Americans are said to have an American Dream, and people of the Soviet Union have always had a Soviet Dream. Their dream was to get out of the Soviet Union. In 1991 the borders of their empire burst open, but surrounding countries quickly closed theirs, so most of the USSR's inmates never got a chance to look outside. For working class folks the West was mostly supermarkets; educated people sometimes went crazy from spending all their life studying Western culture and history, but never being able to see the museums and monuments of Europe for themselves.
In September 1992 I managed to get a travel passport (Russian citizens have two kinds of passports: ordinary ones that everyone is required to have, and travel passports that used to be very difficult to get). I also received $500 for a book (which was never published because the publishing house went bankrupt). My girlfriend's friend sent me an invitation to Germany, which allowed me to obtain a German visa after four months of paperwork. I decided to use that visa to get as far West as possible, and to see as many countries as I could before running out of money. At the time, separate visas were still required for each European country, but I had some experience in illegal border crossing from my trips to Central Asia.
Guidebooks were still unavailable in Russia in 1992, and my only source of practical information was Love Thy Neighbor, a novel written by Erich Maria Remarque in the 1940-s. The book describes the adventures of refugees from Nazi Germany as each of the surrounding countries tries to deport them elsewhere. I found the overall situation virtually unchanged. However, I managed to get into twenty countries, and was arrested only once.
Below are the letters I've sent to my family during the trip (information normally found in guidebooks omitted). I am sorry for little pranks I allowed myself: it was difficult to survive for three months (starting in mid-January) with only five hundred dollars. I was very naive when I started the journey, but it wasn't my fault.
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