On the Final Tidbits from Eastern Europe

For the final post in this series, here’s a potpourri of images.

Look closely for the street performer.

 

Trdelniks are abundant in Prague. These hollow, toasted pastries can be lined with various creams, filled with fruits and whipped cream, and even stuffed with mac n cheese.

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Do you remember Fred and Ginger?

 

Nothing like a collection of torture devices to get one’s attention

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I recall many readers enjoyed the Ljubljana Dragon.

 

One never knows what one can see in the windows …

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…. or out a hotel window in Krakow …

 

…. even through the front window of the bus.

 

This is the last of the series about our travels to Eastern Europe with a Rick Steves tour. Not only was the tour company outstanding, this region of the world is definitely worth the visit. For more about this trip, click here for a collection of all the posts. Below the tour map is a beautiful song that is special to the Czech people.

 

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On Tidbits from Stramberk

The over 5-hour drive from Prague to Krakow is through the rolling plains of the Czech Republic. For lunch, our guide took us off the main highway and into the Carpathian foothills of the Moravian-Silesia region bordering Poland and Slovakia.

Arriving in the quaint town square of Stramberk, I wondered about the availability of restaurants because I didn’t see any people. It turns out that our group of 28 ate in 3 or 4 different places.

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After lunch, my wife and I explored the small town by walking up to the castle above the town. One of the unexpected surprises we encountered were the beautiful old homes.

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Stramberk Castle (also called “Trúba”) sits above the town, and easily reachable by foot. The castle was closed, but the views of the town and the surrounding valley were beautiful.

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Stramberk Ears are an acclaimed snack of the town – and the comes from a 13th century attack by the Tatars that you can read about here and/or here. These soft gingerbread cones are exclusively produced in Stramberk – and are an EU registered trademark. Made from the right proportion of flour, honey, sugar, star anise, clove, cinnamon, and more, they are soft like bread (not hard as a cookies). https://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/the-bloody-story-of-the-stramberk-ears
http://www.discovermoravia.com/our_man_in_moravia/places-of-interest/places-of-interest-in-north-moravia/stramberk/

Some fill them with whipped cream, others add a variety of toppings to them, and others eat them plain. My packaged served as a snack on the bus over several days. Yum.

 

Stramberk was a pleasant surprise for a 2-3 hour respite. Lunch was good and we enjoyed walking around. The 2+ minute video below is from a drone. Enjoy!

On Tidbits of a Conflict

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As part of the old Austria-Hungary (which lost WW1), Yugoslavia (“Land of the Southern Slavs”) formed in 1918 as a union of multiple republics. After WW2, Communism came to Yugoslavia. During his 30+ year resign, Josip Tito held the republics together. In the years following his death in 1980, the union began to crumble.

In 1984, the world learned about Sarajevo, the host of the 1984 Winter Olympics. From 1992 to 1996, a bombing siege destroyed many of the Olympic facilities. It was during this time, we watched the news to hear unfamiliar names and places.

Most of us probably knew little about names like Milan Martić and Slobodan Milošević and places as Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, and more. Besides, we probably didn’t know enough to understand what happening.

The conflict in the mid-1990s is known by a variety of names – most depending on one’s perspective – The Croatian War of Independence, the Homeland War, the Greater-Serbian Aggression, the Patriotic War, the War in Croatia, the Conflict in Yugoslavia, and I’m confidence there are more.

A conflict involving Communism and democracy – centralization and decentralization – nationalism and ethnicity – Christians and Muslims – the battle for power and control.

A five-year battle involving over 20,000 killed from battle and genocide, 500,000 refugees, 200,000 displacements, 180,000 housing units destroyed, severely damaged infrastructure, and a crippled economy.

The tour took a side-trip into a small town that where we could see some physical effects remaining today – bombed buildings (some being restored, others not). Houses with numerous bullet holes while their neighbors were bullet free. A small park with military equipment.

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From what we’ve seen and heard from others Croatia is a beautiful country and a wonderful place to visit. Yet, our relatively recent memory reminds us of a time that wasn’t that long ago.

On Tidbits of an Epic

An art exhibition was near our hotel in Prague. An exhibition that we never knew. An exhibition that tells an important story that we knew nothing about. A story that is important to not only the Czech people, but one for an entire culture – so we went.

Czechs revere Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939). My recent stained glass post included some of Mucha’s work at St. Vitas Cathedral in Prague.

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From 1910 to 1928, Mucha created 20 paintings on very large canvases celebrating more than a thousand years of Slav history known as The Slav Epic. That was the exhibition close to the hotel – but with only 11 of the canvases.

Each canvas (some 18’ x 24 ‘ – 6m x 8 m) depict important events in Slav history – celebrations, battles, coronations, and religion. I admit knowing very little about this, and the exhibition reinforced that.

Here are three images I took at the exhibition. Below them are resource links to several videos and websites for those who want to know more.

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Resources to Learn More

 

On Tidbits of Stained Glass

When travelling, we enjoy going into churches – especially in Europe! The history, the design, the grandness, the paintings, the organ, and yes – the stained glass. This collection is from various churches in Prague, Krakow, and Budapest.

My favorites? There are two, but which are your favorites?

 

Stained Glass of St. Vitas, Prague

God the Father, Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Krakow

On Trip Tidbits: More Budapest

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As my dedicated post indicated, Budapest is a fabulous city to visit – let alone the tidbits about the contradictions at Liberty Square and the memorial of the shoes. However, this post is truly a collection of tidbits with murals at a bathhouse, a sculpture, and a sign.

 

Outstanding murals and a statue in the lobby of a bathhouse.

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A touch of artistry from a gallery.

 

These statues are a bit large.

 

Now this is an interesting store sign.

 

Hope you enjoyed this tidbits from Budapest. Any favorites?

On Trip Tidbits: The Shoes on the Danube

Watching the 2-minute introductory video is important.

 

My original thought was to include this place in a collection with other tidbits; but on second thought, it deserves to stand alone.

There’s a small, but powerful memorial located along the Danube on the Pest side of the river. It’s simple – 60 pairs of shoes of men, women, and children from all walks of life are made out of cast iron.

60 pairs of shoes facing the river.

60 pairs shoes symbolizing a sense of abandonment.

60 pairs of shoes serving as a memorial to victims of horror.

60 pairs of shoes reminding us of something that humanity shouldn’t repeat.

Around December 1944 and January 1945, members of Hungary’s fascist Arrow Cross Party militia police took Jews from Budapest’s Jewish Ghetto to the river. The militia ordered the people to take off their shoes and face the river. Then the militia shot the people so the bodies fell toward the water.

Just another horror that I knew nothing about until this trip.

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