Wednesday, February 29, 2012

U.S.S.R. - David's Notes on the Trans Siberia Railway - 13.6.1970

These are from notes I typed up for David when we got to California, they are very informative and interesting and fill in lots of gaps from both our memories.


From Warsaw, after strenuous enquiries, we discovered no reservation was required for the trip to Leningrad.  However after a rushed change of trains at the U.S.S.R.  border, a cool calm Intourist rep. boarded the train, a young man who apparently spoke fluent English and German.  But discovered that I spoke a little German, he conducted the whole conversation in that, to place me at a little disadvantage, I felt.   We found we needed reservations for the Kuznitza - Leningrad section and were quoted US$7 each for a sleeper, so we said we'd prefer to sit up.  He then offered us the use of the sleeper with linen and blankets, this time at US$5 for two.  We again said we'd do without and after disappearing he came back to say he thought that would be okay except we would have no linen or blankets and left the train.  Our conductress then intervened, said that medical regulations required the use of the issued sheet and pillowslip, and quoted one Rouble each for these.  (1 Rouble = 1 US$)  So we had a sleeper, sheets and blankets for the overnight trip, but having no Roubles we were assisted in our dilemma by a lovely little Polish girl, who paid the two Roubles, and later invited us to join her group for a simple evening meal - we had no food ourselves, and no Roubles to obtain any.

The train consists of carriages built in 1969 in East Germany, they are very well fitted out with washing and toilet cabinets at each end of the corridor.  The four berth compartments have padded, if not cushioned, seats, with mattresses of similar padding laid over the bunks for sleeping.  After the disorganization of the entry into U.S.S.R. we were greatly surprised in Leningrad to be sought out in the crowd outside the station by an Intourist courier, apologizing for being late, who packed us into a Volga taxi for a rapid drive to our hotel.  This Hotel, the oldest in Leningrad was carpeted throughout with Persian rugs,  and was very comfortable.

The day train to Moscow was seats only accommodation and well provided with restaurant car and service for drinks etc.  from waitresses carrying baskets up and down the carriages.

The Trans-Siberian, nominally Moscow to Vladivostok, train left Moscow punctually at 10:05am  The accommodation was three classes - First-class, Tourist Hard and Third or extra Hard, in which there were bunks three high throughout the carriage and in the corridors with no compartment divisions.  Tourist Hard was the same East German built carriage but First-class rode in very old apparently Russian-built carriages.  I would say that to purchase First-class travel was money down the drain... we met several disgruntled First-class tourists, whose hotels were only as good as or even inferior to our Tourist class twin rooms, and facilities for First-class rail travel were, by observation,  actually inferior to Tourist as far as cleanliness and modernity of carriages went.

In each carriage there is a conductress who travels the whole way, she would vacuum the floors each day, clean windows, etc., and also serve tea at two kopeks (100 kopeks = 1 Rouble) a glass if requested at almost any time.  At each one of the 72 stops Moscow to Khabarovsk, a team descended on the train, to refill the drinking and washing water tanks from track side hoses, to check carriage wheels, brakes and bearings.  Track maintenance was of quite high standard, for the whole length of 9,487 km.

Photography is a subject requiring some caution, broadly, 'railway junctions, stations, factories, rivers, roads, bridges, harbours and port installations', and or course defense and military equipment are forbidden subjects, but I found that if unobserved, e.g. in our compartment, I could take anything I liked.  While observed I would make it obvious that I intended to take a shot and desist only if shouted at by a guard or official in uniform of any kind.  Each train carries a railway security officer who dispenses literature in many languages, feeds selected matter into the radio wired into every compartment and corridor and watches for breaches of regulations particularly photographic as I discovered when about to take a shot from the rear of the last carriage in the train.

The restaurant car provides quite a well cooked range of dishes, not in great variety, standards were ham and eggs, beef schnitzel, kebabs, fried liver, friend sturgeon, solyanka (sausage and cabbage) and borscht soups, plus caviar and champagne, very palatable, many soft drinks all good, beer awful, coffee awful and chai or tea with lemon at 8 kopeks or 2 kopeck plain, and very good.  Meal vouchers are included in the fare to a value of 4 Roubles a day which is more than adequate and being encashable were able to retain at least a Rouble or two per day to spend on extra drinks cigarettes at 30-40 kopeks for 20, or had we known at the 'duty free international' stall at the port in Nakhodka on foreign cigarettes, drinks souvenirs etc.

Washing facilities were clean and water both hot and cold was unlimited, it would even have been possible, had we thought to take a bowl or dipper, to shower by soaping up and then rinsing off after removing the plug in the floor of the toilet compartment this was not possible in first class carriages however.

All Intourist bookings i.e. Non-Russians were in one compartment with no segregation, however our two cabin mates, both males got out at Irkutsk  so for one third of the way we had a compartment to ourselves until Khabarovsk where all foreigners leave the train, to stay overnight in a Hotel before continuing on another special train, which passes the controversial security points of the Chinese border and the Naval establishment at Vladivostok during hours of darkness.  This second train was of slightly higher standard, being the same type of carriages but newer, cleaner and with a better restaurant car, serving fixed menu meals of more appetizing quality.  The peak however was reached on the ship from Kakhodka to Yokohama, Japan where meals and service were positively sumptuous by Russian standards and a determined effort was made to provide entertainment in the form of films and dancing evenings.

The line from Moscow is electrified all the way to Sverdlovsk and from Omsk to Petrovsky Zavod. The Sverdlovsk to Omsk and the Khabarovsk Nakhodka sections are diesel-hauled.  From Petrovsky Zavod to Khabarovsk 2,714 km, we had one or at times two massive steam locos depending on the gradients.  Plugs for wash basins even in hotels appear to be a nationwide deficiency and we would have been well advised to take a universal one of our own.  However a pleasant surprise was that all the carriages had 220v A.C. power outlets for shavers also shock-absorbers on the bogies.  Both these aids to comfort were lacking on first glass carriages!  Almost all our Russian fellow travellers were eager to be friendly, we had many enjoyable games of chess, draughts, cards and discussions as far as was possible in German which was usually the only common language.  On the Nakhodka train however we met a very voluble lady who spoke excellent English and gave us a fascinating insight into the attitudes of a disciplined Russian mind.  We found people almost all satisfied with their style of life, intensely proud of their countries industrial achievements utterly convinced of the evil intentions of the West, U.S.A. mainly and certainly in no mood to overthrow Communism.  This was not the case in the Satellites... there a feeling of patriotism and dislike for the Russians and their Communism was the apparent attitude an impression gained after rather limited contact, admittedly.  All in all, the Trans Siberian must rate as one of the most rewarding journeys in the World, particuarly when one considers that for $220 per person from Moscow to Yokohama, full board included one travels half way around the world.
June 1970

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

U.S.S.R - Khabarousk 19.6.1970 - 22.6.1970

From my Notes:
Friday 19th June 1970.

Arrive Khabarousk 11:51pm.  Picked up by Intourist Guide, whisked to Hotel Aurmor, bath and wash clothes.  Bed at 2am.

From my Notes:
Saturday 20th June 1970.

Up early to take our tour at 10am in a Taxi with a young girl, she just drives around a bit, shows us the river and that's all.

It's terribly hot, we buy an abacus* and a pair of decent shoes for 26 Roubles.

Lunch, we wait for 1 1/2 hours and I get nothing.

Dinner we are taken in by Doc (one of the American's travelling in First Class on our train from Moscow) we have two bottles of Champagne and a big eat up in Hotel Restaurant, with a pretty good Russian band,** we three are the only English speaking.

From my Notes:
Sunday 21st June 1970.

Not too well*** so David goes to Museum etc.  Have to catch bus to Station at 5pm we loose the US Biggott fellow thank goodness.

Leave Khabarousk 6:25pm.

Train a little better than last if possible, cleaner and not many people on board.  We go very close to Chinese border but of course it's dark as all the trains going this way go at night but I do snap a photo before too late of what I thought was the border.

From my Notes:
Monday 22nd June 1970.

Arrive Nakhodka 9:15am.
Mike and Jean Coulter a British couple going to Hong Kong, spent the night taking photos out the window, in the dark.  Customs Hellish... go through absolutely everything but didn't find our Russian money and we are hiding a US$20 bill as well.

Leave Nakhodka 12 Noon, on M.S. Galikal.  Food very very good and plenty of it, lost Doc at Nakhodka.

*  We still have that abacus but not the shoes :-)

**  We had to leave after enjoying a bit of a dance because one woman really really took a liking to me, she was dancing with some fellow but preferred to wobble her boobs and bottom at me.  David and I left after trying to get rid of her for about 30 mins.  Her partner was getting angrier and angrier.

*** Not surprising if I drank Champagne, alcohol isn't my thing :-)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Postcards sent by us - Khabarousk, U.S.R. - 21.6.1970

State Lenin Library, Moscow.

To:  Mr Peter Jones, 168 Mica Street, Broken Hill.  N.S.W. 2880.  Australia.

Dear Pete,

Trip going along very smoothly so far.  Denmark and Sweden lovely and expensive.  East Berlin a hole, never to be revisited.  Poland beaut, wish we had more time there.  U.S.S.R. very interesting the people are very friendly generous and patient with us over the language.

Unbelievable hot weather and long hours of sunshine.  We've had caviar and champagne (2 bottles) danced and sun baked.

The Trans-Siberia was very comfortable, food good, the other passengers were all Russians except 4 of us, terrific people we collected a lot of small gifts when we left.  Photography is a bit dicey you never know if you should or shouldn't take this or that.  Japan on 24th.

Love David and Pennie XX

(Here is another postcard that we'd sent to our friend Peter Jones, we lost touch with him about 30 years ago, we think he joined the Hare Krishna...  I wish we could find him now and thank him for giving us back the postcards we sent him. )

Sunday, February 26, 2012

U.S.S.R. - Moscow - 12.6.1970

From my notes:

Catch the great Underground, go to G.U.M. which is all beautifully decorated inside with water fountains and Chandeliers, very impressive but goods not up to much, have lunch in a Russian Restaurant* Yuck!  so fatty. 

Go to Pushkin Museum which is full of beautiful Impressionists, have beaut meal in Hotel Restaurant with Fountain.

* This restaurant was new and modern and sort of like a Cafeteria... the only trouble was you had to pay first then take your tray along the line for the people serving to give you what you had already paid for.  Trouble is... we didn't know what we wanted, how much it cost and what it actually was!  The staff were delighted to help us so we had special treatment with one person behind the counter trying to explain what was what.  We decided to take his advice, paid and were handed our/his choice.  We then sat with the others in the restaurant watching us eagle eyed to see how much we were enjoying our Russian Meal.  We did the right thing by eating it all and smiling broadly leaving to many waves and smiles.  Wonderful stuff, pity about the fatty food  :-)

Moscow has the longest Escalators I've ever been on and they seemed to go the fastest, we had become used to the long ones in London and we had them in Sydney as well of course but not like these, these were really scary and it took me a little time to pluck up the courage to get on!  The Russians jumped on with not a backward glance of course.  When down in the Stations what a sight to see!   Absolutely jaw dropping beautiful!

The below from  'Moscow Metro' explains....                                            Begun in the 1930's, the Stalin-era underground was the USSR's largest civilian construction project, with stations built as "people's palaces." Employing outstanding architects and artists, it still looks amazing after all those years. The early stations form an eclectic blend of Baroque, Classicism, Soviet Realism, quasi-religious iconography with idealizations of historical characters and their victories, sports, industry, agriculture, very much warfare past and present, the brighter future just ahead, and the heroically laboring working class with inclusion of the various Soviet ethnicities. Oh, and... the Revolution! 

 More Moscow Metro photos that I found on Google below.

G.U.M. Store.
From Wiki:
In 1928, GUM was closed by Stalin, who decided to use the building as the headquarters for officials working on the first Five Year Plan. GUM was reopened in 1953, and became one of the most popular sites for the legendary Soviet queues, which could at times extend all the way across Red Square. After privatization in the early 90s, it rapidly became the address of choice for top-end Western retailers. Journalists and travel writers often comment on the sharp contrast between prices in GUM and poverty in Russia - as if the majority of New Yorkers get their clothes from Saks, or the average Londoner could afford to do their grocery shopping in Harrods. Even if you don't intend to buy anything, a tour of Red Square should always include a quick stroll down the aisles of GUM.

My first set of Babushkas, well loved and a little faded bought in the G.U.M. Store 12.6.1970.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

U.S.S.R. - Moscow - 11.6.1970

From my Notes:

Go on Sight Seeing tour of Kremlin, walk along outside of wall, see mile or more long queue to see Lenin's Tomb. 

See the Coaches and Crowns etc. of the Kings and Queens of Russia.  

Also see inside the Churches inside the Kremlin, Breshnev doesn't work here.

See Great Bell... Broken.    Also new building for Conferences.

In afternoon go on our Compulsory Intourist Tour of City, taken to Red Square, St Basil's, Lenin's Tomb, G.U.M.* then drive across River to look at the Kremlin from a terrific place.

Drive past all the interesting buildings, go to see the University which was built by Volunteers.

Our Guide is very good, he knows a lot about everything, he says he lives in two rooms with his parents and one brother and they share a kitchen and bathroom with only one other family.  He earns 120 Roubles a month and pays 12 for rent each month, he is well off.**

* The G.U.M. store was fantastically interesting and very beautiful, this is where I bought my very first Babushka Matroushka set of wooden dolls.  I now have more than 300 sets,  plus all sorts of things with Babushkas on them :-)  I had seen these as a child and always wanted one of my own, they fascinate me!

**  We wondered at the value of these compulsory tours, the guides were absolutely delightful and were,  justifiably very proud of their cities and we really appreciated their tour and knowledge but...  proudly telling us... 'Capitalist from the West'... that they shared a kitchen and bathroom and four of them lived in two rooms?? ... surely those who organized these tours knew we lived in better conditions.   I quietly added up the number of rooms my parents lived in, in their modest suburban home... 10 actually... and we didn't share our kitchen or bathroom with any other families.

Red Square from Google Earth above.

Friday, February 24, 2012

U.S.S.R. - Leningrad to Moscow - 10.6.1970

From my Notes:

Pack our things, wash up and go to see Aurora* an old ship that had something to do with the Revolution  Catch taxi to station.

Leave Leningrad 1pm.

Train trip rather dull, packed mostly with women. 

Arrive Moscow 8:28pm.

 Met by young Intourist fellow and whisked off to Hotel.

Aurora from Wiki:
The historical ship Aurora has been turned into a museum and is docked just a few hundred yards upstream from the Cabin of Peter the Great, opposite the "St Petersburg" Hotel. The cruiser, built in St. Petersburg between 1897 and 1900, took an active part in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 and participated in the Tsusima battle, in which most of Russia's Pacific fleet was destroyed. After the war the ship was used for personnel training and during the October revolution of 1917 gave the signal (by firing a blank shot) to storm of the Winter Palace, which was being used as a residence by the democratic, but largely ineffective Provisional Government.
During World War II and the 900-day Siege of Leningrad the guns of the ship were taken down and used on the front line of the city's defenses. After the war the ship was carefully restored and used as a free museum and training ship for cadets from the nearby Nakhimov Navy School.

 We wanted to take a photo of the Aurora but didn't want to get into trouble... again... for taking photos so we stopped two very young men in army uniform and asked if it would be okay for us to take a photo.  They said yes and the two of them stood in front of the ship and smiled for the camera.  Well we had to take a photo of them didn't we...  but...  sadly, as I've said before, all our photos were stolen in the USA. :-(  I would love to have that photo today.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

U.S.S.R. - Leningrad - 9.6.1970

From my Notes:

Walk up Nevsky Prospect the main street, buy gift for Mama (my Grandmother)
Visit the Hermitage, a beautiful old Palace with priceless paintings in it.
Meet Ken Glazier Jr., he is staying at our Hotel and has given his address in California.
Lunch at Hermitage, walk to St Isaccs Cathedral, climb to top but not allowed to take photos.*
Very hot, sun has shone non stop for a week, everyone is out sunning themselves** Got to see the movie 'A Man and Woman' but not on so sell our tickets to a young chap Sasha and his girlfriend, walk and talk with them for a while.
Go to Ice cream parlour have Jam, Caramel and Cashew Nut flavours.

* This wasn't the first time we'd been stopped from taking photos and it wasn't the last... I wonder if this is why our photos went missing???
**  We saw rather large women stripped to their underwear and standing up against brick walls along the river, they were just trying to get a suntan.

 The Hermitage from Google and inside the Hermitage below.

... and St Isaccs Cathedral below.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Postcards sent by us - Leningrad - 9.6.1970

S.M.Kirov Stadium, Leningrad. U.S.S.R.    (now called St Petersburg as it was before the revolution)

Hotel Europe, Lenningrad. U.S.S.R.    9.6.1970.

To:  The Rodds, Crescent Road, Newport. NSW  2106.  Australia.

Dear All,

Russia has been pretty good so far.  Hotel is good and comfortable and food edible.

It's Lenin year and everywhere there are photos of him and you can buy badges to pin on yourself with Lenin on them.

Spent our second Wedding Anniversary at the fantastic Circus from Moscow, really first class best I've ever seen better than Australia could produce I'm sure.

We've met lots of Americans and lots of Australians.  Ice Cream here is terrific, called Morazlenoye* and it comes in no less than 36 flavours, Jam and the rest.

Love P & D.

*  What I was trying to write was мороженое.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

U.S.S.R. - Leningrad - 8.6.1970

From my Notes:

Our Second Wedding Anniversary!

Went to old Fort, walked around, had lunch then rowed around it.  Caught long tram ride to other side of town then bought some dinner and took it back to Hotel to eat.
Went to Moscow Circus, fantastic acts, lions, dogs, horses etc. 
Ice cream very popular and delicious 36 flavours.  Clothes very expensive $20 for a Nylon Shirt, not a choice in shops if they have anything to sell, that's the only style they have.  People mostly in cotton, it's slightly cheaper than Nylon.  Persian rugs on our Hotel floor.  Good steak dinner for 1 Voucher - 1 Rouble.

 We caught the Underground Train in Leningrad and what a shock it was, never seen anything this beautiful used as a train station before, puts Sydney and London to shame :-)

Monday, February 20, 2012

U.S.S.R. - Leningrad - 7.6.1970

From my notes:

Arrive Leningrad 6:30pm, half an hour late.  Met by Intourist Guide* and driven to the Hotel Europe,** shown to room, sleep a little then have breakfast, walk a little noticing the poorly dressed people and the old cars, old trams and old buses.  Dave walks on and I go back to Hotel to do some washing.  Have lunch in room then go on Tour of Gulf of Finland and the Summer Palace at Petrod Vorets.
It doesn't get dark at all.***

* One of the proviso's of being allowed to travel into the U.S.S.R. unaccompanied, (i.e. not with a Tour Bus with Russian Guides), was a compulsory guided tour with an Intourist Guide.    These Guides had to meet us when we arrived in each of the cities we visited, she... it was usually a she... drove us to our hotel and checked us in, she would then make a time to meet so she could take us on this compulsory tour which usually lasted one or two hours.  At the end of our visit it was she who picked us up at our Hotel and drove us to the station for the next leg of our journey.

**  Hotel Europe... WOW!  What an incredible place, it was like some enormous Palace with huge circular stairs.

*** It was light 24 hours a day which was incredible, we were used to Twilight in England where in summer it didn't get dark till after 10pm but this was a seriously weird experience and difficult to get used to.  We would go to bed around Midnight but we could hear people in the streets walking and chatting till almost 6am!  

 Hotel Europa today, look at those crowds, I'm guessing someone exciting is going to pass by?

 Gulf of Finland, I keep forgetting how close Finland is to Russia, actually they share a border.
  That's Leningrad-St Petersburg written in Russian...  "Санкт-Петербург"

 Not only is this Summer Palace a beautiful building the gardens are the best in the World I reckon, so different and interesting... We loved it here.

I remember all that gold on those statues... the U.S.S.R. was proving to be a truly amazing place.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Poland - Warsaw - 6.6.1970

From my Notes:

Leave Warsaw 6:45am.  Dirty Train, nice child with older woman in our carriage.  Change trains at 11:30am in Kuznitza onto beautiful Russian Train Sleeper, go a few miles into U.S.S.R. and get checked by guards etc.  We had to pay US$7 each for our sleeper, it went down to US$5 for two, then US$1 each but someone else paid for us so we had it free, these people also gave us dinner because we had no Russian Money.*

*  We had tried to buy some Russian Roubles in every country since we'd left the UK to no avail, we even tried before we caught this train and on the train but no luck... hence these lovely Russian people who not only paid 1Rouble for each of us (the Official Exchange Rate was 1Rouble to the 1US$) for our sleepers (I guess the guards tried to charge us US$7 each because we were tourists LOL)  they gave us some dinner as well... lovely people.  We went to their carriage and they were well prepared, they even had a Samovar for the tea.  This is the first and last time I ever drank, or tried to drink tea!  I had to be polite didn't I but I just don't like the stuff.

From Warsaw to Kuznitza to Leningrad.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Postcards sent by us - Warsaw - 5.6.1970

Warszwa - Lazienki - Plac Na Wyspie, Swiatynia
Sybilli, pomnik Fryderyka Chopina, Belweder

To - Dr & Mrs M. E. Griffiths, Dominion Circuit, Deakin. ACT 2600. Australia.

Grand Hotel (Yes!!) Kruxza 28, Friday 5th June, 1970

Hi Folks - Going fine - two overnight train trips, from Denmark to East Berlin then Berlin - Warsaw have tired us a bit - but the hotel is a good one, super beds, bath and toilet included, phone, everything for a sum of $US5 each!

Warsaw fairly grim but very interesting, lots of people about, some decent shops, luxuries dear as poison.   Lots of Police etc and our border crossings are full of form-filling, passport checks, but no hitches so far.

The currency market is a racket - most of the Iron Curtain official rates are absurd so a black market flourishes - they accost us in the streets in Warsaw offering fantastic rates of Zlotys (Polish money) to the $US.  One day in Berlin East, very delapidated but fascinating.  Today Warsaw.  Sunday arrive Leningrad.

 Love Dave and Pennie  XXX
 Lazienki Palace
 Chopin Statue.

All three above from Googlemaps.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Postcards sent by us - Warsaw - 5.6.1970

Warszawa - Plac Konstyucji.

To: Lt Col & Mrs R.C. Rodd, Crescent Road, Newport. NSW 2106.  Australia.

Dear All,

It's good to be in a cheaper country at last but of course the quality isn't there.

Sorry we didn't send you a card from East Berlin, it just slipped my mind, the whole place gave me the creeps.  We took a photo of the Wall near Check Point Charlie and a few minutes later after us came two German Soldiers.  Passports checked etc, they very kindly didn't take the film but gave us fare warning.

Everyone seemed unhappy and they weren't very helpful.

The Hotel Grand here in Warsaw is very.  Our own bathroom and toilet.  Tomorrow off to Russia at 6:45am it's not far we arrive about 10am then to Leningrad, another 20 hours away.

Love to everyone, (Including Tabitha when and if she makes it.)  Pennie and Dave.
P.S.  Our hotel roughly in centre of picture, out of sight behind the other buildings.

 Same three lamp posts from Googlemaps

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Poland - Warsaw - 5.6.1970

From my notes:

Arrive Warsaw 6:19am.  Go to Hotel Grand but can't check in till 12 midday, walk around.  Several people in the streets ask us to change US$ for Zloty's.  The Official in Poland is 23 Zloty to the US$1.  One man gave us 100 Zloty for one US Dollar!
Have nice Hotel Shower and go out after 2p.m. buy little bag for Meredith, (my sister) Eat well because the Hotel gives us vouchers for 200 Zloty.
Sleep well in our own room with our own bath!
Fascinating to see the Hotel has the 'Times' a couple of days late but it's good to catch up.
There is a swimming pool in the basement.
People all very nice and helpful.
 I would need three Zloty to buy one American Dollar today!  

I believe this could be our Hotel, it's called the Mecure Grand Hotel now but it's near the railway station which our Grand Hotel was.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

East Germany - Berlin - 4.6.1970

From my notes:

Arrive Berlin Ost (East) 7:19am.  Leave luggage at Station catch train to the Wall!  Walk about a bit, get chased by Soldiers because we took a photo.*  We eat well because we have so many Marks.  Leave Berlin Ost 9:23pm.  Passport checks again on train but had more sleep this time.

 I found this in my coin bowl... it's all we have left of East German money.

I see from my notes that we only spent 14 hours in East Berlin, but that was enough, it wasn't much fun, we were rich for the first time ever with our 'under the counter' Marks but there was nothing to buy or spend it on, I can't remember what we had for lunch but by the look of my notes it was plenty compared to our self enforced penny pinching in Copenhagen, (we didn't have much cash and what we had had to last months!)   If we walked into a shop or a cafe everyone stopped, the place went silent and they just stared at us... we must have stood out as weird tourists... but it was so uncomfortable we left without buying or ordering anything.

* We walked as close as we could get to the wall which was very close to the centre of town, we saw one guard box up on the wall, way way in the distance and they obviously saw us, through binoculars, when we took some photos of the Wall.  It was easy for them to see us because all the buildings near the wall had been demolished and the land was nothing but rubble.   As we were walking back to town this great big motorbike caught up to us, on it were two very young soldiers one of whom pointed an old rifle at us and demanded our passports.  We showed them the passports then they wanted our camera and the film in it.* The soldiers looked so young I don't think they had started shaving yet and the one with the gun was shaking so much it was almost laughable.  David said no he wasn't going to give them our film and told them we were leaving Berlin in a few hours for Poland and they went back to their guard post where we could now see the glint of binoculars.  I found two old booklets given to us by the East Berlin Tourist Bureau.  They make for fascinating reading some of which I will share with you.

*This film did go missing in the USA later on!  Mmmmm... very suss!

 I can't remember finding any 'Centres of culture and sport', or 'Sights worth seeing', shopping was very boring and of such poor quality.  But we did go on an Excursion on the river though!

 We never went to West Berlin but friends who did in those days said it was a wonderfully vibrant place and compared it to San Francisco... the comparison being that both cities lived under threat, West Berlin because it was totally surrounded by East Germany and San Francisco because it lived with the fear of earthquakes! 

 The second booklet has some interesting photos and facts in it.

 The right photo is below. 

 I find the caption with this photo quite amusing...

Always surrounded is the model of the future city centre at Berlin Information or the district building office.  Guests from all over the world are greatly interested in the shaping of the capital of the German Democratic Republic.

Well..... one man is looking at his watch, the man on his right is frowning, the two in front look like they are enjoying a little snooze, those in the back look like they're saying... 'When will this be over, we want to get out of here?' and the woman is saying ... 'Get on with it will you and a little less fist thumping would be good!'  :-)

 Here is the plan for Alexanderplatz and below from Google Earth today.  #21 is the railway station which you can see below, some of the buildings look the same.

 Good old Walter Ulbricht above and below Herbert Fechner, Mayor of Berlin.

 This is Karl Marx Allee with modern residential buildings, restaurants and shops which came into existence in 1963/4.  In the background the House of Teachers.

 Here is a Google Map of the river we cruised on, we were fascinated to see some wonderful big old homes right on the river, all in disrepair though.

That's Schildow in what used to be West Germany at the top of this picture and below Schonefeld also in what was West Germany... the blue line I've drawn is sort of where the wall used to be.