The Un-funnest Vacation in Europe

Ransom Riggs

Let's say you're on vacation in the Lithuanian countryside. Dad suggests that your family stop at a nearby historical attraction, Išgyvenimo Drama, an interactive experience which claims to transport visitors back to the heady Cold War days of 1984. Approaching it, you see that the whole thing is housed in a disused Soviet bunker, and start to get a queasy feeling in your stomach. A soldier appears and starts barking orders at you. You don't know what he's saying, but his intent is clear: On your knees! You drop, suddenly sure that you're in for (and hoping you'll survive) Eastern Europe's strangest tourist attraction: the Survival Drama, in which you get to become a Soviet citizen circa 1984 for roughly three hours.

It was an idea hatched by a few enterprising Lithuanians, who saw a perfectly good bunker going to waste and decided to put it to good use. Built in 1980, in its past life it protected a key TV transmitter and housed Soviet troops. The Red Army may have been long gone, but at 4,000 square meters and 5 meters deep, the bunker wasn't going anywhere.

According to Scribol:

Tourists pay 120 LTL ($US 220) each to step back into 1984 as a temporary USSR citizen for 2.5 hours. On entry, all belongings, including money, cameras and phones, are handed over and under the watchful eye of guards and alsatians, tourists change into threadbare Soviet coats and are herded through the bunker. Experiences include watching TV programs from 1984, wearing gas masks, learning the Soviet anthem under duress, eating typical Soviet food (with genuine Soviet tableware) and even undergoing a concentration-camp-style interrogation and medical check. The Soviet Bunker is not a theme park for the faint-hearted; all of the actors involved in the project were originally in the Soviet army and some were authentic interrogators. However, there are performances tailored specifically for school groups so they know when to cool it, too. Before heading back into the real world, participants are treated to a shot of vodka. They leave with a better understanding of life under Soviet occupation and, no doubt, a new respect for their elders' past.

Not far away from Vilnius, in the woods, there is a secret two-level underground maze spread over 3,000 square meters in a 2 ha closed territory. Here you can avail of the opportunity to be transferred to the past and become a citizen of a totalitarian state.

Upon arrival you will be met by guards with dogs.

Having waved goodbye to your belongings, currency, cameras and mobile phones, you will put on a Soviet threadbare coat and dive into the life of a USSR citizen, full of tension and social peculiarities.

You'll get used to wearing a gas mask.

You'll be interrogated in a KGB office.

You'll dance to the music of those times and will make a Soviet dinner yourself.

Leaving the bunker you will receive a special certificate and a unique present from the Soviet times.

Images courtesy of Azillphotos