I thought the seven-day week--a necessary prerequisite to Thursday--was Jewish in origin and spread by the Jews and later the Christians.") One guide book says that students ceremonially burn their notebooks here the Thursday night before exams. Another book says it's the Thursday *after* their exams. Since photocopy machines are relatively new, we suspect the second book is more accurate.

Nearby are the ruins of what once was the largest cathedral in the Baltics. Now it is just ten buttresses flying without a cathedral to hold up.

As Mark describes the next stop, "Thus far Tartu had seemed prosaic for most of what we had seen. The next site did not seem like it would be a whole lot better, but it really was the wackiest thing we've seen in the Baltics. When you go in, they have you put on shoe covers. I am not sure they had a lot more to protect than a lot of other museums we had been in, but it was a nicely maintained building. It is the University Museum. Early on they say the university's unique function was to serve as a 'mediator between Russian science and international science.' From this we learn that there are two different sciences: 'Russian' and 'international,' and that they are going to be in conflict sufficiently that they need someone to mediate disputes. We are met on a battlefield of that conflict."

"I think that in the West we had always heard that Russian science was a bit weird. We'd heard of mental hospitals that were really political prisons because being politically discontented was treated as a mental aberration instead of a capitulation to the obvious. Among the things you see in the Tartu University Museum are weird machines that look like something out of DR. X. There is a four-foot-high electronic whatsis that does something electric to the air in a room for the sake of 'prophylaxis.' There are big electronic machines looking like 19th Century polygraphs that are for 'psychological experimentation.' There is a section that looks like a science lab from a good Frankenstein movie. On the floor is a battery of six huge Leyden jars (used as electric capacitors), each about two feet in diameter and two feet high."

Mark continues, "You really want to get the creeps? Look in the medical section. There is a case of tools for bone operations in weird shapes, and the pieces look as if they were made in the last century. The instruments for eye operations, also in a carrying case, look almost as old and are things that come to needle points or razor edges. Next you see what looks like a huge syringe. The main body of galvanized steel--like a bucket--is about a foot long and four inches in diameter. It is labeled as an 'enemator.' Then there was a large device for inhalation medication that came to a mask."

"There were cases displaying the august textbooks used. There was a short colorful booklet, apparently a comic book, showing on the cover how atoms formed into crystals. We translated the title from the Russian: 'We Learn Chemistry.' It looked like something we'd read in third grade. There were large panels to pull out and read about the accomplishments at Tartu U. One had two columns of about twenty city names each. Between the two columns was the name Tartu and lines going to each of the forty cities. These were technical contacts. 'We talk to people in forty different international cities about science,' they were saying. In science this is hardly an impressive accomplishment. I probably have contacts in more international cities just to discuss films. A map on the wall shows places world-wide where they have placed science graduates. They have a blow-up of the United States which often has cities in the wrong place. Amherst, Massachusetts, is shown as being in the southeast part of the state. Again, such placements are not so impressive in science."

"Other accomplishments are written on the walls. One claims that the synthetic India rubber was invented here. Impressive if true, but I will be surprised if it turns out that synthetic rubber really was invented here. Other accomplishments seem more esoteric: the discovery of fossil ice in Alaska, for example. What the heck is 'fossil' ice. You generally apply that word to living things. Do they just mean old ice? Surely the Arctic is full of it."

"From the school of theology they say they have graduated Protestant ministers trained in rooting out Catholic and pagan influences."

"Their library has pictures of graduates and faculty, dueling suits, and other artifacts, including a beer stein made from a human skull. You definitely get the feeling you are in eastern Europe," Mark concludes

Evelyn would like to add a few comments: "The goal of this museum seemed to prove that the world's great discoveries and researches happened at Tartu, and that it was *the* center of learning. I need to look up Johann Heinrich Madler, an astronomer from Tartu who supposedly set off some furor in the scientific world with a new theory, and also Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve, just to see if they're as famous or important as the displays would lead one to believe." (Struve is in fact well-known, though his time in Tartu is not noted in the article Evelyn found. Madler was not listed in the encyclopedia we checked.)

This museum, by the way, was 11 EEK for two people and one photography permit.

After that we were ready for lunch--sort of. We had lunch at Gildi Trahter, a restaurant recommended in the "Lonely Planet." They had a very nice mushroom soup with sour cream and hard-boiled egg slices. Mark recognized the name of the soup from the previous restaurant. We ordered sort of at random from a menu in Estonian and Mark ended up with pork filled with ham and cheese. It was tasty but gristly in some places. It also had a lot of fat, considered a virtue in the Baltics, where "heart-smart" dishes have not taken a firm hold. He had a glass of pineapple juice before the meal and a Coca-Cola with the meal. Both tasted dilute. This meal came to 90 EEK, about half what the Eeslitall would cost.

Although before the Holocaust there were only about 5000 Jews in Estonia, Tartu has three Jewish cemeteries. We went to the one closest to the center of town, and assume the other two are similar.

The cemeteries were listed in "Tallinn This Week," by the way, not in the "Lonely Planet" guide, and the description was somewhat terse. It was a puzzle finding the entrance. To enter it, use the entrance to the Russian orthodox cemetery at Roosi 44 and enter the Jewish cemetery through a gate at the end of the wall to your right as you enter. You can also enter the Russian Orthodox cemetery from the cross-street and walk around the Jewish cemetery to the gate. If the gate is locked, there were a couple of gaps in the fence around the cemetery.

The cemetery clearly was not being maintained and showed wear. Also, in several places there were very clear signs of vandalism. The Russian stones had places for pictures, but none were left. They all had been either pried off or smashed. Some of the stones had toppled of their own accord or had been toppled. Of the 5000 Jews in Estonia at the time of the Holocaust; 250 or so survived. Tartu does apparently still have some Jews, but it is just a tiny community and anything they do to fix up the cemetery will only get undone. Reading the names in Yiddish and Russian, there were some familiar Jewish names, but none that sounded like people we knew. We spent nearly an hour just reading tombstones, doing some minor straightening and photographing. Most of the stones we photographed we also put small stones on out of respect.

Evelyn writes, "Walking around the cemetery, it occurred to me that while when other people come to eastern Europe looking for relatives they check phone books and ask in old neighborhoods, Jews look in cemeteries. And finding relatives there is a good thing--it means they were buried in a proper grave, either because they died before the Holocaust or because they somehow survived it. There were a couple of hundred graves up to 1935, then only three more (1947 and 1964, husband and wife, and 1987). The cemetery itself is in a sad state of disrepair, partially from neglect, partially from vandalism, although it seems to have been that way for many years (based on how the moss has overgrown the fallen and broken parts). We saw only one name we recognized as possibly a relative of a friend."

Heading back to the train station, we stopped at a bookstore. We bought for an Edgar Rice Burroughs fan a copy of a book whose title turned out to be arzan's Adventures in Tallinn(Tarzani Seiklused Tallinnas. It claimed to have been co-authored by Burroughs and Toomas Raudam, but we suspect that Burroughs had very little input. Still, for 2 EEK (about US$0.15), it's an interesting souvenir.

The trip back was longer than we'd expected. After waiting about forty-five minutes in the train station, the train left about 18:37 and did not get in until 22:10. This was partly because we sat on sidings two or three times while trains going the other way used the main track. It was also partly because this was the "potato chip" train. the "bullet" train is so named because it is supposed to remind one of the speed of a bullet shot from a gun. Well, this was closer to the speed of a potato chip flung by hand. It's 190 kilometers from Tartu to Tallinn and it took three and a half hours--work it out. Of course, this is still considerably faster than Indian trains.

It was about a twenty-minute walk back to the hotel. Even at 22:30 it was only twilight.

On television there was a program about a Canadian writer who seemed to write some interesting fiction. Mark decided he'd like to look him up. However, he did not get his name. He knows only that he wrote a novel called NOT WANTED ON THE VOYAGE which is a sort of retelling of the story of Noah. The excerpts Mark heard of his fiction were really quite good. (He is Timothy Findley.)

Mark writes, somewhat dejectedly, "Thing told me its batteries were low so I replaced them, only to find out that the backup battery I had just bought from Radio Shack was apparently dead. I lost everything in Thing but the software it came with. I'd backed up everything all my software three days before the trip, so I will not lose much except the special features I created this trip. I lost some notes on things to do when I get home. I have to recreate any of the programs I want to use on the trip. I am a little sorry to have to take the time. I don't begrudge the effort of recreating the program, only the time. The programming is really fun. It is a lot like building something with an Erector set except that you use mathematical concepts and logic. And when you are all done you have a useful tool."

Mark says probably will have to voltmeter-check the batteries he gets from Radio Shack in the future. (But it turns out that the problem is not the battery, but the connection--it's just not getting power from the backup battery even when it is good. Evelyn's theory is that the Riga power lines fried it.)

Luckily we had printed up all the important information for the trip before we left, so we have paper copies of that, and we still do our logs with paper and pen.

By the way, the "Lonely Planet" (and other) guides always say that bus and trolley tickets can be bought at kiosks, but they don't say which kiosks. In Lithuania they seem to be the ones that are labeled "Lietuvos Spauda," but in general the thing to do is to look at the kiosks just above the cashier's window opening. Kiosks selling tickets will have them (usually two: one regular, on student) stuck up here. They're small, about one by two inches (2.5 by 5 centimeters).

May 20, 1994: Well, the current run of bad luck seems to be holding. What a miserable-looking day! The day is cold. Very cold. And raining. Certainly the worst weather we have had. Luckily we don't have much to do today.

At breakfast we had cheese, burnt coffee, and little Vienna sausages, which are a lot like Wieners, not surprisingly because of the name. The juice is more like a juice drink. And there were cucumber slices which are pretty good.

This was intended as a pick-up day, but we probably don't want to spend a whole lot of time going through the Old City. The wind just cuts right through you.

Mark bought a small paper pad for notes on what he wants to remember for the end of the trip. He no longer can be sure if the batteries die he will have what he inputs.

Everything Mark has heard says that the opera house is formal, so we went to a clothing store to buy a black tie. "I pick it out," Mark says, "and look to the clerk, a woman wearing thick glasses, to try to get her attention. No good. She seems not to see me. I walk over to her and she smiles, takes the tie, holds it an inch from her glasses and reads off the price, 19 EEK (about US$1.50, which is ridiculous; the whole opera is 40 EEK!). The woman pulls two little blank squares out of her pad, not realizing she has two. On the top she writes 19 EEK and starts to hand it to me to take to the cash register. She realizes she has two slips in her hand, and hands me the blank one. I shake my head and point to the other slip. She assumes I just don't understand the system and points me toward the cash register. I don't know Estonian for 'blank,' so again I point and get the same response. Okay, let the woman at the cash register sort it out. We get in line as the woman with the glasses packages the tie and waits on the next customer."

"Our turn is coming up to pay at the cash register and we have only a blank piece of paper in our hand. We hear a cry of exclamation. The clerk comes over, pulls the blank slip out of my hand, and patiently shows us, no, this slip is blank. You need one that is filled out. She shows us that the other slip is filled in and hands it to us. It must be exasperating to have these Americans touring. It takes them the longest time to figure out how things are done over here," Mark concludes.

Our first major stop of the morning was the Tallinn Town Museum (4 EEK each). It documents the history of the city from 1710 onward. 1710 was the year that plague ravaged the country, so it was too weak to fight and Peter the Great's forces marched in pretty much unopposed. It is a pleasure to see a history museum that does *not* go back to stone tools. You first go to a room that shows artifacts of the time. More or less what you'd expect: swords, guns, clocks, a spinning wheel, and shop signs, but a surprisingly large collection in comparison to other museums. There was also a typed English explanation of the town's history and many of the cases either had English descriptions inside them (along with Estonian and Russian), or had English translations typed on a piece of paper pasted to the outside. You follow the history up through the 1930s and 1940s when Germans, Russians, and Estonian nationals fought for the future of the country and there were photographs of victims of the conflicts.

And of course of special interest to us are some theater and film artifacts. Coins and paper money are present. An unusual exhibit has dummies of brides and grooms showing what they wore to weddings over the years.

We went into the Holy Spirit Church, with its famous carved wooden altarpiece, and then retired to the Maiasmokk Kohvik, a well-known cafe (it was popular between the World Wars). You go in and point out what you want and then they charge you some obscenely low price. We got a coffee, an orange juice, two meat pastries, and two sweet pastries. All very nice. The price was 12.05 EEK (less than US$1). You pick up your food, share a tiny table with strangers, and clean up your spot when you are done, but the prices can't be beat. And on a cold, wet day sitting in a cafe drinking coffee and eating pastries was very appealing.

But we couldn't sit there forever. The other sights we had scheduled were the Peter the Great House Museum in Kadriog Park and the Estonian Historical Museum north of that (to see their collection of stone tools, as Mark said).

The Peter the Great House Museum wasn't listed in "Tallinn This Week," which made us think it might be closed (for renovation?). In any case, this didn't seem like going-to-the-park weather, since by this point it had gotten icy-windy on top of cold and rainy. And teenagers were walking around in nylon stockings and mini-skirts in this very cold wind.

We tried to find where to get the bus to the Estonian Historical Museum. Now, the "Lonely Planet" lists three different buses that go to the museum from stops along a three-block stretch that curves around the Hotel Viru. We couldn't find any of the stops. At some point we concluded that it made more sense just to grab a trolley and ride it around than to see yet more stone and bronze tools. (Also, we needed to go to the port to buy ferry tickets for tomorrow and still get back for the opera at 19:00.)

What we discovered from the trolley is that the base economy looks firmer in Estonia than in Latvia--probably due mostly to Scandinavian tourism. This theory that public drunkenness is a function of the northern conditions? Forget that. Estonia is further north and in four days we have seen one possible street schizophrenic--he was walking around laughing at things nobody else found funny. We have seen no obvious examples of public drunkenness. No begging. Living conditions worse than *we have seen* in Estonia were easy to find in Latvia. There is not a whole lot of difference in living conditions obvious, but of the three republics Estonia seems the best off, and Lithuania is perhaps a little better than Latvia. Mark says, "If I had to live in one city in the Baltic republics, no question but I would pick Tallinn. Then I would go to operas or concerts two or three times a week. This in spite of the fact that of the cities we have visited, Tallinn seems to have the least "character." Incidentally, drinking seems a major cultural activity in all three cities. But I guess a visitor to the United States might get a similar impression." Evelyn adds, however, that she thinks Tallinn may be more modern than Vilnius or Riga, but it's not as attractive.

Of course, one problem with riding the trolley on a cold, wet day is that the windows steam up. So we may be completely wrong in what we think we saw.

After riding a complete circuit (2 EEK each), we got off the trolley near the ferry port and walked the five-minute walk to it.

The books claim that although you can buy tickets from travel agents, buying them at the terminal gives you an opportunity to avoid commissions and to shop around. Well, the former may be true, but we're not sure about the latter. We went to one window for Tallink and prices were 270 EEK. We went into the next building over, which seemed to be Estline. At the sales window we asked if there was a morning hydrofoil. They sent us to the information window, which said that there was a hydrofoil and a ferry, both at 10:30. The ferry was 180 EEK; the hydrofoil was 350 EEK. We decided on the ferry rather than the hydrofoil, mostly because the weather is so bad. You lose a lot of the fun of a hydrofoil if you don't get out in the wind. Where do we buy tickets? She pointed us back to the first building, in which the only functioning office was Tallink. Tallink said there was an 11:00 ferry and it was 270 EEK each. What happened to 180 EEK? That's only for Estonians; foreigners pay more. This used to be a lot more common, and with greater differentials, but apparently holds on here. Then we said we needed to pay with Visa, since we didn't have enough krooni left to cover the boat, dinner, and a couple of taxi rides. The clerk said she had to charge us in Finnish markka (FIM) because Visa didn't understand krooni. Strange--our hotel charges were in krooni. At any rate, or rather, at *their* rate, this came to FIM 240 for 540 EEK. It probably should have been about FIM 216, so using the Visa card cost us about US$4.35 on a ticket cost of US$41.50 for two tickets. If we had wanted to do all the calculations we might have protested, but there was no place nearby to get the rate for Finnish markka and the trip is still a reasonable price. (The next day we changed 336 EEK to FIM 136, an even worse rate because of the commission, so changing more dollars to EEK would undoubtedly have been a bad idea anyway.)

The sign atop the ferry building, we saw through the rain, said that the temperature was 3 degrees Centigrade. We call that 37 degrees Fahrenheit, far colder than the Baltics are supposed to be in May.

We took a cab back to the room ("$2 well spent," as Evelyn said). We got ready for dinner. The television said that Germany was having "the rainstorm of the century," and it probably wasn't a lot better here. Have we ever told you about "Luck of Leeper"?

About 17:15, having warmed up and changed clothes, we walked to the Kullassepa Kelder, where we had Russian meat soup (Saljanku) and grilled chicken. The chicken was good but Mark didn't care for the cream dill sauce. At 200 EEK it was more expensive than Eeslitall but not quite as good.

The rain had let up a little by the time we went to the opera house. We were in the back corner of the first balcony, but it is only a small opera house and it was a decent seat. On the way in we bought a cassette of Jose Carreras singing opera arias. He is number three of male opera singers, following Pavarotti and Domingo in uncertain order. Placido Domingo is Mark's choice for best.

"Tallinn This Week" claimed that LA TRAVIATA is the world's most popular opera, but we're not sure why. The production was not bad, but it was not as good as RIGOLETTO, probably, and Mark says he maintains the heretical belief that Verdi was far surpassed by Puccini. Evelyn said tonight that she probably agreed. We think Puccini is by a wide margin the best. Mark would rate Wagner number two in spite of Wagner's anti-Jewish attitude. Mark's father never could accept Wagner's music until maybe ten years ago or so because he did not like the man. Probably how Mark feels about Harlan Ellison is much the same.

Mark notes, "Even among my friends it is little known that I am an opera fan. Science fiction, recreational math, origami, movies--these are all pretty well known. Opera shows a lot less. Kate Pott found out I was an opera fan. 'You like opera???' she said, giving me the precise expression I'd have expected if it were roasted beetles I'd expressed a predilection for. That year she saw AMADEUS and decided to try a Mozart opera. Now she collects operas more obscure than any I like. I like TURANDOT, LA BOHEME, Mascagni's CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA, and a bunch of others, but a good half of the ones I really like are by the greatest master of melody who ever lived, Giacomo Puccini."

But tonight we were seeing Verdi's TRAVIATA. Not a bad little production either, particularly considering the price.

Now for the plot of LA TRAVIATA (as described by Mark): "Violetta is a sort of Paris good-time girl with a bad reputation and worse lungs--mostly due to the ravages of consumption (tuberculosis). (Now it is tough to do consumption well in opera because singers tend to be heavily-built and have strong voices. But let that pass.) Alfredo deeply loves her and has given up fettucini for her. (And you know those two were inseparable!) The two are living in a villa outside of Paris when Alfredo's father visits Violetta and says that she has to call the affair off because Alfredo's sister's fiance's family objects to the name Violetta is giving the family. Violetta agrees to leave her lover and return to her life of partying. She writes him a note and leaves.

Now the second scene of the second act is really dramatic. How can I convey it to you? I know! Think of Alfredo and Violetta as being played by Bogart and Bergman a la CASABLANCA.

Alfredo attends a gambling party when who should walk in with a count on her arm but Violetta?

Alfredo: Of all the gambling tables in all the parties in Paris, she walks into this one!

He is more and more insulting as the night wears on, beating the count at cards and finally provoking the count to challenge him to a duel, knowing as an older man the count hasn't a chance. Violetta asks him not to kill the count...

Alfredo: Tell me who was it you left me for? Was it the count, or were there others in between? Or aren't you the kind that tells? [pause] Why are you here? To tell me why you ran out on me at the villa? Violetta: Yes.
Alfredo: Well, you can tell me now, I'm reasonably sober. Violetta: I don't think I will, Alfredo. Alfredo: Why not? After all, I got stuck with the wine bill. I think I'm entitled to know.
Violetta: Now I see what has happened to you. The Alfredo I knew at the villa, I could have asked him not to kill the count. He'd understand. But the one who looked at me with such hatred... well, I'll be leaving the party soon and we'll never see each other again. We knew very little about each other when we were in love at the villa. If we leave it that way, maybe we'll remember those days and not Paris, not tonight.
[She breaks down.]
Violetta: Alfredo, Alfredo, we loved each other once. If those days meant anything at all to you....
Alfredo: I wouldn't bring up the villa if I were you. It's poor salesmanship.
Violetta: Please. Please listen to me. If you knew what really happened, if you only knew the truth.... Alfredo: I wouldn't believe you no matter what you told me. You'd say anything to get what you want.
[Flash back to happy days at the villa. Drinking wine together. Falling in love. Then Alfredo getting the farewell note, his heart breaking. Crumpling it up and throwing it down.]

Well, to make a long story short, or silly at any rate, Alfredo's father tells him that Violetta was acting out of nobility all along. In the next act Alfredo rushes to the dying Violetta to tell her:

Alfredo: We'll always have the villa. We didn't have it, we'd lost it, until we met again. We got it back last night.

Violetta rushes to Alfredo only to die in his arms.

Now if this touching ending seems to have familiar chords, it is because it is reminiscent of the following night's opera in the same opera house, Puccini's LA BOHEME.

Yes, here on the same stage THE TWO TUBERCULAR TITANS OF ITALIAN OPERA, on consecutive nights competing for the coveted Palm d'Eath Award! And in the event of a tie they will be together on Sunday on one colossal stage: Violetta *and* Mimi, duking it out in sudden death competition."

We were close enough to the stage to see that Violetta and Alfredo looked like they were in their forties--a bit old for Alfredo to be under his father's thumb. Mark also points out that the opera is missing one critical scene: the scene in which Alfredo's father tells Alfredo that he (the father) had been the one who'd gotten Violetta to leave Alfredo and now he's sorry he did that. Why Verdi (or F. M. Piave, the librettist) didn't write this is a mystery, at least to us.

This opera was sung in Italian, but with such strong Estonian accents that we had difficulty making out the words. "Evelyn says this as if she understood Italian," Mark says, but Evelyn points out that a lot of Italian words are similar to English or Spanish, which she *does* understand.

After the opera we walked back to the hotel. The movie was THIEF Of HEARTS, which didn't excite us much so we went to bed.

May 21, 1994: Rainy and ugly again. And that was just the breakfast. Luckily all we have to do is take a taxi to the boat and hope Helsinki's weather is better. The Eurovision forecast for Helsinki is cloudy and cold, but not rainy.

We grabbed a taxi to the ferry, 60 EEK rather than the 25 we paid yesterday, probably because we called for one rather than taking one from a stand. We got there at 10:00 as they requested. We had been told it was an 11:00 boat, but when we got there the woman who gave us our boarding cards said it was 10:30 in the next building--the Estline building. At this point we are totally confused as to what line we bought our ticket from.

We changed the last of our krooni to Finnish markka. Math problem: If US$300 gets you 1188 Lithuanian litu, and 550 Lithuanian litu gets you 1774 EEK, and 336 EEK gets you FIM 134, and a cup of coffee on the boat costs FIM 5, what does the coffee cost in United States dollars? Answer: US$0.98. (The working exchange rate when changing directly seems to be about FIM 5.20 per US dollar, but in fact the rate we got from Visa was FIM 5.34 per US dollar.)

What's to report? They checked our passports and about 10:15 we boarded the ferry. Seats are assigned in bird fashion--wherever on the boat you can find a perch, you perch. There are more places to perch than there are passengers, so there's no problem. There is a floor with snack bars and a duty-free shop, but all the prices are much like they'd be in Finland--maybe four times what things would cost in the Baltic states.

We sailed at 11:00 after all. The seating was a bit more crowded than it might have been had the weather been good, but no one wanted to venture outside.

The boat is run like a floating party with lots and lots of big glasses of beer. As we left Mark went around snapping pictures on deck. Then we wrote in our logs and even napped a bit.


Right now as Mark writes we are entering Helsinki harbor. We seem to have passed an old fortification and a submarine out of but beside the water. Some colorful sailboats passed by us and headed for the mouth of the harbor.

Mark describes our approach: "Seagulls fly over the deck playing tag with the boat. They fly right in the front of the boat, probably just to prove to themselves that they can do it. I remember when we were in Africa we'd be riding a Land Rover at high speed. Gazelles would go out of their way to cross the road six feet in front of the Land Rover, just to prove to themselves and female gazelles that they could do it. Or they may be signaling predators that they will not be easy prey and some other prey would be easier. I guess you never really know an animal's motives deep down. In that same part of the world is Mt. Kilimanjaro. I am told that close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude. But it would not surprise me at all to find out that the leopard had something he wanted to prove himself and did not survive the effort. Now I think we are closing in on our destination. We seem to be in a fairly large natural harbor almost entirely encircled by land. I guess we are about half an hour later than expected, and by the size of the beers people are sitting down with they do not expect we will be rushing off the ferry really soon. I think we may arrive all afternoon. Jeez, does everybody in Finland drink beer and smoke? There is no place on this boat to get away from cigarette smoke."

"There is one of those plastic-ball pools right near us where children swim in three-inch plastic balls rather than water. Every time the door opens, two or three plastic balls come flying out. I guess when a kid drowns in plastic balls, bubbles come up shaped like water," Mark adds.

Well, it is still going to be hard to read signs here. Finnish is related to Estonian and very little else. Hungarian fits in there also. They all have elements of Mongolian left over from stragglers from the Golden Horde. Mark has been keeping a sharp lookout in case any are still around.

Of course, Finland is officially bilingual--Finnish and Swedish--a holdover from the three hundred years of Swedish rule, no doubt. So every place has two names, one Finnish and one Swedish. We will try to list both at the first mention, but use only the Finnish from then on. We figure the Swedish-speakers will get all the names in Sweden so this balances out.

Mark admits, "Well, now, this was stupid. I suggested we move down to the deck we will leave from. Everybody and his brother is on the same deck and nobody is moving. It's like Times Square on New Year's Eve, only not so festive. It is now 16:09. We must have started entering the harbor before 15:00. And our arrival continues. No wonder people were in no hurry. At 16:14 Evelyn starts to put down her bag and almost immediately the crowd starts to move."

And later, "Well, it was tough to get a crowd that big to move and once it moved it would have been even tougher to stop it. I am glad I did not drop my log."

Passport check was little more than letting the man see my picture. Luggage check was ... well ... it wasn't. It seems as if this year not too many Americans are leaving explosives about. Good thing, too.

In Riga the Americans we had met recommended the Eurohostel. Our "Lonely Planet" guide "Scandinavian & Baltic Europe on a Shoestring" didn't offer a lot of other choices, so we decided to try it. We'd like to use the phone but we have only the paper money we got changing the Estonian krooni to Finnish markka, and it turns out there is no currency exchange office here, just a money machine that dispenses only paper money. If we'd known we could have gotten some Finnish change on the boat. Evelyn got change in the cafe and we called the Eurohostel. They did have space, doubles for FIM 110 (about US$20) per person per night. They couldn't tell us the best way to get there by bus, but said a taxi would probably be about FIM 40-50.

We grabbed a taxi. It was only FIM 35, because it wasn't all that far, but it was cold and it was worth it not having to carry the baggage the kilometer or so (or more if we got lost, which we usually do).

Checking in was complicated. This was because we did not have IYHF (International Youth Hostel Foundation) cards. It was FIM 110 each per night without the card and FIM 95 with. How much was the card? It took the woman a while to figure this out. (Since it was early in the season she had never done this before.) It was FIM 90 each. Mark looked at the room and pronounced it acceptable. Then it took the woman a long time to write up the cards. First she wrote up the wrong card, then had to redo it on the right card. We were supposed to have photographs for them, but didn't. She gave them to us anyway. (We thought we could get photographs made at the train station, four for FIM 20, and use two of them to renew our passports later this year, but that's another story yet to come.) Since we planned on staying at the af Chapman in Stockholm, we figured we'd save something like US$5 each.

Meanwhile the entire Estonian Cathedral Choir from Tallinn was waiting for us to finish so they could check in. The woman leading them told us they were performing a mass tomorrow at the Cathedral at 17:00.

The rooms are very Spartan: just two beds, a table, some strange cabinets, and that is it. The sheets are paper products. The whole thing looks much like a dormitory room from college. The "facilities" are down the hall on each floor--again, very dorm-like. There is also a kitchen on each floor, including refrigerated lockers. Not luxurious, but given the high cost of everything in Finland, the best one can do in this price range. Everything is very clean and there is even heat!

As we said, we had some markka from changing our krooni in Tallinn, and had paid for the room and card with Visa, but we needed money. Alas, the only places open to change money that we knew of would be in the fancy hotels with bad rates. We decided that getting money on our Visa card from an ATM was the only answer. (We had overpaid on our Visa before leaving to avoid accumulating large interest charges if we did this, but the "Lonely Planet" guide thinks ATMs should be avoided overseas because of the hassle if they eat your card. However, with all the banks closed and no relief in sight tomorrow--Sunday--we had little choice.)

Technology is wonderful--you can walk up to a machine in Helsinki, put in a piece of plastic, and punch in a number, and it gives you money. (Of course, we had to remember to look up the PIN for this card, since we never use it this way at home. In southeast Asia we had not done this, but banks were open longer hours there and took passports instead of PINs.)

So we got FIM 500 from a machine and were solvent again. (Considering that we already had United States cash, United States dollars travelers cheques, and some stray Deutschmarks from a recent trip, it's odd to say we weren't solvent before.)

We walked up the Esplanade. (This is pretty much the same in both official languages. It is actually two streets, the North Esplanade and the South Esplanade, which are Pohjoisesplanadi/Norra esplanaden and Etalaesplanadi/Sodra esplanaden respectively.) We were looking for an inexpensive place to eat, but we were beginning to think there weren't any in Helsinki. It is easy to see this is not the Baltic republics any more. Restaurants are now even expensive by United States standards. It took us a while to find an inexpensive-seeming restaurant and dinner for two still came to FIM 142 (about US$27.50). We had dinner at OMTA, a place that seemed like a Greek restaurant based on a couple of words on the menu but didn't seem to be serving what we would call Greek food. We shared a dish of chicken shaslik and one of shrimp with spinach. Two Coca-Colas came to over US$5 all by themselves. That's more than six times what a restaurant in one of the Baltic republics would charge. We will probably switch to water, which seems to be an acceptable drink with dinner here.

We are basically living in a dormitory and it is noisy like a dormitory also. Well, it is a *youth* hostel. Youths tend to be boisterous.

May 22, 1994: Mark was up at 6:00 so he took a shower while Evelyn and most of the dorm slept. The showers have all the nice features you could ask for and one that is a slight pain. The water flow is controlled by what in electronics would be called a "dead-man's switch." We have seen the same device on sinks in movie theaters. You get water while you are pressing on a knob and for a generous second or so afterward. Then the water cuts off. You basically have one hand that you can use for all other purposes. It pretty much guarantees that you do not take a long or enjoyable shower.

Evelyn went for a sauna, since a morning sauna is included in the price of the room. She thinks sauna is something she could get used to, but doubts she will have much chance once we get home. Mark, on the other hand, had tried sauna once and found he did not care for it. He said it reminded him a lot of the steamer they used at McDonalds to make the fish sandwich buns soft and moist. He didn't want his buns treated that way then and he still doesn't. Evelyn was the only person in the women's sauna, though she thinks she heard voices coming from the men's.

There is a cafeteria at the Eurohostel. Mark got a plate with yoghurt, a hamburger bun, butter, jam, coffee, two little slices of cheese, and two paper-thin slices of sausage. The cost was FIM 25 (about US$5). Not worth that price, but you cannot do much about it. Mark figures a Finnish markka has about 10 cents buying power when it comes to food. He says he will figure that is the price of a meal (one-tenth of the Finnish markka cost) and chalk the rest up to travel expense.

Well, the last few days were rainy and ugly. Today for a change the sky was clear and the sun was bright. As we left the room there was a hint of gray. We went out the door and the sky was already gray. After a few steps we felt some rain. At the end of a couple of blocks hail started falling. One more block and it was falling hard so we ducked into a fancy hotel to let people stare at us, to look for brochures, and to feel like interlopers. No wonder fancy hotels hate to have Eurohostels open in the same neighborhood. However, we did figure out that there didn't seem to be much going on in the evenings we'll be around--almost everything is later in the week.

After ten minutes the sun was shining and we started out again. This time it stayed sunny for a while.

We walked around Helsinki, remembering parts from our last visit in 1986. There were pods from peapods on the ground. In the summer the Finnish eat raw peas. Then you see a lot of empty pods about, much like in the Baltic republics you see banana peels.

Another thing we remembered was the street lights. You hear a beep-beeping if you should not go and a constant buzz if you can walk. It's a safety precaution. Also, the cars all have their lights on whenever they are moving. One of the Scandinavian countries tried that for a weekend to remind people to drive safely and it proved so effective that it became law. Put a Scandinavian car in drive and the lights go on automatically.

Our first stop for the day was to have been the Parliament Building for a guided tour, but when we passed the tourist information office it was open. It keeps new hours from when the tour books were published-- they had claimed it was closed on Sundays. We picked up a copy of "Helsinki This Week" and also got their last English copy of "Helsinki on Foot" It is a brochure with six walking tours and detailed descriptions of the sights you pass. Great for the budget traveler. We had thought we would buy the "Helsinki Card," but looking at the admission prices for what we were interested in, and realizing with everything close together we wouldn't be using the trolleys a lot, we decided it probably wasn't worth it.

We continued on to the beautiful art nouveau train station where we bought our tickets for Turku/Abo. Last time we had been in Helsinki we had gone to the train station, but the bus must have come from around the back, because Evelyn says don't remember the main entrance at all-- and with its four giant figures standing guard, two on either side of the door, it's pretty memorable.

The trains were exactly at the times Hannu Pajunen (our host in Turku) had told us, but after the shifting of schedules in Estonia, we figured it didn't hurt to check. Tickets were FIM 82 (US$16) each. Afterwards Evelyn realized that we were actually getting off at Kupittaa, but since that's 196 kilometers instead of the 200 kilometers to Turku, the price probably would have been the same.

The exchange rate we're seeing--it turns out there are a few places open to change money-- is about FIM 5.2 per United Sates dollar, not the FIM 5.47 we had seen in the newspaper a couple of weeks ago. What we get on our Visa withdrawals is anyone's guess, but it will be at least as good as the posted rates here.

The ticket-seller said he knew some English and would try to make himself understood. He spoke it better than several people we work with. Getting by in English in Helsinki is not very hard. Most of the Finns you deal with feel insecure about their English and should not be. As Mark says, "Finns seem to be a likable, pleasant people who are easy to deal with. And at least one Finnish-American and some Finnish-Finns (if that is a word--native Finns) have been very friendly to Evelyn and me after reading our writing on the Usenet. So far we have seen zero begging, zero tourist-pestering, zero public drunkenness. This probably has something to do with never having been in the Soviet Union the way the Baltic republics were. A Finn might disagree, but Finland seems in a lot of ways better run than the United States."

And we were going to see the seat of government that was doing such a good job. Since the tours were supposed to be at noon and 13:00, we got there about ten minutes to noon. Other tour groups were already waiting. Noon came and went. Then we saw the tour groups going away. A woman from one of the tour groups (one with a bunch of teenagers) explained that there was no tour on holidays. May 22? Today is Whitsunday. If it weren't for the fact that we had heard of this before, we probably would have thought it was a holiday they invented just to play a trick on us. (In Malaysia everything was closed one day we were there because of elections. In Israel we were in Haifa on a Saturday--no town is deader than Haifa on a Saturday.) As it is, Whitsunday seems to be a holiday peculiar to Finland, Iceland, and Denmark, and is seven Sundays after Easter. No tours.

Across the street in an old railway yard was a flea market (maybe it was a special Whitsunday flea market?). Like trolleys, these markets give you a good feel for the real society. Here you see for sale lots of clothing, old puzzles and toys, comic books, and a fair number of books. Mark bought a British mystery novel for FIM 5 (under US$1), the same price as each of two mini-dictionaries for translating from Finnish and Swedish respectively to English. Evelyn bought an inexpensive (FIM 4) pair of gloves that don't quite match in color, but will keep her hands warm in the chilly weather that is May this far north. (When the woman selling them saw they didn't match she wasn't going to sell them to Evelyn, but she must have seen Evelyn's disappointment and instead reduced them from FIM 5 to FIM 4.) We each bought a sausage for lunch for FIM 8 each. It must have been cheap sausage. The flavor was good but the meat was too soft. It was like eating porridge.

The National Museum was designed by Gesellius, Lindgren, and Saarinen. It is one of the nicer museums we've seen, at least as a national museum. Over the first hall are four beautiful murals from the Finnish national epic, the KALEVALA. The KALEVALA was first collected in the 1830s by Elias Lonnrot. It's even been made into a movie, THE DAY THE EARTH FROZE (which Mark says is not very good but we may order from Sinister Cinema when we get back anyway). One mural involves plowing a field that has snakes, one shows the killing of a monster serpent, one shows the making of the Sampo, and one shows the stealing of the Sampo. Mark thinks a Sampo is a device like a horn of plenty. It produces whatever you want. Not surprisingly, it is too coveted for its possessor's good. If Mark remembers rightly, misusing it may be dangerous also.

(Postscript: Mark says, "We did get the film on our return and watched it. It was better than I remembered it, but still not really good. It is stagey and poorly dubbed, though some of the scenes are visually very nice. It reminds me a lot of the paintings in the museum.)

The museum has archaeological finds, weapons, and historical furnishings, including a Russian throne with feet like the Russian twoheaded eagle and each arm like a gold eagle head. There are religious carvings and paintings. There are portraits and Finnish furniture, and also ethnographic exhibits.

Mark took a picture of a stuffed reindeer as part of his personal campaign against the misinformation barrage we get every Christmas season about what a reindeer looks like. Any representation we ever see of reindeer shows them as looking like North American wild deer. The color is wrong; the shape is wrong. They are portrayed as frail and dewy-eyed, which is not at all correct. The size is about right, but a reindeer really looks a lot like a midget moose. They have big wide snouts. As you might expect (because reindeer really do pull sleighs), there is nothing dainty about them. They are small homely powerhouses.

The museum also had a temporary exhibit on Chilean culture.

Postcards are expensive here--FIM 3 each, or about US$0.60. (They were even more on Suomenlinna--FIM 4.) But then, everything is more expensive here. And we don't mean more expensive than the Baltic republics, but more expensive than home. On this trip it balances out somewhat, which helps.

On leaving we took (more) pictures of the stone bear outside the museum. Since the walking tour we started would take us a long way around a lake without a lot of interest for long stretches, we decided to switch to a different one. (Also, it looked like rain and the new tour didn't commit us to as much walking.)

We found a machine to get more money from, getting FIM 1000 this time. At first we tried changing money in a machine that claimed to take bills of various currencies and dispense Finnish markka. But it didn't recognize any of the four bills in two different denominations that we tried. "We have machines like that at home," Mark said.

"You mean machines that don't give you Finnish markka for dollars?" Evelyn countered. "Of course we do. Our toaster, for example."

But as Mark pointed out, it's really just a change-making machine that recognizes a lot of different inputs.

We also picked this new walking tour which started at Cathedral Square because we wanted to go to a concert there anyway.

The Cathedral, or rather Senate Square on which it stands, is one of the few images Evelyn says she remembers from our last trip here. She thinks that is because we didn't really see much in Helsinki and this was one of the three or four stops the bus made. (The others were the Sibelius Monument, the Rock Church--Temppeliaukion kirkkoEMand maybe Market Square. Or we may have walked to Market Square on our own--I know we went to the bookstore on our own. Then again, markets are just the sort of thing that tours like to take you to.)

Anyway, we followed the tour around, along the waterfront, looking at historic buildings and so on. About 16:30 we found ourselves opposite the Kolme krunnua (Three Crowns), recommended in the "Lonely Planet" guide. Even though he had very little English, the owner did his best to help us with the menu, which was hand-written and hard to read. The food was very good. The price was much better than the previous night and the portions were really generous. (We think we'll stick to "Lonely Planet" recommendations from now on, or at least seriously consider them first.) Evelyn had roast lamb and Mark had pork with melted cheese. The bill came to FIM 115, still a touch expensive by United States standards, but close ... about US$22.25. The rule in Finland is not to tip unless service is really good but the owner worked so hard translating we left an extra FIM 5.

From there we went back to the Cathedral for the concert being given by the people in our youth hostel. The woman we'd met had said it was 17:00, but when we looked it up in "Helsinki This Week" it said 18:00. We got to the Cathedral at 17:45 only to find it was mostly over. In spite of the listing it was at 17:00. We heard the last part, however, and it was very beautiful. It combined choral music and a drum, oddly enough. We both thought the drum added a lot, but Mark thought a deeper-sounding drum would have been better. This sounded too much like workmen on the roof to him. (It was supposed to be FIM 30, but since we arrived so close to the end, the ticket-seller just waved us in.)

Well, back we went to the hotel, doing the walking tours near our hotel (on the island of Katajanokka/Skatudden) at the same time. (It's an island only because they dug a canal across the base of the peninsula it used to be.) We are right near the Finnish Film Foundation, but there is not much that can be seen from the outside. Chinese restaurants seem a bit expensive where we were looking. It is about US$10 a dish. We dropped some things off at our hotel, then continued on. Most of what we were seeing was architecture, particularly odd faces and animals on buildings. We were very close to the eight icebreakers in the fleet. They are big. Not as big as the luxury ships we see, but they still look like massive mountains of metal. We were also very close to the Helsinki County Prison, which turned out to be right next door to our hotel.

Back in the hotel we listened to some Sibelius and some Grieg (well, at least it is Scandinavian, if not a country we visit this time), and wrote in our logs.

May 23, 1994: According to the shortwave, at 8 degrees Centigrade we are about the coldest place in Scandinavia. It looked sunny when we got up, but as we were eating breakfast it was clouding up again. Breakfast was at the market down on the harbor. We shared a liter of strawberries--thinking of Dale Skran, a close friend at home who is also a strawberry fan. Evelyn had coffee--slightly more expensive here than at the hotel, but overall the meal was cheaper, and better. Mark tried to get a picture of the little birds who come begging. And he got a little strawberry juice on his log accidentally. He thinks he got a little strawberry juice on the name "Sibelius." It will look a little pink (though not in the version you're reading).

There is an indoor section of the market and we bought some cheese (gouda). It was FIM 59 per kilogram, so it was very, very roughly US$5.90 per pound. Actually it is US$5.16 per pound, but you are in the ball park by just dividing by 10. Mark wonders why every coin we get seems so shiny and new.

Since the weather looked moderately acceptable--we're beginning to think it doesn't ever get what one might call "good" here, at least in May--our destination is the fortress island of Suomenlinna (Sveaborg). (Also, some of the other things we want to do aren't open on Monday.) Mark relates, "During the Crimean War the island Suomenlinna, under the Russians, held off the combined sea forces of France and England--for a little while, anyway. It kept two powerful military fleets out of the bay--momentarily. It stood up to two powerful, advanced, well-funded navies--for a bit. And while the battle could not be termed an actual victory, it did provide a proud moment in Finnish history."

You take a tour boat (FIM 20 each for the round trip) from Market Square and it brings you to the fortified island. (It also gives you a nice twenty-minute ride through the harbor each way.) We sailed at 10:00 with a school group. We seem at times doomed to be harried by school groups who block passageways, take longer to get on and off the boat than anyone else, and so on. The island, dubbed "the Gibraltar of the North," is a natural bastion for defending the Helsinki harbor. It had fortifications built and guns put in place. Today you can run around the forts and go to the various museums, typically on a military theme.

Since when we arrived at the island the school group headed for the Ehrensvard Museum, our first visit was to the Vesikko, a Finnish Uboat --the one we'd seen from the ferry on first arriving. (It's a submarine, of course, but here they're called U-boats. They are Finnish, however, not German.) In the post-WWII Paris Peace Treaty (1947), Finland had to scrap all its submarines but this one, to which it added two side doors for easy entry and turned it into "Das Mooseum." As Mark describes it, "It is 134 feet (41 meters) long. It had a crew of twenty very cramped men, men living in hot bunks (that is, bunks that are constantly in use in twelve-hour shifts). It is hot, you sweat a lot in bed, then when you get up someone else sleeps on your sweat and his own sweat from the last shift. You are in an iron water bubble. If you walk five feet, you change the balance of the submarine and you tip it until somebody can pump water to restore the balance. You are stircrazy from the tight quarters and outside is either nothing but water and sky or nothing but water. You go to Hell to be punished for your sins on earth. If you commit sins in Hell, they put you on a U-boat. Recommended reading, incidentally, is THE BOAT (DAS BOOT) by Lothar- Gunther Buchheim.

By the way, it's not called World War II here. It's the Winter War and the Continuation War. The first was in late 1939 and 1940 when Finland went to war with the Soviet Union over territorial demands made by the latter, and the Continuation War was after a one-year "peace" when Finland got some aid from Germany to fight the Soviet Union, which it did from 1941 to 1944, but its position was more anti-Soviet than pro-German. When they fought alongside the Germans, they let the Germans use Finland as a base of operations, but never allowed themselves to be occupied. Himmler insisted that if Finland got German aid it must deport the small population of 2000 Jews. Foreign Minister Rolf Witting neither refused nor agreed. he basically pretended not to hear Himmler's demand. Himmler did not press the point. In 1944 Finland was again forced to sign an armistice with the Soviet Union and to agree to fight Germany, or at least the Germans in Finland.

After visiting the submarine, we walked around exploring the fort walls inside and out. The Ehrensvard Museum--sort of the main museum of the fortress--is not technically one of the military museums, but it does show what officers' quarters were like, exhibiting rooms and furniture. Eventually it gets to uniforms, weapons, and artwork depicting battles. Particularly depicted was the siege of the island during the Crimean War in 1815 (August 9-11, though the Russian prints label it as July, since Russia had not yet switched to the Gregorian calendar, and would not do so until after the 1917 Revolution--what they call the Octoberists we should presumably call the Novembrists). J. W. Carmichael did one of the more famous drawings of the battle, with lights in the sky that look like UFOs. It must have been famous, because there seemed to be a half dozen different versions of engravings of it.

We walked around the ramparts for a while. There were cannon placed at various points, but they were from all different eras--some from the 19th Century and some clearly 20th Century in origin (with cogs and wheels for changing the elevation and a wheeled track for rotating). We happened to be passing a cafe when it started to rain, so we stopped for a snack before continuing on to the Coastal Defense Museum, devoted specifically to guns and aiming devices from the coastal defenses (what a surprise!) from the earliest times to the present and included a camera with a telephoto lens with a focal length of 250 *centimeters* (Steve, eat your heart out!). The museum was inside a hill, but must have been heated, as it was warmer than outside rather than cooler as one normally expects from caves and cave-like enclosures.

We continued around back to the dock and then to the adjoining island for the War Museum, which has relics of the Winter War and the Continuation War, including armored vehicles, a plane, a truck, and a bunker you can walk through. Each of the military museums is small by itself, but together they seem to form a decent museum of some size, making the combination ticket worthwhile if you're interested in military history. (And if you're not, you probably don't come to the island anyway.)

We decided to skip the Doll and Toy Museum (as not being representative of a military fortress), and took the 15:00 boat back to Market Square. Every half-hour or so it would cloud over and rain a little, and a half hour later it would clear up and be sunny.

We then proceeded to the inevitable--a bookstore, in this case, Akateeminen Kirjakauppa (Akademiska Bokhandeln in Swedish). Akateeminen Kirjakauppa is the biggest bookstore in Finland; somewhere Evelyn had read a claim that it was the biggest in the world, but this clearly isn't true. Evelyn writes, "It celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1993, has a cafe, carries 140,000 titles (1,000,000 volumes), and was designed by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. (There was an article about it in the 27 September 1993 issue of PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.) Akateeminen Kirjakauppa is across the street from the large Stockmann department store on Keskuskatu/Centralgatan at the corner of Pohjoisesplanaadi. Despite the name (literally "Academic Bookstore"), Akateeminen carries a large selection of modern fiction as well. Books are in Finnish, Swedish, and English, and to a lesser extent German, French, Italian, and Russian."

It is of some interest to see what books we know are available in Finnish, and also to see what they have in English. Most of the English books would cost a lot more than at home. Hardback science fiction was about FIM 130-185 (US$25-35), trade paperbacks FIM 77-108 (US$15-20), and mass market paperbacks FIM 41-79 (US$8-15). That's for translations into Finnish; originals in English from the United States or Great Britain may be 10-15% cheaper on the average. Fans here must be either very rich or very dedicated. I imagine there are some used bookstores, so that may help.

Last time we were here (in 1986), we looked into buying an English translation of the KALEVALA, but it was too expensive. (Evelyn thinks it was about US$20.) Now it's even more--FIM 134 (US$25) for a mass market British paperback labeled 7.99 (about US$13). We also saw a couple of other British books of interest and may order them all from Hatchard's when we return home. (We now understand why people in Europe are so big on mail-ordering books.)

Evelyn was surprised to see no Sherlock Holmes in Finnish. They had a lot of other mystery writers translated into Finnish from English, and Doyle in English, including some in a line of English "classics" at only FIM 15 (about US$3). The same line is available at home for about the same price. But here they had some titles we'd seen no place else. They had the first 20th Century thriller, THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS by Erskine Childers. They also had RAFFLES: THE AMATEUR CRACKSMAN by E. W. Hornung. Raffles is a sort of fictional Deacon Brodie. By day he is a gentleman and champion cricket bowler who is welcome in the highest circles of society. By night he is a master burglar. His stories were popular back at the turn of the century.

After that, we went to the train station. The reason was that in Stockholm we wanted to stay at a youth hostel, so we'd joined the IYHF. They gave us identification cards, but they needed a photograph. The train station had one of those machines that take four pictures for some fixed set of coins--in this case FIM 20. So we needed the photographs for the youth hostel and in addition our well-worn passports expire in another few months so we needed new photographs for them as well. Mark relates, "I told Evelyn we could probably share--that they take more than one exposure and she could get two and I could get two. She said no, they take only one exposure. Passports require two identical pictures. We both guessed wrong. Evelyn went first, adjusted her seat, put in her coins, and then came the flash. Boy! Do they flash! Your first impulse is to duck and cover. Then as she was leaving it flashed again. Well, she wasted two pictures. Then it was my turn. Again the flashes. Then we just waited for the pictures to come out. It takes about five minutes. Evelyn wondered if they can process two at a time or if we should have waited for one set to come out before shotting a second set. I suggested it would come out with her picture but have my head and my hand."

"After the five minutes hers popped out. It was a terrible picture that came out, but there was a good pair that looked like the top of her head. Mine came out strange, as perhaps a trick of the lighting and my glasses. My eyes look very wide. If you look carefully you can see that it is just the skin around my eyes blending with the whites of my eyes. But I look like I am trying to hypnotize someone."

Mark continues, "It is fun playing with passport photographs. The rules say you should submit two identical photographs, but passport cameras don't do it that way. They use two side-by-side lenses and get your face from two slightly different angles. You have parallax. So what you actually have is a stereoscopic picture of yourself. Pull it up close to your face and slowly pull it away and you get a 3-D image of yourself or the top of your head."

"The pictures came out wet and you have to hold them a while before them are dry enough to put away. When they came out they had a green tinge to them, but when we looked at them later it had turned to a pink tinge. I don't think we are talking genuine Kodak here. I don't know if we are even talking genuine photographic paper," Mark concludes.

Evelyn adds, "We may not see the world through rose-colored glasses, but that's apparently how the world sees us!"

Dinner was at a place nearly across the street called the Turkish Kebab Room (recommended by the "Lonely Planet" guide). You order at a counter, then they deliver. It isn't fancy, but the price is not unreasonable. Mark had half a roast chicken, rice, and Turkish salad. Evelyn had the same, but gyros instead of chicken, and it came to FIM 91 (about US$17.50). Mark's chicken also seemed to have a ketchup sauce, but he livened it up with some Jamaican pepper sauce.

After dinner we walked back to the room by way of the ice-breaker dock to get some pictures. The room was the next destination, except that we had to find out at the desk in the hotel if they had been able to get reservations for us at the youth hostel in Stockholm (we had asked for them to try before we left this morning). Luck of Leeper struck again. They had tried three youth hostels in Stockholm. No room. So this means we really wasted FIM 30 each on joining the IYHF and another FIM 20 on photographs for the identification card. It's worth it not to have to use those ugly pink photographs.

Back at the room Mark suddenly realized that in two nights he had to make a speech for the Turku Science Fiction Association. He was thinking that he had five more days. He says, "I probably shouldn't worry about it, but I do. Part of it is my expertise is in obscure films. Who knows what obscure films have played in Finland? Well, I'll have to see what I can do."

May 24, 1994: Breakfast was the leftover cheese from yesterday. A little time later we went down to the cafeteria, where Evelyn had coffee and Mark had juice which turned out to be orangeade. The plan for today is mostly walking tours of Helsinki, self-guided using the brochure we'd gotten at the tourist information office.

We got to the Uspensky Cathedral about 9:30. That is the local *Greek* Orthodox cathedral. As we walked up the steps a tourist bus arrived. Just our luck. Inside was a nice-looking cathedral. Lots of paintings, lots of gold paint. Cathedrals tend to waste a lot of space over the heads of the worshippers. Mark thinks it harkens back to the days when the cathedral was the tallest building in a city. Sort of advertising. It made the cathedrals easy to see. Actually, Helsinki's two cathedrals are the two highest buildings in the city, and give nice views from their steps as well as being artistic inside. The Uspensky Cathedral is built on a giant outcropping of rock of the sort that is common throughout Helsinki (and Turku as well)--they are a distinctive feature of the geology. While we were there some school classes arrived. All around the Baltic schools seem to have *a lot* of field trips. We seem to run into classes just about wherever we go.

We continued on, building-watching on the walking tour. That is a really good way to see Helsinki. It does not really make for a lot to write about in our logs, however.

The next stop was the local military museum. We started with the usual hall of heroes, portraits, medals they have won, and other trinkets. Mark was reminded of the scene in OCTOBER where the revolutionaries storm the palace and find boxes full of medals to be given out. It is a very effective piece of propaganda.

A room off the main hall shows uniforms and artillery pieces. Some of the uniforms look a lot like German uniforms. Of course, Finland was fighting against the Soviets at first by themselves and later with the help of Germany. The Soviets won this piece of the war and eventually the Finns were fighting the Germans. Mark thinks it is that the helmets curve down over the ears that makes them look German.

In another room we are back to the late 19th Century and the uniforms look Russian and have Cyrillic or double-headed eagles on the buttons. Another room and we are further back, with flintlock pistols and rifles and even swords.

Back in the main hall there are large plaster statues of soldiers in uniform.

There is little English, but there are certificates of the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross from the United States to Larry Thorn, born Torni, a Finn who was killed in Vietnam flying with the Americans. There is an exhibit of pistols, including one cut away to show how it works.

There is also a small walk-in bunker with log walls. The display ends with some German and Russian uniforms worn by their troops.

We spent about an hour in the museum, which let us out about noon. Our next event planned was the changing of the guard at the Main Guard Post. However, the guard would not *need* changing until 13:00, so we walked to the Market Square, where we took pictures of some sort of Navy boat that had docked. It was a fair size and had guns, but beyond that we have little knowledge of types of Navy boats. Mark also got some pictures of sea birds who boldly let people get close. There will be no time for breakfast tomorrow, so we dropped into the indoor market to get a chunk of cheese. Mark asked for something called "Polar" and it looks like Swiss.

Back to the guard post and there was already a crowd forming, almost all of older people. It must be pretty good to get a crowd this big. Then they all moved around to the side of the building. That was odd, because the guard was in front, but perhaps the replacement comes around the building. We milled in with the viewers and they stared at us a bit. 13:00 was approaching. An empty tour bus pulled up and the other viewers got on. We were left standing alone. At 12:55 somebody came out of the guardhouse to replace the guard. No ceremony. Well, that was a bore. (Evelyn looks at it differently; she says, "Not only do the Finns have a very low-key view of what a parade is, their clocks run fast.")

We were going to be passing the tourist information office so we thought we'd drop in and ask what happened to the changing of the guard. Basically they said they had no idea.

Next we returned to the big bookstore so Evelyn could collect some data for this log (she hadn't noted prices and so on last time). Mark writes, "I figured it was best to humor Evelyn so she does not get snippy. (Actually, she did so much as organizing that she deserves a chance to pick the activities.)"

Next we went to the Finnish National Gallery in the Ateneum across from the railway station. Here at least we had better luck, since although there was a special exhibition with a higher admission, the admission for the rest of the museum was the same as usual (FIM 10).

We started on the top floor, which are really the most recent works, starting with the Impressionists. The room started with Aalto. I pointed to some nudes on the other wall. "Here are the Aaltos, there are the barer tones." A Cezanne ("Road Bridge at L'Estaque") and a Van Gogh ("Street in Auvers-sur-Oise") were in the next room.

There were Rodins with descriptions in Braille. The blind are allowed to feel the sculpture. Yngve Bach had "Melody of War," a sort of "Guernica" with musical instruments.

(In spite of the mention of foreign artists, most of the works were by Finnish artists. There is a separate museum for foreign art which we didn't visit.)

There was a room with a composition in video art, and other modern art. Evelyn writes, "The modern stuff is at times interesting, but I found myself thinking, 'Is it art?' For example, there was 'Ms. Found in a Bottle' (after the Poe story) which consisted of a wine bottle with a year engraved on it. There was a block of granite about the size of a piece of carry-on luggage with a handle and two clasps labeled 'Suitcase' [I know the feeling!]. There was a gauze tent that you walked into and a shrouded form lay on a cot inside. And there was a room playing some sort of ambient music. It was a relief to move down one floor to the more realistic 19th Century artists."

On the second floor, we are in the 1880s, with more self-evident art. There is a painting, "Christ with Mary Magdalene." The part of Mary is performed in modern dress. There is a nice triptych by Gallen-Kallela of Vainamoinen in love with the young woman Aino, who drowns herself--a story from the KALEVALA. (Gallen-Kallela did the KALEVALA murals in the National Museum as well.)

There are also some bird paintings that have nice detail. Ferdinand Von Wright has a delightful painting, "The First Surprise," of a new-born calf finding three geese, and his sons Wilhelm and Magnus also had avian paintings. Collectively they could be considered the Audubon of Finland.

When it was all over, we were a bit surprised that the museum was as small as it was, though it was actually bigger than any other museum we'd visited in Finland.

That whetted our appetites for KALEVALA material, but when we went to the museum shop, we discovered the net result of:

  1. art books are expensive, and
  2. books in Finland are expensive, which is:
  3. art books in Finland are outrageously expensive.

Rather unimpressive-looking books would cost something around US$100. There also seems to be a de facto tax on any book having content related to the KALEVALA. As we noted, a British edition of the KALEVALA which was labeled 7.99 (about US$13) would cost FIM 139 (about US$26). Other British books were not marked up nearly so much.

Also, when you get a book in Russian, you have a fighting chance of figuring out what a given section is talking about. You can sound out the words and often they sound like words you know. They're cognates. Finnish goes out of its way to avoid international roots. If a new device comes along, like the telephone, they don't transliterate "telephone"--they pick Finnish roots with a similar meaning ("pahulin"). This may make figuring out what a new word means a little easier, but it is probably tougher for Finns to deal internationally and for the visitor Finland is a verbal fruit cocktail of incomprehensible phonics.

Dinner was at Lokran Grill (another "Lonely Planet" recommendation). Mark ordered more or less at random off the menu. Evelyn saw a salmon plate coming out of the kitchen and ordered that. Mark's turned out to be something like Wiener Schnitzel stuffed with a blue cheese and cream sauce. He says his only regret was that it was a bit too much like food he'd already had this trip, because it was certainly tasty enough.

It came with a salad, soup, and dessert. You pull the salad out of a chilled case. Mark saw what looked a little like dressing, so he put it on the salad. Yes, it turned out to be a nice honey Dijon dressing. The soup was potato, and good. There was very good bread pudding in vanilla sauce. With drinks it cost about FIM 130 (about US$25). (Since service is included, by the way, the United States equivalent includes tip.) The place was basically a bar with a television going and no atmosphere, but it still was a good choice.

There is a trolley route that takes you past some of the major sight-seeing spots for what the brochure calls a "semi-guided tour" of Helsinki. It was interesting, but there really isn't time to see much from a trolley. Trolleys are expensive here (for FIM 9 you get to ride any trolley for one hour). The sight-seeing trolley was just long enough that we could not get another trolley back to the Eurohostel on the same ticket. Just as well--you see more on foot, though our feet (all four!) were very tired at this point.

Mark noted, "As we got off the trolley a young dog had been tied to some fixture in the wall while his master shopped. Most people just heard the howling. The first thing I thought about is how terrified that dog must have been to see his master walk away and when he tries to follow his collar stops him. He feels this frustration and stress that he will be abandoned and on his own, perhaps never able to get himself free of this wall. You wish you could tell him that in a few minutes his master will return, but there is little you can do. I think relationships are very important to dogs--probably to most mammals."

"I have been told that close to the western summit of Kilimanjaro there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude. But maybe he wasn't hunting game. Maybe he was searching for a parent or mate or cub that he had lost and was trying to find," Mark concludes.

Back at the room we packed, wrote logs, and went to bed early. We also tried three times to call Hannu. The books say to put in at least FIM 5 before making a long-distance call since they charge at a faster rate. A little window shows how much money you have left to spend. And it diminishes a lot faster if it is a long-distance call. We called his office, got a recorded message, and so got only FIM 1.6 worth of call, but the machine ate the whole FIM 5. Eventually we reached him at home and arranged for him to meet us in the morning at the train. All this calling had involved making sure we had enough coins for the telephones, since we didn't know how much the calls would cost and couldn't find a credit card phone. The result, of course, was that we had enough coins for E.T. to have phoned home. But they're only PMUs anyway.

Oh, yes, PMUs. We have a friend Guy who was telling us a story about being in the Caribbean and something cost N PMUs. "What's a PMU?" "A peculiar monetary unit." Well, the expression caught on, so now we speak of PMUs when we travel.

We should probably also explain how we came to be doing this calling and so on. When we first decided to go to the Baltics, Finland, and Sweden, we posted a message on Usenet on the Internet asking about places of Jewish interest and about science fiction fans. We had originally mentioned only Helsinki in Finland, and got a message back from Hannu asking why everyone who goes to Finland goes only to Helsinki and skips Turku, which was full of both history and science fiction fans. We replied that we had in fact visited Turku when we were there in 1986, said we were perfectly willing to visit it again if people wanted to get together, and mentioned in passing the 1827 fire that had destroyed most of the former capital. The latter was mostly to show off and at least give the impression we were not boorish Americans. It must have worked, because Hannu wrote back that, yes, people wanted to meet us. We could stay at his place and he would even show us around. In fact, the Turku University Science Fiction Association wanted to know if we would be willing to give a short talk. Apparently a fair percentage read Evelyn's science fiction reviews and Mark's film reviews. The Internet seems very closely tied into science fiction fandom in Turku, which means they see what we write and as a result they seem determined to treat us as if we were celebrities. We aren't, but it was nice to be treated as we were.

May 25, 1994: Mark woke up about 3:30 thinking about the speech he would be making, throwing out all of what he'd prepared and starting over. (He worries too much.)

So he dozed a little bit, but was up at 5:15 so we could catch the for the 6:50 train to Turku. We took the 6:10 trolley to the train station. The streets seemed oddly deserted.

There was a film crew with a camera dolly in the train station. Presumably they were setting up to film something, but we couldn't stick around to find out. Does anyone in Helsinki know what they were filming? Unlike our experience with the film crew in Zagreb, there were no well-known actors and we would have had no chance to talk to them anyway.

There is a peculiar system for choosing seats. For FIM 15 extra you can get an assigned seat. If you don't have an assigned seat you sit anywhere, then if asked to move by someone assigned that seat you move. We got on the car and sat down. We were the first and second on the car. The third person came over and said we were sitting in her seat. What are the chances?

It is possible we moved to someone's seat who just did not have enough English to ask us to move. In any case, Evelyn waited until we had passed all the suburban Helsinki stops and were scheduled to run non-stop for a while before going to the cafe car for coffee and an exceptionally greasy doughnut.

Finland was able to escape being absorbed into the Soviet Union, as is abundantly obvious just by looking out the train window. Get out of the city and you do *not* move into poverty. You don't see *any* ramshackle chicken farms. To all outward appearances the Finnish economy was, is, and will be prosperous. You see more poverty from a train window while traveling in England or the United States.

Eventually the train came to a stop at Kupittaa. That is about four kilometers from Turku. Hannu was there to meet us. He somehow recognized us. Well, first of all, we had sent him a description, but also we were the only tourists with luggage to get off at this basically industrial stop outside Turku.

Mark explains, "Actually, I can say in a little more detail what is happening. The United States has the highest concentration of organized science fiction fandom and the greatest number of communities, by a wide margin. Fan groups in Scandinavia are more widely separated, often with international borders between them. The Internet is nothing more or less than a device for removing distance concerns from information exchange. From my office at work I can inter-office-mail a memo and it will get three offices away in about a half a day. Or I can post a review on the Internet and it will get to Finland in about a half an hour. You are two jumps from massive libraries of news, information, or literature. THE MIDWICH CUCKOOS (a.k.a. THE VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED) was about a group of children who all share the same experience. What one finds out they all know. That was how we got a lot of the information we needed for this trip. For hotels in Stockholm we could tap into people who live in Stockholm. They tap into Evelyn's knowledge of books and mine of film. And when we travel seven time zones from home, there are people interested in meeting us."

Anyway we ended up being treated like royalty the whole time. Hannu took us first to his apartment. Immediately you could tell this looked like it belonged to a science fiction fan. The shelves are full of science fiction books, magazines, comics, and--a related interest-- war games.

We dropped off our bags and Hannu served a meal more elaborate than we were ready for, including yoghurt, herring, cheese, vegetables, and a lot more we did not try.

At 10:00 we went to Turku Castle, the major historical site of Turku. In fact, it was the only site in Turku that we had gone to in 1986, but since then they have renovated it. Actually, "renovated" is probably the wrong word; they had done a lot of work on it and there were a lot more parts open and displays within. It is a huge medieval castle turned into a huge museum. The floor space must be at a minimum 50% larger than any other museum we have seen this trip and probably more. Of course, the biggest exhibit was the castle itself with its vaulted ceilings and many restored rooms.

And of course there are models of what Turku Castle looked like at various times in its past.

In the rooms there is much of what you would expect. You see a collection of arms, you see paintings of some of the incredibly ugly people who lived in the castle. Some of these people were very powerful, no doubt, but the artists who painted the portraits had the last laugh. One hall showed 19th and 20th Century fashions for women.

It took us about three hours to see the entire castle and we *know* we didn't spend that much time the last trip.

This must be the time of year for school field trips. The whole trip, wherever we went of public interest there was always a mob of kids, particularly if it was a weekday. In the art museum in Helsinki there was a mob of clearly disinterested students intentionally stamping around on the floors to hear the echo and otherwise alleviate the extraordinary boredom that fine art represents to the disinterested. In that museum there were kids making comments on what they were seeing in English to try out the language--very relevant stuff like, "The case is plastic," or, "Oh, cool." One punk-looking kid in a Mohawk haircut looked at Mark's beard and stroked his chin like he had a beard. Mark cupped his hand and stroked the top of his head like he had a Mohawk. It took the punkish kid a second to catch on, then he saw his classmates laughing and he laughed too. This was a clear victory.

Our next stop was the Handicrafts Museum, a combination open-air museum and crafts fair. It was one of the few sections of Turku that survived the 1827 fire that pretty much destroyed the city. (Most such museums are buildings that have been found elsewhere and moved to the museum location.) Since craftspeople lived in this section before, the idea in the 1940s was to turn this into an open-air museum and show people doing their crafts. However, it was only nominally open today. Nearly half the grounds were roped off. Most of the rest was padlocked. For maybe a quarter of the buildings could you actually go inside the buildings. They had a grand total of one craftsperson to be seen. She seemed to be making fur linings for shoes. To call this museum "open" and collect a full admission was less than totally honest. (This, of course, was pretty much the same story as the similar museum in Riga.)

From there we returned to Hannu's place for lunch, which was effectively the same buffet as breakfast, and a rest. The lunch was welcome as we were ready to face this much food now. Also, Mark had awakened at 3:30 in the morning, could not sleep, and since then had walked around two museums, one which was actually very interesting but proved to have the floor area of Staten Island, while Evelyn's foot was also starting to bother her. She doesn't know if this was related to her twisting her ankle in India or is just a coincidence that it is the same foot. She always carries her suitcase on that side, so that may cause uneven pressure.

Mark says the reason he'd been up so early was a combination of nerves and coughing. He'd come this far in the trip and had not gotten sick, then the last day in Helsinki he caught cold. So to get an idea of how he felt, he says you should rent a copy of the film WHITE ZOMBIE--he was pretty much in the state of the title character. A little desperate, he took one of his caffeine pills, carefully cut in half, which he had brought in case of jet lag. He'd had no jet lag, but now needed the caffeine. Mark is not used to caffeine since he is neither a coffee nor a tea drinker.

Next we went to the local maritime museum. It is mostly ship models, but there was on an upper floor a nice collection of mathematical and astronomical instruments. (The brochure says the museum has to do with early astrology, but we're sure they mean astronomy.) Turku seems to be a town that respects mathematics. They recently paid some artist to give the city a unique landmark and he'd put in big electrically-lit letters the Fibonacci sequence on a smokestack. That sequence is a mathematical structure probably more intriguing than Rubik's Cube.

Back at Hannu's place we cleaned up a bit, then went to dinner. (Evelyn says she doesn't know if the Finns normally eat this much this frequently, or just think Americans do.) Mark had salmon; Evelyn had beef in mocha sauce. One of the things we talked about was crime. Hannu would not want to travel like we do because he is concerned about the crime rate in the Baltic republics. Evelyn had noticed that people in Finland don't lock their bicycles. Hannu says there is no point: the bicycle will be stolen lock and all. If you lock the bicycle to something that cannot be moved, they will just cut the lock.

Hannu says he would not travel to the Baltic republics because of the high crime level, but even in the United States we seem to kill tourists. Mark responds, "He's right and he's wrong. There definitely is a danger in traveling. But it is a very low probability and one that you can manipulate very easily. There are ways to be cautious. When I travel nothing that could be sold for a quick or high profit is reachable outside my line of sight. And it is not visible. Wallets are in an inside pocket. The only thing that is valuable that I sometimes have out in the open is Thing. (The only thing I have to lose is Thing itself?) Thing is usually also in an inside pocket, but occasionally is put in an outside pocket when I have just used it and plan to use it again. But how many pickpockets seeing Thing would realize it is valuable and know where to fence it? My wallet is less valuable but I have to be much more careful with it. My passport is in a nylon bag on a string around my neck and it is almost always under at least one layer of clothing."

You aren't completely safe with these precautions, but you lower the odds of trouble tremendously. That is the answer to Hannu about why to lock the bicycle if thieves have bolt cutters. It is a much smaller percentage of thieves.

Well, from there we went to the meeting, which is actually in a restaurant hall which has a side room with a cafe where the society meets. There must have been about fifteen people who showed up, which is lower than their usual number, but summer is coming on and the turnout is lower. Also this was a Wednesday night, where they usually meet on Fridays. Jussi-Ville Heiskanen, a fan who we have frequently seen at conventions, heard we would be there and bussed in from Helsinki. We have been trying to tell Hannu we are nothing special. (Mark insists that is more true for him than for Evelyn--she is at least a Hugo nominee.) Mark says, "I write for a tiny audience. Humor I write for the AT&T science fiction fanzine and that does not make it to the Net. Trip logs I write basically to myself. Film reviews I write predominantly for the fanzine, but more to myself just to put my thoughts in order about what I thought about a film. Then I figure that as long as the stuff is already written, I might as well post it to the Net. And the fact that I write and let people look over my shoulder by posting to the Net means that people in Finland actually discuss my opinions. And if it happens here it is probably happening other places in Europe and the Middle East. I know it happens in Australia and New Zealand. Now that I know that, I will do my best to forget it. I do get stage fright."

Well, we had each prepared about twenty minutes to speak but we ramble (as should be obvious from this log), and we could get conversation with the others there, so together we talked for about three hours. And it was absolutely painless. Mark was amazed. "Three hours! You always used to hear on television entertainers say how terrific the audience had been. That never made sense to me. How much could an audience affect the goings-on--as long as they don't throw rotten fruit? Well, I guess now I have a much better idea. If I had a lectern and no audience feedback, I might have had twenty minutes of material."

Evelyn talked about how travel is like science fiction, particularly first contact stories. For example, when immigrants came to Ellis Island around 1900, they were met with strange customs and strange foods. When they were given a watermelon they thought it was just a giant zucchini (after all, everything is bigger in America), and cooked it! Of course, in science fiction stories they figure out an entire alien civilization in a week, whereas Evelyn says she's lucky if she can figure out the telephone.

One woman sitting at a table (there were a bunch of large tables and we were sitting behind one in the corner) had a tremendous background in science fiction and cinema and classical music and opera. And she added a whole lot to the congeniality of the situation.

After three hours people had to start getting back. One of the audience members had asked what we thought of the film HIGHLANDER. This is a film that had fantasy, rock music, visuals, and fighting. For the American version they wanted to cut the length, so they cut all the scenes that added interest value to the fantasy. It was wretched. Mark had mentioned in his talk that he would like someday to see the European release version. The fan who had asked the question had a videotape and asked if we'd like to see it. It was about 22:15 so it was a bit late to start films but it also was a real opportunity for something Mark had been anxious to see and compare. Mark said if people were willing he would like that. They brought the tape to Hannu's apartment.

As Mark describes it, "The story is basically about one of a group of immortals who have to fight until all but one are dead. But what was cut out was seventeen minutes about what it is to be an immortal and out-live all your loved ones. It was all the intelligence and human interest in the film. It was all the difference between an okay film and a bad film. It is really insulting to the American audience to decide that that part was unimportant."

"After the film we discussed some notes I'd made on the film until about 1:00. We had to get up at 4:45 to take a bus to Helsinki to make our plane for Stockholm, so we called it quits," he finishes.

May 26, 1994: Our watch alarms woke us at 4:45. We had a quick breakfast and then caught a bus. The fans in Turku had really been terrific to us, and we felt especially bad that Hannu had to get up so early to take us to the bus, but he insisted it was okay as he could come back and get some more sleep afterwards.

This whole thing was an example of why we don't like to lock in our travel plans. We had booked our Helsinki-to-Stockholm tickets before we realized we'd be in Turku, or we would have booked them from Turku instead. We could have still taken the ferry from Turku to Stockholm, but we didn't think of that, and as it turned out, getting to Stockholm early was a good idea (the ferry wouldn't have docked until late afternoon).

The bus driver collects the fare and prints out a ticket right there. He has a sort of battery-operated ticket machine. Similarly, in the restaurant the previous night Hannu paid with a credit card at the table and the waitress ran his card through a portable machine that printed his credit slip. In a lot of ways Finland seems more technologically advanced than the United States.

It was about a two-hour bus ride back to Helsinki. Mark pulled his hat down over his eyes and pretended to sleep, hoping to fool himself more than others (he claims) but he did not get much sleep.

The airport has spotless floors. A woman rides back and forth on a go-cart that has dust mops in front and behind. The woman just rides to mop the floor.

In the Helsinki, we had exchanged our remaining FIM 62, getting only 66 Swedish kronor (SEK) because of a hefty commission. In Stockholm we exchanged another US$200 for SEK 1511, a more reasonable rate. (This was 7.55 SEK per US dollar; the rate from Visa was 7.74 SEK per US dollar.)

There were ham-and-cheese sandwiches on the plane and little Milky Way candy bars. It is surprising how much you see of Mars candy in Europe. I have yet to see a Nestle or Hershey product. Mars candy bars are heavily advertised and available in every country we have visited.


Customs and passport checks were nominal. Speaking of advertising, we took an ad for the Apple Powerbook from the airport to the center of Stockholm. It had wheels and seats like a bus, but it was painted outside as an ad for the Powerbook computer. Inside a display ran a constant ad for Powerbook and in front of each seat was a brochure for the same computer.

Stockholm was rainy and cold. It was 7 degrees Centigrade--not as bad as Estonia but not really comfortable either.

We went to the hotel booking office to get a hotel and hit the one nightmare of self-arranged tours. (What is the Swedish for "no room at the inn"?) Stockholm is having a famous horse race (which is especially commemorating the centennial of the Royal Stables this year), one of the world's largest women's bicycle races, and the Leepers, all in one weekend. This was why the youth hostel failed to find a room. The hotel booking office wanted to tell us they could not find anything (and indeed, another tourist who had called all the low-end hotels listed in the "Lonely Planet" guide had had no success either). Finally they found a room for one night at SEK 1250 (about US$165!) per night at a place called the Memory Hotel. (Good name! Soon it will be a memory.) The place turns out to be a business hotel in an industrial park way outside of Stockholm. We have to do some fancy figuring fast about what we're going to do about the remaining three nights. We take the T-bana (subway) to the stop near it and have a cold wet walk to find the place in the rain.

We are not really ready for a US$165-per-night luxury hotel after three weeks of dusty travel. The hotel is very nice to us. The guests who pass us stare a bit. The hotel agrees that if it is possible they will have us stay two nights, but the weekend is right out.

One problem with setting up plans for the remaining three nights is that we had arranged to meet some fans on Saturday night, which we'll have to cancel if we go to another town on an overnight train (Mark's idea). We agree if we're going to do that, Goteberg is a good choice-- we could go on an overnight train, stay one night there, and return via another overnight train. Another possibility is to try to find a hotel room in Uppsala, about an hour by train from Stockholm. But Evelyn is more hoping that Swedish fandom will bail us out. We'd been offered four nights by Ahrvid Engholm, but told him no, we definitely would not impose. Evelyn is regretting that. Evelyn leaves a phone message for Ahrvid on his machine: "Help!"

We took our umbrellas and went to explore the local mall, about five minutes' walk away and the only place of interest in the immediate area. It was still raining and we expected to go to sleep early, so it didn't make sense to go back into Stockholm, since it was already 15:00, but we wanted to do something and also to find someplace to eat other than the hotel. Eh! We went to a bookstore but couldn't find a science fiction section, though we did see a few science fiction books.

We had dinner at a place called Levinsky's that was trying desperately to have an American, 50s, rock-and-roll, burger-hop look. Above the menu was a picture of a plate of a hamburger with two paper American flags sticking in it over a New York Times with pictures of Ike and Mamie Eisenhower.

We weren't looking for something so American, but it seemed to be the restaurant with the most substantial food. Mark had a chili-burger. The chili was made with vegetarian baked beans--which is strange, but it was still a nice meal. Evelyn had a Greek salad. The bill, with sodas, came to SEK 91 (about US$12), certainly cheaper than the hotel restaurant would have been.

Mark mentions, "One of the pieces of wacky American decor was an airplane fuselage stuck as if the plane had crashed through the roof. I have seen that done before and am not quite sure of the message. Here it was done uniquely. The plane was at an upward angle as if it had crashed going upward through the ceiling."

Speaking of crashing, we went back to the room to write in our logs after exploring the mall and the lack of sleep caught up with us. We slept better than three hours, from about 17:00 to 20:00.

Oh, two comments about the hotel: The front lobby has a mascot. He's a very small, very naked-looking dog. (He looks a lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger's dog in TRUE LIES.) He is only about nine inches (twenty centimeters) long and looks much smaller. He is also a nervous wreck with all the people and big suitcases that go around him. You walk by him and he jumps. Also, the hotel found space for us for Friday night, so we have only two nights to find rooms for.

Sometime around 20:00, Ahrvid called. He had found a place for us to stay Saturday night with someone named Jorgen and was sure he could find us a hotel room for Sunday night. He also thought the overnight trains wouldn't be very comfortable, but we suspect they would have been at least as comfortable as those in the Baltic states or India. We decided this made staying in Stockholm doable, and decided we'd worry about Sunday night later, so we made arrangements to meet Ahrvid Friday morning.

Log-writing was the order of the evening. We'd bought a bottle of lemonade at the mall. Mark had taken a mouthful and discovered it was concentrate. Luckily we had another bottle, but it is tough to do the mixing.

Mark was up writing until after midnight.

May 27, 1994: We were both up about 5:00 and were log-writing, but were able to fall back asleep. Breakfast was included in the room. It was very good but nothing really unusual, except for the little tins of caviar paste. The kind of caviar you get in sushi restaurants is little discrete red-orange fish eggs, the size depending on the breed of fish. Flying fish and one other kind of fish make the eggs you get in sushi. This was just a sort of pink paste. The expensive stuff, Baluga, is black. We've never tried that and it is unlikely to show up free on the breakfast buffet of any hotel we could ever afford.

Well, when Evelyn talked to Ahrvid, he had suggested that we get together at a talk called "Multimedia, Mass Media, and Trends in Youth Culture." It was being given by an American, Ken Goffman. That was to be at 10:30. Since we were going to be in Stockholm the rest of our trip, we decided to get a three-day metro pass, which turned out to be a wise decision. (We just wanted to mention that once in a while we make the right choice.)

We made it to the talk late but it started later. On the way we took little looks at the "world's longest art exhibit." That is, they turned the T-bana (subway) stations in exhibitions of art. Two problems: The first is that you run through them so fast and don't know where to look to see the art. The second is that when you do stop to look, the art has features that the artists never intended, such as empty cans of Heineken. Subway stations often invite the wrong sort of art patron.

Mark says say that people seem a little more cheerful have than in the Baltic republics. Certainly more people smile.

We got to the Institute for Journalism, Media, and Communications (JMK) of the Stockholm Univerity about five minutes late, but the talk didn't start until about ten minutes after that. Ahrvid saw us arrive and introduced himself. (We'd only corresponded on the Net.) He hadn't had a chance to call hotels for Sunday night, but said if necessary we could stay at Jorgen's two nights instead of just one.

Goffman himself (who also goes by the name "R. U. Sirius") is what some people erroneously call short. As Mark describes him, "He is about 5 feet 6 inches (170 centimeters) tall--about my height. He wears his hair to about 2 CUs and has no beard, or he would look like me. I wear my hair to about 0.4 CU, which means only about down to my ears. (A CU is a measure of hair length. Just like by definition the earth is 1 AU--astronomical unit--from the sun--93,000,000 miles or 150,000,000 kilometers, by definition someone with one CU of hair wears it about down to their chin. Goffman's hair is about twice the length of his head, so it is 2 CUs.)"

We may describe Goffman's talk in a separate article, but at the rate it took us to get this typed in, who knows? Curiously, it concerned some of what we talked about in this log: little pockets of fame for people who produce art or reviews for a small audience over the Internet or distributed otherwise.

Ahrvid invited us to have lunch with him and hear him interview Goffman. We'd had a big breakfast so we had only Coca-Colas. The interview covered much the same ground as the talk, though other aspects, and we did get to hear a little about Goffman's background. We'd gone to a cafeteria and Goffman had gotten a hamburger and fries. The hamburger he took off the plate, tore in half, and laid on the tray. He then salted the plate and rubbed fries in the salt. The burger he alternately broke pieces off of and ate, or picked up the entire half and ate it.

Ahrvid had the afternoon free, so asked what we wanted to see and hosted us. Everyone here is treating us so well--we wish we had some way to reciprocate. But few European fans seem to come to the United States for vacation, and an even smaller number come to New Jersey. Actually, to the best of our knowledge, *no* European fans come to New Jersey, although one did express an interest in Atlantic City.

Ahrvid writes professionally for computer magazines about PCs and the Internet. He also reads the Internet Nordic, science fiction, and (curiously) urban folklore groups, the last of which somehow Mark says he thinks of as an American group. It is devoted to these stories that crop up and people actually believe, but which are really complete fabrications, such as the $250 cookie recipe, the family that thought they were adopting a small dog except it turned out to be a large South American rat, the leopard carcass near the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and the suppressed engine that runs on water.

Our first stop was the aquarium. It was actually a fairly small aquarium with something like eight exhibits, though some are fairly complex. The first is a rain forest lake. The room is kept at a temperature of something like 38 degrees Centigrade. Coming in from the street the first thing that happens is your eyeglasses steam up completely. Among the fish are a small manta ray, of which Mark says, "I would not have thought a manta ray would be found in a lake, but I could easily be wrong." Although it looks like a single body of water, it is divided under the surface into discrete sections which are populated by various kinds of fish that might not get along if they were in the same section. This exhibit is on a ten-minute cycle. It is sunny, night falls and it rains heavily, then it gets light again. (The museum-goers are under a porch roof, so they don't get drenched.) Evelyn notes, "The sprinklers that create the rainstorm are not aligned, so the rainstorm effect is somewhat weakened by the fact that the falling rain is going in multiple directions. Yes, here I am in an aquarium in Stockholm, criticizing the special effects. Maybe I've been away from movies too long."

There is a small mangrove swamp (about one by three meters and not very swampy looking--it looked more like a cement pool). (Those of you of a certain age from the United States may be reminded of the old television show "The Beverly Hillbillies" and their "see-ment pond.") There was also a nice ocean exhibit with lemon sharks. There was a section you could crawl through and have water above, below, beneath, and on both sides of you so that you can see the sharks from all angles.

They also had a living coral reef, maybe the best exhibit there. The plants and animals that inhabit a coral reef (and telling which are the plants and which the animals is not easy) are so beautiful and so alien-looking. It's almost as if you're looking at another planet. In WONDERFUL LIFE Stephen Jay Gould talks about the weird creatures that died off shortly after the time of the Burgess Shale (about 500 million years ago), but to a person not trained in biology, the corals, anemones, and who knows what else in all shapes and colors are quite weird enough. One creature (plant? group of creatures?) looked like a cluster of segmented pale green tentacles attached to a rock and waving and pulsating as if preparing to attack--in some strange fashion]--the next fish that swam too close. And the corals are not those stiff rock-like things you see in the shops at the beaches. When they're alive they are flexible and, well, alive-looking.

Compared to other aquaria, this one seems very small. This would be a minor addition to the Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) or the Monterey (California) aquarium. SEK 40 (about US$5.50) is a fairly hefty price for such a small museum. You can see the entire aquarium in maybe forty minutes. (There will also be an exhibit of a Swedish mountain lake, but it wasn't completed yet.)

Another complaint Mark has is the lack of English in the descriptions. Well, he says he cannot really complain, but it is the lack of a positive feature that would be easy to add. In this part of Europe English and German are the languages of tourism. Many of the tourists in this city speak English. You hear English a lot on the streets. It is a minor expense to have someone go through and translate the signs into English, type them up on paper, and glue the paper to the wall near the exhibit, or just put it inside display cases (well, not in the aquarium, but elsewhere). There are certainly enough people who know English that well. Several of the museums we've seen have done that to give us English in a quick and dirty way, but it works. Others will put an English description of all the items on sheets of paper and put them by the door so that you can pick them up and carry them around the room, then return them. (Of course, we had Ahrvid to translate the descriptions, but not every tourist gets a personal guide.)

Of course, New York City museums are probably no better, but they certainly should be.

Following the aquarium we headed toward the Vasa Museum. Ahrvid suggested we stop at the boat museum we were passing. This was really just one big room with small boats of the last hundred years. Especially featured is the king's ceremonial boat with lots of gold paint. Other things they had were steam-driven boats from the 1880s that looked like fugitives from THE SIGN OF THE FOUR. There also were some torpedoes.

Well, last time we visited, the Vasa was in a smaller museum in a different place (in fact, where the aquarium is now). Now it is in a much larger museum. And everything is labeled in English, French, German, Spanish, and Japanese, as well as in Swedish--at least everything pertaining directly to the ship. (Some of the other exhibits may not have been so variously translated.) This is because the Wasa Museum seems to be the main tourist attraction in Stockholm. It's sort of like Lithuania picking Darius and Girenas as their national heroes: the Swedish pick their biggest naval disaster as their main tourist draw. But we have to agree--this is the museum I would recommend to people going to Stockholm (although as we discovered later, the Telemuseum may be a better choice for the people we work with).

But a little of the history first: In the early 1600s, Gustav II Adolf wanted to show his support for the Protestant side in the Thirty Years' War. He commissioned a great warship to be built. The ship was designed and partially built when the King said, "No, I want it bigger. Add another deck and more guns."

"It wasn't designed for another deck and more guns."

"Well, conditions have changed."

So a taller and more magnificent boat was built instead. Not everybody thought that changing the spec was such a great idea, but the King is, after all, the King.

So in 1628 the day to launch came and the Vasa was a magnificent ship that would strike terror into the hearts of the Catholics. It hit the water and looked beautiful. Then a breeze came up and it started listing to one side. But it righted itself straight up again, and continued over to list on the other side. It almost fell over sideways. Water filled its gun ports and the huge hull filled with water and fell to the bottom. Most on board drowned. For a while the mast stuck out of the water as a monument to the changed specification. In time it was removed.

In the 20th Century the Vasa was resurrected in a remarkable feat of nautical archaeology. Today the Vasa is the center of a museum to 17th Century sailing. Ramps go up beside the ship to let you see the carvings and the scale of the ship.

IBM helped in the project to resurrect the ship and also in equipping the new museum. They have computer displays to show you what happened to the Vasa and to let you try out different ship designs to see if you can design a more stable ship. It is not easy, but you learn something about ship stability in the process.

From there the three of us walked a bit, got rained on a bit, and finally had dinner. Ahrvid was not sure where was a good place to eat in this part of town, but he found one place that didn't look too bad. Ahrvid described pytt i panna, a locally popular dish. It sounded a lot like, and turned out to be, corned beef hash. Evelyn had a lax (lox) special.

After that Ahrvid was to lead us to the T-bana stop, but as we passed Kungstradgarden we saw a book sale, so we all took time out and went through that.

We rode the T-bana around for a while just to see some stations and areas we had not yet seen (since it goes above ground outside of the center of the city), then took it back to our hotel. Mostly the sky had been dreary and the subway stations we saw did not have a whole lot of interesting character.

From Mark's log: "Back at the room I should have been writing up the day's activities, but it was Friday night and I decided to veg out and enjoy the high-priced room and the fancy television. I watched MOONLIGHTING for the first time. It used to be a very popular television show, but if this was any sample it was not very good. Then it turned out that THE GODFATHER was being shown. It was up to the first scene of Michael's exile to Sicily. I watched it to the end of the film."

"When that ended, I changed the channel and saw on their commercial television a film that would have gotten a very strong R rating in the United States. It was about a sculptor who was getting emotionally and biologically involved with his model. It apparently had a lot of female nudity and sexual scenes. I was shocked and revolted, of course, and was ready to turn it off when I heard a footstep on the soundtrack that sounded just like one in MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY. Naturally I was curious if the film had the same person who had done the sound effects. Of course, that meant I had to see the end credits and, not knowing how long the film was likely to run, I had to watch the whole shocking and degrading film. And then the ultimate irony was that I missed the very credit I was looking for. I guess it is just as well, since I don't know who did the sound effects for MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY, but I was kicking myself for the waste of time watching this film. I am sure you can imagine. But anyway, it seemed like surprisingly strong stuff for anybody-can-get-it public television. The film was in the English language, by the way, and subtitled in Swedish. Earlier in the trip, when I was in Turku, I was discussing subtitles versus dubbing. This film was a prime example where it makes a difference. Occasionally there was important action at the bottom of the screen and the subtitles covered it up," he concludes.

May 28, 1994: We had breakfast and checked out of the room. They'd lowered the rate to about US$100 per night for the weekend. That was expensive, but not ridiculous.

On the T-bana we sat opposite a biker-type in black leather. Mark says that seems to be a culture that transcends international boundaries.

We got to the train station and checked our luggage in a locker, which entailed going to practically the other end of the station just to get change at the main luggage check (but it made sense to check our bags near the entrance to the T-bana, since we'd be taking them back onto the T-bana tonight). The luggage lockers here are much simpler than those in Lithuania; you close the door, put in your money, and take a key out that will re-open the locker later.

Now, some people told us that this weekend is not some sort of special weekend in Stockholm, but there certainly were a bunch of special events happening all at once. We got to the center of the city and there seemed to be some huge group meeting there, most carrying balloons. We didn't know what that was all about.

There certainly were a lot of people in the streets. As we walked on, we saw a ceremonial procession of horse-drawn carriages go by.

We went through a park which turned out to be the same park where the book sale was going on the previous evening. There were a bunch of art exhibits. One was a VAX 11/780 (a kind of computer we used to work with) and above it various computer-related objects were attached together to form the shape of a ten-foot-tall man. Another piece was container-ship containers--sort of like big box cars--put together like blocks to form a shape like the Arch d'Triomphe. It was called the Art d'Triomphe. There was also a rock band playing rather lackadaisically.

From there we continued around, looking at and photographing impressive-looking state buildings and buildings like the Opera House.

Yet another procession was going through the streets. This one was knights in armor on steeds. Someone was passing out flyers inviting people to a free tournament at the Medieval Museum, which would also have free admission this day to celebrate its tenth anniversary. (And it wasn't even Wednesday!)

We continued on the walking tour, seeing the Crown Prince's house, the Royal Palace, the Parliament House, and other ornamented buildings of state. It really is a nice-looking city.

We stopped in a square to get an ice cream. Amnesty (whom we know as Amnesty International) was trying to get people to send postcards to various world leaders accused of ignoring human rights. We told them we were members, signed a card, and gave them a contribution.

Leaving the square we came to the local statue of St. George and the Dragon. Old G&D seem to be popular just about everywhere this trip. In fact, everywhere from Britain to Russia there seem to be statues, paintings, and icons of G&D. And Mark says that like Martin & Lewis or Abbott & Costello, it's the guy with second billing who is the real powerhouse behind the team. The world is full to over-flowing with dragonless saints and they just don't get the same treatment. Godzilla makes it very nicely without a saint, you may note. People tolerate George, but it's the dragon they like. We know we don't spend a whole lot of time looking at old George. Stockholm has a particularly nice dragon, dead or alive.

We continued threading our way through shops, stopping at a very good science fiction shop, SF-Bokhandeln at Stora Nygatan 45 in Gamla Stan. Evelyn says it is as good as the science fiction shops in the New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles areas. Of course the books are fairly expensive, this being Scandinavia, but it's still *the* place to go for science fiction fans.

We decided we would go to the tournament and arrived there about ten minutes early. From a distance we saw a huge swarm of people going through the streets with posters about how much they love Jesus. Mark writes, "Now I really don't have any objections to people loving Jesus, even people of the same sex Jesus was. But I think it should be strictly on a 'don't ask, don't tell' basis. I just feel a little uncomfortable having them looking at my beliefs and perhaps trying to make a move on me or my loved ones. They do seem to want to recruit people. I'd prefer not to be in a really confined space, like a submarine, with one. And I think it is a little ... well, distasteful, having them parading around streets flaunting their proclivities. Well, let me change the subject because it does make me feel a little ill at ease."

A little later the tournament started but for a while it was just some guy in medieval dress talking in some foreign language. From the way it sounded and from the reaction of the crowd Mark deduced the language was Swedish since, as he put it, "There is a unique sound to Swedish that we linguistics experts refer to as 'the thing they made fun of on the "Muppet Show."' It is interesting that while the 'Muppet Show' tried to be good-natured, wholesome entertainment for the most part, they did pick Swedes out to hold up for to ridicule. The Swedes got angry. And they had a good point, that really it is not nice to make fun of Swedes, but they over-reacted to many people's opinion by deciding to send a warship against the United States in retaliation. They loaded it chock-full of heavy guns and missiles and sent it out to protect Swedish honor with cold steel. A few minutes after it was launched it started listing to starboard and sank right there. The very contrite head of the Joint Chiefs of the military had to go to the King and remind him that there were sound Swedish military considerations that are the reason Sweden remains a neutral nation. The whole incident was hushed up and only one crusading newspaper got the story, and even there it was over-shadowed by the revelation that two former United States Presidents were actually space aliens, but that nobody knew which two."

Anyway, the announcer said something that did not go over well with the crowd. Mark was afraid that he knew what he told them and it turned out he was right, unfortunately. Apparently the police had decided that some old law on the books had to be enforced and none of the competitions could be to the death. A bunch of the locals left but, heck, how often do we get to see any sort of tournament? About the only tournaments we get an opportunity to see are bridge tournaments and the only deaths there are from spectator boredom.

There were only four horses with riders. Two of the riders were obviously women, though they did their best to hide it. The events were mostly things like picking up Styrofoam bricks on lances. This is a new event due to a severe shortage of Styrofoam that lasted most of the Middle Ages. There was also an event of picking up rings with lances. This was traditionally performed mostly with brass rings from wooden merry-go-rounds. There was a great tradition of reaching for the brass ring, so much so that "reaching for the brass ring" became a metaphor for going for success. That has gone out of common parlance after the metaphor became "suing the amusement park after your kid fell off his horse while going for the brass ring."

Anyway, the tournament lasted about forty minutes. From there Mark suggested we finish the walking tour before going into the museum, since *everyone* else was going into the museum at this point. (And who knew how long the walking tour would remain open?) About all that was left was to see the City Hall from across the Norrstrom. It is a nice view.

We returned to the Medieval Museum. They were selling mead and lingonberry juice on the way in. Evelyn likes mead, so Mark suggested that she get some. He decided not to try the lingonberry juice because it was a bit pricey.

To understand completely lingonberries, take everything you know about cranberries and replace the word "cran" with "lingon" and change all geographical references from North American sites to Swedish sites. Oh, yes, lingonberries are smaller, about the size of currants. Swedes make lingonberry juice, lingonberry sauce, and lingonberry jam. We can't vouch for whether lingonberry juice is thought to be good for kidney stones. They served the wine and juice from big kegs with a tap on the hidden side. Mark sat on the hidden side and got a picture of the plastic bottles in the phoney keg shells.

Oh, what is in the museum itself? You come in through a section of medieval canal tunnel. (Mark immediately recognized the museum from our last trip.) You see cathedral furnishings. You walk under cathedral arches in a section with mirrors on either so it looks like you are in a huge vaulted room with exceptionally handsome people off to your left and right. Other exhibits include a piece of the old city wall in its original position. (This plot of land was going to be a parking garage until while digging they found the wall and decided to make it a museum.) Other things you see are runestones and an almost complete boat. (We are not totally clear on the process by which an entire boat twenty feet long becomes abandoned and buried in the center of what was even then a major city of its time. Is there some point at which it is half-buried?) They have exhibits of what the city looked like at the time of the Hanseatic League. The latter had a small re-creation of a building to climb through. There was also an exhibit of the negative excesses that gave the Middle Ages a bad name (i.e., the Dark Ages). There were shackles and crude instruments of torture that would be refined and improved during the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment. The museum starts with some English but it really peters out. For some of the exhibits we had to do some guessing as to what we were seeing.

After that we left and did a little light shopping waiting until it was time to go to dinner. We bought a CD of Swedish classical music. And we explored some department stores, looking for gift ideas.

The plan for the evening was to get together with a group of Stockholm science fiction fans. They were going to meet us at Tre Backer (a bar) that evening. We took the trolley and went to the designated location. We met Ahrvid there about 17:55 and the bar opened (late) about 18:05. About six or seven people showed up and we talked till about 22:00 about travel and computers and science fiction fandom in Baltic Europe. Ahrvid was there and two different people named Jorgen and two different people named Magnus, but only one Holger. While the Turku group seemed like students, grad students, and people close to the University, these people seemed a little older on average and were either professionals or were out of work. Jorgen Stadje was interested to try out the keyboard on Thing. Mark bought a bottle of wine for the table, but in large part for Jorgen S., who had agreed to let us stay at his condo overnight. Mark got a decent wine, though he says that being a total non-alcohol drinker, his knowledge of wine is zero to eight decimal places. The bottle he got was Soave Something. He also got a plate of nachos for the table. They were terrible. They came with generous dollops of salsa, guacamole, and sour cream, but the chips had no cheese and were burnt in places. We later found out that they usually did come with cheese. We are not sure why we didn't get any.

Mark writes, "I talked for a while to Jorgen Forsberg. He had been an engineer who designed some networking for PCs. Suddenly he and a friend started getting big contracts for networking and were making very good money. Then IBM came along and took over the market and he was out of work. He now helps to manage the science fiction bookshop that we'd seen earlier that day."

We also joined this year's Baltcon (a Baltic science fiction convention) as supporting members with the 20 Lt that we found in a pocket after we had left Lithuania. (Supporting membership was US$3, but since the convention was to be held in Vilnius, we figured we could pay in litu.)

After the meeting broke up we bid goodbye to Ahrvid, who had helped us a lot. We went with Jorgen S. to get our checked luggage at the train station, and then took a bus to his house.

As Mark writes in his log, "Jorgen is a large man in his 30s. He has one crossed eye which makes it a little difficult to know exactly how to maintain eye contact with him when talking to him. A look at his house or a few minutes talking to him both lead to the same conclusion: this guy has an incredible intellect and is good at doing a tremendous number of things. He is a computer contractor, he writes about computers, and he translates English-language computer books into Swedish. He could forget 90% of what he knows about computers and still qualify as a wizard. He is also into photography and is extremely good at it. He is a fairly proficient carpenter. He has very refined tastes in classical music and opera. (And he likes Puccini!) This is a man who does things his own way and figures things out. He also seems to be a good friend of Ralph Lundsten, a sort of Swedish New Age composer who has been chosen to do all the music for the United Nations 50th Anniversary ceremonies. Jorgen designs the CD packages for Lundsten's music. He also does some traveling. He did a contract job in Bahrain. We were up past midnight talking."

May 29, 1994: Jorgen claimed to be a late sleeper but he was up before 9:00. We had a small breakfast of bread, tea, butter, orange juice, and horse meat. ("Okay, I heard that! Somebody just made gagging noises. The reason horse meat sounds disgusting in the United States is that it is made to the culinary aesthetic of dogs, the majority of whom can be expected to have less than totally refined palates. Horse meat is fine. It is dog food that is disgusting. Dogs wouldn't eat it if they had something better to choose." Or so claims Mark, at any rate.)

One of the things we talked about was Mars candy bars. He thought they were made by a Dutch company since the bars he eats were made in Holland. We were under the impression Mars was an American company, but we couldn't be absolutely sure. Later investigation indicated that indeed Mars was an American company.)

Jorgen saw us to the bus. Ahrvid had called about two dozen hotels the day before and finally had been able to get us reservations for Sunday night at a hotel called the Gustav Vasa. We took the T-bana to the hotel.

Mark says he should comment on the noise made by traffic lights for pedestrians. It is different in Sweden than in Finland. When you are not supposed to walk, the whole light pole will tap slowly to give the effect of waiting whole a clock ticks off seconds. When the signal is to walk, the tapping suddenly speeds up to give the effect of little mouse feet scurrying.

The Hotel Gustav Vasa is old without having acquired an iota of charm. The rooms are ugly and surprisingly dirty. Ours is laid out long and narrow as if it was an afterthought. The wallpaper is beige with brown stains of who knows what vintage. The room is furnished with a shortwave radio that looks like it was made in 1940 and perhaps broke in 1945. Knobs are missing and seem to have left when the radio was in the "on" position, but plugging the radio in has no effect. The sink overhangs the toilet, so one must sit on it bent over or turned to one side. It costs SEK 490 (US$67) a night. We were lucky to get a room, but Mark cannot say he was really thrilled by our room. (Evelyn was a bit more forgiving, or perhaps just less observant.)

We wanted to go to the Technical Museum (Techniska museet). We took the T-bana to the center of town. We had to find the stop for bus 69. Mark considered the technique of writing "69?" on a piece of paper and asking someone, but decided it was not a good idea. He says he might have gotten his teeth knocked down his throat.

We did find the bus on our own. But then it didn't seem to go to the right places. We were not the only ones confused. Finally the bus driver explained in two languages that there was this women's bicycle race, and the road going to the museum had been closed off for their use. Oh, yes! It got us again. Just about now the skies that had been getting blacker and blacker let go with a cold wet rain.

Well, we could get off the bus at its nearest point to the museum and decided to walk in the rain, not knowing if the museum was open or not.

Mark adds, "Our one consolation was that the stupid bicycle riders who'd caused all this had to race in the rain. I had no sympathy."

It was a long, cold, wet walk but indeed the Technical Museum was open. And what a little honey this museum turned out to be! It was a huge science museum with some very interesting exhibits. It has a subset museum as big as the first called the Telemuseum, a museum devoted to communications. It was all in Swedish, but that was good or we'd never have gotten through it all. In the telephone section it had old telegraphs, old telephones, and more telephone switches than you can imagine. Then they did the same with radio and television and teletype. They had exhibits of old radio and television shows. They showed you old radio stations and television stations--not just photographs but the actual equipment. They had an amateur radio shack there and exhibits of CB radio.

They had in the other part (the main Technical Museum) exhibits of chemistry and wood production and printing, the latter two coming together. After all the little tiny museums we'd seen, particularly at the high Stockholm prices, this was a relatively inexpensive museum (SEK 25 each) and we ran out of time long before we could run out of museum.

However, the museum closed at 16:00 and we were chased out. Near the museum was the television transmitter, a 39-story building. The 3- day travel pass includes free admission to the observation decks. We went up and got a commanding view of the city. Mark took several pictures, perhaps more than he really needed, but this was the last real site on this trip and he was sorry to let the trip go.

Eventually we came down and caught bus 69. Since the race was over it was running again. We took the bus to the center of the city. We needed a little more money for the last night and getting to the airport the next day. For some reason we were refused by three different ATM machines of different types, all claiming to accept Visa. We finally had to go to the Forex money exchange at the train station, which we exchanged US$90 for SEK 668.5. Then we went back to the hotel.

We picked a restaurant from the "Lonely Planet" guide and went to it. It was closed Sunday and we had to pick a restaurant without a recommendation. That usually has not given us a good restaurant. This time we found a good restaurant. We got a salad and bread. Mark got Wiener Schnitzel with capers and anchovies; Evelyn got pepper steak (not the Chinese kind, but a steak rolled in crushed black pepper) and it was very nice.

Mark writes, "One thing I will not miss going home is the smoke. I am bothered by cigarette smoke. Here almost everywhere you go, in almost every restaurant, somebody sits near you with a smudge-burner. A lot fewer people smoke in the United States and it is beginning to be acknowledged that people who want to avoid smoke should be able to. When I was first working for AT&T there was someone who used to visit my officemate and who used to smoke in my office. I think I asked him not to do it and he didn't seem to care. I declared the office a nonsmoking office and the guy told me I couldn't do that. To be fair, he would now stand in the door holding the smoking cigarette in the aisle. I went to my supervisor to say I wanted a no-smoking office and he said I couldn't do it because it was crating an "us versus them" situation. Things have changed a great deal. Smokers have to go outside the building. Oh, I ran into the person who used to smoke in my office. He eventually gave up smoking, he said. I told him I was impressed. Then he said he had to--he got emphysema."

After that Mark got an ice cream from a corner grocery and we went back to the room.

Mark would have liked to stay up all night, but he felt that in the tiny room the light would have kept disturbing Evelyn. He decided he could get by just limiting his sleep so he was up until 3:00.

May 30, 1994: Breakfast is included with the room. It was wrapped processed cheese, processed cheese spread, and white bread. Also hot chocolate. We checked the drawers as we were leaving and found an old empty brandy bottle. Great place.

We took our last T-bana ride to the Central Station, and put our luggage in a locker. It was Monday again and the train station is again full of school classes on field trips.

About all we had to do today was spend the last of our money on gifts and get to the plane. We took a look at the posters outside the theater where Webber's PHANTOM OF THE OPERA was being performed.

We dropped into a used bookstore, the Cyrano Antikvariat. (It's very convenient for travelers, being about a half a block from the bus station, which is in turn right across from the train station.) Evelyn collects foreign editions of Sherlock Holmes, but had not found any in Swedish. Mark suggested a used bookstore might have some. The books were alphabetical and it wasn't with the mysteries. Evelyn was ready to give up. Just to be sure Mark asked the owner. He claimed there was one there since he had just gotten it. He started looking in a catchall section and Mark found it. "Good," he said. "Evelyn deserves it."

There wasn't much to do but spend our final kronor and we went around the shopping area, getting a piece of crystal for ourselves, buying some gifts, and going into bookstores and picking up some old books and calendars cheap. Evelyn termed this part of the trip "Crystalquest," but she also found another Swedish paperback of Holmes.

We stopped in a cafe and tried their apple strudel (a little pasty), a roll of chocolate filled with whipped cream, and orange juice, and a cup of coffee. A last stop to buy a piece of crystal and we were on our way to the airport. Finally we are getting some nice weather (although it will probably change to rain in another hour or so). The plane flights have been a source of a lot of orange juice. The first leg the snack was a sort of filled pizza bread. The meal on the second leg was stuffed chicken (the purser, who is not strong on English, called it "chicklette"). There was a chocolate tart for dessert and a little pack of Samsoe cheese.

Mark in his role of film reviewer reports, "The movie was THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS--with all the really unpleasant parts snipped out. I saw the film about a month before and there was a disgusting scene about taking care of an invalid and another scene with a child molestation and both were cut out of this version."

Mark had hoped to do some reading on the flight, but as of the time we got on the bus to the airport he had not yet written about the tournament, so he had two days to catch up on and he says he is a slow writer. With the landing about twenty minutes away, he is just now getting caught up in his log. Evelyn, on the other hand, hasn't written about anything since the VAX 11/780, and figures she'll just write it as she types the logs in. The sun is finally setting, having been in sight for the last 22 hours.

The display on the plane says we are twelve minutes from landing (but it is probably more like twenty-two), and a map shows the plane advancing. We are right now over Poughkeepsie, New York. Mark writes, "This flight did seem a little wearing on me. It is funny that the flight from India did not seem that way. It was about as comfortable as anything in India." (Evelyn reminds our readers that Mark was not traveling with a sprained ankle that got larger each hour it couldn't be propped up--which on a plane from India is a lot of hours.)

We were landing just about 17:00 on a Memorial Day and out the window Mark could see the grand finale of a fireworks display. He'd never seen one from this angle before. Neither had Evelyn, but she didn't see this one either.

Well, the landing was just a bit later. This was not one of our better immigration and customs experiences for the United States. The lines were longer and slower than they have been in the past. Also complicating things was a half-hour wait at the luggage carousel. When you see the rate at which new pieces of luggage are introduced to the carousel, it is hard to believe that more than one person is doing the unloading.

Jo Paltin was at the airport to pick up both us and her husband Dale, who must have landed within minutes of when we did.


Our expenses for this trip were as follows:

                      SAS                     2019
                      Pre-Trip Books           100
                      Visas                     60
                      Film and Developing      241
                      Hotels                  1186
                      Train/Boat               179
                      Local Transportation      87
                      Food                     434
                      Misc                     244
                      Crystal                  170
                      TOTAL                  $4720

This is actually less than we spent for two and a half weeks in 1986 on a package tour, though that was entirely in Scandinavia and this was primarily in the much cheaper Baltic States.

Since Evelyn began this log, Mark will finish it:

"I tell people I am not jet-lagged from the trip and it is a small lie. The first morning back I woke up about 5:40. That is about 40 minutes early for me. I found Evelyn in the den, working on the terminal since about 3:30. I think the next couple of mornings I woke up about 6:00."

"My first day back about 90% of my time is affected by having been gone. Well, there is telling people about the trip, and there is cleaning up a huge accumulation of mail. This time there was also reloading programs into Thing."

"I guess for me one of the most surprising aspects of returning home after an international trip is nighttime disorientation. You would think the layout of my bedroom is second nature to me, but it really gets jammed by a trip. I will wake up in the night the first night and think I am still on the trip someplace for a second. Even remembering being home, the bedroom will seem strangely unfamiliar to me. I will have to think where the door is, and where the windows are. It happens almost every time. Coming back from China I was convinced I was in the Reed Flute Cave in Guilin."

"About the toughest part of the trip is picking out the high points to tell people. You want to pick three or four incidents and by the end of the trip not a whole lot really stands out as being special."

"I guess what stands out for me is:

  1. how well we were treated by science fiction fans in Europe and their familiarity with our writing,
  2. mismatches of technology in some parts (abacus near computer terminal), and how Finland and Sweden were really advanced beyond the United States (I was impressed by the teletext on the television in Jorgen's house in Stockholm),
  3. the bizarre museum at Tartu University, and how weird Soviet science seemed. (I would have had better examples for the log, but I lost my notes when Thing lost its memory that night.)"

"The big disappointment of the trip was that we really were too late or too non-observant to see change flooding into the Baltic republics. On a previous trip in Bulgaria, we saw people still excited about the coming of democracy. This trip it seemed already taken for granted. Now it just manifests itself as a very apparent hatred for the Russians and their old system. But capitalism and Western ways are not rushing in--they are already in. The radio seems to have one station after another with Western rock music."

"Words of wisdom about this trip, and some conclusion? Nothing really. I guess we have seen two or three very different sorts of places this trip. We have seen the Baltic republics, which were scarred by war, then not really allowed to heal because they were controlled by the Soviets. Finland and Sweden were what the Baltic republics might have been if somehow the Soviets could have been kept out. They are advanced and prosperous. In fact, they seem to be better off than the United States right now, just by what limited observations we could make. Perhaps the conclusions I would draw are the ones I drew coming from China twelve years ago. I went to China thinking that governments should have a strong hand to prevent social ills. At that time you heard a lot of claptrap about how well China was managed. Starvation had ended and there was little crime. I expect the first was true, but the standard of living was low. Crime was a serious problem even in China."

"But going from China to Hong Kong you saw the real effect communism had had. It stifled initiative and really provided little. I came away feeling that, at least economically, people do better managing themselves. Hong Kong is much better off for its hands-off policy. Much the same seems to be true in Baltic Europe. Each successive country we visited had less influence of the Soviets and was more prosperous."

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