Hi from Rick: Mixing it Up Across Europe
|Europeans are mixing it up like never before. Go over and join them!|
This week, updating my guidebook on Prague and the Czech Republic from the small town of Ceský Krumlov, I'm pondering the rich mesh of civilizations a traveler bumps into.
Tonight the terrace of the town's youth hostel is swirling with young backpackers from a dozen countries — so enamored with their new friendships that they seem oblivious to one of Europe's most beautiful views: the floodlit castle above and the shimmering river below. Meanwhile, upstairs in the "snooker" room, a group of 18 Chinese students earnestly review their English vocabulary with a bearded professor from Oxford.
As I cross the cobbled lane outside with my Czech friend Karolina, we dodge three German motorcyclists in black leathers, revving engines too powerful for this cute town. She remarks, "I was born after the war...but Germans on motorbikes still give me a chill." We step into a stone-vaulted cellar, blackened by centuries of candle smoke. It's a Roma-run pub, serving their traditional Gypsy cuisine to a happy Russian gang. With a wink, Karolina explains that a thousand Roma live just upstream, and what they present as Roma cooking is actually Slovak. As we tip our glasses with a "na zdraví!" to our tablemates from Moscow, it's clear the Russians are no longer the bullies of the Czechs...just travelers enjoying the best beer in Europe for a buck a mug.
For all the talk we hear about this continent uniting, don't come here expecting to find Europe homogenized. Look beyond the pretty views and connect with the people beside you, and you'll see it's more mixed up than ever. And for that, I am thankful.
In this month's Travel News we share a youthful enthusiasm for discovery, with a young girl's opinionated trip journal, a few World Cup soccer tips, and more. And in our Travel Store we're running a different "surprise special" every week, just for fun.
Na zdraví — and happy travels,