Europe Travelogue

Popular Travel Destinations
See all Europe Travelogues

Eastern Europe

  • Submitted by: Evelyn C. Leeper
  • Submission Date: 10th Feb 2005



Table of Contents:






Preliminaries
Croatia
Slovenia
Austria (1)
Czech Republic
Austria (2)
Hungary
Romania
Bulgaria
Serbia
Bosnia
Croatia (2)
Closing





Index of days:





June 1 - Leave the United States (page 1)
June 2 - Arrive in Zagreb, Yugoslavia (page 1)
June 3 - Zagreb (page 3)
June 4 - Zagreb--Ljubljana--Postojna (page 5)
June 5 - Postojna--Bled--Salzburg, Austria (page 7)
June 6 - Salzburg (page 8)
June 7 - Salzburg--Prague, Czechoslovakia (page 10)
June 8 - Prague (page 12)
June 9 - Prague--Vienna, Austria (page 14)
June 10 - Vienna (page 16)
June 11 - Vienna--Budapest, Hungary (page 19)
June 12 - Budapest (page 20)
June 13 - Budapest--Cluj, Romania (page 21)
June 14 - Cluj--Brasov (page 22)
June 15 - Brasov--Bucharest (page 24)
June 16 - Bucharest (page 26)
June 17 - Bucharest--Sofia, Bulgaria (page 28)
June 18 - Sofia (page 30)
June 19 - Sofia--Belgrade, Yugoslavia (page 32)
June 20 - Belgrade--Sarajevo (page 34)
June 21 - Sarajevo--Dubrovnik (page 36)
June 22 - Dubrovnik (page 38)
June 23 - Dubrovnik (page 39)
June 24 - The flight home (page 39)





June 1, 1991:




We arrived at JFK in plenty of time and were all
checked in two hours before our flight. My carry-on is unusually
heavy, since I'm carrying a fourteen-language European phrase book,
a fourteen-language European menu reader, a Yiddish phrase book, a
German-English/English-German dictionary, a Russian-
English/English-Russian dictionary, and copies of phrases from
travel guides. Those plus the various tour books makes quite a
load. I hope I don't discover that everyone speaks English.

Our flight left forty minutes late--not too bad. Our bags
almost got ticketed for Belgrade instead of Zagreb, but the ticket
agent realized his mistake and went chasing after them on the belt.
I just figured we had to clear customs in Belgrade. The plane was
only half full, but we had a full row, and my light and headphone
jack were broken. However, when I woke up at some point, everyone
else in the row had left and took their luggage with them, so I was
able to stretch out and get four hours of almost real sleep.






June 2, 1991:




After breakfast we got to see our first scenery-
--snow-covered mountains from the airplane window. I think the
consensus was that they were the Alps.

On arriving at Belgrade, we discovered our flight to Zagreb had
been combined with two other flights, giving us a couple of hours to
kill in the transit lounge. We stopped into the restaurant, which
took dollars but overcharged us (10 dinars for bread and 44 dinars
for a cup of coffee--it's 22 dinars to the dollar). The guide books
warned us about this and when we're more awake and paying dinars
we'll be more specific ('ne kruh'--no bread; 'koliko?'--how much?).

When our flight arrived in Zagreb we had another surprise--no
one was there to meet us. We saw a bus labeled 'Globus' in the
window but that turned out to be a regular airport bus with a
newspaper named Globus! We tried calling Kompas but since it was
Sunday they were closed. All the hotel could suggest was a taxi,
and we ended up taking that for 800 dinars.

Another surprise awaited us at the hotel--they had no
reservations for us. But our vouchers were acceptable and we
checked in, somewhat dissatisfied with how things were going.

Driving in, Mark described Zagreb as reminding him of Denver--
on a flat plain but with tall mountains in the background. This is
accurate, and even the sorts of buildings we saw were not unlike
those we see between the airport and AT&T in Denver. (Our knowledge
of downtown Denver is limited, but I think I can say it does *not*
resemble downtown Zagreb!)

When we chose this tour, by the way, Binayak (one of the people
we went to Southeast Asia with) commented that we must not have
liked the independent travel thing. Not true, though for Eastern
Europe many people recommend a tour. But initially Mark's parents
were supposed to go with us and, even after they dropped out, we had
picked up Steve Goldsmith and Mary Sesesky as companions, and (with
the exception of Steve) none of them was up to the physical effort
of independent travel. (Mary has arthritis and has some difficulty
walking.) However, our Southeast Asian experience stood us in good
stead--when no one met us at the airport, we didn't hesitate to try
to figure out the local phone system and call someone. We didn't
feel as lost as we might have.

The money, incidentally, is fairly complicated here. There was
a 10,000-fold devaluation, but the old bills are still in
circulation, so you need to remember that a 20,000-dinar note is
worth ten cents, while a 50-dinar note is worth US$2.50. This would
be bad enough, but there are no commas in the numbers on the bills,
making quick calculations tough.

While Steve and Mary took a rest break, Mark and I took a walk
around the hotel area, eventually finding our way to Ilica, the main
street. The architecture is very European, though I can't define
what I mean by that. There weren't a lot of cars on the streets,
for a number of reasons. First of all, like every other European
city of any size, Zagreb has a mass transit system (in this case,
electric trams). Second, there are a fair number of streets blocked
off as pedestrian malls, making car travel even more complicated
than the preponderance of one-way streets normally would. And last,
it was Sunday.

One different aspect of the architecture is that there are a
fair number of businesses in courtyards down 'alleys' from the main
street. These 'alleys' are probably better described as driveways,
but built for horses, not cars. We scouted the restaurant situation
a bit and discovered that most of the restaurants were closed on
Sunday. We returned to the hotel, passing the wonderfully baroque
(well, Neo-Baroque) Croatian National Theatre and the Mimara Museum
on the way. The museum is right across the street from our hotel
(the Intercontinental) and we plan to go there on Monday. We got
Steve and Mary and went out looking for a place to have dinner.
There were a lot of bars and pizza places, but we wanted something
better than pizza. Eventually we found the Kornat. Steve and Mark
went down to look at the menu (the restaurant was in the basement)
and reported it acceptable. So we stashed Mary's wheelchair behind
a counter in the lobby and went down.

Ordering was an adventure. One waiter spoke English (some) and
the menu was in German and Italian, With the aid of the menu reader
and the German-English dictionary, we were able to get through the
menu (plus Italian is a lot like Spanish, which I do know). Trying
to find out how much everything cost (not everything was on the
menu) was another trial. And the only water available was mineral
water, not Mark's water of choice. (He prefers large quantities of
plain water.) We ended up ordering red mullet and squid, grilled,
with a side dish of spinach and potatoes. The fish was very good,
especially the squid, and helped improve our spirits somewhat. The
bill at 1500 dinars (about US$65) seemed high by our usual standards
but not for upscale restaurants--which are all that seem to be open
in Zagreb on Sunday, or at least we saw no mid-range sorts of
places.

After eating I used the restroom in the restaurant. There was
an attendant, but all I had to tip her was a one-dinar coin (about
five cents). She found this insufficient and was (apparently)
asking for more, but all I could do was shrug and say it was all I
had. We paid our bill (on Mastercard--the one advantage of eating
in the more expensive restaurants is that it doesn't deplete your
cash) and went upstairs. We retrieved Mary's wheelchair, at which
point the restroom attendant came up the stairs and wanted a tip for
checking the wheelchair! Since she hadn't even touched it, and
since there was no one watching it while we were eating, this seemed
unreasonable. Now, tourists are often at a disadvantage but, in
this case, pretending non-comprehension proved the best defense.

We returned to the hotel by way of the Croatian National
Theatre again and checked the schedule. Unfortunately, Monday night
was a play (in Croatian, of course). Tuesday they were putting on
Verdi's NABUCCO (an opera), but we would be gone by then. It's a
pity, as tickets were 60 to 120 dinars (US$3-6). Of course, they
were only that expensive for operas and ballets--plays cost 30 to 60
dinars (US$1.50-3). A movie costs 53 dinars (at least at the one
theater we checked).

About 9 PM Mark and I went out to see night life in Zagreb.
Night life seems to consist of walking, drinking in sidewalk cafes,
and hanging around Trg Republike, the main square. So we walked
around, just observing (and somewhat jet-lagged), for about an hour
before returning for some much-needed sleep.

As we walked around, we saw Croatian flags everywhere--on
buildings, in store windows, hanging from the rear view mirrors of
cars. There were also posters apparently announcing the vote for
independence, but my Croatian wasn't up to being able to read them
to be sure.






June 3, 1991:




I woke up at 5:30 AM but Mark slept until I woke
him at 8:40 AM--amazing, as he usually wakes up very early. The
weather was beautiful--here's hoping it lasts! The four of us went
out looking for breakfast and eventually settled on a self-service
'Turist Expres Restaurant.' We had a very un-USA (un-American has
the wrong connotation) breakfast: I had liver goulash and elbow
macaroni and Mark had sausage and beans in a soup. (Mark hadn't
realized the goulash he took was liver so he got stuck with the
sausage I chose--he hates liver.) That and two sodas and a
container of yogurt came to 154 dinars (about US$7)--quite
reasonable considering the size of the portions. Mary's diabetes
makes food timing a bit more important, and limits her food choices
as well, but we'll manage.

After a stop at Kompas (where they assured us we would be
reimbursed for the taxi Sunday), we headed for the Dolac vegetable
market. Finding a path that didn't involve stairs took a while, but
after all, it's unlikely the vegetables are carried up stairs, isn't
it? The books describe the market as colorful and that it is, with
red tomatoes, green peppers, brown nuts, and fruits and vegetables
of all other colors. We weren't actually in the market for
vegetables, of course, and having just eaten we weren't seized by a
sudden craving for fruit, so we just looked around, took some
pictures, and then proceeded on.

We spent a little time trying to find a bicycle chain and lock.
No, it wasn't as a bizarre souvenir, but to secure Mary's wheelchair
when we went into restaurants and stores. We couldn't find one, and
when the tour starts it should be less important.

We saw St. Stephen's Cathedral in the Kaptol section of the
Upper Town, the original sections of Zagreb. As with all other
cathedrals we visit in Europe, it was covered with scaffolding.
(See my Benelux log for details.)

Then we tried to get to Gradec, the other half of the Upper
Town. This was not easy--at one point Steve and I were trying to
get directions from a policeman who spoke only Croatian and German.
An American tourist wandered over and we eventually pieced together
directions. These led, unfortunately, to a *long* flight of steps.
Okay, go to plan B: go to the base of the funicular off Ilica and
ride it up. It's certainly cheap enough--five dinars each (about 22
cents). So up we went, on a much shorter ride than the Penang Hill
funicular in Malaysia. At the top was the Lotrscak Tower, which
Steve, Mark, and I decided to climb. We did the seventy-seven steps
up to the third floor, then Mark and Steve climbed to the top while
I stayed on the third floor. In the distance (well, a few blocks
away) was St. Mark's Church with its gorgeous tile roof displaying
the Croatian shield (I wonder how recent that is). I also got a
bird's-eye view of the changing of the guard. Oh, yes, while we
were climbing up the stairs (narrow in a circular staircase), they
fired off the noontime gun. Scared the feathers out of us, I can
tell you!

We descended, and walked around Gradec, including seeing the
outside of St. Catherine's and the Stone Gate, which contains a
portrait of the Virgin which miraculously escaped a fire in 1731.
This seems to be a popular shrine, with lots of candles lit and many
'hvala' ('thank you') plaques on the walls. It's strange because
the street (now closed to vehicular traffic) runs right through the
shrine. (Why does Gradec, the craftsmen's town, have more religious
shrines than Kaptol, the clerics' side?)

At St. Mark's they were filming what someone said was a
children's film. Well, when the 'bride' walked out and lit up a
cigarette, I suspected it was a film and not just elaborate wedding
photography, and when the two trolls with hooked noses and punk hair
styles arrived, I figured it was *not* the filming of WAR AND PEACE.

We stood there taking pictures of the guard in their heavy red
coats (I pity them in the fairly hot weather) and the church when a
man came up and asked where we were from. When we said 'The United
States (America),' he started talking about Croats wanting to be
free, to smile, to have tourists (he was very big on this--I take it
as a sign that tourism was *way* down, and since tourism is a major
industry in Croatia, his concern isn't surprising), etc. But he
also had some very negative things to say about the Serbs: that they
were repressive (and oppressive), as well as primitive. We talked
for quite a while, or rather, he talked, trying to convince us that
separation was the right thing. He seemed to think that Slovenia
and Macedonia would side with Croatia--whether that meant recognize
Croatia's secession, join Croatia and be ruled by it, or secede in
their own right wasn't clear. He kept saying the Croats didn't want
war, only freedom. What will happen? Only time will tell.

After this long conversation in the hot sun, we stopped at a
shaded sidewalk cafe by the funicular for Cokes, then took the
funicular down and returned to our hotel to freshen up.

About 2:30 PM we walked across the street to the Mimara Museum.
This is a new museum which opened a couple of years ago and consists
of the private collection of (Mr.) Mimara, who donated it to Croatia
and helped plan the building and display facilities. It is a small
museum (3700 pieces) compared to someplace like the Metropolitan or
the Prado, but remarkable in its coverage. There is one wing of
Asian artifacts: Japan, China, and Southeast Asia. Where other
museums would have a dozen samurai swords, the Mimara has one, but
as Mark said, this means the viewer is not overwhelmed by quantity
instead of quality. Another wing was glassware. Two wings were
devoted to European painters: Rembrandt, Rubens, Goya, El Greco, Van
Gogh, Holbein, Seurat, Pissarro, Bosch, Renoir, Velazquez,
Botticelli, Constable, Turner, da Vinci, and Caravaggio (though for
the latter two they admitted the paintings might be 'from the school
of'). This is a pretty amazing collection which, because of its
location, remains relatively unknown. Of course, the Mimara only
opened in 1989 (Mimara died in 1987), so it's still very young.
When we left the museum there seemed to be a lot of reporters
clustered around the entrance. When we got outside, we saw there
was a film crew set up. It turned out the reporters were actors
playing reporters. Mark said, 'Isn't that Theodore Bikel?' and
then, 'And that's Omar Sharif.' We didn't believe him at first, but
then we saw their names on chairs off to one side. We decided to
stay and watch a bit, especially since Mary wanted to rest, so we
went and sat on one of the benches.

When they started shotting the scene we got up to watch. After
the scene Sharif sat on the bench where we had been. It was the
closest bench and so we walked back to it and Mary asked him if she
could sit down. He said yes and then started talking to us: asking
us where we were from, where we were traveling to, and so on. He
said he travels too much for work to enjoy it; on his vacations he
just wants to stay home (Paris). We talked about Americans and
their provinciality. He said most Americans probably couldn't point
out France on a world map (probably true), but also that they
couldn't name major state capitals (e.g., Texas), leading to a
bizarre listing of state capitals (one of my specialties). In all,
we talked for about twenty minutes before he was called for the next
shot (he said this was fast; in the United States or Western Europe
set-ups take much longer). All in all, he was very friendly and
gracious, signing a lot of autographs for children (and adults)
nearby. (Oh, the movie is called MEMORIES OF MIDNIGHT.)

After that, we returned to the hotel and wrote in our logs
until it was time for the group to get together (7:30 PM). We went
down to the lobby and a quarter of the people were there already--
two! Yes, our 'group' is eight people. Besides the four of us are
Ada Hale (from Argentina), Noami (from Uruguay), and another couple
who were too tired to come to dinner. We sorted out all the
technical details, then went upstairs to change, as we were eating
at the fancy restaurant in the hotel. They required jackets, so
Mark wore a tie and his cardigan sweater, and Steve borrowed my
corduroy blazer. I got a chance to wear my skirt and good blouse,
so it wasn't a waste packing them.

So we're sitting there in the restaurant, making chit-chat with
our two companions and our guide (Mojca Cajnko) when Theodore Bikel,
Jane Seymour, and Omar Sharif walked by. And Sharif stopped at our
table, said hello to us, and wished us a good dinner.

Sometimes life hands you a moment so perfect you wish everyone
who ever sneered at you could be there.

Mojca practically fell off her chair. 'Do you know who that
is? That's Omar Sharif!' 'Oh, yes, we met him at the Mimara today
and talked with him a while.' Or as I said, 'We didn't waste any
time when we hit town.' She had already been surprised at the
amount of sight-seeing we had done, but this was clearly way beyond
the usual tour member's ambition.

Dinner was a bit of an anti-climax: cold ham appetizer, cheese
strudel, veal cutlet (and extremely salty vegetables), a salad, and
dessert. For dessert I had poppyseed cake and Mark had fruit cake
(not like holiday fruitcake, but a cake with fruit topping). I
really liked mine--very unusual, with a topping something like jam
and then chocolate over that.

The restaurant was very empty--only three small groups.
Tourism *is* way down this year--good for us (fewer crowds) but bad
for the local economy.

Then the usual log-writing and bed.





June 4, 1991:




At the buffet breakfast we met Sam and Susan,
the last two tour members. They'd been traveling for six months
already and had plans through August, all with organized tours.
He's in real estate in Los Angeles, obviously a very lucrative
field.

At 8 AM we left on our city tour. The city guide gave us the
usual background information while our driver (Tone) negotiated his
way through some really awful traffic (and, yes, there were a lot of
Yugos). Obviously, what I said yesterday about the lack of traffic
was inaccurate--it was entirely because it was Sunday. Zagreb is
the capital of Croatia, and was first mentioned in 1093 or 1094, or
at least Kaptol was; Gradec (pronounced 'Greech') was mentioned
about a hundred years later. The lower part of the town came much
later,

We passed a couple of interesting buildings. There was the
Croatian National Theatre, of course (also called the Opera House).
There was the Exhibition Pavilion (or Art Pavilion) which was first
built in Budapest; then the framework was dismantled and transported
to Zagreb. And there was an art gallery designed by Ivan Mestrovic
(who also designed the fountain in front of the Croatian National
Theatre), which had been turned in to a 'Museum of the Revolution,'
but seemed likely to revert to art galleryhood soon.

Changes like these outdate guide book information quickly.
What I had called 'Trg Republike' yesterday turns out to be named
'Trg Ban Jelacic.' The Croatian flag is everywhere; the Yugoslav
flag nowhere to be seen. Both have red, white, and blue horizontal
stripes, but the red star in the center of the latter is replaced by
the red-and-white checkerboarded coat of arms of Croatia for the
former. In fact, people here so dislike the red stars that on
license plates many paint over it with white paint or put a Croatian
coat of arms sticker over it.
We finally got to Gradec and had a walking tour. The first
stop was for people to stare at Omar Sharif's bus--is he following
us? :-) Then we saw the Institute of History, which was being used
for the film as well. The guide pointed out things we hadn't
noticed yesterday, like the gas lamps still used to light the
streets, and the oldest pharmacy in Zagreb (1355--I assume the
merchandise has changed since then). There was also some
duplication, though: the Stone Gate, Lotrscak Tower (which we didn't
climb), and St. Mark's (whose roof had looked much nicer in the
sunlight). Between the Tower and St. Marks' was St. Cyril's, a
Greek *Catholic* church--most unusual. We also found out what the
coats of arms on the roof of St. Marks' were. The left we knew was
Croatia; the right is Zagreb, with the three heads a symbol of
Dalmatia and the marten a symbol of Slovonia (*not* Slovenia). And
the noontime changing of the guard we saw yesterday was only the
fifth since 1918. That's because the guard was just reinstituted
May 30 as part of the independence declaration. No wonder the crowd
(on a Monday, no less) was so large. I guess we were actually
photographing a political demonstration without realizing it.

We also saw the Croatian Parliament Building across St. Mark's
Square from the Viceroy's Palace (Orsic Palace).

When Ada saw Steve helping Mary back on the bus (which
basically involves lifting her up each step), she said she thought
he was a wonderful young man. She also said after seeing Mary on
this trip, she would never say she couldn't do something.

Then on to St. Stephen's, and our luck gave out and the rain
started. Luckily all we had was a quick dash to the interior, which
was dry. Inside was the usual assortment of altars and pulpits, a
copy of a Titian presented to the church for Zagreb's 900th
anniversary as a bishopric (okay, so it's a few years early), etc.
St. Stephen's also has the 'fourth best organ in the world.' (What
are the first three and who rates them anyway?) And just inside the
door is an example of Glagotic writing, from before the Latin
alphabet was adopted (and before Cyrillic too, one suspects, though
it is not in use in Croatia).


After a brief rest stop at the hotel, we started out for
Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Someone described Yugoslavia as
seven nationalities in six republics, speaking four languages,
practicing three religions, and using two alphabets. The seven
nationalities are Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian,
Albanian, Hungarian, and Romanian. The six republics are Slovenia,
Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. The
languages are Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian, and Macedonian; the
religions Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Muslim; the alphabets Latin
and Cyrillic. We will be visiting Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia,
Bosnia-Hercegovina, and then Croatia again.

The drive was through forests and would have been pretty except
for the rain. Our city tour of Ljubljana (Mojca's home town and the
capital of Slovenia) was also in the rain, but was a bus tour rather
than a walking tour, so it wasn't too bad. Then we got our lunch
break. Mary and Steve went to the hotel close by, but Mark and I
wandered off and eventually found a self-service restaurant where we
got chicken and tripe, each with polenta, and sodas for 138 dinars
(about US$6). By the time we got out it had stopped raining,
allowing us to walk around a bit. The Dragon Bridge we saw earlier
was a bit too far away for us to return for a picture, so Mark had
to settle for a post card. The Tromostovje (three-bridge cluster),
for which Ljubljana is best known, was under construction and
covered with construction materials. We did get to see a bit of
Ljubljana, though not under the best of conditions.

When we returned to the bus and left for Postojna, the rain
started again. (Nice of it to stop for our walk.) Most of us
napped, including me.

We arrived at Postojna about 4PM and were greeted by a long
flight of stairs to the hotel lobby. Some searching located the
elevator (for Mary) and we all got checked in. At 5 PM we were
scheduled to go into the caves, so naturally the rains started up
again at 4:30 PM. So Mary got into the wheelchair and we raced
through the rain to the entrance, practically pitching her out when
Steve caught a wheel in a sidewalk grate. (This after we discovered
the doors outside the elevator on the ground floor were locked and
had to use the stairs from the lobby. Luckily down is easier than
up.)

The Postojna Caves were at least partially known even in
prehistoric times, but were first systematically explored in 1818.
In addition to the magnificent geology, you also get a biology
lesson from the cave dweller Proteus anguineus, an olm (salamander)
which has both gills and a lung, no eyes, four legs, and the ability
to reproduce either by laying eggs or by giving birth to live young.

The tour begins with an electric tram ride into the caves.
Near the front you can see the walls and ceiling have been
blackened--this was caused by the explosion in 1944: the Germans
thought this would be a good place to store gasoline, but were
proved wrong when the Partisans discovered it and blew it up. A
plaque near the exit commemorates this. Further in, the tram passes
through some very low tunnels, causing everyone to duck. (The walls
are also close in--don't stick your arms out!) The caves are 46
degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius) year-round and drip (we
thought at least here we'd be out of the rain); add to that the
moving of the tram and you can understand that we were a bit chilly.

Once inside we got off and hiked up a steep path to the highest
point in the caves, then descended to the 'Russian Bridge.' This
leads to a path that proceeds mostly downhill for about a mile
before looping under the bridge. Since there is also a path
connecting the upper and lower parts here, Mary decided to wait here
while the rest walked the loop.

We got very little description from the guide, in part because
the group was so large the back people on the path couldn't hear him
when he spoke, and in part because most of our 'English-speaking'
group was actually Chinese-speaking and their guide had to
retranslate everything.

We returned to the hotel very cold, but of course as it was
summer there was no heat. At dinner several of us got slivovitz
just to warm up. Dinner itself was a mushroom risotto, grilled
meat, overcooked peas, and potatoes (fried--I think I'd rather have
them boiled, but one doesn't get a choice), with ice cream for
dessert.





June 5, 1991:




We had breakfast (very limited buffet) and then
left for Bled and Austria. Bled is just south of the Austrian
border and a very popular resort town. It is built on the edge of
Lake Bled, a glacial lake not unlike Lake Tahoe. Of course, Lake
Tahoe doesn't have a castle overlooking it and an island with an old
church in the middle of it, but these are minor differences. We
stopped at a couple of points around the lake for picture-taking and
then had twenty minutes in the town. We picked up some snack food,
some postcards, and a souvenir of Slovenia (a bag of paprika). We
like to get a small souvenir from each country for our souvenir
table, but with the imminent break-up of Yugoslavia we're getting
one from each republic just in case. In Croatia we got a key ring
with the Croatian coat of arms.

After this, we crossed the border into Austria. They looked at
our passports but no one stamped them. All in all, it was about on
a par with crossing from the United States to Canada. The border
points are separated by a tunnel and after crossing we descended via
a series of hairpin turns into Austria and on to Klagenfurt to
change money and have lunch. (Oh, yes, just before the border on
the Yugoslav side was what appeared to be a monument to the
Partisans which looked a lot like the Democracy Monument in Bangkok,
only smaller.)

Mojca talked a little about changing money. Romania and
Bulgaria, not being major destinations for Western tourists, are not
used to travelers cheques yet and many places don't accept them.
But large bills are not a good idea either--you don't want to change
US$50 for two days in Bulgaria. Mojca suggested that since Austrian
schillings are hard currency, convertible everywhere, people change
enough travelers cheques/large bills to cover the rest of the trip.
(Let's hope they don't then carry Austrian 1000-schilling notes or
they're back where they started!) We have one-dollar and five-
dollar bills, so I don't expect a problem. When we got to
Klagenfurt we changed US$200 to 2389 schillings and hit the town.

Since we didn't know we were going to Klagenfurt ahead of time,
we hadn't read up on it ahead of time. So a quick flip through the
guide book set our plan of attack. After changing money, we took
pictures of the statue of the Lindwurm (dragon) in the Neuer Platz.
(The Lindwurm is the symbol of Klagenfurt, the capital of Carinthia
founded in 1161.) Then we found a grocery and bought cheese and
crackers for lunch. Mark also found an obscure Jules Verne book in
German.

Then we went to the Domkirche, with its elaborate interior.
What appeared to be a gorgeous marble and gold pulpit, however,
turned out to be wood painted to look like marble and gold. It was
still pretty fancy though.

We spent our remaining time walking around just looking at
things. There was a monastery built for one order, then acquired by
the Benedictines, and most recently by the Jesuits. Of course, this
is over a period of six hundred years or so, so some changes in
management are to be expected.
The drive to Salzburg was through the Alps, towering over us
and covered with snow, or at least having some snow on top. This is
supposedly unusual for this time of year, but where Leepers travel,
strange weather follows.

Amongst the mountains were Alpine meadows (well, I suppose
'Alpine' is redundant here, but you get the idea) with cows grazing.
All they needed was Julie Andrews running across them singing.
Actually, one of the problems here is that everything not connected
with Mozart seems to be connected with THE SOUND OF MUSIC. There
are 'Sound of Music' tours and the guides point out anything
connected with the movie. I didn't even like the movie that much
(except for the nuns stealing the distributor caps).

Our first stop in Salzburg was the airport, not that we were
going anywhere, but Ada's luggage was just arriving from Madrid.
From there we went to our hotel (the Hotel Winkler) and checked in.

Mark and I immediately went out walking. The on-and-off rain
of the day, which had stopped while we were in Klagenfurt and then
resumed, seemed to have stopped again for good. We walked across the
Salzach River to the Old Town and walked around, looking at the
various old buildings and winding streets, including one named
Judengasse (or 'Judenga{e,' as it was printed on the sign) (Jews'
Lane). We didn't go into any of the churches as the important ones
are usually covered on the city tours. There were a lot of
bookstores; it's nice to be in a country where people read. In one
square we saw two men playing chess on a board on the ground about
ten meters on a side with pieces about a meter high. Something
about how they played made me think this was more to attract viewers
than to play a real game (and they were back at it the next day as
well). We heard the Glockenspiel (carillon) at 6 PM and then
returned to the hotel for dinner.

Dinner was garlic cream soup, pork cutlet with vegetables and
potatoes, and a fruit compote for dessert. Some people went to a
chamber music concert; we wrote logs, since chamber music is not our
favorite and 50 schillings (US$20) each seemed steep for something
we had only mild interest in.






* * * *HEADING* * * *




We started our city tour with our guide
Sieglinde by walking to the Mirabel Gardens. (I asked if she had a
brother Siegmund; she didn't.) The gardens (and palace) were built
in 1606 by Prince-Archbishop Wolfgang Dietrich for his mistress (and
mother of his twelve children) Salome Alt. The gardens take twenty
gardeners to maintain, digging up old flowers and planting new ones
('Sounds like bell Labs,' was Steve's comment).

On the Makartplatz we saw the Mozart Wohnhaus, where Mozart
lived from 1773 until he left home. Also on the Makartplatz is the
Church of the Trinity. Salzburg has a lot of Catholic churches, but
only two Protestant churches and one synagogue.

We then crossed the Salzach River and entered the Old Town,
seeing Geburtshaus Mozart (Mozart's birthplace), or at least the
outside of it. Salzburg didn't have much use for Mozart when he was
alive (nor he for Salzburg, come to that), but now that he's been
dead two hundred years his face and name are everywhere in the city.

Sieglinde pointed out the ironwork signs hanging over the
shops, showing what was for sale there, a hangover from times when
most people couldn't read. (You saw an updating in the film THE
HANDMAID'S TALE.) We saw several churches, including Salzburg
Cathedral and St. Peter's. The churches (and the statuary in the
Mirabel Gardens) show damage from acid rain.

St. Peter's Monastery, set right against the mountain, was
founded in the 7th Century and is the oldest in Austria. When it
built its bakery, it dug a tunnel through the mountain to divert
water to run its mills; this water was also used to flood the
streets clean once a week. St. Peter's Church used to have a
Renaissance interior but when Salzburg Cathedral was rebuilt, it
decided to compete and was renovated in the Baroque style. Nowadays
you can't change anything in a historic building, but this was not
always true. I wonder when it was decided that what was old was
historic and couldn't be changed. And there are still places where
this isn't true, though massive changes usually generate opposition
from other parts of the world. So Chinese attempts to modernize
everything were somewhat halted (though many would say not soon
enough in Tibet), and other countries have realized that keeping the
old generates tourism. Italy knows that if it straightens the
Leaning Tower of Pisa no one will come see it any more. (The
problem is there is that, unchecked, it will lean more each year
until it falls over.)

But this is a log about Eastern Europe, not Italy. So back to
our sightseeing.

Salzburg Cathedral was first built in 774, then rebuilt and
reconsecrated in 1628. On October 16, 1944, during the bombing of
the city, a bomb fell on the dome, destroying it. After the war the
dome was rebuilt (identical to what it was before, using old
photographs as guides--see above comments on how no one can change
anything any more) and the Cathedral was finished in 1959. The
interior has elaborate stucco work as well as paintings on the
ceiling and upper part of the walls. One of the smaller organs was
playing while we were in the Cathedral (it has five organs: four
small ones and a big one having 10,000 pipes). Sieglinde also made
a point of showing us the bronze baptismal font where Mozart was
baptized. This seems to be its main claim to fame, since as an
intrinsic piece of art it seems inferior to, say, the font in Liege,
Belgium.

We went from the Cathedral to the Residenzplatz, but got more
interested in the three hot air balloons being inflated there. They
seemed to be advertising balloons, but we never saw them take off
(and indeed they may not have, as the weather was questionable all
day).

This was the end of the city tour. The other four were taking
tours of the Bavarian Alps (appealing because they went to Germany,
thereby adding another country, but for little else), but Steve,
Mary, Mark, and I returned to the hotel, freshened up, picked up our
cheese and crackers for lunch, and went to the fortress
(Hohensalzburg).

The fortress sits atop the Moenchberg, a forested ridge
overlooking Salzburg. There is a path but we took the funicular
which left from behind St. Peter's (27 schillings round-trip).
While Mary waited on the small plaza overlooking the city, Steve,
Mark, and I took a guided tour of the fortress. This involved a lot
of stairs, as one of the high points (no pun intended) was the view
from the watch towers on the roof.

The fortress was started in 1077 and last added on to in 1677.
How they got the materials up the hill would be a good story, though
maybe the other side isn't as steep. It served its purpose well,
which was not so much defending the city as it was protecting the
prince-archbishop from being attacked by the people. Napoleon's
troops did manage to take it, and sent everything not nailed down
back to France, so the rooms are bare of furniture. The only thing
they left was the incredibly ornate stove--the only heat in the
whole complex.

We also saw the torture chamber (usually Mark's favorite part
of these sorts of tours) and a pair of museums, one of the household
regiment (emphasizing more their bravery in World War I than their
actions in World War II) and the town museum with the usual
collection of armor and weapons. We wandered around the grounds and
courtyards a bit, getting somewhat lost, and eventually found our
way back to where Mary was waiting.

I have to say the most interesting aspect of the fortress is
its location atop the ridge, since inside it is not all that
different from other castles and fortresses in Europe. And for that
matter, Salzburg is similar to other European cities. It seems full
of tourists--certainly in the Old Town, but even in the areas
outside the Old Town. Maybe this isn't surprising, since our hotel
is near the Mirabel Palace, a major attraction. Still, if this is a
slow tourist year, I'd hate to see what it's like here when it's
busy.

After seeing the fortress, we returned via funicular to the
base to catch the 3 PM catacombs tour. This was a good thing, as
this turned out to be the last tour of the day (the books indicate
the catacombs are open until 5 PM). Just inside the gate, not up
into the mountain, are the graves of Mozart's sister Nannerl and
Joseph Haydn's brother Michael. Also there are panels of paintings
from Durer about the plague. The catacombs are *above* the entrance
rather than below as one might have expected. It is surmised that
at one time there was an entrance at the top of the ridge, possibly
destroyed by a subsequent landslide. Since the fortress postdates
the catacombs' use as a secret place by several centuries, this is
possible. (Constantine converted to Christianity about 300 A.D.,
thus obviating the need for Christians to hide any more. It would
have been a nice irony if the catacombs had been used to hide Jews
in World War II, but they weren't.)

We first saw the 4th Century St. Catherine's Chapel. Lower
than the 3rd Century St. Maximus Chapel, it lends credence to the
idea that the catacombs were built top down. It had a separate side
room for the as-yet-unbaptized. (At this time, only adults were
baptized and then only on Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday.
Contrast this with Mozart's baptism when he was one day old--in his
time there was a special rush because of infant mortality.) In 1178
the chapel was reconsecrated to Thomas a Becket, martyred by Edward
II. (One woman on the tour confused him with Thomas More, martyred
by Henry VIII.)

The St. Maximus Chapel, dating from 250 A.D., was also carved
out of the rock but higher up. It was originally in the shape of a
cross, but one of the arms was lost in a landslide. So from 1669,
mountain cleaners examine the rock face each spring and patch the
rock where necessary.

We were a little disappointed that we didn't go deeper into the
mountain and see more tombs, but I guess we'll have to go to Rome
for that. There didn't seem to be any more than we saw, so I think
there were probably not extensive tombs.

We descended to the courtyard where Mary was writing postcards
and ate our lunch of cheese and crackers. By now it was getting too
late to hit another museum, so we decided to see the 'Magic Flute
House' in which Mozart wrote--you guessed it--THE MAGIC FLUTE. I
bet you're thinking, 'But didn't he write that in Vienna?'
(Actually, you're probably not, but I'm going to give you the
benefit of the doubt.) Yes, he wrote it in Vienna, but then they
dismantled the house and brought it to Salzburg, where they put it
in a garden next to the Mozarteum. Well, that's what the guide
books say, but we couldn't find it--it may be behind a closed gate
except when tours are running. We did see Christian Doppler's
house, which led to a long discussion of cosmology, to which
Kopernicus's statue nearby added a coincidental note.

We took a quick look at the Dwarf Garden in Mirabel Gardens,
with its dozen dwarf statues commemorating court dwarfs (whether
specific ones or just dwarfs in general isn't clear). We returned
to the hotel, but Mark and I went out again to see Salzburg's one
synagogue, on Lasserstrasse ('La{erstra{e'), near our hotel. This
turned out to be a relatively nondescript building, probably dating
from the 1960s.

We returned to the hotel just as it started to rain. And it
continued to rain. This was unfortunate, as our dinner was at the
Stiegelkeller, a beer garden in the Old Town (in fact, quite near
the base of the funicular). Because the streets in the Old Town are
so narrow, the bus could not get very close and we had a fair walk
in the pouring rain. The streets were deserted because of the
weather and so was the beer garden--at least we were indoors.
Dinner was skimpy--frittaten soup (a duck broth with a slivered
crepe in it), turkey curry and rice (!), and a yogurt torte. Though
a few more people showed up, the activity never got very lively and
the whole excursion was somehow not worth the effort.

After dinner, we had to pay for our drinks, not included on
this tour. Steve and Mary were in the restrooms, so I paid for
theirs--60 schillings, for which I gave the waiter 100 schillings
and got 30 in change. When I pointed this out I got the correct
change, but I somehow suspect it was not entirely accidental.

We returned to the hotel--the rain stopped on the way back to
the bus, but not until after Mark did his imitation of Gene Kelly
('Singing in the Rain'). Mary and Steve and the two South American
women took a taxi instead--a wise choice for them.





June 7, 1991:




We left at 9 AM and drove to Linz, the third
largest city in Austria. We had a one-hour stop here to walk around
and pick up a picnic lunch. Mark and I immediately charged up the
hill to the fortress (actually castle, or schloss [schlo{]), passing
on the way a school where Anton Bruckner studied. There wasn't much
of the castle left except some exterior fortifications and the view-
--which was great, especially where the Danube curves through the
hills. Then we rushed through town looking for a place to buy a
snack. We finally found a meat (and cheese) store and got cheese,
rolls, and soda. Then on the way back to the bus we passed a
supermarket. We also passed a street vendor selling umbrellas and I
bought a large one, an insurance against any further rain. (Sure
enough, the only other rain we had was one night when I wasn't
carrying the umbrella.) We took a quick picture of the plague
column erected in 1723 to commemorate Linz's deliverance from
plague, fire, and Turkish invasion. (Many European towns have
similar plague columns.)


Then we headed for Czechoslovakia. The Austrian side of the
crossing was easy; no one even came on board to check passports or
anything. The Czech side was a little more complicated, as the
guard took the passports to examine them, and we changed money while
that was going on. Of course, this meant I had no identification
for my travelers cheques, but eventually the clerk accepted my AT&T
Universal Card. (I had to get a little plug in for my company.) We
changed only US$20, as it is said to be impossible to change
anything back, though I saw the couple in front of me do it--and
without a receipt!

When we were finished, our passports were back and we started
up again. The scenery was similar, of course, but the farms were
larger (collectivization), and the buildings more run down. The
major crop seemed to be rape, and we passed huge fields of yellow
flowers. We stopped just outside Tabor for a rest stop and had a
look at grocery prices. Candy bars were 3 crowns (about 10 cents);
a big jar of pickles was 9 crowns. Will everything be this cheap?

We arrived at our hotel, a large tourist hotel south of town
(Prague). It's on the Metro line, but I suspect Mary would have
problems with the stairs. So after we checked in we took a taxi
into town. This was 140 crowns (about US$4.75) so not everything is
incredibly cheap. The Metro, by comparison, is 4 crowns each.

We asked to be taken to the Altneuschul and Jewish cemetery
even though it was after 5 PM and we knew they would be closed. In
true Luck of Leeper fashion, the tour that seemed ideal in all other
aspects put us in Prague on Friday night and Saturday, when all the
Jewish sights were closed. I had hoped to make the best of a bad
deal by trying to find out whether we could attend Friday night
services, and had even called the number I had for the Jewish
community center, but the person at the other end spoke no English,
German, or Yiddish, so this failed. (Well, my German and Yiddish
isn't great either, but I had looked up how to ask what times
prayers were and figured I could understand a number for a time.)
When we arrived at the Altneuschul, another tourist told us that the
services were at 8 PM (and 9 AM Saturday), but she thought you
needed to make arrangements ahead of time or they would be swamped
with tourists. This sounds like a real change from the situation a
couple of years ago (as I understand it), but then, what isn't?

Mark identified the Altneuschul right away, but I was expecting
something taller, even though 'alt' here means 'old,' not 'high.'
When the Altneuschul was built in 1270, it was the 'New Schul.'
Then when it was superseded by others, it became the 'Old New
Schul,' or Altneuschul. (It's known in Czech as Staronova
Synagogue, which means the same thing.)

I am sure Mark will write extensively about the Jewish Ghetto
and the Altneuschul in particular, so I will write just a summary.
The Jewish community in Prague is very old (consider when the
Altneuschul was built, and that is was then the 'new' one--actually
we know the community goes back to at least the 10th Century), and
was very large. But with the Holocaust, and later the Communists,
it has shrunk to only a couple of thousand. Someone reported that
when they visited in 1979, Jews in Prague seemed very surprised that
there were young Jews practicing elsewhere. And even a couple of
years ago, the visitors at the Altneuschul often outnumbered the
members. Perhaps now after the Revolution, younger Prague Jews will
rediscover their heritage, and the city as a cultural and artistic
magnet will attract others.

Legend has it that in the late 16th Century or early 17th
Century, Rabbi Judah Loew (spellings vary) needed to protect the
Jews of Prague from blood libels (the accusation that they were
using Christian children's blood in Passover matzoh--this was
stirred up even more by the nearness of Easter to Passover, since
Easter masses accused the Jews of killing Jesus until that was
removed by Pope John XXIII in the 1960s). What often happened was
that a child's body was planted in a Jewish house by trouble-makers
(whose goal frequently was to have some excuse to seize Jewish
property or to get out of paying a debt to a Jewish merchant).
Rabbi Loew formed a man of clay, called a golem, who was brought to
life with a scroll containing the name of God (or in other
variations, the word 'life') in his forehead (or mouth). The golem
would patrol the Ghetto and many stories are told about how he
discovered numerous plots against the Jews. There are also legends
about how his strength got out of control, sort of like FANTASIA's
'Sorcerer's Apprentice.' (For a complete discussion of the golem,
see Mark's article on the golem in films and literature, available
on request).

Across the alley from the Altneuschul is the Jewish Town Hall,
a large pink building with two clocks on its spire, a normal one and
one with Hebrew numbers which runs counter-clockwise. This ceased
to be a town hall in 1848, when the separatist laws against Jews
were abolished by Joseph II. (This area is also called Josefov in
honor of him.) Adjoining this is the High Synagogue. Also on the
alley is a restaurant/snack bar serving kosher food.

Down a side street across from the Altneuschul is the Jewish
Cemetery. In use from at least 1439 to 1787, it contains 12,000
tombstones and is estimated to have 100,000 people buried there, in
places as many as twelve deep! How did they do this? Well, much of
the cemetery is a hill about twenty feet above the street level,
surrounded by a wall to hold it in place. When they buried another
person they apparently just added dirt on top and moved the
tombstones up. Again, it was closed but we could see a bit of it
through the gate. (We could have seen more, but there was
scaffolding around one of the buildings which partially obscured the
view.) We couldn't see Rabbi Loew's tomb, probably the most famous
in the cemetery. The entire cemetery has been named a 'World
Heritage Site' by UNESCO.

Walking down the main street toward the Old Town Square
(Staromestske Namesti), we passed the Maisel Synagogue, also closed.
All the buildings are part of the National Jewish Museum. As in
Amsterdam, the Nazis had collected all sorts of Jewish objects for
their 'Museum of a Vanished Race' and after the war these became the
basis of the museum.

On the way to the square we passed a restaurant named 'U
Golema' ('At the Golem's'). At least in this small area, the golem
is considered famous enough to name a restaurant after. (A street
vendor was selling little ceramic golems--we bought a couple. Mark
later observed that all the golems we saw here--statues, postcards,
etc.--were patterned after the golem in the one Czech golem film and
none was of the French or German style. Well, this *is*
Czechoslovakia.)

Walking down the street to the square I was stuck by how
beautiful Prague was. Because it was never bombed during the war,
all the lovely old buildings are intact, and they have been
maintained reasonably well. So this section looks like something
out of the past (except for the cars on the street, of course).
(However, outside of the center of Prague is very different. Down
by our hotel area, there are older houses near the river and then
blocks of high-rise apartments stretching away from the river.
These are not so beautiful.)

The major features of the Old Town Square include the statue of
Jan Hus (erected in 1915 on the 500th anniversary of his martyrdom);
the Kinsky Palace (covered with rococo decorations); the Gothic Tyn
Church with its twin towers each with three sub-towers, looking like
giant spice-boxes; the Renaissance St. Nicholas Church; and the
late-Gothic Old Town Hall (built in 1470). The latter is known for
its horologe (astronomical clock). In addition to the clock, on the
hour windows in the tower open up and statues of the twelve apostles
march by, then a golden cock crows, and finally a skeleton
representing Death (and therefore the passage of time) pulls a cord
to strike the hour.

One finds a lot of tourists watching the clock on the hour.

We watched the clock chime 6 PM--we had lost track of the time
but a passing couple told us to hurry if we wanted to see it and
that reminded me. After, we looked a bit more at the buildings on
the square, and then watched some folk dancers and musicians on the
street. Mark even got kissed by one of their puppets!

After a few songs we moved on toward the Charles Bridge
(Karolus Most). This was supposedly a straight walk, according to
the Lonely Planet map, but was extremely crooked. We zig-zagged our
way, stopping to change a bit more money and to browse the sidewalk
stands. Several seemed to be having Soviet Army garage sales,
enough to prompt Mark to observe that he doubted the Soviet Army
left *that* much behind and that they were probably manufacturing it
in Bratislava and trucking it in.

We finally got to the bridge and walked across it. It was a
nice wide pedestrian bridge, unfortunately marred by street vendors
on both sides, though their wares were more artsy-craftsy than a lot
of what one sees. (Yes, I know people have to make a living. I'm
just saying that from a visual standpoint, the bridge would be
prettier without the kiosks.) And we got a nice view of Prague
Castle above the Moldau River.

Upon reaching the other (western) side we decided to take a
taxi back to the hotel. We found one and had great difficulty in
arranging a price. Finally Mark wrote down '140,' our price from
the hotel to the Altneuschul, and the driver said, 'No,' and wrote
down '130'! This is a new kind of bargaining.

Then we tried to put Mary's wheelchair in the trunk. It fit--
sort of. But the trunk wouldn't close, so the driver went to look
for a piece of rope to tie the trunk down. He went about two
blocks, in fact, but had no luck. So I suggested using a belt,
which worked. Well, it worked until one particularly good bump when
the belt came unlatched from the hook it was on! We tried
'Halt!' and 'Stop!' and finally the driver noticed the trunk lid
(actually a hatchback) was up. A quick retightening got us back to
the hotel without further problems.

Dinner was a huge buffet, including caviar. Self-service seems
more evocative of the old socialist egalitarian system, but it was
nice to be able to pick what we wanted for a change.





June 8, 1991:




After a buffet breakfast with a lot of choices
(buffet breakfasts can be very lavish or very skimpy), we left for
our city tour with our guide, Jana. After driving into the town
itself (our hotel is about five kilometers south of the center of
town), the first strange thing we saw was a giant metronome on a
hill. Mark asked about it--it was part of an art exhibit. There
used to be a statue of Stalin there but it disappeared long ago. We
drove past this to the top of the hill and Prague Castle.

Just outside the Castle is a statue of Kepler and Brahe. Brahe
is buried in Tyn Church.

The Castle (Hradcany) is actually an entire town with streets,
homes, churches, etc. There seems to be one main street that goes
from the top to the bottom, with a few interruptions as it passes
through churches and palaces. At any rate, we did not make a lot of
twists and turns.

We started at the top with a view of the Loretto Church. I
think Jana was a bit surprised to find that the four of us with the
wheelchair were the *first* to arrive.

I won't try to describe everything in the Castle (is that a
giant sigh of relief I hear?). One major sight was the Church of
St. Vitus (who was martyred by being stood in oil which was then
heated, hence St. Vitus' Dance). St. Vitus is a major saint of
Czechoslovakia. The church was begun in 1344 and the Gothic part
finished in 1399. The middle part was added later, in the Baroque
style, and the last part was finished in 1929. It is 124 meters
long and the spire is 90 meters high. The stained glass is all
relatively new, with much of it in the art nouveau style. Also here
are the coronation jewels, behind a door locked by seven keys (held
by seven different government officials). Legend has it that is
someone not entitled to wear them puts them on, s/he will die.
During the World War II occupation by the Nazis, Reinhard Heydrich
put them on--and shortly thereafter was assassinated.

Another important Czech saint is St. Wenceslaus (yes, from the
Christmas carol). In 935 A.D. he was assassinated by his brother
while attempting to reach sanctuary in a church, but the causes were
probably more political than religious.

We next saw the Royal Palace, or at least a few rooms. On May
23, 1618, Protestant nobles threw two emissaries of the Pope out a
window into a deep ditch filled with garbage. This is known as the
'Defenestration of Prague' and started the Thirty Years' War.
Defenestration has always been popular in Prague--an anti-Communist
activist 'accidentally' fell from his bathroom window in 1948.

We finished up the castle area with Franz Kafka's house, Number
22 Golden Lane (Zlata Ulicka). This was apparently a tourist
attraction even when Kafka's books were banned (or at least very
hard to find). To quote the play 'Kafka's Radio,' 'It's ... it's
... dare I say it ... Kafkaesque!'

We then took the road down the hill rather than the stairs
(because of the wheelchair). Jana didn't know about the road but
one of the vendors pointed it out. At the bottom we saw an entire
bus of tourists in wheelchairs; the bus had a special elevator
platform in back to raise and lower them.

We then drove to the Jewish Ghetto and went by the cemetery and
synagogues. Since I have already described these, I will not repeat
myself. See page 17 for the description. Jana did point out one
thing we had missed: a mosaic of the Golem in the sidewalk in front
of U Golema, including a white stone in the forehead representing
the scroll.

We rushed to get to the clock by noon so the others could see
it chime. We also got a somewhat better view now that we knew where
we wanted to look. Then Jana explained all the main buildings on
the square (see page 19). After that we returned through the Old
Town, where Jana had a bit more time to fill in details about the
history of the Ghetto (again, already described).

This was the end of the tour. Steve was appointed tipper for
the five of us remaining (the two South American women dropped off
earlier and I don't think they're tipping the guides anyway). Steve
had collected 150 crowns, the equivalent of US$5, so I gave him a $5
bill and suggested he ask Jana whether she'd prefer crowns or
dollars. Dollars was the clear winner; it's still impossible for
Czech citizens to change crowns into dollars (and well nigh
impossible for anyone else, even with receipts showing you changed
dollars into crowns), and anything imported or any travel outside
Czechoslovakia (say, to Vienna) requires hard currency. So books
that suggest bringing a lot of $1 bills for tips are not far off
(though I think the two hundred one book suggested was a bit
excessive).

Steve asked Jana about the Lenin Museum mentioned in our guide
books. It was closed, she told him in no uncertain terms. One got
the impression that five minutes about the Revolution they bolted
the door and dismantled the exhibits. (The Revolution I speak of
here is, of course, not the 1917 one or the 1948 takeover by the
Soviets.)

We ate lunch at Rudolph's (under the same management as U
Golema and across the street from it--U Golema is not open for
lunch). We got two dishes to share, both of which were basically
pork cutlets with cheese (how incredibly kosher, right?), one with
bacon, the other with green beans under the cheese. Both came with
side vegetables and rice. With wine for me and soda for Mark, this
came to 225 crowns, or about US$7. (Oh, we also got 'Elixir of
Life' soup.)

After lunch, Mark and I went off toward Wenceslaus Square, once
considered dull but now known as a center for activity, political
and otherwise. On the way we passed the green and white
neoclassical Tyl Theatre, where Mozart himself conducted the first
performance of DON GIOVANNI in 1787.

We walked up one side of Wenceslaus Square (actually a long
rectangle), browsing in shops and buying odds and ends (two anti-
Communist postcards, a book about Jewish Prague, a set of postcards
of Prague's synagogues--do you see a theme here?). Books are very
cheap--52 crowns for a large format book of photographs (about
US$1.75), under US$1 for ROSEMARY'S BABY in Czech, etc. Crowd
control in stores is through the basket system: everyone takes a
basket when s/he enters, and if there are no baskets left, s/he has
to wait until someone leaves and hands one off. Signs remind people
not to share baskets.
While the store windows are full, the selections inside are
much more limited than in the United States. There are compact
disks (CDs), but after walking around I got the impression that
everyone is selling some subset of the same fifty CDs. Food stores
have window displays of such basics as sugar--not what one usually
advertises in the West. (Admittedly there may not have been the
usual sorts of grocery stores in the areas we were walking through,
but there were a couple.)

White we were walking around Wenceslaus Square we looked behind
us and saw an enormous crowd (several thousand people) marching
toward us. Well, not toward us, but toward the upper end of the
square where we were. They were carrying Czech flags and banners
that said, 'REP.' We watched as they moved toward us, then decided
that we should move off to the sidewalk, where people were still
walking along and shopping or window-shopping. Eventually the crowd
collected at the top end of the square (and extended back quite a
ways) and a man dressed in a suit and tie gave a speech punctuated
by cheers and occasionally laughter (at jokes, I assume). Since it
was in Czech, however, we had no idea what it was about. We finally
found someone who was speaking English and asked if he knew what was
going on. He did, a little, because he was with his father, who
spoke Czech. The demonstration was apparently against the
Communists *and* the present government (Havel). The demonstrators
(he said) wanted more radical or faster reforms than Havel proposed.
We took some more photographs (discreetly, of course), then moved
on--just in case there was trouble. (There wasn't, though it did
make the European news on television Monday morning. But that was
in German, so we *still* don't know for sure what was going on.)
Oh, the demonstrators were supporting someone named Sladek.

Walking back to the bus we were approached several times by
young men saying, 'Change money?' The black market rate used to be
much better than the official rate, but now the two are so close
that it isn't worth the risk. Plus at this point our goal was to
spend crowns, not to acquire them.

Movies are cheap--18 or 20 crowns (60 or 70 cents).

We met Mary and Steve; there was a problem. The hour and a
half of jouncing over cobblestones through the castle had loosened
the nuts on the front wheels of Mary's wheelchair and at some point
they fell off. Steve was concerned about getting them fixed, but I
assured him that if they couldn't do it at the hotel, they could
certainly find someplace in Vienna.

Dinner was another elaborate buffet. And not only was the
wheelchair fixed, but Steve said the man refused a tip for doing it.

After dinner we took a taxi to the Old Town Square to see
Prague by night. Of course, even at 8:30 PM it wasn't actually
dark, so we decided to walk toward the Charles Bridge, which Mojca
recommended at night. As we walked across, admiring the view of
Prague and especially Prague Castle lit up at night, Mark and Steve
had a long political discussion. I hope they also appreciated the
view. Of course, the bridge was still full of vendors, making it
less than perfectly romantic, but the vendors are passive rather
than active and the wares attractive. The fight at one end between
the musician playing American rock and the Frenchman who didn't want
to hear 'Yankee music' was less benign, though entirely verbal. We
walked a bit further and were passed by a group of people carrying
paper lanterns. By this point things were thinning out considerably
and when we finally found a taxi stand we decided to call it a
night. The 200-crown fare seemed high (at first we thought he said
500, but it was 'zwei hundert'), but it was further from our hotel
and late at night.






June 9, 1991:




Today we drove to Vienna. Our morning stop was
Jihlava, which is just important enough to get mentioned in the tour
books for its town hall, its Church of St. Ignatius, and its plague
column. It is also mentioned for plopping a modern department store
in the center of its town square, thereby ruining its aesthetic
value. However, this was Sunday morning and no stores were open.
We spent some of our remaining crowns at a kiosk buying candy,
sodas, and a beer. The beer was more for the bottle than the
contents--a friend of ours (hi, Dave!) collects beer bottles and
we're trying to get him one from each country we visit. I'm
reasonably sure he doesn't already have a bottle for a beer brewed
in Jihlava. The beer, by the way, seems to be called '11%,' or at
any rate has that in big characters on the label, but smaller print
says that the alcohol content is 2.8%.

We had about 100 crowns to spend (a little over US$3) and still
had about 15 (50 cents) when we were done, even though we had an
armful of candy and bottles (including the deposits--Coca-Cola is
5.5 crowns plus 2 crowns deposit).

As we left Jihlava we saw a woman trimming her lawn with a
scythe. Even hand mowers must be rare (unknown?) here, but then
lawns are more American, I think; Europeans tend toward gardens.


Crossing the border was fast: no luggage search or passport
check (except for Mojca and Tone). The Austrian guard just waved us
through. This is *very* different from two years ago; one woman
said it took her three hours at the Czech border (entering, but that
had been fast for us as well).

We lunched in Hollbrunn at the Three Crowns. I had goulash
soup and Mark had hasenpfeffer (rabbit). We could tell we were back
in Austria--it was 130 schillings (about US$11) for this.

Austria seemed much less run-down (more kept-up) than
Czechoslovakia, particularly in the small towns we drove through.
In Czechoslovakia the walls had patches where the stucco had fallen
off or it was patched quickly.

We arrived in Vienna about 3:30 PM. We were staying in the
Austrotel, a change from the initially planned Ramada. Neither has
much charm, but few people on tours would pick charm over comfort.
(Examples: our hotel in Amsterdam had charm but no elevator. Our
hotel in Penang had charm and rats but no elevator.)

Steve and Mark went over to the train station across the street
and got 24-hour transit passes. A single ride would be 20
schillings and a pass is 45, so the pass seems like a very good
deal. (In London, a pass costs about what three rides cost.)

Mary decided to rest, so the three of us took the tram into the
center of town. The tram went down Mariahilferstrasse
('Mariahilferstra{e'), one of the main shopping streets, and stopped
at Karlsplatz on the Ringstrasse ('Ringstra{e'). The Ringstrasse is
a street (or series of streets, since the name changes every time it
crosses a main artery) that circles the center of Vienna. Just on
the inside of the Ring at Karlsplatz is the Hofburg, the Winter
Palace of the Hapsburgs. At the Karlsplatz is a statue of Mozart
with a little patch of grass in front of it with a flower bed in the
shape of a G-clef.

We walked through the Hofburg grounds and made our way to
St. Stephen's, the main cathedral of the city. Seeing a cathedral
without a guide one misses a lot, but the Frommer's guide book did
direct us to the stone pulpit with its carved figures, each with its
own personality. There was even a separate figure carved as if it
were looking out a window in the main column which was a self-
portrait of the sculptor. I couldn't find the altarpiece mentioned,
however, since it was described as being in the 'Virgin's Choir,'
and I had no idea where that was. Other than that, it was your
usual ornate cathedral.

We then started Frommer's 'Walking Tour of Imperial Vienna'
backwards from St. Stephen's. Well, we were at the end point, but
following directions backwards is not as easy as it may sound. We
had walked down the Graben and the Kohlmarkt, seeing maybe the last
10% of the tour, when we found ourselves staring at Roman ruins in
Michalerplatz. What are Roman ruins doing in the middle of Vienna,
you ask? Well, this was the northern outpost of the Roman Empire.
As we were looking at the ruins, a man and his son (?) came over and
started explaining them in broken English. This was still better
than my attempts to translate the signs using my German dictionary,
which was slow, ungrammatical, and incomplete. (However, having the
dictionary was a real help, as were the multi-language books. The
Yiddish phrase book and the Russian dictionary have yet to prove
their usefulness.) Anyway, the two of them spent about a half an
hour talking about the excavations, which were found when the platz
was being redone to change the traffic patterns. Suspicious person
that I am, I expected him to ask for a guide's fee or something, but
no, he was just interested in the subject and enjoyed sharing it.
One problem in tourism is that so many people *are* out to make
money off tourists that tourists begin to believe everyone is.
This took so long that when we saw an Underground station a few
blocks later, we decided to head back to the hotel and, for the heck
of it, to do it entirely on the Underground. (This station,
Minorites, was strange--above ground it looked like a large phone
booth. It was an elevator that just came up to the street, not the
usual stairs, etc.) We had to change trains three times, but each
time the lines were clearly labeled, not like New York. Need I also
say it was cleaner than New York?

When we emerged at Westbahnhof (the train station) we got to
watch the police move a parked car by jacking up one end and
swinging it onto the curb, then repeating the process at the other
end. This was necessary because the car was parked in such a way
that it blocked the road. A bus had gotten part of the way through,
but then couldn't go forwards or backwards, and *it* was blocking
the tram tracks in front of it as well as the traffic behind it.
What a mess! Finally, however, the car was moved (and ticketed) and
everything sorted out.

At dinner we met seven people joining our tour. Six were going
only as far as Budapest with us; one was 'staying the distance'
through Romania et al. The latter is a man from Brazil who speaks
no English, but he apparently knows Spanish, so the Uruguayan woman
finally has someone one to talk to. Dinner itself, as is usual on
many of these tours, was instantly forgettable.






June 10, 1991:




We had to scramble a bit this morning, as
departure was moved up fifteen minutes so that we would make our
'launch window' at Schoenbrunn Palace. This place is so popular
that tour groups are scheduled for specific times. (I wonder what
individuals do.) Since all we got was a Continental breakfast this
morning, rushing was no problem.

Schoenbrunn Palace was the summer palace of the Hapsburgs (also
called the Habsburgs), so it was a ways out of town. Designed in
the Baroque style by the von Erlachs, it has 1441 rooms, of which we
saw 42. We started with the apartments of Franz Joseph (born 1830,
ascended to the throne 1858, died November 22, 1916). We began with
the Guard Room, the Waiting Room, and the Audience Room (also known
as the Walnut Room because of the wood used). People spent hours in
the Waiting Room for thirty seconds in the Audience Room. The guide
particularly pointed out the chandeliers. They used to be all
candles, but around the turn of the century the Palace was
electrified, with the wiring being checked out by Thomas Alva Edison
himself.

Room number four had portraits of Franz Joseph and his wife
Elizabeth. Next was the bedroom where Franz Joseph died, including
his death portrait. He had a son, Rudolph, who died young (a
suicide, I believe). Then his nephew Franz Ferdinand became crown
prince, but he was assassinated June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo. Finally
Charles I succeeded him, but by that point it was too late; sixty-
eight years of rule by a conservative emperor had pretty much killed
the empire.

Three small but over-decorated rooms were followed by the
bedroom of Franz Joseph and Elizabeth. (He never used it after she
died, but used the room he eventually died in instead.) The
rosewood bed was 2.2 meters long but its unusual width made it look
shorter. All the rosewood furniture was donated by the local
cabinet makers.

The next two rooms were Elizabeth's rooms, followed by one with
portraits of Marie Antoinette and Caroline. Maria Theresa had five
sons and eleven daughters. The daughters were all married to
various kings, making Maria Theresa 'mother-in-law to Europe.'

Room 13 was a breakfast room containing embroidery by Marie
Antoinette and Caroline; rooms 14 and 15 were other small rooms.

Room 16 was the Mirror Room. The mirrors themselves are new,
though the frames are original. This is where Mozart held his first
concert in Vienna--at the age of 6.

Next was Maria Theresa's Room; she reigned from 1740 to 1780.
After her, the rulers are more accurately called the Hapsburg-
Lorraines, as she married the Count of Lorraine. Rooms 18 through
20 were other small rooms.

Next was the Gallery, used for balls and state functions. The
chandeliers are now electric, but used to hold 2000 candles. The
ceiling is covered with frescoes painted by Gregorio Guigielmi. Off
this room were two smaller rooms done in a Chinese motif.

Room 25 was dominated by a portrait of the Spanish Riding
School (Spanische Hofreitschule), a training school for the famous
Lippizaner stallions. (I guess the ERA 8* 9 has not yet reached the
Spanish riding school.)

__________

* The ERA is the (proposed) Equal Rights Amendment: 'Equality of
rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the
United States or by any State on account of sex.'

Room 27 featured portraits of a royal wedding, that of Maria
Theresa's son Joseph and Princess Isabella. One painting shows the
wedding feast: the royal family is eating and the other 95% of the
guests have the honor of watching them eat. There is also a
painting of a concert given as part of the festivities for which
over a hundred people arranged to have their portraits included,
including Mozart.

Next was the Blue Chinese Room, whose wallpaper was ink on rice
paper which had been patched with tape at one time and now has
horrible tape marks. It was in this room that Charles I abdicated,
ending World War I and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Then came the Black Chinese Room, which was also Maria
Theresa's audience room, and had a hardwood floor made of fourteen
woods. The next room had Flemish tapestries.

Room 31 was the Porcelain Room, though little in it was
actually porcelain. Most of it was carved wood painted blue and
white done by Maria Theresa's husband, Francis I.

The Million Room is so called because it cost a million
florins. The rosewood trim, for example, was hidden from the
Germans in the Salzburg salt mines during World War II. The frames
surround 17th Century Indian miniatures--I could spend a whole day
here just looking at these. And the ceiling isn't painted--it's
embroidered (from Isfahan). It's gorgeous! I wish we had more time
and I wish I could have gotten close enough to see the miniatures
(though the binoculars helped).

Next were more Brussels tapestries. Peter (our guide) also
pointed out that the long hallway we were using was not what was
used in the emperors' time. Then, people used small doorways into
the center core where the bathrooms, stairways, etc., were. They
weren't 'hidden' doorways, but they were cleverly disguised to be
unobtrusive.

Room 34 was in memory of Napoleon's son, Napoleon Franz. Two
more small rooms followed, then the Throne Bed Room. The throne bed
was actually moved from Hofburg and no empress ever received people
from it in Schoenbrunn.

The remaining rooms were small and relatively unimportant.
This doesn't mean that they weren't heavily decorated, of course. I
guess simplicity was not considered a stylistic virtue. If you've
got it, flaunt it, and all that sort of thing. And, boy, did these
people flaunt it! Not that the common folk ever got a chance to see
this, but all the nobility tried to impress all the other nobility.
I guess it's like the New Yorkers of Tom Wolfe's BONFIRE OF THE
VANITIES.

After seeing the inside, we had some time to walk around the
outside in the gardens. These were formal gardens (with 400,000
flowers all precisely laid out). There was a pebble path around the
various sections--well, more than a path as it was probably fifty
feet wide. But under the pebbles was not dirt, but cement. I guess
they have sacrificed a little authenticity for ease of care these
days--and there's no nobility living there to notice anyway.

We drove to Belvedere Palace next. The palace itself no longer
has any furniture and serves (I believe) as an art museum, but most
people come for the view of Vienna from the gardens.

We got the usual dose of history as we rode around. Vienna
used to be the fifth largest city in the world (after London, New
York, Paris, and Berlin). This was back before World War I, when it
was the capital of a large empire, and before cities in developing
countries started exploding. The 'Mexico City' phenomenon was
unknown then.

(Oh, the Belvedere Palace was built by Prince Eugene of Savoy
in 1722 and finished in seventeen months.)

We finished with a drive around the Ringstrasse as our city
guide pointed out the important buildings we were passing. What he
didn't describe or identify was a sculpture near the Danube Canal
with a yellow Star of David and a red triangle on it. I quickly
noted a cross-street so we could investigate. It turned out Mark
had noted the same sculpture and was curious about it, and it was
right on the way to the Prater, so after we were dropped off at the
Opera Housa we took the Underground back. (I keep wanting to say
'Metro,' but it is labeled with a 'U.')

We found the sculpture (whose artist's name I forgot to write
down). It took us about fifteen minutes to translate the
inscription using my dictionary, which was something like, 'Here
stood the Gestapo House. It is shown in ruins, as the Thousand-Year
Reich is, and we the Austrian people declare war is hell. The man
is the eternal (immortal?) victim and the resurrection of the
Austrian people.' (I told you the method wasn't perfect.) The
sculpture itself was like a rough stone doorway with a bronze figure
of a man standing in it and did indeed have a yellow Jewish star and
a red triangle (Communist? political prisoner?) on it. It seems to
be a memorial to Holocaust victims from those, though the
inscription omits this.

After this, we picked up lunch in a grocery store and ate it on
a bench: bread, bierkase cheese, mascarpone cheese, and strawberry
buttermilk. Then we took the Underground to the Prater.

The Prater is a giant amusement park whose most famous
attraction is its ferris wheel (Riesenrad). The Riesenrad is huge,
197 feet in diameter, and was featured in movies such as THE THIRD
MAN and THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS. Instead of seats it has cabins about
ten feet long and five feet wide, fully enclosed. Since this is an
old-style amusement park, where one pays by the ride rather than one
big entrance fee, we decided to ride the Riesenrad (28 schillings
each, or about $2.35). From the top you get a great view of Vienna.

We then took the Underground and a bus to the
Heeresgeschichtliches Museum (Military History Museum). We
originally thought we had missed the right stop, but it turned out
that the museum is right between two stops going out; on the return
trip there is a stop right on the corner.

The museum covers the period of the Hapsburgs. It's a funny
feeling seeing a museum dedicated to the past glory of a country
that now is one of the smallest in Europe. One wonders how
Austrians feel seeing it. I won't describe all of it--one military
museum is pretty much like the next--but I will mention the Sarajevo
Room, which contains the car Archduke Ferdinand was riding in when
he was assassinated (it has bullet holes) and his cloak, still
blood-stained. He was assassinated on June 28, 1914, the day my
grandparents got married. (My mother was born April 6, 1917, the
day the United States entered World War I, so you can see my family
is strangely tied to that war.)

On the Underground back (and for that matter, on the way there)
we stopped to read the exhibits on fascism and censorship put up by
(I think) one of the museums. We also saw some pieces of building
ornamentation on display in one of the stations--sort of like Mexico
City has art in their subways. New York has graffiti.

We returned to the hotel by bus, Underground, and tram. By the
time we got off, we were about twenty minutes over the twenty-four
hours on our pass, but we *had* started on time. Okay, it was
slightly illegal.

Dinner was at the Huber Wine Cellar in Neushift, a village
outside of Vienna (more like a suburb these days). First was a cold
cut platter (with very thinly sliced ham like I haven't had in
twenty years), then a roasted meat platter (chicken at last! I'm
getting so tired of red meat), and finally apple strudel, plus a
glass of new wine.

There were musicians playing during dinner. Mojca suggested we
each tip them ten schillings, but Mark and I docked them one
schilling each time they played a non-Austrian song (like 'When the
Saints Go Marching in').

We drove back through the red light district. This is not
nearly as elaborate as the one in Amsterdam; it's more just an area
where the women stand (or walk) in the streets waiting for
customers, and customers know they can find women. It was
drizzling, but Mojca said we were only two or three blocks from the
hotel, so six of us decided to walk back. It started to rain harder
and it wasn't two or three blocks--it was more like ten or fifteen.
We got drenched. So what else is new?






June 11, 1991:




We had originally been scheduled to have the
morning free in Vienna, but Mojca thought that getting to Budapest
early would be a better idea, especially as our Vienna hotel was so
far out from the center of town. Getting in and our would waste a
lot of whatever time we had. So we left early (8:30 AM) and crossed
the border at Nickelsdorf. The crossing, again, was much faster
than Mojca expected. There were a lot of armed Austrian soldiers
patrolling the town on the Austrian side, though if someone were
going to try to sneak across, why would they do it at a border
crossing?

Money-changing was very easy; they wheel a little exchange
office up to the bus. We exchanged 200 schillings for 1184 forints.
Austrian money will be our basis through Hungary, Romania, and
Bulgaria, as travelers cheques are still too new to them (as I said
earlier). This worked out to about 71 forints to the United States
dollar.

Stop signs here (as in Austria and I think Czechoslovakia) are
in English. That is, they say, 'STOP' rather than the local
equivalent. I wonder why.


My first impression of Hungary was that it was cleaner than
Czechoslovakia, or at least that the houses were better tended. The
small towns didn't have patchy-looking houses the way Czechoslovakia
did.

We ate lunch at a rest stop at Tatabanya. There was a
restaurant but Mark and I had cheese and bread (and I had my Jihlava
beer).

We arrived at the Atrium Hyatt in Budapest and checked in.
This hotel is located right near the Chain Bridge (Szechenyilanchid)
on the Pest side of the Danube River. Until the last century,
Budapest was actually two cities: Buda on the hill on the west bank
of the Danube, and Pest on the plain on the east bank.

Mary took a nap while Mark, Steve, and I walked to the Dohany
Street synagogue, about a mile from our hotel. The Jewish Museum
next door, in the house Theodore Herzl was born in, was closed, but
the synagogue was open. This was all the more remarkable since they
were in the process of renovating it and it isn't open very often.
As it was, the pews and ceiling were covered with plastic sheets to
protect them while the leaky roof was being repaired. But the front
part of the synagogue and the general architecture could still be
seen.

The inside resembled the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam--
rectangular, high-ceilinged, etc. There were two balconies for
women along the sides, so it was basically three stories high.
After the elaborate ornamentation of the churches we had seen, this
seemed to have a much simpler beauty by comparison. Perhaps it was
the lack of representational art ('graven images'), but I think we
all agreed that our reaction to the synagogue was more favorable
than to the churches. And I suppose the fact that we were Jewish
made a difference.

On the way out we talked to the gate-keeper (who I think was
impressed that Mark brought his own yarmulke). The synagogue is
Ashkenazic (though the architecture and especially the twin towers
seemed more Sephardic), and is Conservative. In the garden next
door was a memorial with the date January 18, 1945--the liberation
of Budapest, perhaps. A sculpture in the back garden looking like a
tree with many long silver leaves is actually a grave marker on top
of one of the mass graves, with a victim's name engraved on each
leaf.
The buildings on the back streets were very run-down, with
pieces falling off and so on. And everything is very dirty, from
the pollution.

We returned via Vaci utca, the main shopping street (for
tourists?) in Budapest. At a record store in Vorosmarty ter
(Square) I bought my Hungarian souvenir: a Hungarian cast album (on
cassette) of LES MISERABLES (called A NYOMORULTAK). This idea
actually came from someone on Usenet (hi, Wayne!) and I just adopted
it. This cost 190 forints, or about US$2.85. After the events of
1989, I don't think anyone can hear 'Can You hear the People
Sing?' in Hungarian without a special feeling inside.

After dinner we went to the Folklore Theatre for a folklore
show. This was done by a professional troupe who were quite good.
One musician played something called a 'duda' that looked like a
bagpipe. Mark is a big fan of Hungarian (and gypsy) music.





June 12, 1991:




Our city tour first took us past the Dohaney
Street synagogue (which is apparently closed most of the time--we
were lucky), and past a lot more buildings desperately in need of
cleaning and maintenance. I suppose I would have to say that Prague
is better maintained, but Budapest is more gung-ho, especially for a
free market. Out by the sports stadium, a flea market was going.
And everywhere were shops, even 24-hour ('Non-Stop') shops. Billy
Graham, by the way, recently preached in the stadium and Luciano
Pavarotti sang in the sports hall.

We drove along Dosa Gyorgy, where large May Day demonstrations
used to be held. They aren't any more. The statue of Lenin that
used to grace the square has also been removed. We drove through
the City Park, passing the zoo, the circus, and the hot baths, and
returned to Heroes' Square (Hosok tere).

Heroes' Square has a 36-meter pillar in the center surrounded
by the 'Seven Hungarian Chieftains.' The colonnade behind has
statues of the most important Hungarian kings. In 1989, the remains
of Imre Nagy (the prime minister who led the revolt in 1956 and was
executed in the U.S.S.R. in 1958) were located and given a state
funeral in Heroes' Square. History is recent here.

We then drove down Andrassy utca. If you can't find this on
your map, don't be surprised. Until last year it was Nepoztarsasag
utca, which was some reference to Communism. Many street names have
been changed in the last year. Luckily for tourists with old maps,
they have not removed the old name plates, just painted a red slash
or 'X' through them and attached the new ones beneath. I read that
the rush to rename streets has slowed now that cities and towns are
realizing how much all those new street signs would cost.

We stopped at St. Stephen's Cathedral where Cardinal
Mindszenthy is buried. He was imprisoned in the 1950s, and
liberated in 1956, but then sought asylum in the American embassy
when the Soviets invaded. He lived in the embassy until he died in
1975.

We then drove across the Margaret Bridge (Margit hid) to get to
Buda. We drove past some Turkish baths still in use (though the
alternating days for men and women would make it awkward for us to
try them even if we had time). Then we went up the hill to the
castle area: the Matthias Church and Fishermen's Bastion.

The Matthias Church (Matyas Church) dates from the 13th Century
but has been added on to and renovated so many times that it is
considered by some to be a 'model of European eclecticism' (and by
others 'overdecorated stage scenery'). Fishermen's Bastion gives
one a wonderful view of Pest ('photo op,' as Steve keeps
announcing), but was never really suitable as a defensive structure.
After taking our pictures, we returned to the hotel.

One more comment on street names: Streets named after people
are family name first. So it would be Liszt Ferenc Street (for
Franz Liszt), Szilard Leo utca, and so on. (I don't know if these
exist; they're just examples.)

For the afternoon there was an optional excursion to a
'typical' Hungarian village with a stop at an artist's workshop.
This sounded like just the sort of thing we try to avoid, so we did,
and instead took the second walking tour in Andras Torok's BUDAPEST:
A CRITICAL GUIDE. (This, by the way, is a really great guide book,
with a decent map and lots of neat anecdotes, some of which will
undoubtedly appear below.)

But before we started, we bought some more music cassettes,
some of gypsy music, and a Hungarian rock opera (ISTVAN A KIRALY, or
KING STEPHEN) about Hungary's first king. The latter was mentioned
in Torok's book as having sold over a million copies--pretty amazing
in a country of only ten million people.

Rather than describe everything on the walk in detail, I will
just hit the highlights (which I assure you will be more than
enough!). We saw the Basilica (St. Stephen's) again, but Torok's
commentary added a lot. He described how it took a long time to
build it--people had a saying, 'I will pay you back when the
Basilica is finished.' And when the second architect took over in
1868 (after the first died), he inspected the unfinished, but still
in use, building and discovered cracks in the dome. He closed the
building and eight days later the dome collapsed in the middle of
the day--with only one eyewitness. There was much less traffic
then, that's for sure.

We also saw some art nouveau buildings. One in particular had
different decorations on different stories, including majolica
sunflowers. Inside, the lobby (which we could see only through the
locked door) had art nouveau ear-shaped windows.

We saw a variety of cars as we walked, all small and almost all
eastern European. Of particular interest was the Trabant, the East
German car being abandoned in great numbers in West Germany. It's
not recyclable--it's plastic (honest!). It's not burnable--it's
toxic. So the West Germans developed a bacterium to eat it. I am
*not* making this up.

We passed the Houses of Parliament, in use again. Well,
there's only one house now, but that's better than none. The red
star that used to be on the spire is gone.

Of the 'White House' (its color) near Margaret Bridge, Torok
says, 'The once-dreaded power centre, from where the country was
governed, ... by Janos Kadar, for 32 years, now contains office
facilities for the MPs. Nobody wants to move into the former Kadar
suite.... You cannot imagine how good the feeling was to take a
right turn coming off the bridge from Buda--a privilege once
reserved for higher party functionaries.'
There is also a statue of Marx and Engels. One proposal is to
send it to the suggested theme park with all the Lenin statues (and
the red star?).

We crossed the Margaret Bridge, which we had crossed in the
morning. Then, however, Agnes hadn't told us about the disaster in
1944, when the German charges placed on the bridge went off
(accidentally, it is assumed) during the rush hour, killing hundreds
in the city's greatest single disaster.

Then we came back south along Fo Utca in Buda and back across
the Chain Bridge to the hotel. By this point we had been walking
for three and a half hours and were done in.

After a half-hour rest, however, I went out on one last errand:
a quest for a Hungarian tchotchka. I settled for a flute and a
button with the Hungarian coat of arms (and no red star!) on it.

We rested until dinner, then went with the whole group to the
Carpathia Restaurant for dinner with gypsy music. Dinner was
something resembling a burrito as an appetizer, followed by turkey
and vegetables as a main course (it didn't taste as American as it
sounds), and hot apple strudel for dessert. Wine was also included,
a special 'treat' on Brendan tours, as usually they exclude drinks-
-Mark didn't get much benefit from this.

Returning to the hotel, we walked across the Chain Bridge and
back for one last look at nighttime Budapest.






June 13, 1991:




The bellhop caught us on the way out, asking,
'Do you know whose this is?' It was a roll of film which we had
shot (I stick labels on them, so I recognized it). It must have
fallen on the floor. I'm glad he caught it! He asked us where we
were going next. 'Romania.' 'Oh, I'm so sorry; there's nothing [to
buy? to eat?] there.' He also talked about how Romania should return
the 'Hungarian' part of Transylvania (which Romania got after World
War I, lost during World War II, and regained after the end of the
war).

We drove out past more buildings with facings falling off.
Budapest desperately needs a major renovation effort. One problem:
no money for it (though gradually some buildings are being
repaired).

As we drove eastward toward Romania we actually saw someone
using a power mower to cut grass. We also saw a horse-drawn cart
and people using hoes to cultivate fields (not just gardens).

We had a heck of a time trying to park the bus in Szolnok, our
last stop in Hungary. Mojca misdirected Tone down a dead-end where
he had a hard time turning the 45-person bus (now holding nine plus
Mojca and Tone) around.

We went into the grocery store and spent our last forints on
soda, beer (bottle for Dave), cheese, etc. I wonder what Romania
will be like.

We headed for the border but had to backtrack briefly when we
overshot the last gas station. Gas is apparently impossible to get
in Romania.

The border crossing took forty-five minutes. Mojca said it
used to take four or five hours. We changed 100 schillings into 580
lei. The rate in February was 35 lei/US dollar; now it's 60. (We
discovered later the black market rate was 120 to 150 lei/US
dollar.) While we waited to have our passports processed we ate
lunch.

One of the first things we noticed about Romania was the
pollution, perhaps because Oradea (the border town) had a lot of
heavy industry built up by Ceausescu, and the air quality shows it.
We also saw more horse-drawn carts. In fact, this seems to be a
major mode of transportation in Romania. Many have rubber tires
(hence the enormous number of 'vulcanizares,' one supposes), but
some have only metal-clad wooden wheels. Many of the people driving
these are wearing old clothes, but some are wearing new clothes in
up-to-date styles, and the contrast is remarkable. Then they get to
the fields and work with hand tools and horse-drawn plows. Now that
the land is being re-privatized, people once again are working their
own land, and this seems to make them work harder. Before, Felicia
(our guide) says, only soldiers worked the land. Now the people
work it.

The road also got noticeably worse when we crossed the border.
It became two lanes (well, the last Hungarian stretch may have been
two lanes as well) and was more in need of repair.
We arrived in Cluj about 7 PM. Our hotel (the Hotel
Transilvania) was on top of a hill--nice view but not in the center
of things. Except maybe the black marketeers. About a half dozen
young men were loitering around the entrance--fairly obviously,
since the hotel is several hundred feet from anything else. 'Change
money?' 'Black change?' It was to become a constant refrain in
Romania. It didn't even bother them that there were armed guards
(police?) right by the door. I wonder what the purpose of these
guards is. They certainly didn't keep people out of the hotel--
people (always men) would wander down the hallways. 'Change money?'

The room was Spartan. The ashtrays were very chipped, the
toilet was a gravity tank type (with the tank up near the ceiling),
and the toilet lid wouldn't stay up by itself. Oh, yes, you also
can't drink the water.

Dinner, however, was a pleasant surprise: stuffed cabbage with
sour cream sauce, pork and potatoes, and a cream puff for dessert.
The only problem was that Steve, Mary, and I bought a bottle of wine
which attracted dozens of fruit flies. Blech!






June 14, 1991:




Breakfast was yogurt drink, fried eggs, bread,
and coffee. This was better than the Continental breakfast in
Vienna (this was also listed in our brochure as a Continental
breakfast). Ada and I were the only ones who drank the yogurt. The
coffee here (as in most places we've been) has much less coffee
flavor than we're used to.

On the bus Mark found his spiral notebook, which had
disappeared the previous night. He had looked before but hadn't
found it, and was beginning to think that one of the money changers
had picked it out of his pocket (for some unknown reason). But it
had merely slipped between the seat cushions. Since his notes for
the last three days were in it, it was a relief to find it.

We stopped briefly at St. Michael's Church, a Catholic church
where the services are in Hungarian. Felicia explained the outward
differences between the Roman Catholic and Romanian Orthodox
religions. In the former, priests are not allowed to marry; in the
latter, they must (but cannot be promoted until they are widowed--
this seems strange, and I may have misunderstood). In the Orthodox
churches, there are no pews--everyone stands or kneels. The
services also take two to three hours versus a half-hour for
Catholic ones. During the time, however, the doors remain open and
people come and go during the service.

Next to the church is the statue of Matthias which won first
prize at the 1902 Paris Exposition. Romanians consider Matthias
Romanian, though the statue was erected when Cluj-Napoca was part of
the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Felicia, by the way, is very adamant that Transylvania is part
of Romania, not Hungary. But she is equally firm that the Soviet
Union should return Bessarabia and Bukovina, and sees no
inconsistency here. I guess she figures that land granted Romania
in 1918 is more Romanian than land granted the U.S.S.R. in 1947 is
Soviet. Well, maybe it is, but the borders have shifted around so
much between 1918 and 1947 that the whole Balkan (and southeastern
Europe) area is in quite a state. The frequently voiced sentiment
is that the protests by ethnic Hungarians in Romania are caused by
trouble-makers from Hungary coming over and stirring them up. Does
this sound just a little like the United States South during the
1960s?

On one building across from the church was a political banner
left over from last year's demonstrations. Then, the miners came in
to break up the student demonstrations. Now the miners are also
dissatisfied, because Iliescu hasn't delivered on his promises of
better conditions and higher pay, however, so this year the miners
are siding with the students. There is a big demonstration planned
in Bucharest on Saturday. We will be in Bucharest on Saturday.

We drove past the Orthodox Cathedral and the National Theatre,
then on toward our next night's destination, Brasov.

I probably should explain why Cluj is officially Cluj-Napoca.
The 'Napoca' part was added twenty years ago (or so) to emphasize
Cluj's Dacian origin. (Dacia is what the Romans called it, and
Romania traces its origins to Dacia.) 'Cluj' means 'surrounded by
hills' and 'Napoca' was the original Dacian name of the area
thousands of years ago. But 'Cluj' is a Hungarian word, so adding
the 'Napoca' was a way of saying, 'Okay, it has a sort of Hungarian
name, but it's really Romanian.'

Most of the houses (at least those visible from the road) have
electricity. Some (10%?) even have television antennas. But many
do not have running water, and we saw many people drawing water from
wells. Electricity isn't rationed any more, but Mark noted a lot of
traffic lights were off. This could be a shortage of light bulbs,
though--many hotel fixtures lack bulbs as well.

Some of the houses have little metal flags with a stencil of
the date the house was built; this is a German custom. Others have
Eastern crosses, having been blessed by an Orthodox priest.

The villages, with the horse-drawn carts and people in
traditional clothing, look like something from the old Universal
horror films set in some indeterminate time in some undeterminate
place in Central Europe. Before, when I saw the films I thought
their juxtaposition of cars and a primitive lifestyle odd; now the
only dissonance is that there seem to be no Nazis in the films.

Everything we see in Romania is old: old bicycles, old tires,
old farm tools, old everything. Only clothing seems new, and there
are more stores selling fabric than clothing in some towns. Are
there sewing machines? Or is there one dressmaker with a machine?

We stopped in Tirgu Mures for lunch. There were many gypsies
on the street here, wearing traditional clothing. Most live in
villages (the old nomadic existence is illegal) but come into town
to shop. I'm not sure what they shop for--the grocery store didn't
have much. Oh, the shelves were full, but they had only a couple of
dozen different items, mostly jarred fruit and preserves. Street
vendors had some fresh vegetables and bread, but there was nothing
like we saw in Hungary. The vegetable sellers all had long queues
for the vegetables, which were a little wilted-looking (maybe it was
the heat--it had gotten pretty hot by this point.)

Our next stop was Sigisoara, with its 14th Century clock tower
and the house claiming to be the birthplace of Vlad Tepes (son of
Vlad Dracul, hence sometimes known as Vlad Dracula). He was *not* a
vampire (that was all Bram Stoker's imagination--Romanians do not
even have vampire legends), but rather a prince who fought against
the Turks. During Ceausescu's time, Romanians never heard about
Dracula's reputation in the rest of the world, even though Dracula's
birthplace and castle were used as tourist attractions. (Actually,
what is billed as 'Dracula's Castle' isn't really, but I'll talk
about this later.)

We then drove on to Brasov, our night's stop. We went out
walking to the town square, hoping to find a Romanian tchotchka. No
such luck. There *are* no tchotchkas in Romania, at least none that
we have yet seen. There are also no postcards. You know a
country's tourist industry is undeveloped when there are not even
postcards. Even in the poorer countries we have visited, someone
produced postcards to sell tourists. But here there is no means
even of producing such things. Books are printed very cheaply, with
glossy covers. (But even here Sherlock Holmes is popular--I saw A
STUDY IN SCARLET, THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, and THE CASEBOOK OF
SHERLOCK HOLMES, all in different stores.)

We went into the grocery here. It was much worse than the one
in Tirgu Mures. It was very dark and its stock consisted almost
entirely of mineral water and beer (at least I think it was beer).
Steve bought a bottle of mineral water and when he got it outside in
the light he discovered it had a fly and some feathers in it. I
said maybe they belonged there, like the worm in a bottle of
tequila, but I don't think he believed me.

Dinner (at the Carpathia restaurant) was a real contrast.
First we went into their wine cellar and had a wine tasting. There
were four wines: a Murfatlar Sauvingnon, a Merlot, a Cotnari, and a
Murfatlar Chardonnay. Then we went upstairs and had dinner (grilled
meat) while singers and dancers in costume entertained us.
Comparing the happy, carefree dining with the poverty and shortages
outside, I am reminded that this is the sort of thing that started
the French and Russian Revolutions. But the one good thing to be
said is that our portions here have been small. They are not
wasting food with the tourists while others go hungry. (I realize
that these portions might be large to the local population, but in
China they served us far more than we could eat, and that isn't true
here.)

Returning to the room, we iodized a pitcher of water to brush
our teeth with. They provide a pitcher of water by the sink, but it
isn't boiled. It's tap water in case the water supply is cut off.
There was one 60-watt bulb to light the room, no bulb in one bedside
lamp, and a broken television. The elevators were also flaky; one
just wouldn't open on our floor.





June 15, 1991:




We're starting to see more of the shortages:
there was no milk (for the coffee). People who are picky about how
they drink their coffee should not come to Romania.

The first thing we saw was an unfinished monument on top of a
mountain. It was supposed to have a giant statue of Ceausescu and
his wife, but all that was finished was the base. I suspect it will
stay that way. No one is really keen on building to Ceausescu any
more.

We passed the Black Church but didn't go in; had I known this I
probably would have looked in last night, though there's no shortage
of churches on this trip. We also passed the synagogue; there is
also a kosher kitchen (restaurant?). We did stop at the Church of
St. Nicolae din Scheii and the First Romanian School Museum, but
didn't go in. As we left Brasov, Felicia pointed out the bullet
holes in the town hall and the adjoining hotel. Brasov was also the
site of a 1987 uprising so it has some older bullet holes as well as
the 1989 ones.

Leaving town we saw long lines for gasoline. Each family with
a car can get a certain amount of gasoline for 15 lei for a liter;
anything more than that is 30 lei a liter. I gather one goes to
different stations for the different prices, and these lines were at
the cheap stations.

On the way to Bran, Felicia told us about the Romanian royal
family. King Michael is living in Switzerland and has been trying
to come back, but the government, citing potential security
problems, has refused to issue him a visa. His wife Anna and their
five daughters do not speak Romanian, and according to Felicia, Anna
is even worse than Ileana Ceausescu--she only wants to return to
reclaim all the royal family's property and possessions. Fat
chance. I can't see the people here handing over all this stuff
after wresting it away from Ceausescu. Maybe as figureheads the
royal family might return. But even that is questionable, given
their German origins, and the fact that they've been out of touch
with Romania for over forty years.

History here is only now being learned. In the schools,
everything from 1918 was very slanted and much was concealed. Only
now are people rediscovering those seventy years.

One thing they do seem definite about is that they don't like
Communism. On one wall we saw painted the equation '[hammer and
sickle] = [swastika]'.

We got to Bran Castle, a.k.a. Dracula's Castle, to find
it ... you guessed it, under renovation. Yes, there was scaffolding
everywhere. Felicia managed to convince them to let us in to walk
around a bit, but the atmosphere was somehow wrong. If it had been
in disrepair, it would have been atmospheric. If it had been
renovated, it would have been nice to look at. With all the
construction materials around, though, it just looked as though they
were building Dracula's Castle while we watched. Sort of like a
Transylvanian Disneyland.

Even with all this, however, the castle on the hill flush with
the cliff was worth seeing. Mark said the whole thing looked more
like Hammer Films' version of Dracula's castle than like
Universal's. In any case, Dracula's *real* castle is about twenty
kilometers west, the Poienari Citadel in the Wallachia province.
(Vlad Tepes was actually a Wallachian prince.) But it's almost
completely in ruins and hard to get to besides, so tours make do
with this one.

The vendors make do also--there were a dozen souvenir stands.
All but two were selling woollen goods and sheepskin hats. The
other two were selling wooden items (plates, flasks, etc.) decorated
by wood-burning and painted portraits of--you guessed it--Vlad
Tepes. We got a plate and a flask, both decorated with a picture of
the castle and the legend 'Bran Castle.' But the flask can be
turned around to show a flower design on the reverse side. The
flask was 300 lei; we paid US$3 and might have been able to get it
for US$2, but we were in a hurry. We also got one of each postcard
they had. At 3 lei each, that was 6 lei.

Driving up into more mountains on a shortcut road to Bucharest,
we stopped in Sinaia for lunch. The hotel restaurant Felicia
recommended wasn't open yet, so Steve, Mary, Mark, and I went to the
'Expres Palace' across the street. The menu was entirely in
Romanian. My menu reader doesn't cover Romanian, so we looked at
what other people were eating and what was being cooked behind the
counter. The 'look-and-point' method got us an assortment of soup
with chicken (and tripe?) and sour cream, beef tongue, and mititei
(skinless sausages) with fried potatoes. The mititei were very
good! With four orange drinks this came to 200 lei for the four of
us (about US$3 at the official rate, or under US$2 at the black
market rate). After lunch Mark and I wandered down the street and
got some soda in a hard-currency store--it is hard to find anything
drinkable here.

Felicia continued to marvel at the number of people in the
fields. Up until last year (a lot of sentences in Romania--and
elsewhere in Eastern Europe--start that way: 'Up until last year,'
'Before 1989,' etc.), most of the food was exported to pay off
Romania's foreign debt or to keep the Soviets off their backs. (The
Romanians used to pay tribute to the Turks; more recently they paid
it to the Soviets.) Anyway, their debt is paid off, the land is
private again, and the people can either eat what they grow, or sell
it for money to buy things. What things they can buy remains a good
question, but they must believe there will be something.

We drove through the Ploiesti oil fields, heavily bombed during
World War II. They are producing still, but not as much (the reason
wasn't clear--there still is a lot of oil there). So now Romania
imports crude oil from the Middle East, refines it, and then exports
it. The roads were much better here. We saw more cars and also a
gypsy caravan headed toward Bucharest. Felicia thought they might
be going toward the demonstration there. She (and some of the tour
members) are not reticent to express their negative feelings about
gypsies. I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, many do look
dirtier than the population as a whole. On the other, it could be
that their living conditions are worse and water less available.
Are a higher percentage of them thieves and pickpockets? I don't
know. Do they have a lot of other options open to them? I don't
know that either.

We arrived at Bucharest about 3 PM. Our hotel was the
Ambassador, changed from the Bucharesti (which no longer accepts
groups). The Ambassador is equally well located, although since we
were spending Saturday afternoon and Sunday in Bucharest, all the
shops would be closed anyway.

Before we travel these days, we get information on the various
countries we are visiting from the international section of AT&T's
travel office. This includes things like brief histories, visa
requirements, currency regulations, and so on. There is also a
sheet saying what to watch out for and what precautions to take.
The sheet for Romania said to avoid all demonstrations and to steer
clear of University Square in Bucharest, known for its riots. And
if we were caught in a demonstration, we should not try to
photograph it.

So the first thing we did was grab our cameras and go to a
demonstration in University Square.

As the song says, 'I give myself very good advice, but I very
seldom follow it.'

The demonstration seemed like something out of the late 1960s
or early 1970s in the United States. Someone was singing a
Dylanesque folk song, although the only word I could pick out was
'libertati.' To one side someone was selling small candles to be
lit at a sidewalk shrine to the martyrs of the 1989 revolution.
People were waving Romanian flags, many of them with a hole in the
center where the shield with the red star was cut out eighteen
months ago. The newer flags were made without the shield. At one
point someone threw some flyers into the crowd and everyone
scrambled for them. Were they political tracts? No, they were
advertisements for a play (which may have been political--it was
called THE MINERS). The police were standing in groups of three
about a block away; we saw only a few dozen in all, and they had
only the usual nightsticks and pistols they always carry. The most
unusual thing that happened was that someone saw Mark with his
camera taking notes and came over, apparently wanting to be
interviewed. But he didn't actually speak English, though he seemed
to think he did, and eventually we gave up.

(It turned out that the demonstration was postponed until
Thursday, June 20, at which time they expect 3,000,000 people to
join the protest in Bucharest.)

We left University Square and went looking for the house
(apartment block) where a friend of ours used to live. (She now
lives in Tinton Falls, New Jersey.) We found it right next to
Cismigiu Park as predicted. Her new place is much nicer, at least
from the outside. The Romanian one is just a nondescript rundown
apartment building with bullet holes in the facing from December
1989.

Walking back we passed several movie theaters, all showing
older movies such as TOOTSIE and STARMAN. But they're cheap--15 lei
(10 to 25 cents).

Back at the hotel, Felicia told us that in the Soviet elections
Yeltsin had beaten the Communist candidate in Russia. I wonder what
will happen now.

Dinner was a tasteless vegetable soup, something that they said
was chicken (but didn't taste or even look like chicken--more like
pigeon), and a fruit blintz. There was a lot of gypsy music and
dancing in the restaurant, which Mojca joined in. She said there
was a gypsy family there who had just had a christening and were
having the party at our hotel restaurant. Throughout dinner the
waiters were going around changing money with anyone who wanted to.
It seems to be the national pastime and, if illegal, more ignored
than anything else.

Mojca, by the way, describes herself as a sociologist. She
used to teach sociology, but then that was replaced in the
curriculum by something called 'Self-Management and Marxism' (or
something like that).





June 16, 1991:




Breakfast was ham and cheese and tomato, with
Turkish coffee. The bread, as usual, was stale, but the tomatoes
were good.

Most of the morning's sightseeing was of sites connected with
the 1989 revolution. Unlike the transition from Communism to
democracy in most of the other Eastern European countries, Romania's
was *not* peaceful. Actually, high party members had been planning
to dump Ceausescu in March of 1990, but then events started moving
elsewhere and when word spread to Romania, the uprising there began,
on December 16 in Timisoara. On December Ceausescu tried to give a
speech in Bucharest to generate support. It backfired and the
students started demonstrating against him. The secret police tried
to put down the rebellion, but the army sided with the students and
Ceausescu tried to flee the country. He was caught, tried, and, on
December 25, executed (sort of the Romanians' Christmas present to
themselves).

We started with the main square, which used to be Palace Square
and is now Revolutionary Square (and they're *not* referring to
1917!). The palace and its balcony are still there, but the secret
police's building is destroyed, the library burned (when officials
tried to burn incriminating documents), and the other buildings
(including the Fine Arts Museum) heavily damaged. Some of the
buildings are basically covered with bullet marks; other further
away may have only a few. (Our friend's old house is only a few
blocks from here.)

There is now a memorial in front of the palace to the martyrs
of the revolution. In fact, there are memorials all over Bucharest,
frequently replacing the old Lenin statues (shipped to the Hungarian
theme park?). And you see people lighting candles and putting
flowers on them.

As with the Lenin Museum in Prague, the Museum of the History
of the Romanian Communist Party is now closed. This is sort of the
reverse of Hitler's idea: he was going to open a Museum of an
Extinct Race after he had killed all the Jews, but no one in Eastern
Europe is interested in a Museum of an Extinct Party.

All this emphasizes the point made in Isaac Asimov's story 'The
Recent Past'--the past, or history, goes right up to an instant ago.
Real history was going on eighteen months ago, and is still going
on.

Then we drove through the area where Ceausescu's residence (and
those of other high officials, many of them relatives) was. Many of
the houses here also had bullet marks. The guide, who made no bones
about her feelings about Ceausescu, made sure to point out that the
Botanical Gardens we were passing were the same ones that Ileana
Ceausescu wanted to take over for their private use, 'even though
they had all this space already.'

The next stop was the new 'palace' that Ceausescu had been
building. Actually this was a huge government office building,
about ten stories high in the middle and a couple of city blocks
long. It is supposedly the largest government building in the world
(I wonder if that counts the Pentagon), and (if it's ever finished)
will probably be used partly for government offices and partly for
foreign businesses and trade conferences.

At this spot, a couple of boys were selling books about the
revolution and 'the last hundred days' of Ceausescu. We got one for
US$3--it's a truly amazing piece of rabid anti-Ceausescu propaganda.
For example, 'The sadistic pleasure to destroy historical monuments
and buildings, ... is sanctioned by the national puppet theatre
called the Grand National Assembly.' Ileana is described as
arriving on 'a witch's broom.'

The palace is at the head of what used to be called the Avenue
of Victorious Socialism (or Communism, I forgot which) and now has
no name, according to Felicia. Since there are apartments along
this street, I'm not sure how people address letters to the people
living here. (It could be the apartment blocks themselves are named
or numbered.) The apartment blocks are not all finished, but since
they were designed for higher party members, they look much nicer on
the outside than most apartment blocks (and what's finished inside
is probably nicer), so I suspect they are and will be in demand even
if tainted by Ceausescu's name.

We stopped briefly by the Church of the Patriarch, a Romanian
Orthodox Church, but since mass was being performed we didn't go in,
but just looked in briefly from the outside. What we could see
looked beautiful; we will get to see more in other cities. One
other difference between Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox is that
the former cross themselves left to right and the latter right to
left.

Felicia mentioned that National Day had been moved from January
1 to December 1 to commemorate the unification of Romania on that
date in 1918 (or the annexation of Transylvania, depending on how
you look at it).

Our final stop was the Village Museum, which is a typical
outdoor museum with many buildings brought from the various parts of
the country. There was also folk entertainment, consisting of songs
and dances (which were interrupted from time to time by the air show
planes for Pilots' Day) and a long speech (topic unknown). It's
rare that folklore shows include speeches.

After the city tour we rested for a while in the hotel--the
heat was getting to us. We went out about 6 PM. Sunday evening in
Bucharest is pretty slow. Bucharest does have some of the same
problems as large United States cities: people were sleeping in
doorways or walking around talking to themselves. We even saw one
woman (obviously mentally ill) undressing on the street. The police
rushed over and apparently told her to stop, but didn't do anything
else. In most countries I would imagine the woman would have been
taken to a hospital. On the other hand, mental institutions were
frequently used as places of confinement for political dissidents by
the Communists, so there may be a backlash against using them for
anyone.

We spent more time looking in the stores; since they were
closed and there weren't a lot of people around, we felt we could do
this more without seeming obvious. One store had full windows but
empty shelves. Another had full shelves, but only jars of peas,
jars of spinach, and bottles of ketchup--twenty feet of four shelves
high each of peas, spinach, and ketchup. Yet another had only
shrimp chips--though it had empty refrigerator cases which *might*
have been in use when the store was open. On the whole, the food
situation in Romania is still pretty grim, though better than
before. Our meals were skimpy and we found that we were glad we had
brought granola bars to supplement the local food. In fact, as we
were looking in the window of the imported food store (mostly
beverages, actually), a man came along and asked us the time, then
(when he discovered we spoke English) engaged us in a slightly more
coherent conversation that the man in University Square. The main
thing of interest he said was that we should not buy anything in the
imported goods store, because that left less for the Romanians. (Or
he may have meant anywhere in Romania. Everywhere else, people want
tourists to come and buy things but in Romania, they don't.) He
also asked for a 'souvenir' of the United States. It turned out he
meant money, but he had to settle for a key ring and a ball point
pen. (Someone is sure to tell me what an insensitive tourist I am.
No, but I don't think handing out money to whoever asks is the
solution. My approach in part is not to spend too much time
bargaining everyone down as much as possible instead.)

Dinner was a big improvement over the night before. The first
course was grilled mushrooms and chicken livers; I got double
portions because Mark doesn't eat liver and people found the
mushrooms too salty. The main course was grilled beef, also
somewhat salty, but at least identifiable.





June 17, 1991:




Romania used to conserve electricity by turning
it off at night, which meant no street lights. Now the street
lights are lit all night (which is more than can be said for the
hotel stairway, which is perpetually dark).

Waiting for the bus I watched someone mop the hotel floor. The
mop was an old towel draped around a triangular frame at the end of
a pole--no metal or plastic and no moving parts.

I observed to Mark that it was strange that Mojca was a
vegetarian for health reasons but still smokes.

Driving towards the Romanian border we started seeing donkey
carts as well as horse carts.

We crossed the border at Ruse. This was the longest crossing:
forty minutes on the Romanian side, ten minutes crossing the bridge,
and another fifty minutes on the Bulgarian side. The bridge is only
two lanes (one each way) so it can get really backed up, especially
if a lot of trucks are going through. Part of the time on the
Romanian side was due to people using the rest room--they had to
walk back about a block to the hotel and then the woman made them
wait because she had just washed the floor and wanted it to dry!

One reason that we got through so fast (!) is that we bribed
the passport control and customs men--with cans of beer and Coca-
Cola. Mojca says this is how all the borders are in the Balkan
Peninsula and attributes it to the Turkish Empire's legacy of
corruption and baksheesh as a way to run an empire (or a country).

There was a catwalk on the Bulgarian side which probably used
to be used to check the tops of tall vehicles for people trying to
sneak out of Romania. I wonder if it still is.

We changed money. We got about 17 leva per United States
dollar. There are three rates: one for business, a better one for
tourists, and the best one for tourists in a group. Of course,
these change constantly, and so do the prices, making calculations
very impermanent.

As soon as we got to Bulgaria, we noticed one big change:
everything was in Cyrillic. Cyrillic was invented by St. Cyril in
the 9th Century or so and based on Greek, with some new letters for
sounds the Greeks didn't have. As I suspected, the typography
available to me isn't quite up to it (though it does Greek) so Latin
alphabet transliterations will have to do.

Bulgaria started out as fields, then turned to mountains
covered with evergreens. To fill the time for the long drive to
Sofia, Mojca gave is a quiz (well, she had been a teacher). Not
that I mentioned all the topics in this log, but here is the quiz
for you; the answers are at the end.

1. What is the length of the Postojna Caves?
2. Name the six Yugoslav republics.
3. Where was Mozart born?
4. Where is Mozart buried?
5. How many children did Maria Theresa have?
6. Who was the most popular 19th Century Viennese composer?
7. What is the name of the Czech car?
8. What is the Yugoslav coast called?
9. Who are the presidents of Austria, Czechoslovakia, and
Romania?
10. Which is older: St. Vitus' Cathedral in Prague or
St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna?
11. What year was the 'Prague Spring'?
12. What was the date that Ceausescu was executed?
13. What was the month and year of the Romanian elections?
14. Which two of the countries we visited are the most
'touristically developed'?
15. What is the name of the main mountains in Romanians?
16. Name the three Romanian provinces.
17. Name the three largest Czech cities.
18. Name the countries the Danube flows through.
19. Name the countries on the Balkan Peninsula.
20. Which two countries have the largest oil deposits in Europe?
21. Name the currencies of the six countries we went through.
22. Spell the names of the tour guide and bus driver.
23. Describe the miners' role in Romanian politics.
24. Name the most famous Czech film director.

We arrived at the Hotel Vitosha about 4 PM. The new Japanese-
built Vitosha was quite a step up from the Hotel Ambassador, even if
the pool, sauna, and Bulgarian restaurants were closed for
renovations. After checking in, Steve, Mary, Mark, and I headed for
the tram to go into town. One look at the tram, however, made it
clear that we were not going to be able to get the wheelchair on.
So Steve and Mary said we should go ahead and Mark and I jumped on.
I kept looking for ploschtad Lenin, or any big square, but none
appeared. Finally I did see a street name I recognized as being on
my map, but on the wrong side of Lenin Square (which is now either
Alexander Battenberg Square or Democracy Square, depending on whom
you ask). So I asked someone on the tram, 'Ploschtad Lenin?',
pointed to the front of the tram, pointed to the back of the tram,
and looked quizzical. She pointed to the back of the tram. It
figured. We rode a couple more stops, then arrived at a large
building which seemed like a good place to get off. As we did the
woman said, 'Ploschtad Lenin, number 7,' and pointed to where we
would catch the number 7. We thanked her (one of the few words of
Bulgarian we knew) and, as we looked back at our tram, discovered
our problem. In the confusion we had taken the number 9 instead of
the number 2. The large building turned out to be the train
station. We also discovered that the tram stops are printed on
signs at the waiting spots, so we just had to count how many stops
there were to Lenin Square and there we were. All this excitement
for only 70 stotinki (4 cents) each!

One of the first things we saw walking around (other than the
Sheraton, which dominates the square in a way Lenin's statue, now
gone, never could) was the yellow brick road. Yes, there really is
a yellow brick road. (Actually, it's mustard-colored, but I'll take
literary license.) It is made of an expensive paving stone called
klinker that came from Vienna in 1917 and was used to pave the
streets right around the palace area.

There is a very large synagogue in Sofia known for its
chandelier, so we wanted to see it. But it was on an unlabeled
street on our map. Would we be able to find it? I looked in the
general direction and saw a huge dome and on top of it, not a cross,
but a Star of David. I am still not used to the idea that a
synagogue could be as obvious as a church--in the United States,
synagogues tend to keep a low profile, especially in the physical
sense, as they are usually only one story high. But in Europe, at
least before the Holocaust, they built *big* synagogues.

We took pictures of the outside (and the street sign--believe
it or not, the synagogue is on George Washington Street!), then went
around to the entrance. A woman came out and we tried to indicate
we wanted to see the synagogue. I think she tried to tell us it was
closed, but we had no language in common, so she finally let us in,
probably due in part to our downcast looks when it appeared the
synagogue was closed. Actually, the synagogue is being renovated.
So much of the interior was covered with scaffolding, though we
could see the famous chandelier. It's nice that now that Communism
has fallen the synagogues of Eastern Europe are being restored; I
just wish it hadn't been during our trip.

One of the things the woman pointed out was a curtain donated
by someone from Nagasaki in 1900--an unlikely source. The
synagogue, by the way, is Sephardic, hence the domed structure.

After seeing the synagogue, we walked around a bit. Mark,
proud of his newly learned Cyrillic, spent his time reading signs
and book titles (there were a lot of street vendors selling books).
We even bought a pair of Clifford Simak novellas in Bulgarian.
We're not sure which ones--normally this information would be on the
copyright page, but many things are in short supply in the ex-
Communist countries, and in Bulgaria, copyright pages are among
them. Someone recently wrote to LOCUS (a science fiction news
magazine) that English-language science fiction is hard to find in
Bulgaria. It could be the local disregard for copyright laws that
has authors and publishers unwilling to send their works there.

Prices are much lower in Bulgaria than in any of the other
countries we visited (except possibly Romania--but there was little
to buy there). Books run about five leva (30 cents). Shirts and
blouses are under US$2. A soda from a street stall is 2 leva (about
12 cents). Our lunch on the way in was 22 leva (US$1.32) for the
two of us for soup, shish kebab, and yogurt. And, unlike in
Romania, here the stores are full of stuff. (Though again, I saw
few postcards--the tourism industry hasn't been built up yet, I
guess.) There is plenty of food and plenty of consumer goods. One
minor example: in Romania everyone seems to light their cigarette
from someone else's cigarette; we saw few match boxes and no
matchbooks. Here everyone selling cigarettes has match boxes as
well. (Where do the Romanians get their cigarettes, one wonders.
And what is their alcoholism rate, given that half the liquid stock
in their groceries appears to be beer? But I regress.)

Finally we returned to the hotel (on the right tram!). We went
through a large park--Sofia claims to be known as the greenest city
in Europe because of its parks. (Of course, it turned out that
Belgrade made this claim also, but I'm getting ahead of myself.)
One of the buildings we passed (in a somewhat run-down neighborhood)
was the Embassy of Palestine.

Dinner was nothing special: chef's salad, veal, and apple
strudel. One doesn't take Brendan tours for the fabulous food,
that's for sure. On the other hand, that's not the main thing we
travel for.





June 18, 1991:




Breakfast was an enormous buffet. It would
have seemed enormous even if it hadn't been right after Romania; as
it was, the fresh strawberries and cherries alone would have been
wonderful.

Our arrival in the center of Sofia was somewhat delayed while
we waited for the cavalcade of the Israeli president to drive
through an intersection we wanted to cross. He was in Budapest at
the same time we were (the Parliament building was flying the
Israeli flag), and now he was in Sofia. Is he following us?

When we arrived in Sofia, the first thing that happened was
that we changed guides. The person we thought was our city guide
was just filling in until the real guide arrived--and a good thing,
as the real guide's English was much better than the substitute's.
(The Spanish speakers had a separate guide.)

We started with the old Roman ruins preserved around
St. George's Church, which dates from the 4th Century. But the
guide explained that the earliest known inhabitants of the region
were the Thracians. They were great horsemen and had a horseman as
their chief god, but since they had no written language, little else
is known about them. Oh, they believed this world was a punishment
and so wept at births and rejoiced at funerals. (Wouldn't this lead
to such a high suicide and murder rate the society would collapse?
There must be more that we weren't told.) The Romans named the town
Serdica, meaning 'center,' because it was at the intersection of the
main east-west road and the main north-south road of the region.
In a pedestrian underpass we saw more Roman ruins, this time of
the walls surrounding Serdica. They have made this into a little
museum with descriptions of the ruins and a display case of objects
found. At one end was the coat of arms of Sofia with its motto,
'PACTE HO HE CTAPEE' ('Ever changing, never growing old'). The
fortification had been strengthened by others after the Romans, but
not always successfully, and one very modern wall mural (done as
metal figures mounted on the stone wall) shows the keys of the city
being handed over to the invading Huns in 809. (The caption reads
'XAH KPYM C BONCKATA CN B E NZA B CEP W NKA 809'--except the 'N's
are really backwards capital 'N's.)

Our guide pointed out the building which had been the Communist
Party headquarters and was now the Socialist Party headquarters.
There are some external changes as well--the big red star from the
top is done and there are burn marks around several of the windows
on the ground floor. At the end of 1989, when everything was
falling apart, a fire broke out in the building. Whether it was
from government officials trying to burn incriminating documents or
from someone trying to burn down the Communist headquarters isn't
know (according to our guide) because the new government decided for
the sake of civil peace not to investigate.

The next stop used to be the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum, where
the body of Dimitrov used to lie in state as Lenin's does (did?) in
Moscow. But things change, and the Mausoleum is closed while they
figure out what to do with it. Dimitrov, who led the first European
anti-fascist revolt in 1923, went on to become the First Secretary
in 1945. He was, at least until recently, regarded as the 'Father
of Bulgaria.' Now he is buried in a cemetery somewhere. Lenin's
statue from the square is also gone and the whole area where it was
seems to be under construction. Even the stars (and hammer and
sickles) in the stonework of the buildings from the last forty years
are being chipped out.

(It was about this time I discovered that the last roll of film
I had shot, starting in Brasov, appeared not to have loaded
properly. Luckily I think Mark also took all the important shots.)
(Postscript: it had loaded properly; it hadn't fully rewound because
the batteries were low, but the one inch remaining out didn't ruin
any pictures.)

We passed St. Nikolaj and St. Sofia Churches, after once again
watching the auto procession of the Israeli president, this time
driving down the yellow brick road. We also walked down Ruski
Boulevard, whose name hasn't been changed as far as we can tell.
This may be because the friendship with the Russians predates
Communism; Russia helped Bulgaria free itself from the Turks in
1878. This is why the Bulgarians built St. Alexander Nevsky
Cathedral--to honor a Russian saint.

As we were approaching the Nevsky Cathedral, an old woman came
up to Mary (who was in her wheelchair at the time) and started
touching Mary's shoulders and legs and saying something in
Bulgarian. With the help of the guide, we found out she claimed to
have a healing touch, but since we were on a schedule and she needed
more than thirty seconds, Mary gave her regrets. The woman seemed
sincere and wasn't threatening, but it was unusual, maybe because in
the United States we see these people more on television than in
real life.

We entered the Nevsky Cathedral and got an explanation of the
iconostasis (the icons surrounding the altar doors). The icon to
the right of the doors (your right as you are facing them) is always
of Jesus. Immediately to the left of the doors is Mary, frequently
holding the baby Jesus and pointing to him, as if to say, 'This is
the Way.' To the left of Mary is the icon of the saint to whom the
church is dedicated. Unlike Roman Catholic churches, Orthodox
churches are not long and narrow, but more square. In this, the
Orthodox churches, the mosques, and the synagogues in this area we
have seen are similar.

One problem with viewing Orthodox churches is that they are
very dark inside; the architecture does not allow as many windows as
a Catholic church. Or maybe it's the philosophy--should there be
more mystery than daylight allows?

When the tour was over, we tried to tip the guide (as was
customary in all the other cities). She seemed very flustered by
this; apparently it's still not allowed or accepted in Bulgaria.

Steve, Mary, Mark, and I then headed for the exhibition at the
Jewish Cultural Center, which supposedly told how Bulgaria's Jews
were saved from the Nazis. The construction around Lenin Square
made navigating with the wheelchair difficult and the lack of street
signs (at times) combined with our map which didn't label every
street got us a bit lost--and in the heat, that wasn't fun. Finally
we found someone eager to practice the English he had learned from
the Voice of America and we got directions; he even accompanied us
part way.

We were unable to understand the woman at the door, even when
she spoke Spanish (at least she claimed it was Spanish, but that's
about all I understood), or she us. Finally she directed us to the
fifth floor, where we waited about five minutes for them to find
someone who spoke English.

The exhibit was closed.

Somehow this didn't surprise us; by now we were used to this.
After the synagogue renovation is finished, the exhibit will be re-
opened there. My suspicion was that there was also a pro-Communist
tinge to the descriptions that may be expunged. Other than that,
I'm not sure why they would close the exhibit before it was time to
move it. Had we not been so befuddled by the heat and our constant
problems communicating, we probably would have asked more questions
about the Jewish community, but we weren't hitting on all cylinders
at that point.

We went back to the center of town, where we had some sodas to
fight the heat, then split into two groups to shop, etc. Mark and I
went through a large department store and bought some cassettes of
folk music. As in Thailand, the cassette itself isn't even labeled
(nor are the write tabs popped), but the outer label says 'All
Rights Reserved.' (Actually, we bought one that didn't even say
that--it was an Ennio Morricone cassette that misspelled his name in
one place and was *not* the album whose cover was photocopied on the
label.) We also picked up a science fiction magazine--sounding out
the authors' names in Cyrillic took a while, though. We can read
them, but not easily.

We walked around a while longer and were just about to return
to the hotel to get out of the heat when we passed a movie theater
showing what appeared to be a horror film, entitled MYXATA II. I
looked at the prices; it was 4 leva (25 cents each). I looked at
the times; the next show was in ten minutes. 'Let's go to a movie
in a Bulgarian movie theater!' I said. We didn't even know what
language it would be in, but what the heck. While we waited, there
was a little boy running around the lobby saying, 'Myxata, myxata,
myxata,' over and over--he was looking forward to it (or just liked
the word).
Not to keep you in suspense, the film was THE FLY II, a fairly
mediocre film. When the title came on the screen, it was in German,
but the film was in English with Bulgarian subtitles. It was fun to
try to recognize words in the subtitles. We sat in the balcony,
there was no refreshment stand, and people everywhere wince at
hypodermic needle scenes in movies. We also bought an Arnold
Schwarzenegger fan magazine in Bulgarian. The magazines have a very
different style of artwork than we're used to in the United States.

After the movie we took the tram back to the hotel. We
couldn't find a kiosk to buy a ticket, so Mark offered the fare to
the driver instead. She motioned us on, but didn't take the money.
Maybe she figured it wasn't worth trying to explain where we should
get a ticket. Or maybe the offer to pay is as good as paying
itself. Certainly most people seemed to get on and off without
validating tickets, though they may have monthly passes or
something. On the tram an old man tried to talk to us, but again we
had no language in common. He was able to communicate that they
would have no more Communism, only democracy, those being words the
same or similar in most languages.

Dinner was al fresco (that means 'with bugs'). There was a
good salad bar and then a mixed grill. Mary had a beer, so I got my
Bulgarian beer bottle. I didn't get my friend one from Austria, but
those are probably relatively common in the United States.







June 19, 1991:




We left the hotel and drove in circles for a
while trying to find the way out of the city. Eventually we did,
and headed for Belgrade and Yugoslavia (which still was Yugoslavia,
until June 26). The ride was enlivened by the usual history and
sociology lectures. Well, I find them interesting anyway. We were
in the Balkans, a term meaning 'fight of the beasts.' I don't know
where the name came from originally, but given the events of the
last few hundred (or even thousand) years in the area, it's
certainly apt.

We crossed the border with more of what Mark calls 'pivo
diplomacy.' ('Pivo' is Slavic for 'beer.') On the Yugoslav side,
there was someone entering with a car full to the roof with clothing
still in the wrappers. They couldn't have hoped to sneak by, so
they must be merchants who plan to sell the stuff.

The scenery became even more dramatic, with mountains and
gorges, and with many tunnels to drive through. We also continued
to see donkey carts--the Balkans seems to be an area where horse and
donkey carts are still in common usage.

Actually, since I've been through all six countries we're
visiting, this may be a reasonable point to compare and contrast
them (as they used to say in school). Yugoslavia is a country of
great variation, both physically and culturally, but in a bad state
politically. The result is the economy, heavily dependent on
tourism, is suffering. Austria is the most 'Western' of the
countries, not surprisingly, and provides a contrast. It's also the
most expensive. Czechoslovakia seems to see democracy as an
opportunity for greater artistic freedom--books, art exhibitions,
art everywhere, even an author for president. Hungary, on the other
hand, seems more interested in the free market and there is a much
more mercantile atmosphere in Budapest than in Prague. Romania is
still trying to dig itself out from under the double whammy of
Communism and Ceausescu, and the situation is still grim and
unsettled. Bulgaria is better off than Romania economically, but
the fact that they have always looked to the east, to Turkey and
later to Russia, will hamper their advancement. As a partner,
Russia/the Soviet Union is not in the best of shape. The mere fact
that the alphabet is different is a stumbling block, though Greece
provides some opportunity there. (Yes, I know the Japanese have a
different alphabet, but in general this will cause problems.)

So there's my capsule comparison. I'm sure everyone will tell
me where I'm wrong and how I shouldn't form opinions on a two-day
visit, but that's why it's buried in the middle of this log. :-)

Belgrade has been destroyed between thirty-six and sixty times
in its history (I guess it depends on what you count as destroyed),
most recently on April 6, 1941 (my mother's birthday!), by the
Luftwaffe. It seems the king of Yugoslavia signed a secret peace
treaty/alliance with Germany, but when the people found out, they
demonstrated against it and Hitler decided to invade anyway. As a
result, Belgrade is mostly a new city, with little of historic
interest. Our hotel was across the river from the older part of
Belgrade, in a new hotel and convention area. Boring!

We had originally planned to try to see the Nikolai Tesla
Museum with our spare time in Belgrade. Somehow I had gotten the
idea we had a free afternoon there, but even when it turned out that
we didn't, I thought the day of our arrival would provide an
opportunity, since the city tour was listed for the following
morning. However, this was changed to the afternoon we arrived,
with an early morning departure the next day, so we had no chance to
get there. (The 'ripple effect' from this eventually got us to
Dubrovnik early enough for a pre-dinner swim, but caused some
problems in Sarajevo, as will be related then.)

Anyway, our city tour started with us noting the long lines for
gasoline. It turned out the price was scheduled to go up a lot in
the next day or two and people were stocking up.

Our first real stop was the Church of St. Michael and
St. Gabriel, a Serbian Orthodox church built in 1840. One unique
feature of this church was its use of oil paintings instead of icons
in the iconostasis. There was also a stained glass window honoring
St. Sava (CB. CABA), who founded the Serbian Orthodox Church in
1219. A new church honoring St. Sava is being built; when it is
finished it will be the largest Orthodox church in the world and
among the fifteen largest religious structures. (I wonder if they
count things like the Temple of Karnak.) It will be 83 meters high
at its highest point (slightly less than the spire of St. Vitus'
Cathedral in Prague).

Slobodan, our guide, also said that Orthodox churches do not
use musical instruments, only human voices. We're gradually
collecting a list of differences between Roman Catholic and Orthodox
practices, but only a bit at a time.
Our main stop was at the Kalemegdan Fortress. Dating from
Roman times, this has been added to by all the successive rulers of
Belgrade. Given that Belgrade has been successfully invaded
something like sixty-six times, it doesn't appear to have been
entirely impregnable as a defense. In fact, the guide pointed out
that conquerors who built it up later found it used against them
when newer conquerors took the city.

There were many women in the park selling hand-made crochet
work. Business has been very bad for them this year--tourists are
staying away in droves.

The rest of the tour was mostly newer government buildings--
embassies and such. Included was the Parliament, notable mostly for
its statues outside of 'Wild Horses Having Fun,' leading protesters
to refer to 'horses outside, horses inside.' We also saw Tito's
tomb, large but simple. He of all the Communist leaders seems to
have remained popular, probably because he fought the Germans during
World War II and broke with Moscow shortly after the war. As a
result, Yugoslavia didn't go through a lot of the problems the
Soviet bloc countries did (such as the collectivization of farms).

Of course, this is not to say Yugoslavia is without problems.
To a great extent, Tito was what held Yugoslavia together and now
that he's done, the centuries of ethnic rivalry are resurfacing.
Everyone is busy remembering how the other nationalities oppressed
them. The Croats feel oppressed by the Serbs. The Serbs point out
the Croatian Ustase sided with Germany in World War II and massacred
thousands of Serbs. The ethnic Albanians distrust the Serbs, and so
on. Even though the pogroms of the past are less likely now, given
that the world is paying a little more attention these days,
everyone is either worried history will repeat itself or wants
reparations. Those who forget history may be condemned to repeat
it, but those who remember history may well be misled by it. Or, as
D. Keith Mano said, 'If Wilsonian self-determination were applied
strictly to Yugoslavia there would be no kingdom larger than
Greenwich Village. Yugoslavia isn't a nation: it's some form of
ethnic and political super-collider.' (NATIONAL REVIEW, June 30,
1989)

Dinner was at a 'national restaurant' a ways out of town, with
traditional music (for which they did *not* pass a bowl asking for
tips--a nice touch). A 'national restaurant' is one serving
traditional food, not one owned by the government, though the term
'national restaurant' is ambiguous these days--does it mean Yugoslav
or just Serb? At this restaurant they met us with bread and salt
and a tray of aperitifs (slivovis). Later I saw them pouring the
untouched glasses back into the bottle. Waste not, want not!







June 20, 1991:




Off to Sarajevo! Yugoslavia has better roads
than its neighbors, but they're toll roads. And the toll is twice
as high for foreign vehicles as for Yugoslav vehicles--145 dinars
(US$7) versus 70 dinars (US$3) for the stretch we drove. This
probably rules out Romanian and Bulgarian tourists from using these
roads, though I suppose if they can afford private cars they can
afford the toll.

We finally saw our first elephant in Yugoslavia. No, I'm not
totally confused--we passed a circus caravan. Mark had been
complaining that he had been in Austria four days and didn't see a
single kangaroo, so he'll have to be satisfied with this.

We drove through more 'wildly beautiful scenery' (as the
brochure says) into Bosnia-Hercegovina. There were very few towns
or even villages in this area, so we had brought picnic lunches,
which we ate by the side of the road on one of the mountains.

Bosnia-Hercegovina is one republic made up of two provinces:
Bosnia in the north and Hercegovina in the south. Located between
Catholic Croatia and Orthodox Serbia, it is predominantly Muslim.
How did this come about? Well, before the Turkish occupation, the
Bosnians (and presumably the Hercegovians as well) were Bogomils.
This was a Christian sect that believed in Manichaeism: that the
world was created not by God but by the devil and that man must
overcome this. This spread from Persia as far as France, where it
was known as the Albigensian heresy. In Bosnia it was the
predominant sect, but was rejected by both the Catholic and the
Orthodox Churches. As a result, when the Turks arrived the Bosnians
had no strong central church to look to, and converted fairly
quickly to Islam. So even now there are more mosques than churches,
and we saw many older people wearing either scarves (for women) or
skullcaps (for men). The younger generation seems to be abandoning
this style of dress somewhat, but not entirely.

We arrived in Sarajevo about 3 PM. Our city tour was at 5 PM,
so Mark and I hopped on the tram (without tickets!) to go see the
Sephardic synagogue and Jewish Museum. We had planned to buy
tickets on the tram, but there didn't seem to be any way to do that.

In terms of Jewish interest, Sarajevo is best known for the
Sarajevo Haggadah, written in the 14th Century in Spain, and brought
to Sarajevo when the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. The
Germans tried to seize it during World War II, but it was smuggled
out of Sarajevo and hidden in a cave. A copy is exhibited in the
Jewish Museum. The original is in the National Museum, right across
from our hotel, but is exhibited only occasionally. Given our
string of luck, I wasn't going to gamble our only free time on an
iffy proposition, plus some people claimed the original was at the
Jewish Museum anyway. We even checked the information desk at the
hotel and verified that the Jewish Museum was open.

When we arrived, it was closed.

Well, sort of. The gate leading into the courtyard was open,
but the building itself was locked. We walked around the courtyard,
trying various doors and looking for someone. No luck. We circled
the outside, hoping for a clue. Nothing. We tried the inside door
one more time and were ready to give up when the attendant showed
up. Business must have been slow (I suspect we were his only
customers that day), so he had apparently gone for a coffee break
and came back when someone told him they saw a couple of people
trying to get in.

The museum, housed in a 16th Century Sephardic synagogue, told
the history of the Bosnian Jewish community from its beginnings as
refugees from Spain after the expulsion of all Jews (and Muslims)
from there in 1492, to its almost total destruction by the Nazis
during World War II. The most intriguing reference is to some
miracle that saved the Jews from destruction by Turkish invaders on
the 4 Marheshvan 5580 (12 October 1820). I'll have to look up and
see if I can find any mention of anything in our history books for
that date. There was also a book with a list of all the Bosnian
Jews killed by the Nazis (it was labeled 'Dvanaest Hiljada
Nastradalih' or '12,000 [something],' referring to the number
killed). As I said to Mark, it's not a very big museum, but I think
it's important that we visit so that people realize that some people
care about Jewish history in the area.

We returned to the hotel on the tram, this time buying tickets.
I *think* the tickets would have been good for multiple rides,
working like strippenkaarts in the Netherlands but, as usual, no one
else seemed to have tickets or at least they weren't validating them
in the (possibly broken) machine on the tram.

We took a peek into the Museum of the Revolution on the way
back to the hotel. It was closed, of course, though our city guide
claimed it was still functioning, just that a lot of museums weren't
opening for all their hours this season. It's possible, I suppose,
since tourism is way off, and it's also possible the museum is a bit
of an embarrassment but they don't want to admit it.

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand was scheduled to open the National
Museum on June 28, 1914, but he met with an accident on the way.
There was a plan by Bosnian freedom fighters ('Mlada Bosnia,' or
'Young Bosnia') to demonstrate against him, but word had leaked out
(or perhaps his car passed the demonstration in one direction and
officials didn't want it to pass it on the way back), so the route
was changed. Except no one told the driver of the car. So when the
driver made the turn around the corner at what is now Princip's
Bridge, Gavrilo Princip, one of the Young Bosnians, fired from less
than ten feet away, killing both the Archduke and the Archduke's
wife.

We were supposed to see the Mlada Bosnia Museum, but it closed
at 5PM, and since that was when our city tour had started, it was
closed. This is the scheduling problem I referred to earlier. By
having the city tours late in the afternoon, we started running into
places being closed. (There was also an Orthodox church we were
supposed to have seen, but it was closed as well. That's somewhat
unusual; churches are generally open all or most of the time.)

So next we went to the Emperor's Mosque. We had been scheduled
to go to the Husref Bey Mosque but it was--all together now--closed
for renovations. I can only conclude that people are trying to make
up for forty years of neglect of religious buildings by renovating
them all at once. (Sometimes we do hit it right. We went to Madrid
right *after* the Prado re-opened after being closed for two years
for renovations.)

Naturally we had to take off our shoes to go into the mosque,
but the guide was a bit surprised when I pulled out a head scarf to
cover my hair. I guess I'm used to Malaysia, where they're stricter
about this. Here they even allow photography inside the mosque.
This may be a government decision, though. It seems as if all the
churches and synagogues throughout Eastern Europe have signs saying
photography is prohibited, and then the guides (or even the door
keepers) say to go ahead. Maybe it's an attempt to keep the amount
of photography, especially flash photography, under control.

The qibla in the mosque faced southeast (toward Mecca)--I
checked with my compass. We usually talk about how Muslims face
east when they pray, but that's a very Western-Eurocentric
statement. Muslims in Bosnia pray three times a day, not five, at
least according to the guide. Off the courtyard was an old
cemetery. None of the markers had names or dates, only Quranic
verses. The size and decoration of each marker provided some measure
of the importance of the deceased, but that was all. Newer Muslim
cemeteries do have names and dates on the markers.

Speaking of cemeteries and grave markers, a couple more
comments come to mind. Sephardic grave markers have a very unusual
shape. From the front they are the usual rounded-top markers, but
they extend back about three feet with the top sloping down to the
ground. And in Yugoslavia all along the roads you see markers with
names, dates, and pictures. We think they are of traffic
fatalities--most seem to be at the worst parts of the roads.

Well, returning to the city tour: next was supposed to be the
church but it was closed. So we walked around the bazaar a while and
picked up some odds and ends (a Turkish coffee pourer and some folk
music cassettes). Then we went into an old inn for a rest and some
Turkish coffee. (This is the kind with the mud in the bottom.) The
bazaar area seemed touristy (or touristic, as Mojca would say) at
first, but many of the shops were clearly aimed at a local
clientele. And the coffee was only ten dinars (less than 50 cents);
I was expecting it to be at least twice that amount. On the way
back to the bus we bought a copy of the Sarajevo Haggadah for 385
dinars (about US$17.50) for a hardbound art reproduction of the 142
pages with an additional explanatory book. This is certainly less
than it would be in the United States, and for that matter less than
in Dubrovnik, where Mark later saw it for 700 dinars.

We spent some time before and at dinner talking to Sam and
Susan. They're on their honeymoon, which is nine months traveling
around the world. Susan says she's not sorry they're doing it all
at once because they get some rest between tours (they just had a
week in Istanbul), but it seems to us that they miss a lot of the
places they go to. I don't think Sam saw Prague at all; he rested
the day we had there. And I need time to let the places I've
visited sink in. Three weeks (or maybe four all in one or two
countries) is about my maximum at any one time. And they obviously
don't do the advance reading and research we do. I suspect it's
more a status thing with them.






June 21, 1991:




I haven't mentioned hotels and passports. In
some countries, the hotels want your passports for some period of
time to register your location with the police. Usually it's only
for a few hours, but in Bulgaria they kept them for our entire stay.
This registration business happens in Western Europe as well, but to
Americans it's a very new idea. Another new idea is having to show
your passport to change money. I got so used to this from previous
trips that when I went to get Canadian money at a United States bank
I started to pull my passport out from force of habit, but my
Canadian money was already in front of me.

And of course this business of changing exactly what you'll
need because you can't change back is new to most people. On
previous trips to Scandinavia, etc., I've been annoyed at people who
ask, 'How much is that in *real* money?' (i.e., United States
dollars). But in Eastern Europe that seems to be everyone's
feeling: dollars, and deutsch marks, and pounds are real money and
some things can be bought only with real money (and the prices of
others are pegged to some real money unit and vary in local currency
from day to day). Take Yugoslavian money. The recent 10,000-fold
devaluation has left bills labeled 1000000 dinars worth 100 new
dinars (and no commas to help you count zeroes either!). The new
ten-dinar note is smaller than the old 100,000-dinar note, but both
are in circulation and worth the same amount. The old bills are 3
inches by 7 inches; the new are 21/2 inches by 6 inches. Every
country is different. Czechoslovakia has different sizes for
different values (not unusual) about 21/2 inches by 51/2 inches, and
is the most colorful, with multiple primary colors on each bill.
Hungary has bills about 23/4 inches by 7 inches (odd shape--very
long looking). Romania's vary, are about 21/2 inches by 6 inches,
come no larger than 100 lei (about US$1.70) to cut down on the black
market (I don't think it's working), and all look about a hundred
years old. I've always thought the condition of the money is a
reasonable indicator of the economy. Bulgaria's bills also vary:
the one-lev bill is 2 inches by 4 inches--almost like toy money. I
didn't save my Austrian money--the smallest is worth almost US$2.

And while we're talking about 'real' money, why are the items
in the duty-free shop on the Austrian-Hungarian border priced in
United States dollars?

We left Sarajevo at 9 AM, but had to turn around at 9:30 when
Mr. Brandi discovered he had left his carry-on bag in the hotel
lobby. He was understandably worried, as it had all his money and
tickets, but it was still sitting there when we got back, so all was
well.

The roads got wilder, with more gorges and tunnels. We stopped
along the Neretva River at one of the more famous sites from World
War II (though Bosnia-Hercegovina is full of battle sites). At this
site, the Partisans built a temporary bridge overnight to evacuate
4000 wounded after having blown up all the bridges across the
Neretva to stop the Germans. The remains of the bridge at this site
which had been blown up, as well as the temporary bridge, have been
left for the memorial. (There is also a small museum.) I guess the
temporary bridge, being basically a footbridge, was not considered
useful enough to the Germans to warrant the Partisans destroying it
when they were done.

Shortly after this, we arrived at Mostar, whose claim to fame
is a 16th Century stone bridge built by the Turks. Around this
bridge is a whole mini-Tijuana has sprung up--on each side the
street leading up to the bridge is lined with shops. Normally I'm
sure it's bustling with tourists, but given the current situation,
it's almost deserted. There are normally boys who dive off the
bridge (for a fee), but business is so slow they weren't even
around.

The bridge itself is made of limestone which is very slippery
from age and use, and the arch over the river is very steep. There
are raised 'strips' of limestone crosswise on the bridge which help,
making climbing the bridge almost like climbing a ladder. Needless
to say, Mary decided to wait on the near side, a reasonable decision
since the other side was pretty much the same.

On the other side we had cevapcici, which is somewhat like
gyros. More vendors' shops were on this side, also sans customers.
Some seemed to be closing up; whether for lunch or lack of business
was not clear.

We walked around the newer part of Mostar; it was singularly
uninteresting. Everyone comes for the bridge, just as in South
Dakota everyone comes for Mt. Rushmore.

When we crossed back into Croatia, there was a sign saying,
'Welcome to the Republic of Croatia.' Mojca says that's new this
year. And once again we saw lots of Croatian flags.

We got the second part of the quiz along this stretch:

1. Name five Slavic languages.
2. What was the Roman name for Sofia?
3. What is the meaning of the named St. Sofia?
4. Name three Bulgarian tourist potentials.
5. When did Bulgaria gain its independence?
6. Which side was Bulgaria on in World War I?
7. Name the three major religions in Yugoslavia.
8. What is the major coastal resort in Yugoslavia?
9. When was Yugoslavia created?
10. Who were the Chetniks?
11. Who was the last king of Yugoslavia?
12. Who was assassinated in Sarajevo?
13. What were the colors of the Holiday Inn in Sarajevo?
14. What drink were we served in the restaurant outside Belgrade?
15. Name the four major languages in Yugoslavia.
16. How long did the Turks stay in Yugoslavia?
17. Which Yugoslav republics were never conquered by the Turks?
18. Name Yugoslavia's neighbors.
19. How many new dinars is 45000 old dinars?
Answers will appear later. We were so involved in the quiz we
almost missed our first view of the Adriatic. (Well, actually,
that's not possible. It's more that we almost missed seeing the
Adriatic at our first possible chance.) The Adriatic is *very*
blue, just as the Neretva is *very* green. Both look artificially
colored, though the Adriatic has a clearer look--the Neretva looks
as if someone poured green paint into it.

We checked into our hotel in Dubrovnik. Actually, our hotel
was outside Dubrovnik, in the Babin Kuk complex. We stayed in the
Plakir; the hotel we were originally scheduled for was closed for
the season because of a lack of guests. (In fact, it looked as if
two of the four hotels in the complex were closed, and ours didn't
seem full either.)

We went down to the sea for a swim. This involved wending our
way through the complex and when we finally got to the beach we
discovered that 1) it was very rocky, and 2) the water was very
cold. I'm not a big swimming fan so I sat on a large rock and
sunned myself while the rest of them pretended that walking barefoot
on sharp rocks and swimming in cold water was fun.

At dinner--or rather, right before dinner--the prizes for the
quiz takers were given out. There were only five of us who took the
whole quiz and we all got some sort of prize. I got a pen-and-ink
drawing of the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle. Mark got a little
'Good Soldier Schweik' doll. Mr. Brandi got a 'Kompas Traveller'
figure. Mary got a ceramic house/wine cellar. Noami got a pack of
Balkan brand cigarettes.

The dining room was pretty empty. True, we ate late, but other
nights we arrived earlier and the same was true.






June 22, 1991:




There was nothing interesting for breakfast.
Dubrovnik (and our hotel complex) may be a resort area, but as far
as food goes, Club Med has nothing to worry about.

Our city tour of Dubrovnik was very short, about an hour or
maybe an hour and a half. Admittedly, it would be difficult to make
it much longer, since the main street (Placa) is only 300 meters
from end to end and pretty much everything of interest is on that
stretch. There are a couple of monasteries, a couple of churches,
and that's about it. One monastery had an old pharmacy in it (there
seems to be a Yugoslav/Croatian fascination with old pharmacies).
And the Church of St. Blaise did have his tibia encased in gold.
But these sights don't fill a lot of time, so our guide also spent
some time pointing out 'good' stores and galleries to shop in. (Can
you say 'kickback'?) This is the first time on this trip we've been
steered to specific stores, and even here we didn't actually stop at
the stores to shop, something I find tremendously annoying (and
likely to lose the guide his tip).

The Placa is a beautiful limestone-paved street. The only
problem is that at mid-day it is very hot, reflecting back up at you
any heat that missed you on the way down. It was very empty, and
not just at mid-day. All of Yugoslavia seems abandoned by tourists.
Mostar is deserted; it is absurdly easy to photograph the famous
bridge with no tourists on it, and no boys are there offering to
dive off for money. In Dubrovnik I ask the woman if I can change a
travelers cheque without my passport. She does, then tries to sell
us a tour and, when that fails, a handmade bookmark. The Babin Kuk
tourist complex is having a fifteenth anniversary celebration, but
two of the four hotels are closed from lack of business. There is
no civil war (yet), just an economic disaster.

One of the monasteries, by the way, was a Franciscan monastery,
founded by St. Francis himself on the way back from the Crusades
(presumably he was not actually fighting in them, but I'm not sure).

The Old Town in Dubrovnik is a walled city and the major
tourist attraction, at least according to some of the books, is to
walk around the city on the wall. So up we climbed and
climbed ... and climbed ...and climbed. Since the city is built on
a hill there was a lot of climbing even after we got on the wall.
Actually the city is built on two hills, since the seaward side also
rises up and ends with a cliff overlooking the sea. The Placa runs
down the center of the city (it used to be a natural channel, in
fact, until it was filled in), and the two sides rise up with steep
stairs instead of streets.

Anyway, walking around the wall involved a lot of climbing up
and down, though of course the up part was much more noticeable than
the down. And the sun was beating down....

We got to one corner which had a turret. Inside it was shady
and I sat and rested for a time while Mark climbed the turret.
There was a small restaurant there, closed for lack of business, but
while I was sitting there two boys came along and went around the
counter, and got a drink of water from the sink, which hadn't had
its water shut off. So I also got a drink of water, and wet down a
kerchief to cool myself off. This helped a lot.

We proceeded around the wall to the seaward side. The water is
very blue and very clear here--even from the top of the wall on the
cliff you could see the bottom. We passed some other tourists--
Italians and Australians--but again it seemed pretty empty. The
seagull standing watch at the restaurant on this side probably
wasn't getting a lot of crumbs this year.

Under the wall at one point is a maritime museum, and this
being one of Mark's interests, we went in. At first we thought it
was very small, but then we found the stairway to the upstairs
(which was about twice the size of the ground floor). Even so, the
displays were fairly dull, dealing mostly with trading ships and
commerce. The paintings were mostly of ships foundering in storms
while the Virgin Mary and/or angels look on from an upper corner
without lifting a finger to help.

By the time we finished walking around the wall, we were hot
and tired and so decided to return to the hotel for a rest. The bus
took tickets or exact change--lucky for us, as the kiosk was closed
and this was not the sort of place where they are blase about
whether you pay or not.

When we got back to the hotel, I promptly fell asleep,
something that drives Mark crazy, since he *hates* to waste vacation
time in the hotel room, even though I've told him that watching me
sleep is far more exciting than anything else he could possibly be
doing in a country on the brink of civil war. Still, it had been a
long vacation and was winding down now, and the heat was the sort
that makes a person sleepy.

Dinner was, once again, nothing to write home about (so I
won't). After dinner we went down to the '15th Anniversary'
celebration of the Babin Kuk complex. They had a couple of bands--
one was playing music from GREASE, but the only person dancing was a
three-year-old girl. She wasn't bad though. They were also selling
food and drink, but we had just eaten. Most of the food looked
fairly bland, but they were grilling fish and sheep over open fires,
and that might have been worth trying. The stores were all open,
though not very interesting. They were the usual tourist stores one
finds in resorts, and probably kept resort hours (closed for most of
the day when people were at the beach, and open only during lunch
and in the evening when people were around).

We went to bed about 11 PM. Mark heard Mary and Steve
returning from Medugorje about 11:30 PM. They had gone on a day
trip there; tomorrow we will get a report on what it was like.





June 23, 1991:




Well, the vacation is rapidly approaching its
end. Today we on our own entirely, since the tour ended yesterday.
But since JAT doesn't fly to New York on Sundays we are stuck here
another day. (It's a pity we couldn't have had this extra day in
Prague, but that's life.)

We took the bus into town with Steve and Mary and walked around
a bit, giving them a quick summary of yesterday's tour. We walked
out to the harbor and took some pictures while people tried to sell
us cruises to various islands. We wandered up some of the side
streets, but only as far as the first set of stairs. Oh, I tried to
take a look at the synagogue, which had been closed yesterday
(because it was Saturday), but it was closed. The sign on it said,
'Open Sunday--Friday 10-12 except Sunday.' That is certainly a
peculiar use of the language.

We stopped in a chocolate shop for Steve and Mary to buy
chocolate for friends back home, then they returned to the hotel
while we decided to stay and climb some more of the stairs and see
more of the town. The back streets were very quiet, with the only
sounds coming from inside the houses as people prepared their Sunday
dinners. (Cars are prohibited inside the Old Town, so there was
none of that noise.) We climbed a lot of stairs, but ended up
seeing a fair amount of the town.

Finally, we went back to the hotel. We got together with Mary
and Steve and spent a little time at the pool. There are actually
two pools, an inside and an outside, both salt-water. They have
beach chairs for rent, but when Steve and Mark asked how much, the
man said 40 dinars (about US$2) each. Since we were only staying
for an hour or so, we decided to just sit on our towels. As they
were walking away, the attendant asked them how much they would be
willing to pay. Funny, it wouldn't seem as though this would be a
bargaining situation.

About 5 PM we took the bus back to the Old Town for dinner at
the Domino Steak House, recommended in a magazine article I had
read. It was a couple of blocks off the Placa and had only one
other table occupied. We had a very nice dinner (which, since I am
writing this almost two months later, I have completely forgotten)
for a very reasonable price. We ate early, because we wanted to get
back to the hotel by sunset so that Steve and Mark could do some
artistic stuff with their cameras and the sunset, which was visible
perfectly from our westward-facing windows. (Actually, they were
more like balconies, albeit very narrow ones. The sliding louvered
doors reminded me a lot of the open architecture of Club Med, and
opening the glass doors so that the breeze could come in was better
than turning on the air conditioning.)






June 24, 1991:




Last day. We got up at 4 AM, along with all
the other folks who had early planes out of Dubrovnik (mostly
British tourists). Breakfast was coffee, bread, and juice laid out
by some poor staff member who had to get up equally early. Our van
arrived at 5 AM. We saw the driver come in looking for us, so we
went out and loaded our stuff up. When he came out, he seemed
surprised that the van was already loaded and ready to go. I
suspect most tourists let him do this part.

The drive to the airport was longer than I expected. We
checked in, having to remove all batteries from our checked luggage
(this made our carry-on stuff even heavier, as we had a lot of spare
batteries); I don't remember ever having to do this before, but then
I rarely check luggage. Steve and Mary waited near the information
desk for someone to show them where the elevator was to the boarding
level while we went up. Well, it turned out we were boarding on the
tarmac, and through the back of the plane at that. Steve and Mary
were already on, with a story of some complicated maneuvering to get
Mary and her wheelchair on the plane. (I figured that if hordes of
people in wheelchairs came to Medugorje for cures, the closest
airport--Dubrovnik--would certainly be able to handle wheelchair
passengers.)

In the Belgrade we got a surprise--another airport tax. At
first we thought they were just charging us the exit tax twice
(since we had paid already in Dubrovnik), but the amount was
different so I think it was an airport usage tax and not the same
thing again. (This doesn't make me any happier about it, of
course.)

Our flight back to New York was marked by a baby who cried the
entire way. Well, 'baby' is probably not accurate, as the child was
actually three years old. But he was a Romanian orphan being
adopted by someone in the United States (for some complicated
reason, some people who were *not* adopting him were delivering him
to the people who were), and even though he was three years old, he
looked about half that, and was as thin as the children you see in
the famine shots on television. More of Ceausescu's legacy (when we
got home there was an article in WORLD PRESS REVIEW about the 'lost
children of Romania').

As on the way out, the lights and headphone jacks in our row
were broken. Why do they even bother to hand out headphones?

At Kennedy, they had eliminated the quick walk-through for
United States citizens. On the other hand, you cleared immigration
and customs at the same point (before getting your luggage), so when
we got to the carousel the luggage was all pretty much there (the
last piece arrived fairly quickly) and we could just walk out,
handing our customs cards to the man collecting them.

And at last home. All the clothes into the hamper, the den
looks like a whirlwind hit it, there's an enormous stack of books to
be catalogued, there's another pile of film rolls to be developed,
and tomorrow we head back to work.

And the answers to the two quizzes are:

Quiz 1:

1. 23 kilometers
2. Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia,
Slovenia
3. Salzburg, Austria
4. Vienna, Austria
5. 16
6. Johann Strauss
7. Skoda
8. Dalmatia or Dalmatian Coast
9. Kurt Waldheim, Vaclav Havel, and Iliescu
10. St. Vitus' Cathedral in Prague
11. 1968
12. December 25, 1989
13. April, 1990
14. Yugoslavia and Austria
15. Carpathians
16. Moldavia, Transylvania, and Walachia
17. Prague, Bratislava, and Brasov
18. Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia,
Romania, and Bulgaria
19. Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Turkey, and Yugoslavia
20. Romania and the U.S.S.R.
21. Dinar (Yugoslavia), schilling (Austria), koruna
(Czechoslovakia), forint (Hungary), lei (Romania), and lev
(Bulgaria)
22. Mojca and Tone
23. They were originally on the side of the government but are now
siding with the students against the government.
24. Milos Forman


Quiz 2:

1. Croatian, Slovenian, Czech, Bulgarian, and Serbian
2. Serdica
3. Wisdom
4. Monasteries, Black Sea resorts, spas, and winter sports
5. 1876
6. Germany and Austro-Hungary
7. Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Islam
8. Dubrovnik
9. 1918
10. Royalists who started by fighting the Germans in World War II
and then sided with the Germans against the Partisans.
11. King Peter II
12. Archduke Franz Ferdinand
13. Brown and yellow
14. Plum brandy (slivovitz)
15. Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian
16. 500 years
17. Slovenia and Croatia
18. Greece, Albania, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and
Bulgaria
19. 4.5

T H E E N D



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rec.Travel Library
The World
Europe