The visit to Europe was great but far too short - I visited some beautiful cities on holiday, Krakow, Warsaw and Berlin were the highlights. All three of course were part of the 'Eastern Block' and that makes them fascinating for me, the most interesting thing is how the people of these places regard their lives now, compared with then.
The cities themselves and their history draw you in, the monuments, squares, Govt. buildings and churches etc all have a story to tell and are mostly beautiful places. Communism doesn't seem to have damaged them, in fact lots of sympathetic rebuilding has gone on since the destruction of WW2 and continues today, today however, particularly in Warsaw and Berlin there are now massive new ultra modern structures cheek by jowl with ancient stunning buildings, this is not a criticism.
I expected to be outraged at the modernist invasion but, surprisingly I found it in a strange way acceptable, structures three times the height of our high flats made of what seems to be coloured reflective glass squares are everywhere and their designs and shapes are incredible, you can sit in an old traditional tram and go along these streets marveling at this blend of old and new and it seems to work. I intend to return to Berlin and spend more time there ASAP - I intend to write more about this trip, when I've caught up with work.