Russia "The Border"

"The Border" Part 3. The Caucasus.

Jomtien Beach


March 16, 2023

In The Border: A Journey Around Russia, Erika Fatland outlines the history and current disputes in Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia.

In addition to the capital cities Baku, Yerevan and Tbilisi, Erika visits the disputed areas of Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia.  The disputes seem intractable while local populations try to survive.

During more stable times my own visit to the Caucasus was filled with beautiful scenery, and generous people.

"The Border" Part Two - Asia



March 10, 2023


Even an experienced traveler like author Erika Fatland becomes exasperated with the inflexible restrictions in North Korea.

In Kazakhstan she was totally blocked from visiting the Russian-controlled Cosmodrome.

Erika loses her patience with the traffic in Ulaan Baatar. She is much happier in the wide-open spaces of the Gobi and the mountain regions of central Mongolia.

As a native Norwegian, the frigid temperatures of ice- bound Harbin, China must have been no problem at all.

Ms. Fatland reminds us of sage travel advice: “When visiting Asia you need two personal characteristics: “Patience and a Sense of Humor.”


"The Border" Part One. The Ocean

Jomtien Beach

Chon Buri Province


March 6, 2023


The current selection of our Travel Book Club is The Border by Erika Fatland:

A Journey around all the countries that border Russia: North Korea, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Norway and The Northeast Passage.

The Book is divided into four sections: The Ocean, Asia, The Caucasus and Europe.

For The Ocean, please click on the image above for my photographs of Kirkenis and the Northern Cape of Norway, and the Svalbard archipelago at the western edge of the Northeast Passage.



Saint Petersburg: Nevsky Prospekt

Russian Federation

September 8, 2011


Dear Family and Friends,

The sun made a brief appearance this afternoon.  Mostly though, the sky is gray and the drizzle incessant.  The air is humid and chilly.

Nonetheless, I make my patented strolls around this surprising city, up and down Nevsky Prospekt, a busy eight lane boulevard lined with smart shops, bistros and restaurants and pastel stone buildings.  It really is lovely here.   

Saint Petersburg: Petrodvorets

Saint Petersburg


September 9, 2011

Dear Friends,

Irina, my Russian friend in Miami, recommended I visit Petrodvorets outside Saint Petersburg.   So I rode the Metro (subway) for twenty minutes and then hopped a mini-van for a thirty minute ride west of the city.

Peter the Great (1682 – 1725) built a home here on the shores of the Gulf of Finland to oversee the construction of his naval base.  Eventually the area was developed with gracious white palaces, sculpted gardens, a series of dancing fountains and energetic cascades.

Saint Petersburg: The Hermitage

Saint Petersburg



September 9, 2011

At the Hermitage Museum I was approached by a charming woman who offered to be my personal guide.  Since she quoted an exorbitant fee, I simply explained, “I just follow my nose.”  

I noticed that everyone raced through the entrance lobby and headed for the magnificent grand stairway leading up to the main galleries.  What a shame.  They rushed through the arcade filled with enormous Greek sculptures.  And in one corner, in a very unpretentious location, I found a huge urn with bas relief sculptures depicting a “party” and the inevitable outcome of too much of a good thing.