Word has it that less than 20 years ago, the citizens of communist East Europe were still standing in line, waiting for potatoes and beets at truck depots. Maybe that was just Cold War propaganda, but its true that the museums here cant seem to say enough bad things about the bad old days of life under communism.
Today, all that has changed. I walked out of the grungy, grimy train station in Krakow, Poland and through a tunnel into a huge three-story mall as big as the Grand Traverse Mall in TC. It had your typical mall babes walking around in the latest styles and many of the same stores found in the U.S. If it werent for the great Polish food and generous beer steins in the food court, youd swear you were in Grand Rapids.
Ive spent the past two weeks barnstorming around Central and East Europe on an extended trip around the world. Vienna, Austria. Prague in the Czech Republic. Krakow, Poland. And now, Budapest in Hungary. The streets of each town are filled with invaders -- foreign tourists from all around the world. In Prague, I heard more American voices downtown than those of the Czechs. East Europe is the new in place to visit, owing to the (slightly) cheaper prices than France, Britain or Germany.