EUROPE - Summer 2002*

On June 15th, 2002, having just finished my latest stint at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and facing impending graduation from Berkeley in December, I headed off for places unknown in Eastern Europe. Sure, I had in mind a few cities and places that I wanted to hit in my travels, but in between those the wheres, whys, and especially the hows were largely and purposefully a mystery to me.

Looking back, I have to say that, more than my other trips, I'm amazed at the shear variety of things that I saw and did; from walking on the rain-slicked cobblestones of Prague's Charles Bridge at 4am to marveling at the lushness of Slovakia to experiencing the Baths of Budapest to hiking in Romania's Transylvanian Alps to wandering the ancient edifices of Istanbul to swimming in the crystal water of the Greek Islands to seeing how Croatia is pulling itself out of the last decade to returning to the sweet, sweet barley and hops nectar of Bavarian Germany.

Diversere as my experiences were, there remained two universal constants:
1) In every city in every country, I saw small children chasing pigeons
2)People everywhere, including a 19 year old aspiring air traffic controller in the Czech Republic, a 27 year old policeman in Romania, and a 48 year old cartographer in Istanbul thought that Bush is a moron

Czech Republic

Germany is and always will remain a favorite. Food, beer, and equally quality people to enjoy them with. And the occasional castle every two kilometers.

Czech Republic

From its gothic capital city to its picturesque hamlets, the Czech Republic offered great sights, food so good I hurt myself, and irrefutable evidence that God is not only a man, but Czech as well; Czech women. Whoa.

Slovakia & Hungary

While I can't claim to know Slovakia or Hungary, having seen only the capital cities of each, I can say that both impressed me with a sense of fierce individuality and refusal to be affected by the trials of communism, looking instead to the future and their place in it.


By far the hardest hit of the post-Communist countries, Romania remains the poorest of the lot and its people seem supremely self-concious of their own poverty while retaining a great deal of national pride, violent history and all.


Rampant, bizzare hospitality and rug salesmen that put our used car salesmen to shame are just a couple of the innumerable colorful aspects and characteristics of this city which is as fast paced as it it ancient and thouroughly enjoyable.


Where sleeping on a gorgeous beach, maybe swimming in its crystal blue water, and having a couple gyros is considered a full day. And for the really ambitious, there is a wealth of impressive history to take in.


With the highest per capita number of tourist info kiosks I've ever seen, Croatia is embracing tourism wholeheartedly as a means to pull itself out of its war-torn economy. Fortunately, Croatia exactly lacks a dearth of attractions for any visitor.

*The author hereby acknowledges the complete and utter lack of any accents, umlats, or other nefarious punctuations whatsoever anywhere in this work

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