Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Small World

There is practically no border between Austria and Slovakia.  Both countries belong to the European Union. There is a building with guardhouses, etc., at the border crossing.   But our bus just drove through it without stopping.    

Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is right at the border.  Starting from Vienna in Austria in the morning, we drove to Bratislava in one hour.  We stopped there for lunch and a walk about.  Then drove, for two and a half hours, to Budapest in Hungary for dinner.  In one day, we visited three countries.  Without having to show our travel documents even once. 

In fact, we went from Poland to Germany to Czech to Austria to Slovakia to Hungary.  We had to show our passports only once, to the German police, on the train from Warsaw to Berlin. 

It is an impressive feat.  Particularly considering that in the pass 100 years, these countries have been involved in both World Wars, and the Cold War.  Mostly on opposite sides.   When people are determined, they are capable of living together peacefully.   But hatred and cruelty and evil are not far from the surface.  Just witness what happened at the former Yugoslavia, the Caucasus, and elsewhere. 


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