Breaking Things In East Europe
Our travel through East European countries—Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary—towards the South were filled with havoc and horror. Some of the things Santeri accidentally broke were minor and material, others somewhat bigger and more serious.
It all began in Latvia when visiting our new friend Vita in Rezekne near the Russian border. Santeri was making some bread and dropped the frying pan. It hit the floor sideways and lost its shape. Sorry Vita. From there on we knew to expect more, but trying to be extra careful only made things worse.
From Lithuania to Poland via Latvia
From Rezekne we continued to Vilnius, Lithuania, where we spent the day sightseeing before catching another bus to Warsaw. Things went fine in the city but when entering the bus, cranky Ecolines driver told us that we were breaking their rules: our backpacks were oversized. We were asked to pay 5€ extra per backpack. A few days earlier the same backpacks had travelled twice with the same bus company without any problems.
In Warsaw, Poland, we continued by train to Krakow. The train was jam-packed and the four-hour trip broke our backs. We had to stand and sit on the floor the whole way. It was the end of holiday season and all the Poles were on the move.
Our host in Krakow, Pawel, had some very old gilded plates. When Santeri was washing the dishes after cooking pasta, he left the rolling pin to dry up standing. That was a mistake: the rolling pin fell down and broke one the irreplaceable plates. We are awfully sorry for that, Pawel.
0 water animals
0 cows and calves
We had been told Auschwitz would be an intensive experience and we did not want to feel sorry for not going there later. The last time we visited a must-see sight was in 2007 in Cambodia. We went to visit Angkor Wat with our friends Bill and Betty. That was a good lesson to avoid tourist traps, but obviously we had already forgotten it.
We first walked around the Birkenau camp and arrived to Auschwitz at 3pm after which we were allowed to enter the camp without obligatory, slow, and costly guidance. As tourists with eight years of experience we did not feel like we needed help in exploring the place.
Inside we found a horror competition of various nations. Each boasted about how many of their citizens had been murdered in the camp. We sensed nothing else but the anxiety of the flocks of tourists who were dwelling in emotions, perhaps evoked by their guides, in front of yet another historical rock pile.
The camp was similar to other prison camps we have seen. Perhaps some of the people were brought to the camp to work there and those who were not able to work were killed. Auschwitz is obviously a taboo, but Santeri could not help thinking about those 1,5 million animals that are being killed every single day. Farms are modern-day concentration camps torturing and killing innocent and helpless animals.
Travelling from Poland to Slovakia was challenging as we had to change buses many times. There were no timetables in English and we did not have a map of the area, but we managed to find our way to the Slovakian countryside town, Rimavska-Sobotá, to see Nuno and Janka. We caught up with summer that had escaped us in Krakow. It was the harvest time and we got to enjoy apples and some other rare delicacies we had craved for in India.
In Slovakia, Santeri broke a mustard bottle and an axe. The bottle broke when Santeri took it from the fridge and lifted it carelessly from the cap. It smashed onto the floor and most of the stuff got wasted. The axe broke down when Santeri was chopping wood with Nuno. His technique was based on raw power and rage which was too much for the already worn axe handle. Our sincere apologies, Janka and Nuno.
From Slovakia our journey continued through Hungary to Bosnia with a help of a handy travel planner. In Buda we asked directions from locals when hiking through the city in the middle of the night from one railway station to another. Everyone advised us to return a few kilometers to the closest metro station and wait there three hours until 4am when the metros would start to run. Soon we discovered that the station was only one kilometre away. We spent the night sleeping outside, in front of Budapest Deli railway station under the stars. Sleeping outside in Hungary has already become a tradition for us as the stations are closed during the night and it is no use to take a hotel room just for 5-6 hours.
More about our Balkan tour in the next blog. Happy travels!