Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) was swept away by the Russian cleanliness, John Warner (R-Va.) by the museums, but both senators agreed that in the absence of chicken, the local specialties of borsch and pampushki were suitable for the palate in the Ukrainian city of Kiev.
A Friday in the Ukraine behind them, the two, six of their Senate colleagues and some wives and assorted aides headed last weekend for Moscow -- a whirlwind city tour, a peek at the red brick walls of the Kremlin, and a visit to an American community in the midst of the "spy dust" controversy.
Washington officials have begun inspecting the apartments of Americans who live in the Soviet capital for traces of the possibly cancer-causing powder that the Reagan administration charges the Soviet secret police, the KGB, has used to track the movements of Americans.
On Sunday, apparently satiated with Soviet life, most of the bipartisan Washington entourage retreated to a Labor Day picnic at the "American dacha," the quaint array of blue and white Russian-style houses with sprawling lawns where U.S. Embassy employes get away from the bustle of 8 million Muscovites. There, 15 miles north of the Soviet capital, they stood in the sun, enjoyed hamburgers, hot dogs and New Coke, and reflected on their travels.
Warner said he was surprised by the apparent successes of the Soviet government's so-called "battle for sobriety." He said he had seen none of the "stumbling drunks" or long queues to buy vodka that he had witnessed during three previous visits.
"And in comparison to the abundant glasses of liquor we were given in previous visits," Warner said, "this time we haven't been given one drop."
Three months ago the Soviets began a campaign against alcoholism, including a notable decrease in the amount of alcohol served at official functions. Last week the government hiked the price of vodka by 25 percent in state stores.
Thurmond, 82, is on his first visit to Moscow. He said nothing has really surprised him. "We all know it's a police state and everything," he said. "But actually I've never seen so many apartment buildings in my life."
Thurmond said that in Tuesday's planned meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev he hoped to smooth the way for the November summit meeting between U.S. and Soviet leaders by clearing up some of Gorbachev's preconceptions about Americans and U.S. policy.
"Well," Thurmond said, "he's lived here all of his life, and probably thinks certain things. For instance, he considers SDI strategic defense initiative an offensive weapon and we have to convince him it's a defensive weapon."
"And we have to show him that the American people really want peace."
Seeing Thurmond, a well-known Senate hawk, at a press conference Saturday in Moscow, one Soviet official whispered with a chuckle, "An old peacenik."