I invite you to join me on a remarkable journey from the cold, stark reality of Auschwitz to the sunny beaches of Yalta and the warm-hearted people of Odessa. This journey through a period that has now drifted into history has left a lasting impression on me.
Dreams are the essence of existence – this adventure fulfilled far more than I could imagine in this unrivalled part of the world. It was a result of the period in which I was travelling: the collapse of the Soviet Union. Words such as ‘glasnost’ were still fresh and I recall the vision of Yeltsin standing on a tank, defending democracy as Russia would learn to know it. This brought on a fair amount of suspense and personal danger during the journey that I will let the reader discover as they move through the pages.
The dreams fulfilled could not be understated. I have always been fascinated with the adventures of Marco Polo and the routes he took visiting China. While visiting the Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan, he admired the Laqouqia Bridge, and so it became known as the Marco Polo Bridge. I am sure when the emperor had it completed, the people were as much in awe as I was centuries later.
I was also always fascinated by the Gobi Desert and the Mongolian lifestyle. What could be more incredible than meeting the generous people that inhabited the steppes of this land? Ultimately, this led me to travel on the longest journey by rail through Siberia.
This journey also led me to my dreams of St. Petersburg and the Hermitage. I had always enjoyed the culture of Russia: its literature, its ballets, and its accomplishments. I took interest in the dark periods of the Napoleonic Wars when the Czar’s regiments faced off against the most powerful army of its time. During this visit, I managed to acquire a detailed chess set of both armies opposing each other on the board. An item that is one of a kind and very sentimental.
My dreams of modern history were also fulfilled on this journey. This included seeing Odessa and Auschwitz, making me realize how mortal I am and how I must always face the virtuous side of my thoughts.
This landmass of a globe is vast, the cultures are infinite, the learning is immeasurable, both of the past and the present. I am truly blessed to have been able to take this journey.
I would like to say that without my beloved wife, Marietta, this journey would still be trapped in my mind. I hope that all who read this will enjoy and appreciate the people that made it possible.