Switzerland - Scharnachtal

by Kimp 7. September 2012 04:55
 
When I was 21 I had a good friend named Milt. It was about a month before Milt's 21st birthday and he told me one day that his dream was to hike in the Grand Teton's in Wyoming. I spent a month gathering equipment and planning, then we went there, and set off on a 4 day hike. We were going to hike up to a lake that was at 10,000 feet and had an authorized camping grounds. spend a few days exploring that area, then hike back down.
 
Their was one little problem. It was kind of late in the hiking season and the weather was a bit risky. We knew that there might be a front coming through, but when we started it was a beautiful day.  About 75 degrees, very sunny and no clouds, so we figured the weather report might have been wrong, and even though it was a risk, we wouldn't let that get in the way. We thought that we were prepared for the cold.
 
As we are hiking up the trail we came across a moose. Wow, are they ever huge, healthy and fierce looking. He was coming directly in our direction and I can remember trying real hard to get a big tree between me and him. Luckily he tired of playing that game and went on his way. After that we saw about 3 sign's warning that there had been Bear sightings recently on the trails that we were on. Those had us a little scared but we trudged on, gaining confidence as we went, and didn't see any bears between signs.
 
The sun was starting to go down and we were running a little late, then it started snowing, we couldn't stop early because there weren't any authorized camp grounds between where we were and the lake. About an hour later there was 2 inches of snow on the ground, the sun was down, and that was when it started snowing harder and harder. When visibility dropped to about 100 feet, I decided to find a place to set up camp. Milt said, "Craig, we can't camp here!". I told Milt, "At this point I would love it if the park ranger's came, arrested us, and put us in jail for camping in an unauthorized location." We found a small grove of trees and made a quick assessment. There was plenty of loose dead wood on the ground for a camp fire, the trees were breaking some of the wind and sheltering us from the snow from above. There was a small clearing where we could build a decent fire. It was perfect.
 
I asked Milt to gather some loose dead wood and bring it near the clearing where I started cutting it with the hatchet that we brought. Thirty minutes later, I'm tired from chopping wood, so I ask Milt if he would start chopping while I got the fire started. This is when Milt started to complain about some kind of lung problem. "Craig, I'm really having difficulty breathing." I said, "Milt, you better keep breathing, because I Damn sure aren't giving you mouth to mouth." So, he sat down on a dead tree, while I got the fire started. 
 
With the fire going good, I unrolled Milt's sleeping bag near it, and he came over and got warm while I pitched the tent. With that done, I finally cozy up to the fire and am starting to get warm. We keep hearing a bunch of animals in the area. I'm thinking, probably deer jostling things around to make shelter, but Milt is thinking otherwise. Milt says, "I'm sure that's a Bear." After a short argument, I decided Milt wasn't going to shut up, so I went out into the dark to take a look. It's pitch black and snowing hard, and I didn't find anything. But when I got back, I told Milt it was a just some deer.
 
We went into the tent to try to sleep. It was very cold, after an hour we were freezing, and Milt was complaining about his lungs again. I look out and the fire was still just barely going, so I went out and got it blazing again. Milt then came back out by the fire. The problem with the fire was, that the side of my body facing the fire was really hot, but the other side was freezing.
 
That's when I had the great idea of building another fire and getting between them. That worked great, but with two blazing fires, our firewood was running out quickly. Earlier, I had made a deal with Milt, that we would alternate getting up and getting wood during the night. Milt did that once, then complained about his lungs again, so I gathered all of the wood for the rest of the night.
 
The next day, the sun came up, the wind quit, and it was beautiful again. We looked at our sleeping bags and they were full of burn holes from where the fires embers had been landing on them all night. We just threw them in the fire and burned them. With Milt's lung problem, I wanted to reduce weight and we decided to head back down as well.
 
We put the fires out, spread the ashes as best we could, cleaned up the camp site and headed back down. Fours hours later, all of the snow had melted, and it was easy hiking the rest of the way down. After we get back to the car, I ask Milt if he wanted me to take him to the hospital to have his lungs looked at. He turns to me and says "Oh no. I feel great now. My lungs are fine !!!". At that point in time, I just wanted to jam my hand down his throat and rip his lungs out, for all for the worry and hassle that he had put me through, but I kept my mouth shut.
 
What I learned from that experience was to never go hiking with Milt again. Cause when your head gets under water, he's just going to panic and drag you down even further.
 
Switzerland has several levels of hiking. Much of Switzerland's easy hiking is composed of walking up people's asphalt driveways. Instead of building roads up in the mountain's, what they did was: One person would build a long drive way to their house, then the next person would build onto the first persons driveway, and so on, and so on. Its a one lane driveway that goes behind someones house then keeps going to the next house, winding and getting higher and higher. There are also difficult path's that are well marked, rock and dirt and pastures. And you can mix and match levels, since most are interconnected, which is what I did.
 
Switzerland also has glaciers, but unless you are very experienced or go with a guide, you need to stay away from hiking on them. Avalanches can happen at any time of year and there are cracks and crevices that would probably be fatal if you slipped into them.
 
For this hike, I decided to just do a day hike. A day hike is where we hike all day but do not camp out. There are three ways to do it.
1. Hike from one cabin to another.
2. Start near public transportation, hike to another public transportation and then ride it back to where you started.
3. Hike 1/2 day out and then return. 
 
Where I was, number 3 was about the only option.
 
The rest of the story is in the captions of the Photo Blog.
 

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Sweden - Archipelago

by Kimp 2. September 2012 04:42

Photo Blog

I used to think that a person needed to be rich, to live on an Island. When in fact, most of the people who live on Islands are working class people, small business owners, or educators. Carpenters, Electricians, Plumbers, Laborers, Transporters, Teachers, store and restaurant owners, fishermen, etc. Someone needs to maintain all of the infrastructure, and services and someone needs to educate the children.
 
An archipelago is a geographical formation consisting of a large cluster of Islands.
 
Sweden has the second largest archipelago in the world, however it's only slightly smaller then Finland's. And Sweden's is near the main land. Sweden's consists of 30,000 Islands and is in the vicinity of Stockholm. Stockholm itself is built on top of five of the Archipelago's largest Islands.
 
This is a really nice peaceful place to visit. Most of the Islands don't have any cars, just ATV's, bicycles, friendly people and nature.
 
Sweden ensures that all of its children have the right to an education. Some of these Islands have a school on them. The kids are transported to and from the other islands to the school by school boat when it's calm. When is it rough, they transport via school hover craft. And when it's really bad and they have run out of snow days, they transport via school helicopter.
 
Trash pickup was pretty cool to watch. They have a trash barge that gets moved from dock to dock. It has a little miniature garbage truck on it, that drives onto the island to make the trash run, then comes back onto the barge, dumps and moves onto the next island.
 
A ferry boat service that makes runs, to transport people from Island to Island, or to and from the main land. I rode the Ferry service from Stockholm to an Island named Ingmarso, near the northern edge. It was about a 3 1/2 hour ride one way. I could see on the ships GPS, that it wasn't stopping at all of the Island dock's on the way there. Some Island's we would just drive on by, but I could see the docks on them. I was told when I got on, to let the conductor know where I wanted to get off, which I had done, so I was sure it was going to stop at Ingmarso.
 
What I didn't realize until I was about to disembark, was how to tell the ferry to stop, to pick me up, when I am on the dock. So as I am about to get off, I asked one of the local women if I needed to signal the ferry to stop at the Ingmarso dock. What she said was "I think it will stop there, it's kind of a popular Island.". Just then the conductor is signaling me, "like dude, if you're getting off, you'd better hurry, cause we're pulling out, right now!". So I jumped onto the dock, just as the captain put it in reverse, and floored it. As the boat was pulling away, I was thinking that I probably should have asked a different question, like "If I need to signal the boat to stop at a dock, how do I do that?".
 
The whole time I was there, I had visions of standing on the dock and watching the ferry drive right on by. Then asking someone on the Island, how do I signal the next ferry to stop at this dock. And being told "Dude, I am so sorry, that was the last ferry run of the Fall season, the next one isn't coming Spring. ".  But I didn't worry about it to much, cause I figured some Swedish women would take me in. I'm certain, that I wouldn't have been, the first certified American dumb ass, to have gotten stuck on that island.
 
When it was time to leave, the ferry pulled up to the dock without a signal from me. I either got lucky or God was looking out for me once again.
 

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Spain - Sevilla

by Kimp 4. July 2012 04:23

Photo Blog

Spain is very near the top of my favorite countries list. The weather is beautiful, the prices are inexpensive, the people are religious and relaxed, and the women are very sensuous. It was very hot and sunny, but my body adjusted to the heat fairly quickly. Staying up late, getting up late and taking that 2:00 P.M. siesta, just seems like a natural thing to do in Spain. Sangria cooled me off pretty quickly as well.
 
The Spanish cuisine is nice. Most bars and restaurants serve Tapas. A Tapa is an appetizer portion of a normal meal or side dish. We can also, usually get half or full portions if we want, but most people just order the Tapa size, and get a few different varieties. When we order a beer, the first Tapa is free, but the bar/restaurant provides whichever one they want to give away. Sometimes it is one of the cheaper ones, but not always. Some people go on Tapa runs. That's where we go to one bar, order a beer, eat the free Tapa, then walk to the next closest  bar and repeat. Most Spanish people are fairly light eaters. It's so hot that our body wants to use most of its energy keeping cool, and it does not want to waste energy digesting food.
 
Southern Spain was once ruled by Moorish Muslim rulers. They were defeated by the Christians in the 14th century but their influence on architecture, clothing and music hung around. The chants in Flamenco music are very close to Muslim chants, both rhythmically and melodically. The long black Flamenco dresses are close to Muslim attire. The energy and drama that the Flamenco dancers display, is close to the energy and drama when a Muslim women prays. They sometimes use the Zill's (Finger Symbols), that have their origin in Muslim belly dancers. Add the Spanish classical guitar, Flamenco rhythm, and a few brightly colored Spanish dresses, and it makes for a great evening of entertainment.
 
The Flamingo cab experience:
That's when we got into a cab, in which the driver was about a 60 years old, with a nice tan, a very laid back attitude, and the look of a lot of experience on his face.
The sun had just set, it was starting to cool off, the cab windows are rolled down, he is listening to a Flamingo station with the volume a little louder then normal, and it felt really nice and comfortable. He saunters up to a red light very slowly, and stops. The red light is exceptionally long, we are about the only car at that intersection as a few people walked by.
Instead of getting all tense because the light was a long red one, and we are the only car around, the driver, puts this one arm out of the window and down along the car door, as he puts his other arm on the dash, resting it on his wrist. He starts lightly tapping a Flamingo rhythm with this fingers on the dash, dips is head down and toward the open window, closes his eyes and starts singing very lightly with the music on the radio. His voice is a little rough and raspy around the edges, but it's so authentic and genuine that is just sounds awesome. The light turns green, but he still sits there for a short while, singing, then slowly pulls away. That was precious.
 
Spanish women have the two extremes down pretty well. Either the long full length summer dresses or the short shorts (we used to call hot pants when I was a kid) was pretty much all that I saw. Even the short shorts outfits, were very tastefully done. They definitely dress to compete with each other. The analogy would be, like in the 50's when guys would spend a lot of time working on their car's, and shinning them up, then go out and cruise the boulevard. These women spend a lot of time on their look, then go out and cruise the boulevard on foot. I only saw about 2 men for every 8 women. My guess is, that's is due to the high unemployment rate. Either the men are working late to make ends meet, or they left Spain to find work.
 
Spain's unemployment rate is 24.6 percent overall and about 50 percent for people under 30. That's about what the unemployment rate was during the height of the Great Depression in the US. Most people live with their parents until they are around 30, because the can't find permanent work. 
 
Sevilla (pronounced: See - Veeee - a) was once the most important trading port in Spain. The rulers had lots of money and they sponsored Christopher Columbus's expedition to America, because they wanted to expand their trade industry. That ended up hurting them, because Portugal was much closer to America, so most of the trade business left Spain and moved to Portugal.
 
Sevilla has the oldest bull ring in Spain and also the toughest spectators. Sporting a beautiful river, lots of history, lots of religious symbols,  awesome tropical landscaping, and I savored it all while I was there.
 

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Finland - Helsinki

by Kimp 9. June 2012 03:52

Photo Blog

Finland was a part of Sweden until 1800 when Russia moved in. After that, Finnish natives started migrating to Minnesota, in large numbers . I've learn that when European people emigrated to the US, they often choose a climate similar to the climate in their mother country. Towards the end of WWI Finland won their independence from Russia.
 
In WWII Finland's White Winter Soldiers stopped an initial Russian Invasion. They then solicited Germany to help them. What they didn't know was that, at that time, Germany had a secret pack with Russia, to give the Baltic states to Russia without a fight, so that Russia would not attack Germany. Eventually Finland figured that out, they fought against Germany, and the Germans fled. Finland was the only country to successfully fight off both the Allied and the Axis powers during WWII. However, at the end of WWII, since Finland had fought against Russia, they were forced to give up some of their land in the east.
 
In 1966 a company in Nokia Finland started working on a Mobile Phone standard. In 1971 they started building mobile phone towers, and by 1978, all of Finland had mobile phone coverage. The phones weighed 22 pounds. In 1984, Nokia built the first portable cell phone, which weighted 11 pounds.  In 1987, Nokia built the first handheld cell phone, weighting in at 1.5 pounds and costing about $6000. They then started to design a phone network that would carry data as well as voice.
 
Finland has long been a country dedicated to technology. Around 1960, large computers where being built in Finland. Today Finland is the most technologically advanced country in Europe.
 
Finnish people are not Scandinavian. They're Nordic.  Common Nordic characteristics are; intelligence, innovation, and quietness. In appearance they are tall, round and flat faced, with eyes that are very far apart (almost on the side of their heads). In addition, their heads look large in proportion to their bodies.  Their native language is very complex (similar to Hungarian), but most speak English like an American. Nearly everyone in Finland is Finnish, Finland doesn't attract very many immigrants.
 
Finnish people encourage equality and liberalism. They were the first in Europe to allow women to vote, and today 40% of the politicians are women. Finnish people enjoy culture and they believe that music education is a basic human right.  Music education is supported by the government and they spend a huge amount of money on it. Most people in Finland can play an instrument, and they know classical music and opera. Finnish people love to Tango. In the 1930's their musicians starting writing tango's and the whole country ended up embracing those dance steps. Today, they are the only culture other than Argentina, that tangos. Every year, there is a huge tango festival in central Finland.
 
Parts of Helsinki architecture, look Russian. The Russians moved Finland's capital to Helsinki (to get it closer to Russia) and brought one of their own architects to design it. Dr. Zhivago and Gorky Park were filmed here, when it wasn't possible for Americans to create Russian films in Russia. Helsinki has a modern church that was blasted out of solid rock. It's one of the nicest pieces of modern art architecture, that I've seen.

 

 

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Turkey - Istanbul

by Kimp 27. May 2012 03:42

Photo Blog

In 300 AD Constantinople conquered Turkey and the Eastern Orthodox religion was created. That lasted until 1300 when the Muslim Ottomans from eastern Turkey conquered the city of Constantinople and converted it to Islam.
 
For the next 600 years a single family of Ottoman Sultan's ruled Turkey. They were able to keep the rule in the same family, because they devised a full proof method of producing male heirs. Training the military and keeping all of the power within the family.
 
The key to producing male errors was in the rules of the Harem. An Ottoman Sultan was allowed to have up to four wives, who were all picked by his mother. However, many only had one or zero, because all of the influence that the wives had, over the ruling of the Ottomans. Then his mother and wives would pick 4 favorites (girl friends of the Sultan), from amongst the concubines (servants). Mom controlled which wife the Sultan spent time with, but from the layout of the palace, it looked like the Sultan didn't have to go through mom to spend time with a favorite. Favorites were supposed to practice birth control, but they often bore one of the Sultans children, after which, they were moved into the wife section of the palace.
 
The Sultan would give his wives very lavish gifts. They usually sold those gifts and bought real estate or businesses. When a Sultan died, his mom and wives were given a house and a nice pension. The brothers of the new Sultan, were either killed or imprisoned to prevent competition or foul play.
 
When WW I started, Turkey was still in Medieval times. They took the side of the Axis powers. They lost the war, some of their land was given up, and their country was occupied in the west by Europeans, and in the east by the Russians. They were the only country after WW I to have enough resistance strength, to force all of their occupiers out, and regain some of their land from the Europeans, the Armenians and the Russians.
 
After WW I, one of Turkeys generals named Mustafa Kemal Ataturk took control of Turkey. Araturk favored the Allies before WW I, but was overruled and had to fight against the Allies. After WWI he lobbied for democracy and gained enough control to put up a resistance. He was given dictatorial power over the democracy, but he kept democracy intact, and started a movement to modernize Turkey. They remained neutral during WW II and although they struggled with democracy for a long time, democracy persevered. Today, Turkey has a very large and powerful military. The second largest in NATO behind the US.
 
Turkey has come a long was in the last 90 years, yet it still needs some Human Rights improvements, before the European Union would consider it. Arranged marriages are a thing of the past, and women's rights started here in the 1930's. However, I still didn't see many women in the work force in Istanbul. Almost all establishments have male waiters and male service staff. I enjoyed my time in Istanbul and will probably be back, since there is a lot more ground to cover. As well, I would like to go further east in Turkey.
 

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Turkey - Bosphorus River

by Kimp 26. May 2012 03:30

Photo Blog

Turkey is a part of two continents (Europe and Asia). I took a ride up the Bosphorus river. The Bosphorus river is the straight that separates both pieces. There are lots of old fishing villages and some places where the wealthy are escaping the city life, and starting to take root. It is one of the most heavily traveled shipping lanes in the world. Much of that is from Russia's Mediterranean Export/Import business and tourism. The current coming from the Black Sea, at the top, is very strong. This provides a nice strong breeze, that keeps Istanbul on the cool side.
 
The down side, is that this straight is very tough to navigate, and along with the traffic, the strong current and the size of the ships, make it prone to accidents. An accident with a big tanker here, effects Istanbul's 15 million residents. Turkey controls the straight, and by the 1939 Treaty at Montreux, Turkey has the right to shut it down. in time of peace or war. There is a Turkish Naval base at the mouth of the Black Sea, for just that purpose.
 
Dolphins easily find the strong cool current coming from the Black Sea. They know exactly what is at the other end. Some tasty Black Sea Bass. This river always has lots of Dolphins in it, on their way to the feeding grounds. They are easy to spot, since it is a lot faster to fly though the air and catch a breath, then it is to swim upstream.
 
I ate at one of the seaside restaurants, on a dock at the old fishing village of Anadolu Kavagi (on the Asian side). I asked some guy on the street if he could get us a table on the water. He say's "Sure, I have the finest table just for you." He took us to a great table, then told the waiter I was with him (so he could come back later and collect his commission), then he took off. I looked down, and there was a sign on that table, saying it was reserved. I said to the waiter "Is this reserved?" The waiter says, "No, go ahead and sit down", then he takes the sign and puts it on another table away from the water. Ten minutes later the people who had reserved that table showed up. For some reason they looked a little disappointed. The poor guys wife had a look on her face like "Dam it Hedo, I thought you said we had the table on the river, with the awesome view!"
 
I got that name Hedo from the famous Turkish NBA player Hidayet "Hedo" Türko─člu. Turks share my passion for basketball. Hedo was a selfless NBA player who could play 4 positions, and he was able to make plays in key situations. He was like a sleeper. The other teams defense would get lazy and he'd make them pay.
 

 

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Poland - Auschwitz-Birkenau

by Kimp 13. May 2012 03:17
 
Auschwitz-Birkenau was a Nazi Slave Labor and Extermination Camp where about 1000 people per day were exterminated. It was the biggest of them all.
 
These pictures are not for everyone, but people who lived through the holocaust, consider it, a good practice to distribute them and their story. Because, by telling the story, it instills enough emotion, to want people, to prevent it from ever happening again. That is also why Auschwitz-Birkenau is now a museum, that's visited by about 1.5 million people every year.
 
Most extermination camps were built in Nazi occupied Poland for three main reasons.
1. It was far enough away from Germany, that they could hide what they were doing from the German public.
2. Poland is a good central location, for much of Nazi occupied Europe, so they could save on shipping expenses.
3. Jewish people were accustomed, to emigrating to Poland, so it allowed the Nazi's to easily perpetrate a scam.
 
The scam was, that they were relocating Jewish people to Poland, and that Poland was going to be a Jewish state, where they would be able to work freely and purchase land. To make the scam sound believable, there were several rules.
1. They needed to pay for their own train ticket to Poland (This ended up being a cattle car).
2. They were shown real estate pictures, and people who could afford it could sell all of their current property and purchase the real estate in Poland. They would have a dwelling as soon as they got there.
3. The ticket price included one suit case of luggage, and they were told to paint there name and birth date on the outside, so it could be easily found if lost.
 
They were crowded into the cattle cars and sent off. It was very cramped and several died on the trip to Poland. Once at the camp, the cars were emptied and they were told to put their luggage into a pile, form a line and walk to where a doctor was to evaluate their health. They were told that they would be back later to pick up their luggage. This was also part of the scam, because if people knew that many were going to be exterminated, there would have been a mass riot.
 
The doctor was really deciding who was going to be put in the slave labor camp, and whom was going to be exterminated immediately.
There were several criteria:
1. Clerics were always sent to extermination, because they did not want to give the people any spiritual guidance, to help them stay mentally strong and resist.
2. Intelligent looking people were always sent to extermination, because they only wanted dumb slave labor. Smart people might try to escape and spread the word of the scam.
3. Sick people were always sent to extermination.
4. Young people unable to work were always sent to extermination.
5. The rest were put into slave labor.
 
To keep the people about to be exterminated from rioting, the scam continued. They walked to a location near the incinerators, being told that they were just going to take a shower, then they would return and get their luggage. They walked into an underground changing area and disrobed. They were told that to remember the number of their hook, so that they could retrieve their clothes later. They entered a fake shower area, the door was closed, and sealed. Guards then dropped canisters of Cyanide down the vents and sealed the vents. 15 minutes later the vents were opened and the shower area was ventilated. Slave labor workers, where forced to cart the dead bodies to near the incinerator, where gold teeth were extracted, and their hair was shaved. Then they were incinerated and all of their belongings were cart off to be recycled.
 
The slave labors camp (which is most of the photos) had dismal living conditions. They were marched a long way to work and back. Working long hours, eating next to nothing and sleeping in very primitive conditions.  They were tattooed with numbers to help keep them from escaping. They would be easy to spot.
 
The last thing to note was that they all had a colored triangle on their prison uniforms. The color told the guard a little bit about the prisoner. Green meant normal prisoner. Red meant trouble maker. Blue meant privileged (some were prisoner boss types and they were rewarded for keeping the others in line)  - etc.
 

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Poland - Wieliczka Salt Mine

by Kimp 13. May 2012 03:11

Photo Blog

The Wieliczka Salt Mine was started in the 1200's and is still being worked.
 
In the 1600's miners spent 14 hour days in the mine. To make it a little more homey, they started carving statues our of the salt, as they cleared salt shafts.
 
They built several chapels and carved out a huge church, 250 feet below the surface, were services are still given.
 
Topping off the experience is an underground lake and reception hall down in the mine.
 

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Poland - Krakow

by Kimp 12. May 2012 05:40
 
Marzanna is a pagan springtime festival in Poland that signals the end of winter. It's usually aligned with the fourth week of lent. Kids make a Marzanna doll and put it on a stick. They light it on fire, run around for a while, then throw it in the river and drown it. Marzanna symbolizes death and illness, so they kill it, then Winter goes away, and Spring replaces it. Sounds like a hell of a lot of fun, until they catch someones hair on fire. Good thing plenty of people have extra large beer fire extinguishers, in their hands.
 
Krakow escaped most destruction during WW II, and now its old town, is much the same as it was just before WW II. Part of that is because, during communism, much of the old town businesses were shutdown, to keep people from congregating there, and it just sat and collected dust and soot.
 
Poland is in an unfortunate geographic location and topography. Most roads from Europe to Russia lead through Poland, it's relatively flat and easy to move lots of troops in lots of directions through it. This made it a very common battle ground throughout history. Poland has been in some type of war environment through much of recorded history.
 
In the 1400's Poland had a very good King, Kazimier the Great. Kazimier was smart in many areas; amongst them were Military, Diplomacy, Art and Engineering. He built his castle in Krakow and also built a great empire that covered much of what is now eastern Europe. He was a great humanitarian. At a time when many city states and countries were demoralizing their Jewish population, Kazimer invited Jewish people to settle in Poland, guaranteeing them that he would protect them and making them privileged, in Poland's banking and trade industries. This continued for the next 300 years. Jewish settlers immigrated to Poland in large numbers, where they were protected until the Nazi's gained control. Then Poland became the scene of the worst genocide ever.
 
Even though communism is over in their country, some do not hold hard feelings from going through that. Several liked that easier going, slow and family centric life style. Part of that might be because they never really let the communist government settle in. They were always giving them plenty of problems to deal with, and when Poland native Karol Wojytyla, was elected as Pope John Paul II in 1978, he took an anti communist position and his country rose in support of him. For some reason, the communist government let a lot of the very small family farms work their land, instead of forcing consolidation. The farmers never produced much crop yield, the government went broke subsidizing them, and the country starved from lack of food staples. Today, women operate a large number of the Polish farms.
 
Most households today consist of the three-generation extended family, consisting of the married couple, their children and the husband's parents. Both parents usually work, and the grandparents play a central role in raising the children. Most marry young and for life, and 75% of the population attends church regularly. An unmarried person in their late 20's is looked down upon. In the 1800's a mom would announce that her daughter was eligible for courting by painting blue stripes on their house. There are still a few of those houses around now. 
 
As a general rule, I found Polish people to be very polite (this is a very important part of their culture) , laid back, funny and they love Jazz.
 

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Slovakia - Bratislava

by Kimp 29. April 2012 03:22
 
The flag of Slovakia pretty much says it all. Their coat of arms has religious and mountainous connotations. It is one of the poorest economic regions in Europe, but it is rich in mountains, scenery and culture. It's kind of the West Virginia of Europe. I see a bit of Mexico in it as well. Many Russian munition factories were built here during the communist era, which made it an industrialized nation, after the split from communism. Their economy took a hit, when they could no longer sell munitions to Russia. Today, a few VW model's are made here, as well as some of Porsches and Audi's sub assemblies . Heavy industry and cheap labor, put that move into play.
 
The women in Slovakia like their clothes tight. Lots of mid thigh dresses. Lots of body's that display those clothes very well. I asked a Slovak man why they dress that way. His reply, "I don't know why. That's just the way it works!".  I said, "Well, it certainly works for me.". He then says, "And they are all natural, no silicon here." Even their women's military dress clothing is a mid thigh form fitting skirt, 3" heels and they get to wear their hair down. I would have to say, that most men would find Slovak women, to be very appealing and friendly.
 
Slovakia has hamlets. A hamlet is four or five houses grouped together, kind of in the middle of nowhere. There are usually several dozen related people living in a hamlet. When a women marries, she typically moves into the grooms hamlet. After communism ended, with the freedom to move, family members have been migrating to find better jobs. Many hamlets end up for sale, and are usually bought by people looking for vacation homes.

 

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