It was the end of June, our daughter was 9 months old, and we were just about to start our two months vacation in Poland – the land of rivers full of vodka, white bears on the pavements in winter and no electricity, aaa, and of course an eternal part of Soviet Union 😀 (I’m sorry, but I really had to. When I was in Colorado Springs, USA in 2006, that was, what I heard as a response to the fact, that I come from Poland. Precious!!!). Back to the point. To get to the rural part of Poland my family lives in (at the Belorussian border – when I mentioned that, I bet a picture of white bears in winter for real came to your mind 😉 ), we need to drive really long. There are a few possible routes, but we chose the one leading us through Slovakia, the Tatra Mountains, and Podhale (Poland’s southernmost region). And as we were booking everything, the new idea came to us: if we are already on the eastern side of the historic Berlin Wall, let’s step in a post-soviet world and add Lithuania to our trip. That’s what we thought and that’s what we did 🙂 Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, post-soviet bloc during hot summer, off we go.
We got into the car, loaded with any imaginable thing Zosia and we needed for 2 months, and our car managed to start. So far so good. We hit the road, only to notice, after 1 hour of driving, that we don’t have a driving license with us. And, back to Munich. …. (instead of dots imagine: stress, cursing, phone calls, cursing, stress, looking for the driving license everywhere, cursing, stress, etc.) At the end we found the documents by accident under the car seat. So we managed to hit the road again only in the late afternoon, which gave us an opportunity to see a beautiful sunset in Vienna. That’s the thing with travelling, not all goes perfect, not always you are prepared for everything, but no matter what happens you can always try to find a reason for it and comfort yourself with small miracles happening around you all the time.
To Bratislava we arrived at night. Zosia was already sleeping, street lights were blinking through the car window, and I felt I was getting closer to home. Bratislava at night reminded me about Warsaw or any other post-soviet bloc capital. Their beauty is not obvious. When you enter the post-soviet bloc from the rich West, it’s usually as a slap in the face. There is no more German-Austrian order and predictability. Post-soviet East, no matter how much it tries, will be different from Salzburg, Vienna or Munich. It will always be more raw. I tend to think about the East as a wild horse. No matter how much domestic it tries to become, it still has hot blood and fiery temper. And you know what, I think we should be proud of it. Post-soviet capitals have an amazing history, Old Towns, castles, legendary rives, architectural pearls, famous universities, old parks, post-soviet parks, new skyscrapers, old “crappscrapers,” holes in pavements, trash on the streets, homeless drunkheads, and much much more. And all of this mixed in the way you would never expect it could be mixed. You can either hate it or love it. But don’t be too quick to judge…Feel free to share: