Cold War related travel story – 1986.
I was in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia), trying to decide if I had enough money to do one more thing in that part of the world or if I needed to get back to my departure city for USA, Madrid.
I was walking along the bank of the beautiful river there, the Danube (Strauss waltz material), when I crossed paths with a tour group from the USSR. One had on a t-shirt from Moscow, so maybe they were from there. I was enchanted to have this opportunity to stand so near a group of Soviets, so I tried to mingle into the tour group and nonchalantly walk along with them as if we were one.
I was intrigued by their cameras. They weren’t the usual Nikons or Olympus. They had Cyrillic names imprinted on them, so they were USSR makes. I had to get quite close to people to look the cameras over. This is what invited the ire of the tour guide.
The tour guide stopped and called me out in English, “excuse me, you have not paid to be in this tour, these people have, so you need to find your own tour to join.” There were some 25 people in the tour now staring at me. I grimaced, blushed, and tried to back out of the group without dying of embarrassment.
That was one of my great Soviet encounters of 1986. There were others. It was actually quite pleasant. There were several cuties in the tour group, and I was in my 20’s, so…. I had thoughts of diplomatic relations.