In 1973, I had the opportunity to work for a month in Warsaw, Poland, and extended that to include a month of hitch-hiking and generally meandering around on my own "behind the iron curtain". It was the chance of a lifetime, and indeed the trip changed my life forever. It was an amazing experience for someone raised with a cold-warrior father in a middle American small town paranoid about Communists.
(It is hard to believe that it has now been thirty years since that trip!)
I took the job because I have a policy: If someone will pay me to go someplace, I go. If I haven't seen it, all the better. Better yet if I don't know anything about it. All I knew about Warsaw was that it had something to do with a concerto, a pact, and a convention.
It is true, that since 1990, that part of Europe has opened up considerably, and Poland, The Czech Republic, Hungary, and the others are now acknowledged as being in the center of Europe. But back then, there was a clear line that separated the east from the west, and I was crossing it.
For that reason, this is the story of my trip to "Eastern Europe".