Central & Eastern Europe

The kitty was a most persistent one, climbing on the metal adornments of my office door or banging against our apartment entrance. We let her in and out, and fed her. Came winter and we did not have the heart to leave her alone in that empty village area. I learned pets now need a passport and an electronic chip to travel throughout Europe, so, picture this tiny cat from a Greek village who, barely six months old, traveled through Albania, where we visited a friend marrying his daughter, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, to see other friends, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, to meet fellow birdwatchers, France, Luxemburg, and Belgium, our destination… At no border did anybody ask us for anything.

But when we went much later to Bulgaria, Romania, the Ukraine, Moldova, and Transnistria, we left her to the care of our neighbor, for she hates traveling by car – plane is another story, as she has been five times to New York, unparalleled in our northern Greek village!


Shushice, Albania, October 2006. Typical marriage. 

Our friend Veledin married his daughter in a very Oriental way. It could have been Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey… With the same Gipsies all over, providing live, and very lively, music. Notre ami Veledin marie sa fille unique selon une tradition très orientale. On se serait cru en Grèce, Bulgarie, Turquie… Avec les mêmes Gitans que l’on retrouve partout, se chargeant de la musique très vivante.


Nea Kallikrateia, Northern Greece, October 2005.  Bulgarian painter replasters residential building.

Ilcov — one of immigrant workers from the neighboring country — did some (very conscientious) construction work for us and quickly became our friend.


Horni Kozli, Czech Republic, October 2006. Woman in her summer/winter mountain cabin.

We met Libuše 15 years ago, looking to buy one of those old, beautiful houses in what was then good ‘ol Czechoslovakia. We met her in Prague but soon found her again at her husband’s village in the Shumava range.


La Sauge, Switzerland, November 2006. South-East bank of Neuchatel Lake.

This is next to Nature Center La Sauge, founded by the Swiss Association for the Protection of Birds and BirdLife Switzerland, by two of Switzerland’s most important bird reservations, Fanel and Chablais de Cudrefin.


Brooklyn, New York, January 2010.  Birthday celebration in a Polish restaurant… lots of vodka and gin.

Alright, this is not Eastern Europe, and this is not a village, but our friend Jozef comes from a small town in Poland!


Xanthi, Northern Greece, April 2010.  One of many Pomaks who has come from the mountain villages to buy or sell their wares at the big and colorful weekly market.

The Pomaks are the most important minority of the area. Muslims in general are far from being a minority in Thrace.