Friday, May 14, 2010

27 Freelance Friday: Travels With Vivi, The Trans-Siberian Railway to Japan

We last left off when Vivi decided to leave Nazi Germany and received an invitation from her uncle to join him in Japan... 

In early 1937, Vivi hitchhiked to Berlin to catch the Trans-Siberian Railroad that would take her across the wide continent in three action-packed weeks. She often talked about the interesting characters she met on this trip, the exotic foods offered by colorful vendors during the stops, the swim in Lake Baikal, after which she almost missed the train and would have been left on the shore without passport or money, and the danger of passing though territory embroiled in violent fighting; she vividly recalled local warlords armed to the teeth, and the steppe in flames from warfare, which the train routinely just passed through after dousing the wagons with water.

She finally arrived in Vladivosotck, said good-bye to the many friends she made in the past three weeks, and took the boat to Japan. Here, she was met by her Uncle Werner. who immediately set about educating her in the Japanese ways: Private language tutoring, lessons in Calligraphy, and formal training in the Tea Ceremony were all part of her Japanese education. In turn, she tutored local college students in English and German.

She eagerly embraced her new situation and settled in happily. From their home base in the little town of Yamaguchi, Vivi and her uncle undertook many adventurous trips; some to luxurious spas with full Geisha treatment, some to far away islands, such as Formosa and Sumatra. On these outings Vivi kept an open mind and took in the foreign ways in a matter-of-fact way; she told about walking along a beach and encountering a large wooden rack with severed heads drying in the sun. Vivi explained “That’s the way they did that then”, and she assured me that they had been safe because the natives never attacked tourists.

Next up, Vivi meets a handsome young American named George Potter...

This is the second installment from guest blogger (and Katrina's mom) Kerstin Potter.


  1. Absolutely incredible! I can't wait to read more! Did she keep any photographs from her travels? I would love to see young Vivi!

  2. Can't wait to read more about Vivi's adventures ... thanks for sharing.

  3. I just read an article about Lake Baikal. It's the largest freshwater lake in the world and it is being threatened by the pollution from a paper plant that Russia is reopening.

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