Congratulations, Kev! You are the first forum member who visit Russia...
Does it count that I visited Russia before there was a forum? In 1986, I visited Leningrad (Saint Petersburg) for several days as part of a cruise of the Baltic Sea. I will never forget riding through town on a bus and seeing the following graffiti spray painted on a vacant building - in English, no less: "The Beatles 4-Ever!" I must tell you, that was the last
thing I expected to see in Leningrad and it really made my day.
Also, I made a point of visiting a local record shop to see if they had any Beatles selections which, sadly, they did not. However, they did have Julian's Valotte Lp. The only other western artists I recall seeing were UB40 (Geffery Morgan Lp) and Billy Joel (I think it was Nylon Curtain).
So it wasn't so dangerous as some people think?
Hmmm... I experienced a suspenseful encounter while shopping one day when three Russian dudes confronted me and wanted my American currency. The biggest of the three - and larger than me - was standing directly in front of me doing the ol' fist in the palm motion to let me know it could get violent if I didn't comply. I was not willing to hand over my cash and just as I was quickly pondering how I could defend myself against the three of them (after all, I'm not exactly Bruce Lee or Chuck Norris) eight members of my entourage approached from behind me (including four large males). I took a quick look back and greeted them so my potential muggers would know I was a part of that group and when I turned back to face the hooligans - they had disappeared - much to my relief. Needless to say, after that little episode, I didn't venture too far from the group anytime thereafter. Overall, though, the visit was informative and very rewarding.