Well, I'm back and it was an amazing trip, with lot's of very interesting and very surprising experiences. Imagine attending a concert that included works by Puccini and Bizet and Andrew Lloyd Webber, among others, all performed by Russian and Mongolian singers and dancers in a beautiful concert hall in the Siberian city of Ulan Ude, located less than 300 miles from the Mongolian border. I mean, who would have thought?
By the way, It is not easy being an American traveling through Europe these days. After a week or ten days of getting relaxed being around each other, my fellow tour members and I started getting into political discussions on the tour buses and over meals. The English-speaking group included eight Brits, a Malaysian, three Dutch, six Norwegians, four Swedes and an Australian ... all of whom were quite well-informed about what has been going on in the U.S. over the past 3-4 months. The discussions were lively and interesting but, essentially, their questions could all be paraphrased and summed up as follows: "Have you Americans completely lost your minds??"