The most exciting, and may I add “tense” adventure during my travels was when I visited Viipuri, now Vyborg, in Russia. The visa process itself was quite complex, but the journey even more so. I went by train to Vyborg, which used to be part of Finland. Upon my arrival I was immediately faced with the sad realities of Russian Life. There were no lights on in the train station- only sunlight from the large windows. Many people were begging, especially children. The streets were filthy with stray and dead animals and sidewalks were filled with people waiting on line for food.
I headed for Aalto’s library- a beautiful building from what I had seen published. I brought photos of the library with me, in case I couldn’t find it. I was standing right in front of the library and didn’t recognize it. Finally, I compared some features to the photos to realize that it really was the right building. It had been severely damaged during the war and hasn’t been touched since. It is hardly white anymore and most of its glass is broken. Inside, once again, no lights were on. Light filtered through the series of damaged skylights. The walls were peeling and full of mildew. The library is functioning fine and several children were studying in what seemed like darkness. It was sad to see both the building and the city in ruins. My heart truly goes out to the Russian people.
On a brighter side, I was also able to take a boat to Tallinn, Estonia, which has been free from the Soviet Union only since 1990. This proved to be a wonderful experience. The town is filled with beautiful buildings and fortresses, Finnish, Swedish and Russian influences were evident in the architecture. The people are also enjoying their freedom and appear to be on the way to recovery.
Right now, I’m in Oslo, Norway. I decided to stop in Stockholm, Oslo and Bergen- fjord country- before returning to Italy.
- Pamela Musella
From a letter dated 20 October 1993, Oslo