WELCOME TO EaSTERN EUROPE
It was not that long ago when the term Eastern Europe was the term used to describe those countries part of the Soviet Union and under the control of Russia. This even included the eastern parts of both Berlin and Germany. When the Soviet Union collapsed, new nation states emerged some being free for the first time in generations. In the ensuing years these countries in “New Europe” as Donald Rumsfeld categorized them are now part of NATO and those drab dominated cities have been replaced by vibrant and youthful entities as exemplified by their attractive cities like Prague, Bratislava and Krakow. Some of these countries are small, like Slovakia, some larger, like Poland but all share an appreciation of their national heritage, a welcoming attitude to visitors and a commitment to enjoy life. Let us show you how to catch the spirit.
While much of Eastern Europe has emerged from the years of Soviet domination to become part of the “new” Europe, few have made the change from “nice” resort in Yugoslavia to a world class jet-setting destination as quickly as Croatia. Names like Rovinj, Split, Trogir and Hvar are now used in the same context as Portofino, St. Tropez or Santorini. The country has always had natural beauty (enough to attract the Austro-Hungarian Nobility) but now it comes with a flawless infrastructure and the ability to please people who like to be pleased.
Long the home of the people known as the Magyars, Hungary was also a key part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that ended with the defeat at the end of World War I, a war instigated by the assassination of its Archduke by an anarchist. It is a land of contrasts with Great Plains similar to the Pampas, Prairie or Steppes in other countries. Noted for its wine, Hungary also offers a wide variety of cuisines ranging from the cooking of the Roma or gypsies to the iconic Gundel, situated in a Budapest Park and a legacy dating back to the Orient Express. Devote some time to Hungary and be well rewarded.
Although we have placed Turkey with Eastern Europe, it is true that only about 6% of the country is located in Europe with the balance sitting on the Western portion of Asia. As in the past, the Bosphorus separates the two. At one time only a ferry connected Asia and Europe but now you can use a bridge from one continent to the other. The ferry still runs, however, and is a far more romantic experience, especially as night falls and the city lights come on. Turkey is nationally a Muslim country but a secular one thanks to Kemal Ataturk. Its main city, Istanbul, is both ancient and contemporary - combining Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman influences and architecture; exotic enough to be intriguing but contemporary enough to be comforting.