Archive for August, 2008

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

Who Needs Rome, Venice and Tuscany?

When we decided to spend a week or so in Italy before crossing into France, we were nervous about battling the onslaught of tourists that converge on Italy during August. Many Europeans take off the ENTIRE month of August and hit the road. We knew the big towns and regions would be swamped, so we […]

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Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Hay, Man

For the past few days, we’ve been driving through Northern Italy, where the scenery looks something like Under the Tuscan Sun meets The Sound of Music.  Which is to say, it’s incredible.  We’ve crossed over a number of high mountain passes that have landed us in valleys full of fields of hay, where the smell […]

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Monday, August 25th, 2008

Eastern Europe, Naturally

Trying to picture Eastern Europe before I ever saw it, I always envisioned lots of communist bloc housing.  And also cabbage.  And clouds.  After having spent about six weeks there, I can report that it has at least the first two of these things in ready supply.  As it turns out, though, Eastern Europe also […]

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Sunday, August 24th, 2008

The Next Prague (and the Next and the Next and the Next and the Next)

Frequent travelers like to seek out places that are more off the beaten path and less expensive than their well-known counterparts, places they can claim as their own well before their fellow globetrotters have even heard of them.  Twenty years ago or so, these travelers discovered Prague, in the Czech Republic, and they fell in […]

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Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Getting Hungary

The twentieth century was a tough one for Hungary.  Until then, the nation had been one half of Austria-Hungary, one of the most powerful empires on earth.  World War I brought widespread destruction to the land, both during and after the actual conflict.  Hundreds of thousands of Hungarians were killed in battle, and under a […]

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Saturday, August 16th, 2008

At Evil’s Epicenter

Auschwitz.  Even the name of the infamous Nazi death camp sends a chill down my spine.  Although the camp and its neighbor, Auschwitz II (also called Birkenau), are both in Poland, they were the setting for a living nightmare experienced not only by Poles, but by people throughout Europe.  From places as far away as […]

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Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Insane in the Ukraine

To many, “Eastern Europe” signifies the old Communist bloc – an area of the world continuously grey and bleak, with long lines filled with desperate people waiting hours to score a loaf of bread or a piece of meat. Fortunately, these stereotypes are mostly a thing of the past. Since the Soviet Union collapsed in […]

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Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Tracking Dracula ’til the Cows Come Home

When you think about Romania, one of three things probably comes to mind: (1) Nadia Comaneci’s perfect 10 in the ’76 Olympics; (2) the draconian rule of Nicolae Ceausescu1 ; or (3) Dracula himself.  (After all, the count who was the inspiration for the evil character is said to hail from Transylvania, an area in central […]

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Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Just Your Typical Bosnian Vacation

Considering that Bosnia is most recently known for a gruesome war that ended just 13 years ago, I’m guessing that there aren’t many people out there who put Bosnia and Hercegovina (aka “Bosnia”) at the top of their list of vacation destinations.  In fact, it wasn’t on our radar screen until we looked at a […]

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Monday, August 4th, 2008

In Defense of Dubrovnik

In 1776, the Republic of Dubrovnik became the first foreign state to recognize a small, upstart republic known as the United States of America.  The people of Dubrovnik had, for centuries, guarded their own freedom against incursions by larger, wealthier states.  It seems they were eager to support others who wanted to do the same. […]

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