Copyright © 1998 David C. Hay
VIII. Postscript and Credits
Some Thoughts on the Modern World . . .
The places described in these pages were strange and exotic to me
twenty-five years ago. I didn't seek them as much as I stumbled across
them, while wandering from here to there. Each of them was completely new
and foreign and totally removed from anything I had ever known before. I
now realize that I didn't really see them as much as I experienced them.
known, I don't remember details about the physical appearance of many
of these places, even though I remember the people I met very well. (Ok,
I don't remember all their names, but it wasn't their names that
Simply being there was a profoundly moving experience for me.
Except for Warsaw, I have not seen any of them since. My only current
knowledge of them must be from my memory and my imagination. This gives
them an almost mystical quality. This is the stuff of
which fairy tales are made.
Alas, I did not have enough film as I traveled, so I couldn't bring
back as many pictures as I would have liked. I have
always been sorry about that. This is especially true now, when I want to
share my memories with you. I did try to make up for that lack in
this manuscript by throwing in a postcard and some illustrations from books,
but I was still not satisfied.
Recently, though, it dawned on me that perhaps I could take advantage of
the World-wide Web to gather illustrations for my story. To my amazement,
I have been able to do so, which means that some of the pictures
you see here are a lie. They are not what I saw, but rather the same places
twenty-five years later. Since, for the most part, they haven't really
changed much in several centuries, perhaps I can be forgiven.
But something much more profound and – to me – disturbing happened here.
In about an hour, I was able to find pages for Varna, Plzen, Vodnany, and
Bratislava. The mystical places of my memory turn out to be modern
cities – with home pages! No longer do you have to wander for months to
find them. They are as far away as your keyboard. The pictures of an
Albena hotel, the bridge at Bratislava, the beer museum in Plzen, and Wawel
and the square in Krakow – I "created" them from the internet while sitting
in my home in Houston.
The combination of recent profound political change and
modern technology have opened up this part of the planet to the
world at large, making it a far different place than
the one I visited. This is surely a good
thing. But to me, with my very personal memories, it's hard to accept.
It feels as though the world is trespassing.
However . . .
The world is not as it was in 1973. Truth be told, I am somewhat
older than twenty-six now, and I am not as I was either.
As I said, this is a good thing. After all, during a typical month,
people from over 30 countries view this, my web site. My articles are
being read by people from Estonia to Singapore. It's hard not to get
excited about that. And it was kind of neat to correspond via
e-mail with folks in Plzen, Varna,
Bratislava and Brno. (Although it was disconcerting to realize that
several of my correspondents hadn't been born when I the travels recorded
here took place.) For all my nostalgia, it is good to see that these are
real places -- not something I made up -- and that they are enthusiastic
participants in the modern world.
What a strange and exciting place is this world in which we live!
So, to give credit where credit is due, here are the
sources for the pictures I did not take:
Murunow and the Palace of Culture – Edward Hartwig, Warsaw,
published by "Sport i Turystyka", Warsaw. 1973?
Old Town – my daughter Pamela, 1997.
Maria Sklodowska's home – a picture postcard, 1990.
Winnie the Pooh Street – My daughter Pamela, 1997
Krakow Town Square
Michal Dabros, 1990's.
Wawel – Anonymous web site, 1990's.
Kazimierz – My colleague, Ron Kucic, 1973.
Prague – Jaroslav Friedl, Zlata Praha, published by the
Olympia Press, Prague, 1973?
Plzen Beer Museum –
Milos Wimmer, 1990's.
Plzen's home page.)
Petrof Cathedral in Brno – The
Brno home page, 1990's.
Bratislava Bridge –
Ben Jefferson, 1990's.
. . . Not well at all . . . – Koji, 1973. (alas, I don't remember
his last name.)
Your Correspondent in Budapest – My new French friends, 1973.
The Black Sea
The following pictures are from
Varna's and Albena's web
prepared by Iva Zdravkova:
Albena Hotel – a brochure, 1990's.
Cathedral of the Assumption, Varna – a brochure, 1990's.
Jurgen and me – a passer-by, 1973.
Me and the children – Jurgen, 1973 (alas, I do not recall his last name)
Bride and Groom – my new brother-in-law, Wlodek Kurniewicz, 1973
. . . and of course the maps are all from the National Geographic Map Collection, copyright
© National Geographic Society.