Heading to Taiwan

I’ve had such a wonderful time in St. Petersburg and Moscow, it’s difficult to leave Russia. After three lectures yesterday – at IREX, the University of Science and Technology, and the American Center – I met Alex’s friends for a drink at the revolving 33rd Floor bar of the Swissotel. We had a great time and a magnificent view of Moscow.

The students at the University of Science and Technology signed the poster announcing my talk, and gave me the poster as a souvenir. After the talk, Alex and I and Irene (from the embassy) walked through a sculpture garden of Soviet leaders. (It’s across the street from Gorky Park.) What a time warp.

My hosts at Moscow State University and the U.S. Embassy couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful. And they arranged a fun and varied program. One of the great memories was the reception at the U.S. Embassy.

**** Sent via wireless handheld. ****

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Oh, no; Not again

Didn’t get to the university on time today because of a huge military parade practice through central Moscow to Red Square: Military units, tanks, missile launchers and low flyovers from all sorts of planes.

The parade celebrates the 65th anniversary of Victory Day, Russia’s victory in World War II. It’s the first Victory Day parade in which U.S. and British military units are participating.

A friend who didn’t know that the huge parade practice was scheduled to run through the streets of Moscow, walked out of her apartment, saw all the tanks rumbling past, and told me her first thought was, oh, no; not again!

**** Sent via wireless handheld. ****

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Practicing at Moscow State University

Alex (my Moscow State University host) just told me as I was practicing in the auditorium for my first of four talks and two panels, that I shouldn’t be nervous because even if I am bad, people will like me “by default.”

My talks are part of the MSU Journalism Faculty’s and U.S. Embassy’s celebration of World Press Freedom Day. The conference is called “Days of American Journalism.” Tomorrow night we go to a reception at the U.S. Embassy.

I’m not sure if I should trust Alex’s analysis of how well this will go, however. He’s the same guy who told me not to worry about the subway bombing because a second almost never happens six weeks after the first. (BTW, the subway stations are each art museums. Really beautiful and all different.)

I met the oldest journalsim faculty member, Prof. Semjon M. Gurevich. He’s 90 and still comes to work each day. His specialty is media economics. He says he met Stalin. When we couldn’t speak Russian together, he switched to German so we could talk.

This week is also the 65th anniversary of the end of WWII. Today there was a stunning precision flying practice of WWII planes and current bombers. Streets are shut down, and soldiers are everywhere, practicing for the May 9 celebration.

**** Sent via wireless handheld. ****

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Cathedrals, Tsars’ tombs and The Hermitage

Peter and Paul Cathedral     Tomb of Peter I                Great concert

St. Isaac’s Cathedral             At Hermitage         Throne Room

View all Day Three pictures here

Incredible Day of visiting the tsars’ tombs at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, then climbing to the top of St. Isaac’s Cathedral in the center of Saint Petersburg for a great view of the city (pix to be inserted later) then checking out the Italian Renaissance and Impressionist collections at The Hermitage. Stunning.

Heard a great Gregorian Chant concert at Peter and Paul Cathedral.

Found out it’s easy to get past the bouncers at private clubs by showing an American passport. They think you’ll spend a lot of money.

**** Sent via wireless handheld. ****

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Photos from Peter the First’s summer palace

Click for Photos from Peterhof, Tsar Peter the First’s summer palace.

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Pics in St. Petersburg

Walking around in St. Petersburg

Church of the Spilled Blood, where Alexander II was assassinated

Day 1 photos while walking around Nevsky Prospect

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Great first day in Moscow

Photos from Moscow, Day 1

After a lot of walking around, some wine, a sauna and 3 hours of sleep, I’ve boarded a plane to St. Petersburg. For the next three days, I’ll be sightseeing, then back to Moscow for a World Press Freedom Day Conference at Moscow State University. We checked out the university yesterday.

Alex, my friend and guide, is a Fulbrighter, Ph.D. student and Knight News Challenge grantee. So we went to his favorite coffee shops and restaurants. Most of our Moscow sightseeing will be next week.

My hotel, the Metropol, is a short walk to the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Departing now for St. Petersburg.

**** Sent via wireless handheld. ****

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