Tag Archives: Eastern Europe

It’s a European Thing

A trip around Europe is a backpacker right of passage, especially if you’re an Aussie. Staying in hostels, bumping into the same people on same route and exploring the other side of the world.

Most enter through the gateway of Amsterdam, a city whose liberal attitude may appear shocking to most, intriguing to some and even normal to others.

I remember the flatness of Holland and the smallness of Belgium where you could pass through it and be in 3 countries in one day. There is the beauty of the canals of Bruges and the discovery of Italy, where every city is different.

There is the history of Rome and Pompeii, the craziness of Venice and the little gems you find along the way, like Verona. And then there are more ruins in Athens.

It’s the Asian culture of Istanbul that leaves you wanting more and the bleakness of Eastern Europe on the cusp of Russia. Closely followed by the opulence of Vienna.

Then there is the gothic wonderland of Prague, before finishing off with party time in Berlin.

My first trip to Europe still lives brightly in my memory, even though it was taken a lifetime ago. Each country had a different culture, language and even a different currency.

No matter how many times I go to Europe, there always seems to be more to see.

I have never been to Scandinavia, Liechtenstein or Poland. I missed Ghent in Belgium and countless other places in Italy.

Like Cinque Terre, Siena and the Amalfi coast. I never got to properly taste wine in Tuscany, see the fountains at Tivoli or go to the island of Sicily.

I missed out on visiting an island in Greece, I’m sure Eastern Europe is quite different now to what it was then; and the Cesky Kromlov seems to be the place to go now instead of Prague.

I know there is more to Germany than just Berlin, like Dresden, seeing Sleeping Beauty’s castle and shopping at a Christmas market.

I can’t wait for my next magical European experience even if it is not in the near future, because a continent this diverse is definitely worth waiting for.

Related posts: It’s an English Thing, It’s a Spanish Thing, It’s a water thing, It’s a French Thing, Europe, 2006, Europe, 2003, England, 2002, Berlin, 1997, Part 2: To the East

Bulgaria, 1997

When Sarah and I arrived in Sophia we decided that we would only spend the day here, so we left our luggage at the Novotel across the road and headed to what looked like the main street. It was hard to tell as the Cyrillic alphabet is used here so street signs and maps are hard to read.

There was a KFC, a Dunkin Donuts and lion statues peering at us through the mist on Garibaldi square. Tram lines criss crossed around cheap local food stalls and police look out boxes on street corners.

Getting lost in the back streets, we found lots of puppies, bleak run down houses and buildings undergoing restoration. The Banya Bashi mosque only had one minaret and the locals were filling their water bottles in the square out the front.

The tiny Church of St Petka of the Saddlers below street level had a crypt which was like a cave inside. While the huge St Nedelya church had pictures of the people who were killed when church was blown up by the Bulgarian Communist Party in 1925 in attempt to assassinate members of the police hierarchy.

After getting freaked out by the communist statues in Yuzhen Park, we went to meet Dan at one of the two Cindy’s Cinnamon Rolls. It was really good to see a friendly face in an unfriendly environment and we were glad that we found him.

It was hard to find a bar, so when we did we stayed until closing time and used up all our money as it is useless outside of the country. We left Dan to get on the night train to Bucharest.

Eastern Europe is very different from everything we have seen thus far. There are no postcards for sale here, but there is a McDonalds.

Related posts: Turkey, 1997Greece, 1997Italy, 1997, Part 2: Bella ItaliaItaly, 1997, Part 1: From Rome to FlorenceSpain, 1997, Part 2: Beyond Barcelona,  Spain, 1997, Part 1: Barcelona,  France, 1997, Part 2: The South of France, France, 1997, Part 1: ParisBelgium, 1997Holland, 1997England, 1997I first started travellingBy special requestHome is where you make itI first started writing