European Football Tournaments.

Yesterday I posted about the World Cup.  Today I am posting excerpts of two letters on European tournaments.  I watched Euro 98 games Austria and Egypt.   During Euro 96 we lived in Tirana.  I’ll start with Euro 2008. A cartoon in one of the local Cairo papers shows two Egyptians looking at the European football tournament, Euro 2008, on TV.  One says to the other … Continue reading European Football Tournaments.

Mitteleuropa Cafes in Vienna and Bratislava

When we lived in Bratislava we often went for a show, concert or meal in Vienna.  After the show we sat on the Schwartzenberg Café (also called the Opera Café) along the D tram line, enjoying a coffee until it was time to catch the tram to Sudbahnhoff.  It is our favorite Vienna cafes. The waiters at the Schwartzenberg got to know us pretty well.  … Continue reading Mitteleuropa Cafes in Vienna and Bratislava

Bratislava Easter Fair or a Spanking for Easter.

The Bratislava Easter markets are basically extra booths added onto the open air booths that are in two of the squares all season (Hviezdoslavovo námestie and Františkánske námestie.)  The Bratislava market had almost no emphasis on food (except for a few stalls selling wine and olive oil, no tasting).  Local Slovak handicrafts dominate, with a lot of decorated eggs and a strange Slovak item called … Continue reading Bratislava Easter Fair or a Spanking for Easter.

Altwiener Ostermarkt, Freyung (Old Vienna Easter market at Freyung)

Around the perimeter of the Altwiener Ostermarkt, Freyung (Old Vienna Easter market at Freyung Square) booths sell handicrafts, I bought an olive wood egg.  One sold live rabbits.  The food market and the wine tasting booths were across the street.  I have a picture of a group of umbrellas huddled around a round table.  The umbrellas interlocked in a way that guaranteed the soggy diners … Continue reading Altwiener Ostermarkt, Freyung (Old Vienna Easter market at Freyung)

40,000 Easter Eggs

The Altwiener Ostermarkt, Freyung (Old Vienna Easter market at Freyung Square) was smaller and more interesting than the market at Schonbrunn.  In the middle of the square is what is advertised as, 40,000 decorated Easter eggs are for sale.  It seems like more.  They sit in flats under umbrellas, each hand painted, or, in some cases, shells with designs cut into them.  Broken egg shells … Continue reading 40,000 Easter Eggs

Easter Market at Schonbrunn Palace

Vienna’s Easter markets are spin offs of their Christmas markets and are relatively small compared with their Yuletide counterparts.  I had wondered how these markets dealt with the Lenten season of penance and fasting.  They mostly don’t.  The market on the grounds of the Schonbrunn Palace is the largest.  It has an Easter House “Werkstatt” (work station) where children make marzipan bunnies and eggs.  It … Continue reading Easter Market at Schonbrunn Palace

Railjet, Austria’s High Speed Train.

Railjet is Austria’s high speed train.  While not as fast as Germany’s ICE (Suzi’s train from Brussels to Munich topped out at 275) or France’s TGV, we clocked a respectable 232 km per hour  (144 MPH) on the route between Munich and Vienna.  The train is comfortable with wi-fi (I took a picture when the speedometer tipped 200 and sent it out on FaceBook), a … Continue reading Railjet, Austria’s High Speed Train.

A Craftsman in Easter Eggs (From 2002)

There are Serbian Easter Eggs, Croatian Easter Eggs, American Easter Eggs, and Slovak Easter Eggs.  Mikulas “Mickey” Derevjanik, is a Slovak craftsman, a metal worker, who designs Easter Eggs wrapped in wire.  He comes from generations of metal workers who wandered from the Balkans to Central Europe and is proud of his craft. Mickey has started to do metalwork himself and is now a master.  … Continue reading A Craftsman in Easter Eggs (From 2002)

Salt Pope, Krakow, Poland

I’m not sure of the theological meaning, but Pope John Paul II has been turned into a pillar of salt.  In Genesis it was Lot’s wife who became a saline pillar.  Her sin was looking back at Sodom, the home from which she was being evacuated by angels before its destruction. The Wieliczka mines in Krakow Poland are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  We took … Continue reading Salt Pope, Krakow, Poland

Alexander Dubcek’s Grave. All Saints Day 1998, Bratislava, Slovakia.

“For All the Saints Who From Their Labors Rest,” Especially for one.  All Saint’s Day 15 years ago at Dubcek’s grave.   This is All Saints’ Say.  Today Slovaks visit cemeteries and light candles on graves.  Most of my staff members go home to their villages for the holiday so they can visit family graves.  I asked Petra, our University intern from Kosice, whose grave … Continue reading Alexander Dubcek’s Grave. All Saints Day 1998, Bratislava, Slovakia.

Warsaw, Palm Sunday, 2013

On Palm Sunday we ventured into the old town a second time.  Poland is not the land of palm trees, although Charles De Gaulle square has a huge plastic palm tree.  (It is a work of art.  Before the war a road ran from this circle to a Jewish suburb called “New Jerusalem.”  The plastic palm tree honors that.)  In place of palms Poles parade … Continue reading Warsaw, Palm Sunday, 2013

Telc, Moravia, Czech Republic

We have been to Telc several times.  It has a nice outlet store for Bohemian crystal, even though it is in Moravia.  Each time it was overshadowed, in the letter, by other places or, in one case, by a traffic accident.  A Lada hit me while I was stopped an intersection, no one hurt.  So the pictures will have to tell the story.  The first … Continue reading Telc, Moravia, Czech Republic

Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

April 27, 2002 Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic Dear Friends, We’re spending the night in Ceske Krumlov on a drive between Bratislava and Zagreb.  Ceske Krumlov is nowhere near the direct route from Bratislava to Zagreb.  Suzi and I have not often taken direct routes and we are the richer for it.  Ceske Krumlov is a fortified city protected by a meander in the Vlatava (Moldau) River.  … Continue reading Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

1000 years of Hungary

August 20, 2000 Budapest, Hungary Dear Friends, One thousand years ago today Hungary was established when King Stephen was granted the crown by Pope Sylvester.  Today there’s a party going on.  One week ago Suzi and I were sitting on the beach at Milocar in Montenegro, with no idea we would be here.  Since then I’ve been in Bosnia, Croatia, and Italy.  Today Suzi goes … Continue reading 1000 years of Hungary

Szabor (Statue) Park, Budapest

These are paragraphs from a 2003 letter: In Hungary the Internationale is best represented in Szabor (or Statue) park, a collection of Socialist Realism artifacts outside Budapest.  While the park is not difficult to get to it’s sometimes difficult to find.  I asked the Concierge to mark it on a map.  She couldn’t find it and wondered why it was not in the center of … Continue reading Szabor (Statue) Park, Budapest

Wooden Churches in Eastern Slovakia

This is from a letter written in October 1998: Eastern Slovakia is an area crossed in trade and fought over by Tartars, Lithuanians, Poles, Hungarians, Germans, Russians and Slovaks.  It’s where cultures meet.  Kosice boasts the eastern-most gothic cathedral in Europe, and while it is VERY gothic, the clock tower has a very un-gothic gilded dome.  This region is a borderland, a krajina in Slavic … Continue reading Wooden Churches in Eastern Slovakia

Andy Warhol’s Nowhere, Medzilaborce, Slovakia

This is from a letter in the early 2000s Friday afternoon we drove to Medzilaborce on the border with Poland and the Ukraine.  Medzilaborce is the ancestral home of the Warhol family (as in pop artist Andy.)  It’s easy to identify the town when driving through because of two huge Campbell’s Soup Cans that sit in front of the “Dom Kultura.”  The Andy Warhol Foundation … Continue reading Andy Warhol’s Nowhere, Medzilaborce, Slovakia

Vlkolinec, Slovakia

Vlkolinec, is a Carpathian mountain village.  It is a UN world heritage site. It has remained authentic, I think, because it is accessible only by a one lane serpentine road up a mountain with turnouts for cars to pass.  The only stone buildings are the church, its “parish hall” which is now an art gallery, and the public restrooms.  It is a working village, and … Continue reading Vlkolinec, Slovakia

The High Tatras, Slovakia

The High Tatras pop out of the plains, flat land and then alpine peaks that catch weather and delight travelers, if you look north.  If you look south you may see rolling hills leading to the low Tatras.  We found the Tatra’s a good place to spend the New Year holiday.  There are narrow gauge rail lines, skiing, and little inns.  These pictures are from … Continue reading The High Tatras, Slovakia