Doug's Cold War Victory
Belfast 1992 - note the scaffolding on a building under repair for bomb damage - a common site.
Hoosier Neocolonialism - Indiana Land advertisement on bus in Belfast
Berlin: Just a couple of years after the Berlin Wall had been torn down, only a small section was preserved for posterity.
American culture was very popular in Eastern Europe, even when English wasn't the forte. This gentleman's sports team coat says, "Detroit Rednecks"
Some of Old Bratislava
survived the commies, although I'm told the construction of the UFO bridge took
out the old Jewish Quarter.
I stayed in Bratislava
long enough in 1993 to catch Opening Day of the Slovak Baseball Season!
Basketball might have been
minor league compared to the NBA, but they still had some real talent and this
particular game was well attended, noisy, and extremely exciting! Bob Knight would have
been proud of the intensity.
Slovaks were serious about
their ice hockey! When Bratislava Slovan started losing badly to a Prague team,
all sorts of mayhem broke out in the stands. The announcer requested police to
go to section K, then to section F, then asked whether there were any police in the arena at all. . .
Slovak Independence day
was 1 January 1993. Although folks in Bratislava were frankly luke-warm on the
idea of breaking up Czechoslovakia, no one was going to miss this party. In the
main SNP square the crowds packed in and sang and danced to the Beatles "Hard Days
Night" and waltzes by Strauss (Vienna is only a hop and a skip away). The fireworks
thrown at our feet were impressive, and I could feel my jeans being blown around
by the blasts.
Slovak Soccer was especially
interesting due to the level of violence . . . between the fans. A separate section
had been set aside for those visiting fans foolhardy enough to attend the game in Bratislava,
and they were fenced in
and kept apart from the Slovan fans with police and dogs. After the match, there
was a huge melee with police cavalry charges, bricks and tear gas - the whole
Due to the ongoing war in Bosnia, I tried to catch a lift to Greece via a friend
who ran a shipping company in Rijeka, Croatia, but they had nothing going to Greece.
It later occurred to me that this may have been due to the fact that the Greeks are
natural allies of the Serbs, being Orthodox Christians and all . . . I later saw
one of the Croatian ships in Bombay harbor - maybe I didn't ask to go far enough?
This striking statue overlooked the port.
The Bulgarians were not huge
fans of the Soviets, and when Communism keeled over, locals wasted no time defacing
local Soviet monuments. This particular one ended up with orange UN helmets and Nike boots . . .
Greece did have some pretty
swank Soviet hydrofoils.
In Thessaloniki I hiked the old
Roman Byzantine walls, and came across this site: an ancient Roman basketball
My all time favorite street
sign - how to make a left turn in Thessaloniki . . . I came across this sign on
my first visit to the city in 1985, and then relocated it on this trip so I could
take a photo.
One of the more interesting
visits I did in Greece was to Mt. Athos - the peninsula run by the Orthodox church.
While I did travel around quite a bit, I spent most of my time at Iviron Monastery.
I helped do gardening, peeling, and other sundry chores, and attended church more
in a week than I have the rest of my life combined. Not being Orthodox meant that
I could not enter the altar area of the church during services, but I would get up at
5:30 am so I could sit in an entry hall and listen to the monks sing their way
through the service. The singing and incense was truly intoxicating.
Father Iakovos was the monk
who took care of visitors at Iviron. A 6'2" Frenchman,
he had an amazing sense of history and always had time to show me around and talk
to me about everything and anything.
One of the ancient paths
of Mt. Athos. Although the peninsula is still mostly kept in a medieval state,
at the time I was there enough vehicles plied the roads that some of the old
walking paths and trails that had been built by the monks centuries earlier had fallen
into disrepair. I did my best to follow them on my hikes, but often they were
too over grown. This wonderful bridge is case and point.
Iviron looking towards the
fort they had next to their dock. The fortifications had been built to beat back
pirates that raid from century to century.
To Part II of the Cold War Victory Lap
Back to Title Page