Eastern Europe might lack white sand, Levi jeans and Earl Grey tea, but Jesus, turn any corner in any town and you'll find a host of quirky shit you wouldn't see anywhere else in the world.
If one thing's for fuckin' certain.
The Polish off-license, for example, is called an Alkohole. Obviously. Why the fuck didn't we think of that?
The one thing that made the Skoda Adventure mostly palatable was the fact that the sun shone like a motherfucker.
It's surreal to walk around Auschwitz, say, when the sun is blazing down like Spanish inquest. In my mind, Auschwitz is a cold, grey place filled with darkness.
So it's helluva surreal to amble around the place when the sun is shining, strange as that may sound.
The Nazi's killed 1 300 000 Jews in Auschwitz. I don't need to give you a history lesson - that's why Wikipedia exists - but something I didn't know before I went was this:
1) The gas chambers are underground. Small hatches on the roofs would be the delivery vehicle for the Zyclon B cannisters. Zyclon B is the 'gas' that killed the Jews, except it was in granular format and would evaporate once delivered down the hatch. Fucking horrific.
2) Most of the Jews killed at Auschwitz were Hungarian.
Before you throw a toaster in the bath, something slightly more positive:
The locks fence in Prague.
Stumbled upon this fence that has thousands of locks attached to it.
Couples and lovers alike attach a lock to the fence for eternal love. Genius.
Nuns. They're fucking everywhere. Communism ideals dictated that religion was not allowed. So churches in all countries - bar Poland - kind of just sat around for 30 years.
Polish people are the most Catholic in the world. They were the only country in the Eastern Bloc that was allowed to practice their faith - well, not allowed, but it was sort of accepted.
The pope was from Krakow, and we saw his old house. He's like the national poster boy of Poland. They love him.
So. Basically. You see a lot of nuns running around.
The thing that intrigues me most about Communism is the architecture.
It's so fucking ugly, it's beautiful. I took about 300 photos of the ugliest shit you've ever seen. I might run a competition here to vote on the ugliest structure in my photo album.
Bad ly designed, prefab, box living, designed to make people less imaginative, orderly, oppressive. Grey, monoblock structures.
Like this place above. A town created next to Krakow, called Nowa Huta. It consists of a steel factory (obviously) and a lot of shit housing. The communists didn't like tradition and culture and opulence. So they forced people to live in places that didn't conform to that.
The thing with Communism is that it's still there. The Berlin Wall only fell 20 years ago, so everything still kind of looks the same. And change is slow, so especially the older generation still very much function on the 'old regime.'
Another 300 photos I took were solely dedicated to fucking fabulous cars.
Now THIS is a Skoda. In fucking mustard motherfucker.
I almost stole it and bought it back to the Brit in London.
Old school, shitty communist cars (socialism and/or communism mean there's generally no money. Which means the cars were generally quite unreliable and shitastic. I fucking LOVE them.)
This one was found in a tiny town in rural Slovakia.
The steel factory we visited. The loudhailers are something you see in most small towns across Czech, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. They were used for the commies to do keynote speeches and other indoctrinating shit through them.
Charles Bridge in Prague is lovely - when there aren't 800 tourists clinging to it. Nice when they play a little jazz though.
Very satisfactory indeed.
Oh look. Another fucking great car.