Promise, last post before I take off in a week. Thought you might like to meet the 3 Babushkas before we go. We are 3 friends with a lot in common. We met in our local hiking club and in addition to hiking we are all film buffs and above all else, love to eat!
Me, you know, but if I may, a few salient points. Ever since I read Anna Karenina at age 18, I have wanted to visit Russia. A few years later I learned of one of the world’s most priceless art collections at The Hermitage Museum in The Winter Palace in St Petersburg, and St. Petersburg jumped to the top of my travel wish list. A few years later this was cemented when I saw Russian Ark, a film spanning 3 centuries of Russian history filmed in a single 95-minute shot in The Winter Palace using 4500 actors.
Steven Spielberg calls it one of his favourite films.
I am an obsessive planner and organizer (my suitcase is pretty much packed), a tennis (spectator) freak, and an opera fan. I just bought a new camera (Canon Powershot SX50) for this trip. I am leaving on September 8th and will unite with the BBs in St. Petersburg on September 9th.
Shirley has a great sense of humour and writes the funniest emails. She loves travel and her travels have included China, Paris, and salmon fishing off Haida Gwaii. She has a heart of gold and volunteers at the Cancer Society and is on the board of the very active Telus Volunteers association. She is an avid tennis fan and a very good tennis player herself. She just bought a new camera for this trip. She left Victoria today for Helsinki for a week including a side trip to Talinn (see Route Map). She started packing yesterday. She will take the train from Helsinki, arriving in St. Petersburg on September 9th.
Willie is our Wanderer. “Not all those who wander are lost” (Lord of the Rings). She has lived in the arctic, in the Australian outback, and been from Antarctica to Timbuktu. She was head nurse on cruise ships for 9 years, but she had never done the famed Trans-Siberian Railway. When I said St. Petersburg was my dream destination she said she would go again in a heartbeat. The seed germinated shortly thereafter when Shirley said, “I’m in!” “We’d better start booking hotels, concerts and tours,” I said. Willie turned to me with a wry smile and said, “I have never booked a hotel in advance in my life.” Hmmmmm. Willie also has a wicked wit, and if we get exiled to Siberia, blame her. It will be her fault. She is a “hobby” photographer whose work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian. As a nurse, and after retirement, her entire life has been in service to others.
Willie left for Tokyo at the beginning of August. She toured Tokyo and parts of Japan, then took a 2-day ferry to Vladivostok where she and her tour picked up the train. It is the longest railway in the world, at 9,298 kms. Willie will briefly tour St. Petersburg and Moscow with her tour, and then she will meet us in St. Petersburg on September 9th. And we do have a hotel booked; in fact, Willie was the one who found it, merely steps from The Winter Palace.
The inaugural planning meeting of the 3 Babushkas Stroganoff Tasting Grand Russian Tour Society began, of course, with dinner.
PS – While crossing Siberia, Willie found our Honourary 4th Babushka, pictured below.