We took an Intrepid trip to Central Europe a few weeks ago. Excellent journey overall. This was my second booking with Intrepid (first was in Cuba) and it was well done. One of the the things that I enjoy about them is that they leave plenty of down time to allow for travelers to do their own thing. The highlights for me were Krakow and rural Slovakia. The low lights were bedbugs in the Cesky Krumlov hotel.
Vienna is a nice city. We went to the Albertina art museum which houses many Picasso paintings. Aside from the bedbugs, Cesky Krumlov was beautiful, an old Czech town with a castle and scenic waterways. Prague is OK. A bit too much of a “party” (crowded with Brits on Stag & Hen dos) town for me, but the beer in Czech Republic is outstanding. We visited the historic salt mines in Gory Sowie, then on to Krakow, a beautiful Polish city with a great green belt surrounding the city center. Perogi! We then had a sobering and necessary visit to Auschwitz and Birkenau. Then spent some time in the mountains in Slovakia and finishing up in beautiful Budapest in troubled Hungary.
The town of Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic.
After much traveling I have formulated a small set of rules that I believe everyone should follow when going to new places:
- Eat and drink locally.
- Use local services (taxis, hotels, etc.)
- See everything there is to see.
- Be nice and polite to the locals.
- Tip well.
- Then, get the fuck out.
Bone Church, Kutná Hor, Czech Republic.
Train stop, Slovakia.
The gallows where they hanged the piece of shit Nazi scum commander of Auschwitz. Simple in design, yet effective.
Part 2-The Shit
Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary are very beautiful and steeped in history. The region is the “bread basket” of the E.U. But, it is also lead by corrupt far-right populists who are very damaging to democracy, freedom and liberty. As people are learning the world over, neo-liberalism may be shit for the people and the environment, but replacing it with a right wing populist strong-man is even shittier for the masses and environment–but always great for the populist asshole, his family and his close friends.
Viktor Orban is the clown fascist Donald Trump aspires to be. Photo from Wikipedia.
Here’s a link to a good New York TImes article that explains some of the corruption and the E.U.s weak response.
I was chatting with a high school aged girl who was working in a shop where we bought some stuff. She said that everyone in the region was pissed off. She did not have the English skills to elaborate (nor I the Slovakian skills to listen), but I think many folk in the region are getting tired of the current state.
When you look at the Dutch people of Netherlands today, they are all 8 feet tall, with beaming white teeth and booming health. When you look at Dutch people in 17th century art, they were all squatty, unattractive trolls with bad skin. If you ask the Dutch people what changed, they all state lots of milk, good diets and great healthcare.
In Slovakia, today, you can view this phenomena in real time. Almost everyone over the age of 40 is short and squatty in stature and not very attractive by conventional western standards. Whereas almost everyone under 40, seems to be fit, taller, healthy and very attractive. Diet and healthcare does indeed make a difference.
A Non-Scientific Posit
In the USA during the 21st century we have slid towards a more right wing authoritarian society. The political vanguard of this on teevee is Fox “News.” On Fox “News” almost every female news reader has fake blond hair. If you go to states like Texas, Florida, Alabama, etc. that have a large population of Trump fans, the majority of the women sport fake blond hair.
In Central/Eastern Europe, in cities like Budapest, Kiev, Krakow, it is the same. In more international cities such as Prague and Vienna there seems to be almost the opposite with women dying their hair black. Therefore: authoritarianism leads to fake blondes.