In 1946, Winston Churchill coined the phase, "iron curtain." Describing the influence of the Soviet Union over eastern Europe, dividing the continent, the separation lasted from end of World War II in 1945 to the end of the Cold War in 1989, personified by border control, most notably by the Berlin Wall. At the time, the Soviet Union incorporated Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Transcaucasian Republics, including Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), or Soviet Union, was indeed that. (Read the whole article here.)
In our May 10 issue in 19848, our Moscow correspondent reported on the Soviet train system. The Red Arrow Express running between Moscow and Leningrad, now St. Petersburg. Every train led to Moscow in this case, with other destinations including Gorky (Nizhni Novgorod), Kharkov and Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, at the time called "the Ukraine." Asked if the trains ran on time, our corresponded said, "Sometimes yes-sometimes no. All same like Long Island Railroad." Seventy-four years later, the landscape has truly changed.
Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990, 15 states have emerged from the Soviet Union, including the lesser-known Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Last year, we marked the 20th anniversary of the end of the Berlin Wall with highlights of Germany's capital. This summer, we tracked the growth in hotels throughout Russia, among them the Radisson Royal Moscow and the Lotte Hotel Moscow, prior to the opening of W St. Petersburg next spring in March 2011.
Made famous by Sacha Baron Cohen's "Borat," Kazakhstan has flourished among developments featured among our piece, "Europe's Grand Openings." Harking back to days of yore, David J. Pistacchio of Lewis Travel & Cruises mentioned Land of the Firebird by Suzanne Massie featuring old Russia, among our Best Business Books, while along the Red Arrow Express line, The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow was featured among our collection of Hot New Hotels.
As we celebrate our 80th anniversary, we're taking a look at what was happening in the industry in the past and asking agents to share their thoughts on what has changed in the industry up until the present. So please share your thoughts by posting a comment below, writing us at our Facebook page, sending a tweet to our Twitter page or by engaging in a discussion in real time at AgentNation (the only social community online for all kinds of travel agents, which certainly wasn't around 80 years ago). We want to hear from you.