The Eastern Bloc

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The Eastern Bloc

Postby Guinness Fan » Fri May 25, 2012 6:27 pm

It's been 20+ years since I've lived in Europe...and when I lived here before, the "Eastern Bloc" was verboten to travel to. Now that the "Wall" is down and the European Union has accepted so many of the former "Bloc" countries & I'm living on the Continent - I'd like to take the opportunity to visit the formerly forbidden countries.

Have any of you guys visited the former "Eastern Bloc" countries (Poland, Estonia, Romania......etc, etc)?
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Re: The Eastern Bloc

Postby olywaguy » Sun May 27, 2012 3:04 am

I was in Hungary a couple of years back on a mission trip to teach English to young people. I had a great time there (Gyor). There are some pics on my facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/olywaguy/

that you can take a look and see.

Wherever you go, be sure to do some research on customs and such especially gestures and such so you don't unintentionally insult them.

My mom and younger sister have been to Romania on mission trips several times....in Braila. They love it.

The Czechs have some very good looking guys too. :D
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Re: The Eastern Bloc

Postby doctor dan » Sun May 27, 2012 9:39 am

I lived in the Soviet Union (Moscow) for a loooong time. Spent time in Sofia, Bulgaria -- also before the collapse of the USSR.

I returned to Moscow a few years ago, and boy was it different. In many good ways, but also in many bad ways.
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Re: The Eastern Bloc

Postby matinee » Tue May 29, 2012 4:31 am

Poland is OK too but watch out for the crazy drivers, he he.
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Re: The Eastern Bloc

Postby Rico » Tue May 29, 2012 5:14 pm

Haven't been there personally but I I know many people who have and I'd recommend visiting some of the countries born out of the former Jugoslavia...Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. Dalmatian coast in Croatia is supposed to be spectacular, as are the beaches of Montenegro. (Leave the swim suit at home.) :D

But no matter where you go, it seems the muslim-drug-people-smuggling-mafia seems to have taken over most of the old eastern block countries, so maybe better pack a gun no matter where you decide to go.
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Re: The Eastern Bloc

Postby olywaguy » Thu May 31, 2012 2:35 am

Rico wrote:...so maybe better pack a gun no matter where you decide to go.


I wouldn't recommend that. Carrying a gun will surely get you into more trouble than without it.

But if you want to know what the situation is like in any particular country, consult the U.S. Department of State's Current Travel Warnings. Also, take a look at their Travel website for tons of great information.
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Re: The Eastern Bloc

Postby Rico » Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:12 pm

olywaguy wrote:
Rico wrote:...so maybe better pack a gun no matter where you decide to go.


I wouldn't recommend that. Carrying a gun will surely get you into more trouble than without it.

But if you want to know what the situation is like in any particular country, consult the U.S. Department of State's Current Travel Warnings. Also, take a look at their Travel website for tons of great information.

The notion of "packing a gun" was meant to be tounge-in-cheek and of couse your recommendation to consult official sources before traveling is well taken. My point was more social and political and personal since so many I know have ties to the Eastern Block countries and wouldn't set foot in them now because of the crime. If find it so ironic that my friends felt so much safer traveling there when the Communists were in control of things. :x
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Re: The Eastern Bloc

Postby doctor dan » Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:24 pm

Rico wrote:If find it so ironic that my friends felt so much safer traveling there when the Communists were in control of things. :x


This is a very real concern. I was in Moscow right after the Berlin Wall (November 1989) fell right up to the collapse of the Soviet Union (August 19, 1991 -- I flew out that morning). During that 20 month period, society completely fell apart. Food and other consumer goods disappeared from stores within a few months. By August 1990, people began hawking their possessions in impromptu flea markets every weekend, just to get some money to get by. Organized crime, which was virtually nonexistent during Soviet times, burst onto the scenes in Moscow by September 1990. Foreigners were kidnapped for ransom. We did not dare to take public transportation after dark. And the other modes of transportation were always risky -- "private taxis" were a mainstay, but you never took one alone.

Soviets almost never approached people who were obviously Westerners, especially Americans. By December 1990, people were openly harassing us for US Dollars, Deutsche Marks, or other convertible currencies. The ability to buy goods and services with rubles evaporated. For the last 10 months I lived there, I had to buy coffee, food, laundry detergent, etc. at hard currency stores that only foreigners with credit cards could shop. It was the most remarkable thing to witness.

Desperate people do desperate things. Everyday Russians had the rug pulled out from under them and simply did not know what to do.

Fast forward 15 years and Russia, Moscow in particular, is a hard-core capitalist place. But for the privatization of residences, for example, average Russians could not afford to live. Apartments that they formerly "owned" collectively were turned over to the residents, but their maintenance stopped. New housing is unattainable for average folks. And the Russian "mafia" has moved in and controls almost every segment of the cities' commerce. Business owners pay protection money, extorted from them just to make a meager living.

So, yeah, in many ways, like was better in Soviet times. Personal freedoms were restricted, but a lot of Russians will tell you that they exchanged state restrictions on person freedom for economic restrictions on personal freedom. And most don't see a big difference in the quality of life.
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Re: The Eastern Bloc

Postby Guinness Fan » Sat Jun 02, 2012 3:39 pm

^^^^^^^^^ A very good commentary Doctor Dan ~ Thanks for posting!
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Re: The Eastern Bloc

Postby nimby » Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:14 pm

And unfortunately, the Russian Mafia has spread internationally, giving those italians a real run for their money.
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Re: The Eastern Bloc

Postby doctor dan » Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:34 am

nimby wrote:And unfortunately, the Russian Mafia has spread internationally, giving those italians a real run for their money.


Tell me about it. I lived in eastern West Hollywood for seven years before moving to Long Beach. Most people know West Hollywood as a gay mecca. Well, that's the area code 310 part of WeHo. The 323 part of WeHo is Russians. That's where I lived. And it was filthy with Russian mafiosi.
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