Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lonely Planet's Eastern Europe Guide

While it is no longer travel's new frontier, Eastern Europe continues to be an area where things are changing very fast, and which is much less swamped by tourists that most parts of Western Europe. I recently came across the Lonely Planet ( guide to the entire region, which covers 21 countries and runs to 1,064 pages. Lonely Planet sells it for $29.99, or you can buy individual chapters.
It's a door-stopper, but crammed with useful information about familiar places and some you may hardly have heard of, like Moldova and Belarus. The thing all these countries have in common is that, prior to 1991 or so, they had a Communist government and most were subject, to one degree or another, to Russian control. Many of them are new countries, carved out of the former Yugoslavia or the former Soviet Union.
A section of the book I found very interesting was suggested itineraries, such as one that starts in Timisoara, Romania, where the anti-Ceaucescu first took shape, continues through Chisinau, capital of Moldova, moves on to Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine, through Kiev and Chernobyl, site of the 1986 nuclear meltdown, into Belarus and ends in Brest on the border of Poland, the site of a treaty that led Czarist Russia to pull its troops out of World War I, and led indirectly to the Russian Revolution. For a history nerd like me, it sounds great, and there is even an excursion to a national park in Belarus that is the last holdout of European bison. Speaking of holdouts, Belarus itself is one of the last holdouts of Communism.
This is not specifically a budget guide, though each section includes some suggestions of low-cost lodging and restaurant choices. One criticism I have is that prices are generally given in local currency, and except for the few countries in this area that use the euro,these currencies are not particularly well understood. It would have been nice to have an equivalent value in euros or dollars.
Still, for planning a trip or just for dreaming of one, this is a book I can recommend, especially if you are not sure where in Eastern Europe you want to go.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Hmmm.. I think it is s very interesting and informative, hope i have/read it someday.

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