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Great Getaways : Times Correspondents' Course in Favorite Weekend Escapes : MOSCOW

October 19, 1986|William J. Eaton

For foreigners, there really is no such thing as a weekend hideaway in the Soviet Union, since their travel must be arranged through the official tourist organization or with approval of government agencies.

Foreigners are kept under the watchful eye of Intourist guides, highway police, hotel administrators, even room maids--so privacy is all but impossible.

Given that situation, however, the ancient town of Suzdal provides a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of Moscow and to enjoy a rolling green landscape and ancient churches in relative serenity.

Suzdal, which traces its origins back nearly 1,000 years, is about 135 miles from Moscow--or some 3 1/2 hours by car over two-lane roads.

With a little bit of luck, a visitor will be able to reserve an izba , a tastefully done replica of a traditional wooden house, on the grounds of the 14th-Century Pokrovsky Convent.

There are 15 such cabins, as well as about 30 rooms in a small hotel inside the walls of the nunnery, which was once famous, or notorious, as the place of exile for cast-off wives of Russian nobles. Evdokia, the first wife of Peter the Great, was forced into the nunnery and remained there for 26 years.

Another possibility is the Suzdal Tourist Center, where a modern hotel with a sauna, swimming pool and disco provides comfortable but more conventional lodging for foreign and Soviet travelers. There is also a motel, still a rarity in the Soviet Union. But the convent is more secluded and has fewer watchful eyes.

Pokrovsky Convent (also known as the White Monastery), Pokrovsky Street, Suzdal. Telephone 20889. Cost: 30 rubles (about $42) per person per night.

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