Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Red Plush and Black Bread

"My first encounter with the Soviets was at the Viborg railway station restaurant, at the border point on the Scandinavian route to Leningrad, where we breakfasted. Even though I'd been warned about prices, they were still a shock. One hard-boiled egg and tea costs four rubles, or one American dollar at the official rate of exchange. You pay extra for butter, jam and bread. A full breakfast of (grapes), ham and eggs and coffee costs more than twenty rubles, or five dollars. The Viborg railway station must date back a long time, probably to the period when the Czars of Russia still ruled all Finland. The dining room had enormously high ceilings and the inevitable red plush curtains. I call the color "dried-blood red" because it is so dark. To me these curtains are depressingly heavy, both in texture and color. But to the Russians they seem to be the ultimate in luxury."

Good Reading Rack Service, 1956

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