Archive for the 'East Europe' Category

Jun 14th
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TotalAdventure returned to Istanbul for the first time in several years. It’s our staging point for points East.

Where East Meets West .

In Santa Sophia – Both Mosque and Church.

1000 Year Old Graffiti In St. Sophia

Europe On The Left, Asia On The Right.

A Patriotic Dog.

Tonight TotalAdventure Flies to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, and the Real Adventure Begins !

Oct 3rd
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On The Morning Of July 9,2017 We began our trip from the Baltics to Germany As you leave Riga, you see the tallest structure in the country – a Soviet TV tower.


From Riga, one can go anywhere in Europe, Moscow,Kiev ,Minsk and onwards to China.


Afternoon stop in Lithuania. As part of the EU – the only formal border crossing s are with neighboring Belarus and Russian Kaliningrad. The currency is the Euro.


Buses to all parts of the small country.

Finally that night, Bialystok, Poland.


The next day, we continue West, passing though Warsaw and Lodz.

We stop in our ancestral hometown of Stargard, , traditionally German, now occupied by Poland, Thanks to Josef  Stalin. Here our Great, Great Great And Great Great Great Grandfathers were Baptized.

A Library Tower In Stargard.

A Middle Ages Warrior .

On Tuesday, July 11 , we finally arrive in East Germany. This house looks as if it might hold soldiers from World War 2 even now.

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After settling into our Hotel in Riga, we were famished from our overnight journey across the Baltic. One of the reasons we visited Latvia was for dining on wild game, readily available from the primeval forests of the lightly populated Baltic Republics. A quick perusal on the web led us to Meža Garša  – ” Taste Of The Forest “.

The first course was a wild soup – with venison ,rabbit and local forest mushrooms and totally organic vegetables.

Next was an assortment of moose, bear and deer.

An excellent dark, cold ale to accompany.

Venison Tartare.

And Finally The Main Course – Roast Bear. According to the owner – Ivo , the best bear comes from Estonia because they live on a diet of berries – creating a sweet flavor. In many areas bears live near rivers and eat a lot of fish – creating a fishy flavor. All of Meža Garša ‘s game is fresh hunted or farmed and locally sourced in the Baltic Republics.

A lunch at Taste of The Forest Was Truly One of The Meals of a Lifetime For TotalAdventure – And We Beat Anthony Bourdain To It. !

Jul 22nd
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Riga is a beautiful city of the Hanseatic League.It is amazingly well preserved considering the last century of brutal war and occupation.

Victory Over The Invaders !

A Cool Summer Day In The Capital.

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Video Highlights – Germany – Austria – CzechRepublic – Poland – Slovakia – Hungary- Romania and on to Montenegro.



Nightfall in Krakow Poland.


The Route Travelled by Train.


Red For Train. Pink For Plane. Blue For Road. Green For Boat.

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Central Europe Panoramic – Austria, Czech Republic,Poland And Hungary.


After a 4 hour train ride from Vienna, TotalAdventure arrived in Prague – for the first time since 1990, just  after Liberation. Although tourists congregate heavily in the Old City and the population is much wealthier – the medieval buildings have stayed much the same.


Over the Stari Grad – Old City.


Habsburgian Architecture.


Hradcany Castle


Hradcany by Night.


On The Metro, about 60 cents US.


A Musical City.




Evening Storks.


U Modre Kachnicky is one of the best game restaurants in the world outside of Iceland. Here is smoked duck.


Wild Boar at U Modre Kachnicky.

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About 80 km East of Prague is the village of Kutna Hora. During the Black Death of the 1300s there were piles of bodies deposited at the Cemetery Church,with almost no one to bury them.


Archeologists uncovering skeletons outside the church.


Years later , with so many bones lying about, a local priest came up with a creative way to adorn the church.


Neatly stacked femur and shin bones, with smiling skulls in the middle.


Spirit of Christ.


Holy Insignia.


Death Not In Vain.


Rich and Poor, All Alike In The End.


Less Bleached.


Felled By The Plague 800 Years Ago.

Jul 27th
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After many hours and 4 trains changes from Kutna Hora, we finally arrived in Krakow about 10 PM , in time for an outdoor dinner behind the Cathedral, where Pope Joh Paul II was Cardinal before 1978.


In the Staro Grad. Word of warning – don’t change money at the tourist change houses – you will get 25% less than you do in a bank !


Hearty cuisine – a bit heavy in the summer weather.


The Pope as Priest – 1960s.


The sun rises at 5AM in June.


On To Budapest.

Jul 27th
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Budapest was a quick layover for sightseeing and eating local specialties . It was TotalAdventure’s first visit since 1983 – when the Red Star of Communism was at the top of the Parliament Building.


We arrived early on Sunday morning , June 19, after an overnight journey form Krakow, through Czech Republic and Slovakia.


Though we had First Class Eurail, only second class sleepers were available. Comfortable enough.


Our luxury hotel ( quite cheap ) , the Buddha Bar was just across the bridge.


No Euro here. At 285 forint to the  U.S. Dollar, gourmet meals are amazingly cheap.


In the Central Market.


Delicious Game for lunch.

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Shot by TotalAdventure’s Blaine Zuver and Martin Zuver.



A an overnight first class sleeper train ride from Budapest had us arriving fresh and rested on the first morning of summer, June 21.


The”Dacia” Boarding in Budapesti Keleti.


Brasov – Romania’s Hollywood ? Brasov is the center of Transylvania.


Dracula’s Castle, known as Castle Bran, is about 25 km from Brasov. Building began in the 1200s and was added on to over the centuries.


A hidden stairway deep in the interior.


The modern day ( 1883 ) Peles Castle, in Sinaia. was built by King Carol.  It was built with electricity,telephones,telegraph and other modern conveniences.

IMG_7456A comfortable drawing room in Peles.


The Carpathian Mountains are quite undeveloped. There are a few small ski areas, with a long powdery season, rafting,climbing and seeing rare animals that are extinct in Western Europe. For many years only Dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu was allowed to hunt.


While forcing his subjects to live in poverty and half-starvation,Ceaușescu lived in the grand style of a Communist Emperor .An entire section of Bucharest ( not just a neighborhood, but comparable to the Upper West Side of Manhattan or Soho in London  ) in order to build the People’s Palace – the world’s second largest building in terms of square footage , just after the Pentagon. It took 18 years to complete – from 1978 to 1996 – 7 years after the execution of he and his vile wife Elena.


A chandelier weighing 5 Metric Tons  – one of over 100 in the building – constructed at a time the populace was relegated to one 40 watt lightbulb per apartment.


The Dictator. – “Genius of The Carpathians” was one of his many self-bestowed titles.


One of many grand staircases. Many had to be rebuilt several times in order to make him seem taller than his  short stature.


The view from one of the balconies from which Ceaucescu would never make a speech.


One in three adults were rumored to work for the Secret Police – the Securitate.


In a nautical mode.


In Nicolae and Elena’s villa – solid gold water faucets. Commoners were rationed to half an hour of hot water every other Sunday.


Modern radio – circa 1988.

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