This story was written for Intrepid Travel and posted on their website on October 19, 2018. Below is an excerpt, but you can read the full article on their website here: https://www.peregrineadventures.com/blog/19/10/2018/solo-female-traveller-in-the-middle-east/
The first trip I decided to take was to Cold War Russia. And, as I search my ‘way back’ memory, I’m not entirely sure why I wanted to go there. Perhaps it was because I was 18-years-old and absolutely gagging for an experience that would blow my socks off. Deeper than that, I have always, since my earliest memories, desired to go where people don’t usually go.
Our family never had money for extras, especially not Transatlantic trips behind the Iron Curtain, but my Grandpa had given all of his grandchildren the gift of $3000 one Christmas. It was a phenomenal amount of money. I think my brother’s portion hit his bank account for eight minutes before he bought a truck. I sat on mine for a year, and then the opportunity to do something entirely unexpected presented itself.
It was 1988. Russia was technically the USSR, Gorbachev was leader and tossing around terms such as perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness), and it was probably because of this that there was a softening of the borders. Yet, there was still a suspicion of outsiders. My hotel had microphones in the ceiling and people followed me wherever I went; definitely an overwhelming feeling of being watched.