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A taste of Europe

August 18, 2009

How does it feel to be a European? What lifestyle do Europeans lead? What cars do they drive? Where do they go out? How do they dress?

What Does Europe Taste Like?

In the following posts I’ll try to give the most profound and satisfying answer based on my travel experience and reflections )))

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Like every place in the world, Europe has its most beautiful and peculiar places as well as ordinary, gray, non-prominent districts. It is a hard and unnecessary job to provide a general assessment of a large, diverse continent, so I’ll do it step-by-step ))

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Some historical background (I’ll keep it short, promise)

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In terms of historical overtones and events of the last century, Europe consists of two geopolitical areas: eastern and western. In other words: the communist government imposed on the eastern states by the Soviet Union after World War Two (Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and East Germany) vs the capitalist regime prevalent in the western states (France, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, West Germany and more).

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Political, economic and cultural boundaries, separating eastern and western parts are being slowly eroded, letting Europe merge and become a single “euro-zone” from all aspects. Still, having seen both sides and travelled across the continent, I can tell the difference in order, attitude and outlook of countries from the two “camps”.

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I’ll begin with Slovakia (which used to be a part or Czechoslovakia), a country, where I spent enough time to construct a shape of its reality inside my mind.

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Comparing to its southwestern neighbours, Austria and Germany – it’s quite inexpensive: you can have lunch for 5 euro, coffee – for 1.5 euro, take a cab for 4 euro and buy shoes for 20 euro ) In other words, enjoy life for a symbolic price )

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Another great advantage, incorporated with its moderate lifestyle, is its geographical location. One hour drive takes you to Vienna. Two hours – you’re in Budapest. Four hours – you’re in Prague. Cool, isn’t it? Taking a train is quite painful, though. A car is much better.

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Within the scope of the cities and villages, Bratislava is prevalent comparing to other cities such as Trenčín or Senec, in meanings of cultural overtones: the capital has all the attributes of a modern city.

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A church tower, located in the old city.

Bratislava Castle

Bratislava Castle is also located in the old city. Frankly, I don’t like going inside these castles and ancient buildings, looking around and taking notes: I’m too lazy for that. A picture will do )

one of the main streets in Bratislava

One of the main streets in the very center of Bratislava. Not every street is neatly paved, which proves to be a sign of honor and usually appears on “tourist avenues” such as this one) Residential houses, shops and cafes are lined up all along. This picture is taken in the middle of July – see the light blue sky and hovering grayish dim? This is the normal, usual weather in central Europe during the summer: hot, humid days are rather an exception, at least this is the weather I’ve been exposed to. Inhaling fresh air gets you into a mellow mood )

main street, a different angle

Same street from a different angle. It feels so home being out there, that I am almost sure my childhood was spent somewhere around the neighborhood )) Memories is a case sensitive, it’s all about the power of association and imagination )))

residential district, Bratislava

This is a less attractive part of the city: incubator buildings pressed one close to the other, separated by narrow passages, altogether create a stale atmosphere of routine and dullness. I can recognize this kind of place in almost any mega town – a remote, residential district, usually belonging to a middle-class population.

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In my next posts I will present a scale of other European countries I’ve been to and make a social analysis based on parameters such as: quality of life, business and society, labour market and more.

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