Our 2011 Eastern Europe Tour

Part 1 - Page 8

On the way to Budapest Hungary, We went from the northern border of Slovakia to the southern border.

The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about 19,000 sq miles (smaller than West Virginia). It is a landlocked country bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south. The largest city is the capital, Bratislava (which we visited later), and the second largest is Košice. Slovakia is a member state of the European Union, NATO, United Nations, OECD and WTO among others. The official language is Slovak, a member of the Slavic language family.

This is the Orova Castle. It is situated on a high rock above Orava river in central Slovakia. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful castles in Slovakia. The castle was built in the thirteenth century.

Many scenes of the 1922 film Nosferatu were filmed here, although until recently it was thought to have been shot in Transylvania.

Orava Castle stands on the site of an old wooden fortification, built after the Tartar invasion of 1241. Its history since then reveals a familiar pattern of construction, destruction, reconstruction, fire, various ownerships and territorial squabbles. The original design was in Romanesque and Gothic style; it was later reconstructed as a Renaissance and Neo-Gothic structure, hugging the shape of the 1700 foot spur on which it perches.

I've been trying to get a good picture of some Soviet era housing. When we're on the bus, it's hard to see one and shoot it before we're gone. It's characteized by its cement grey color, boring facade, and equal sized windows. They are all 5 stories high (no need for an elevator). In some areas we'd see block after block of "flats" like this. This is what I got so far.

We also saw some places that looked like this. Edi explained that the buildings are abandoned and the Gypsies have occupied them. The Gypsies have a long and complicated orgin and past. Currently, The gypsies in Slovakia are second class citizens, both by choice and by the way Slovaks feel about them.

They have created a huge welfare cost and educational problem. The Gypsies want to continue their free and wandering lifestyle and the state wants them to settle down, learn the language, and have their kids attend school. ie.: Assimilate.

As you can see, This are not Soviet era buildings, but a slum dwelling on the extreme fringe of Slovak society.

We stopped at a sheep ranch/sheeps cheese factory named Salas Krajinka. The owner gave us a tour and explained the "green" way his company makes cheese. His ranch/factory was located in a beautiful mountainous area in central Slovakia. Kind of "Swiss-Alpsy".

Here is the owner serving our group a selection of his cheese. Some is only a few days old (smoked), but most is fresh made that day. We sampled it with fresh baked dark bread right out of his bakery. It was very tasty.

(That's Mike Plouffe on the right.)

This is a glimpse of the bakery. The aroma was dragging people in to buy a loaf.

Mary Ann enjoyed the "Swiss Alpsy" style of the place. It sort of reminded us of the Yalaha Bakery in Yahala, FL near our Villages, Florida home.

We also saw a lot of closed factorys in Slovakia. When the Soviets ran the countyo from WWII until 1989 they built these factories, many making unneeded goods. When the Soviet Union collapsed, most of these useless factories died. Only a few have been converted to producing useful goods.

This is the "Sports Hotel" in the ski resort town of Donovaaly, Slovalia.

Look at the top picture. If you study the picture, you can see a Soviet era building that has an upgraded facade. (So says Edi).

This is the very nice dining room and a couple of very nice ladies: Mary Ann and Lucille Plouffe.

Donovaly is a ski resort. It has a lot of chalets (Like Aspen, CO?). Since this was summer, things are pretty quiet. I think the hotel was very happy to have our business.

Here is Edi and Alden Myers from Mechanicsburg, PA. He is the grandson of Albet Myers from Ft. Myers, FL. Alden (AKA "AJ") is 14 years old, a super-teriffic young man, and was a great traveller and a big help to Edi and everyone else.

We arrive in Budapest Hungary in the early evening. Got settled in the Marriot Courtyard and Edi took us around to get some Hungarian currency: Florints.

We: Mike Lucille, Mary Ann and I had dinner at the "Stek" (not Steak) resaturant. I had beet soup and salad. Mary Ann had chicken and veggies. We had to lay off the pork for a couple of days.

In the evening, we reboarded the bus for a quick ride to the hilly Buda side of town to see Pest by night. This is the view of the bridges crossing the Danube River.

That's all I am going to put on this part of our Eastern Europe tour web site. It should be enough to drive anyone into bed with a headache. In Part 2 of my web site we'll look more deeply at Budapest, hit Bratislava, Slovakia, finish up with Prague, Czech Republic, and head home!

Go back to my web site home page and select Part 2 to continue.

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