In December of 1984 I traveled to The Soviet Union with my cousin Missy. Under Communism Christmas was not an official holiday so we were just in time for the big New Year's celebration. Here is a New Years's tree in front of the Bolshoi Ballet Theatre. There were festive trees in our hotel and even in our tour bus.
Here I am dressed for the Russian winter weather.
I toured my favorite building in the world, St. Basil's Cathedral. I spent most of the day there wandering from chapel to chapel. Every inch of the interior is brightly painted.
The hotel we stayed at, The Kosmos, threw a wonderful New Year's Eve party for us. We celebrated with tourists from Japan, Finland and several other countries. Every hour was New Year's somewhere and we celebrated them all. We had a nine course meal with the most wonderful melt-in-your-mouth chicken Kiev served somewhere around midnight. The ice cream ( there is nothing like Russian ice cream made with pure cream) arrived around 2AM. There was a balalaika band playing and we all danced well past dawn. The special Russian traditional drink that we shared was an Aurora Borealis. Here are the direction, if you want to try it tonight.
Into a large punch bowl pour one bottle of champagne and one bottle of vodka. Then pour in another bottle of champagne and another bottle of vodka. Now pass the punch bowl around and each person drinks from it. Continue passing the bowl around till either the punch is gone or everyone has passed out. Cheers!
Some of us, including me, stayed up all night. Early in the morning those of us who could manage it went to Red Square to join the long line of people touring Lenin's tomb.
This is a forbidden shot of the changing of the guard at Lenin's tomb. We were told that we were not allowed to photograph certain things and any shots of soldiers were strictly forbidden. That's why you can see that I'm standing behind someone to hide my camera.
Then it was on to visit Catherine The Great's carousel.
When we got there we were treated to a troika ride. Six of us snuggled into the sleigh under blankets and rode thru the fields. We sang Jingle Bells at the top of our lungs and the driver was so pleased that he took us around again.
The trip lasted about ten days and although the temperature was colder than anything I'd ever experienced and I got very little sleep because I didn't want to miss anything, it was one of the most exciting times of my life. I fell in love with Russia, the people, the customs and the history.
If cold (-36 degrees) doesn't turn you on, maybe you'll prefer my New Year's Eve in Trinidad. In 1991 Rob and I flew to Trinidad on New Year's Eve day. What a contrast to Russia!
The Caribbean drink that we shared at midnight was a Bentley. I liked them immediately and continued to enjoy Bentleys throughout the trip. If you'd like to try one, here are the instructions. They aren't as deadly as an Aurora Borealis.
1 measure of freshly squeezed Caribbean lime juice
2 measures of cane sugar
4 measures of club soda
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters per serving
1 red Maraschino cherry
Enjoy, they're really good!
On New Year's Day we went to the annual horse race which was conveniently right across the street from our hotel. We then took a walking tour of the city and listened to steel bands practicing for Carnival.
We walked thru the botanical gardens. Notice the size of this wild Poinsettia. It's the national flower. We also went thru the zoo which is next to the gardens.
But when you're on an island, you must go to the beach. The beaches of Trinidad and Tobago are the most beautiful that I've ever seen, including Mexico and Hawaii.
Maracas Bay, Trinidad
Mt. Irvine Bay, Tobago
Rockley Bay, Scarborough, Tobago
Mt Irvine, Tobago The beach nearest our hotel.
Rob playing tourist. The temps were in the mid eighties every day.
So, wherever in the world you're celebrating the new year, we hope it's a safe, happy, healthy one for everyone. Happy New Year from Rob and me and Morgan, Tsar and the Porties.