Nick Hannes, a Belgium press photographer, chronicled his year-long expedition across the 15 former Soviet states in a fabulous photo diary called Red Journey. He attempts (and succeeds) to show the world a different view of these countries than the dreary one usually presented.
The title of this post comes from a quote by a Moldovan press photographer named Nicolae Pojoga. The author asks Pojoga how long he thought Moldova would be in a “transition phase” and the latter “laughed bitterly” and responded with the poignant ‘Nothing is more persistent than the temporary.'”
The diary is well worth checking out in full–the photos are amazing and often quite humorous. It makes one wonder what the back story is behind many of them. Here are a several of my favorites (from Armenia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan)
There is apparently a book about the journey too which looks worth checking out. Here is the link to it on Amazon.
If you happen to be in Lithuania, have $220 you’d like to throw in the toilet, and have a burning nostalgia to be reminded of the good old days under Soviet rule, I have quite a deal for you.
In an article titled “The Un-Funnest Vacation in Europe,” Mental Floss reports that the Lithuanians have decided to convert an old Soviet bunker into a tourist attraction for those who have a very strange definition of “tourism” and “fun.”
The so-called fun lasts for two and a half hours and includes the following activities:
“On entry, all belongings, including money, cameras and phones, are handed over and under the watchful eye of guards and alsatians, tourists change into threadbare Soviet coats and are herded through the bunker. Experiences include watching TV programs from 1984, wearing gas masks, learning the Soviet anthem under duress, eating typical Soviet food (with genuine Soviet tableware) and even undergoing a concentration-camp-style interrogation and medical check.”
In case you worried that doesn’t sound fun enough as it is, the article reassures potential masochistic tourists that “all of the actors involved in the project were originally in the Soviet army and some were authentic interrogators.” Well, thank goodness for that. I wouldn’t want some poseur as my interrogator for the day!
Apparently when school groups come though, the actors know to “cool it” and not go too rough in the re-enacted KGB interrogations [note: what kind of hellish school administrator thought of this as a good activity?]
Afterward you at least get a shot of vodka and your belongings back (the latter is a guess; if the experience truly hewed to reality though I would think some valuables would be missing).
ahh, the good old days..