REFLECTING ON A WORLD BEING REBORN -- July 1997
Reflections
Television news
Macedonian Orthodox "iconostases" or altar screens
Politics and Religion in Macedonia
An amazing event!
Old World/New World
Travelling in Eastern Europe

Television News

During our three weeks away we became televison news addicts. When we were in a hotel the first thing we would do was turn on the TV and see if they had CNN International or EuroNews. In some places we even found BBC World. You might chalk up our actions to wanting to stay "in touch" with events "back home," but in fact there was very little US news.

Watching European News [or at least news tailored for a European Audience in the case of CNN International] was instructive in two ways.

First it helped us understand where we were, i.e. NOT in the US! Perspectives differ greatly. BBC World described our new ambassador to Vietnam as "the bomber pilot who was responsible for more bombing runs over, then, North Vietnam, than any other pilot." Of course WE refer to him as the "former POW." Both are true statements. But the different emphasis is worth noting. The wider world does not see our actions and leaders in the same way we do.Nor should they. We also learned a great deal about the issues facing Europe and in particular the effect of the devastating floods on the Czech Republic as they entered NATO. The perspective on the new peace initiatives in Northern Ireland was also given wider coverage than it would be in the US.

Second, we experienced news that treated us as adults capable of following an extended story. Sure there were headlines, but on the whole stories ran longer and focused on deeper issues than the "sound-bite" news on the major US networks. The result? We'll be watching more Public Broadcasting news and we will see if we can find CNN International on satellite.[The difference is incredible!]

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Macedonian Orthodox Iconostases

An example of an iconostasis -- This one is from Rumania, but similar in style to those we saw in Macedonia.
Skopje, the capital of Macedonia -- contains information on Sveti Spas and a link to information about St. John Bigorski. Both of these churches contain remarkable iconostases carved by the same dedicated craftsmen.

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Politics and Religion in Macedonia

An Amazing Event

The report in MILS News, 21.07.97 We " happened into" the ceremony at St. Sophia's in Ohrid.

Old World/New World

Travel Recommendations

Eating In Eastern Europe

The main meal of the day is what we call lunch and they call dinner. It tends to be between 1 and 3 in the afternoon. The food is HEAVY, so [in Macedonia at least] dinner is often followed by a nap! The meat tends to be less fancy cuts than most Americans are used to. And in the moderate-priced restaurants we frequented Sally found an occasional small piece of bone! The emphasis is on starches [mostly potatoes in the form of dumplings or small pasta] and, in Macedonia, on fresh vegetables. [Yes those tomatoes!] Having said all that; you are best off with the local specialties, rather than trying to eat what you eat at home. Just try to eat less! [Hard to do when families are cooking their specialities for you!] to the top!

Drinking in Eastern Europe

OK upfront we're not beer drinkers [David is allergic to hops and I haven't really drunk beer since graduate school...] so this is about WINE. And the wine in Central Europe is one of its best-kept secrets. [The former regime in Hungary marketed the wines of the Eger region aggressively, but the best wines are found elsewhere in Hungary.]

The main grape for the red wines in Hungary and Czech Republic seems to be the Cabernet Franc used in many country wines in France. In Hungary it is called Kekfrankos, in Czech Republic Frankovka. Remember this is the name of the *grape*. Quality will vary by vineyard and producer. The name of the grape used in Macedonian red wines eludes me. Interestingly enough many of the the labels were in English in Macedonia. Their wines are exported to England!

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Sleeping

A few notes on the three hotels we stayed in... to the top!

Traveling

Just a few notes based on our experience. First the main train station in Prague is, to put it mildly, a *disaster* for anyone who doesn't speak Czech. And that is before you deal with the taxi drivers outside! Solution? Go to a Cedok Travel Agency. They can book and print your train tickets on the spot. The best trains in Eastern Europe are the Euro-City or Inter-City trains. [EC or IC in the schedules.] You need both a ticket for a specific train and a seat reservation. Finding your right "car" is pretty easy. There are, at least in Prague and Budapest, boards with little pictures of the trains indicating car number and class. It tends to be pretty accurate. On EC or IC 2nd class is fine. On the trains we took 2nd class was air conditioned.

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Museums

Europe is a continent of museums. We saw only a fraction of the important ones and "lucked" into a few special experiences off the regular tourist list. What follows is a very personal selection! to the top!
page prepared by Sarah Fowler -- last update 8/4/97 -- email: shrimp56@hotmail.com