BALTICS/ST. PETERSBURG POEM

One last poem,
Before you go home:

Twenty-five Americans traveled great distances with the Baltics and St. Petersburg as their destination,
And embarked on nearly two weeks of exploration and investigation,
Taking planes, trains, and buses--without hesitation.

In Vilnius, we visited the church of SS Peter and Paul,
Where white stucco figures covered every surface of the vault, dome, and wall.

In contrast, far from uplifting, the museum of the KBG,
Documents the horrors of man's inhumanity.

At picturesque medieval Trakai Castle the lake provides a natural moat,
Making it accessible by wooden bridge or boat.

We ascended the Hill of Crosses, bringing our hopes and dreams,
Giving us optimism for the success of our plans and schemes.

We admired Rundale Palace--huge, elegant, Rastrelli's work, with which few can compare,
Until a rainstorm tested whether our clothing really was, as advertised, wash and wear.

If you like Art Nouveau, then you know,
Riga's Albert Street is the place to go.

In Peksen's apartment we saw divine design,
With decoration derived from plants and vines that twine.

If it is a distant view you desire to admire,
Climb to the top of Turaida Castle's red brick tower.

We drank the spring water Silvija promised would restore our youth,
Although some said they'd prefer wine, Scotch, gin,  or vermouth.

But for things edible, we had a better treat,
For we found that for lunch as Chez Silvija was the place to eat.

On our route from Latvia to Estonia, a stop in Parnu, if you please,
Where some put in a toe, while others waded in, up to their knees.

In Tallinn, we walked up the hill to the Byzantine-style domed church and medieval St. Mary Dome church,
Then descended through the Old Town to the market from our lofty perch.

A curator gave us a private tour at KUMU:
Was the building or the art more interesting for you to view?

At the open-air museum, we saw what life was like on rural Estonian farms,
A hard life, yet with those thatched roofs, not without its charms.

On the bus to Russia, we watched the memorable "Singing Revolution,"
A documentary of a history disconnected from compassion, logic, or intelligent intuition.

Ah, the Hermitage Museum! As you know, as for me,
I would like to live there for eternity.

Just a hunch, but I think the ladies' apartment lunch,
Gave us a better understanding of real life today,
When lived the actual authentic Russian way.

At Catherine's Palace, the amber room is something we were delighted to see...
Amazing what can be done with the sap of a pine tree!

At Peterhof, with its fountains and gardens, did the architects try,
To rival  the grandeur of Louis XIV's Versailles?

And now, Silvija, our Tour Director extraordinaire,
With whom no other can compare.

Even in four countries, she never lost one of us,
As we mastered our listening devices with minimal fuss.

Although I suspect there were times, I think it is safe to say,
When she would have preferred to trade us for other tourists found along the way...

Telling the Smithsonian that the group was twenty-five when we started, and when we ended,
No mathematician could be offended.

So then, please join me, raise your glass for a toast,
To Silvija, the Tour Director with the most!!!