Thursday, September 25, 2014

"Just try to blend in...."

 People like to travel for a variety of reasons. I just touched down in five Central European countries and took away some treasured memories.

And 4,339 digital photographs.

You travel to see something new.

Tour centuries-old museums for a long, long look back.

Seek quirky and out-of-the-way spots. Get "off the beaten path."

Meet people from other cultures.

Practice new language skills. Be dazzled by different architecture.

Or, listen to music in a "real" Opera House and tour its many extravagant salons and private chambers.

Be sure to see the luxury and comfort that kings and princes and churchmen built in their palaces, vast estates, cathedrals and synagogues.

Some like to hike out on their own.

Others like the economy, convenience, group safety and shared interests of a structured tour.

I joined a few walking tours - usually limited to about a dozen participants - so the guide could be easily heard and be able to answer questions.

You quickly realize  Oops! when you form up in a foreign language tour group. I stepped away because I was there to learn or be amused and my speaking only English would make that difficult.

Actually, my Smartphone had a Translator application that made me comfortable if I had to read/translate a sign or a warning, a menu or historical plaques in other languages.

Very rarely was I in a situation where assistance or service was not available in English.

Hand gestures and pointing to objects and nodding was also effective for me to communicate overseas.

A stop  for the day in Bratislava in Slovakia was my only experience in that former Communist country.

Germany - and especially Berlin -  had been divided among a host of nations after WWII.
The German invasion and occupation - followed by a Communist takeover - prevailed in Prague, Salzburg, Vienna and Budapest.

All of that changed in the Collapse of the USSR in 1989 - 1991.

The Old Town Square has four noted whimsical sculptures that visitors seem to want in their photos.

My favorite is "The Workman" taking it easy in his manhole, eyeing the passers-by.

After a truck rolled over him, a sign was erected which said, naturally, "Men Working."

People hear that if you rub his face - specifically his nose - you will receive good luck.

These same people may not know the face is a popular stopping spot for passing dogs. Wash your hands.

All of these popular bronzes - and one made of silver - catch your attention but I was watching a young man in a hurry.

He and his "friend" were passing by, joining a crowd leaving Old Town.

Obviously he would have been less obvious had he deflated the doll and perhaps tossed it into a back pack.

But then, I would not have had a chance to capture a small slice of life in a capital nicknamed "Little Big City."

Does Reno, Nevada know this?

 The young man was unfazed and was successfully blending into the crowd.

It was getting late in the day and people were heading home or to a hotel.

Me? I was heading to catch the train to drop down on the map to pass through part of Austria and end up in Budapest.

As it happened, the train was delayed nearly two hours, making its arrival in Hungary after the Metro had stopped running.

But, that's another story of this trip and things turned out OK. (Click on the photos for more details.)

Was the man with the inflatable rushing from a party or heading to join one.

Well, he had a date with him.

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