Europe : Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the name of the region which encompasses the countries in the east of Europe.
The region is not strictly defined, as some of these countries fall into more than one area - for example Transylvania being part of Romania is considered a part of Central Europe, while the rest of the country is in Eastern Europe.
People often use "Eastern Europe" to refer to all the Soviet-dominated countries on the Eastern side of the Iron Curtain, but for the purposes of this guide, everything as far as Poland, Slovakia and Hungary is considered to be Central Europe.
- Moscow, Russia
- St Petersburg, Russia
- Tallinn, Estonia
- Riga, Latvia
- Vilnius, Lithuania
- Minsk, Belarus
- Kiev, Ukraine
- Bucharest, Romania
- Sofia, Bulgaria
Eastern Europe is sometimes confused with the Eastern Bloc, which is a Cold War name for communist countries that were behind the "iron curtain". Eastern Bloc included all the countries of Eastern Europe, several countries of Central Europe and individual countries on other continents, particularly in Asia.
Russian is the traditional lingua franca of Eastern Europe, at least in countries constituting the former Soviet Union, but is increasingly being displaced by English and German as younger generations adopt a more Western-oriented outlook. However, all the countries have their own languages which are officially used. Eastern Europeans who do speak Russian are often hostile to being addressed in the language, because they have unpleasant memories of being forced to learn the language (this is not the case in the Caucasus, where Russian schooling was optional).
Although when many people think of a Slavonic language they think Russian, Bulgaria was the first country to adopt the Cyrillic alphabet. Cyrill and Methodius (founders of Cyrillic) were both Bulgarian and their statue can be found in front of the National Library in downtown Sofia, Bulgaria.
Not all the languages spoken in the Eastern Europe are from the Slavonic group. Estonian and Hungarian, for example, belong to the Finno-Ugro language group while Lithuanian and Latvian are part of the Baltic language group.
The attitude in Eastern Europe towards hitchhiking is very relaxed. Money is rarely requested. Majority of the fast roads fall short of being western highways; walking and hitching on them tends to be OK. When travelling long distance, make sure you don't get stuck in the middle of a smaller village - walking out of it will take forever. Check with the driver, and get off either before, or better yet, after you pass the city. Most drivers will be nice to offer a ride to get you to the convenient location.
- Walk down Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg, Russia
- Stroll down the Arbat Pedestrian Street in Moscow, Russia
- See any one of three big palaces outside St. Petersburg, Russia
- At the Red Square in Moscow, see Lenin's Mausoleum, the massive GUM department store, and St. Basil's Cathedral
- Admire the beautiful stations of the Moscow Metro
- For a unique experience, stay in one of the Seven Sisters Moscow skyscrapers that are hotels. Choose from the Ukraina or Leningradskaya
- See the monuments to the bloodbath Battle of Stalingrad in Volgograd, Russia (formerly Stalingrad)
- With a tour, see the abandoned city of Prypiat at Chernobyl, in the Ukraine
- Tour the millennium old Orthodox monasteries in Kiev, Ukraine.
- See the massive People's House, one of the largest buildings in the world, in Bucharest, Romania
- See Dracula's (Bran) Castle in Transylvania, Romania
This page was last edited at 13:51, on 1 November 2008 by Jim Nicholson. Based on work by Peter Fitzgerald, Marija Cepulyte, Bogdan, Shamil Abakarov, Daniel Cowan, Evan Prodromou, Jani Patokallio, Todd VerBeek and Oliver Buchino, Wikitravel user(s) DorganBot and Episteme, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.