Markets in Eastern Europe

Indoor-Market-1What I really liked about Eastern Europe was the markets, both indoor and open air. You get a real sense of community when visiting the markets, along with knowing you are getting fresh produce and meat. Not only food is for sale, but many products, handmade and those that appear so. Artisans and craftsmen are common vendors.

We cruised from city to city along the Danube and each stop had a taste of the everyday life in each place we visited.

Something I Noticed is Now World News

In my post, Back Home From Eastern Europe, I mentioned how easy it was to pass between countries, “Funny thing in these countries, we did not have to present passports – the boat crew handled that for us. I was surprised considering all the problems in the world that many countries did not even verify we were who our passports said we were.” My immediate thought was what is in the news this week, how Jihadists are using some of these cruise lines to enter countries like Turkey to join terrorists in hotbed countries.

I had my own personal experience with airport security in the Netherlands where they pulled me aside for extra special scrutiny, so I know the airports are cracking down on making sure people getting on planes are not up to nefarious activities. The airports are monitored more closely now, so the junior terrorists are now switching to cruise lines for the lackadaisical security and customs practices.

Nesting-DollsTravelers on our trip were going to Turkey and others were coming from Russia. The stop at Istanbul, Turkey, then on to the coastal town of Izmit becomes a route into Syria and Iraq. Because the ships make frequent stops, the ISIS wannabes are able to hop off ships undetected at these convenient ports, making efforts to track them difficult.

Tourists on Our Trip Lost Passports

One problem is that these individuals are using stolen passports to travel from country to country. On our trip, a few passengers lost US passports, more likely they were stolen since credit cards disappeared as well. There was no waiting time in getting replacements quickly either for little cost. When I heard about stolen passports, I thought of them being marketed to people joining up with terrorists in nearby countries. If I thought this before it became a world concern, it only shows how others thought it as well. Why discuss this showing the fun and crowded markets? You guessed it, they are great places to rip off tourists.

Our group was walking around with black ear pieces connected to black-wired transmitters to hear the group leader speaking. They really stood out as tourists carrying big purses and wearing excessive jewelery. I was wearing my white iPhone ear buds which made me look a little bit like the locals, but my camera gave me away as being a tourist when I pulled it from my backpack. Note how locals dress. I made sure I was not dressed as a standout with simple jeans, black sneakers and crew neck shirt.

I was on High Alert

In the markets because people would bump into you very suspiciously, not to mention people constantly coming up to you to either distract or strike up a conversation. One can never be certain if people are being friendly, sincere, helpful or attempting to relieve you of your belongings.

In countries with a high gypsy population, you are warned that as a tourist, you should be aware. They often appear in groups, some to distract and some to pick pocket. Just for a side note, the proper name for gypsies is Roma or Romani people. On my next post, I will discuss some safety practices I followed. Also how I packed for this trip with some helpful packing aids. But when I got pulled for security, I will mention how all this preparation went out the window to a point.

For my take on photographing in Winter, see Nature and Wildlife Pics for Birds in Winter Weather – Birds, Birds and More Birds. Some very pretty images taken last Winter.


About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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37 Responses to Markets in Eastern Europe

  1. Les says:

    I hope you didn’t get stopped for suspicion of smuggling plants.

  2. Pat says:

    What a wonderful trip! I love these colorful shots of the markets. Interesting about the lax security measures on the trip. I just read about this on a news site today.

    • I just saw it two days ago on a few news sites. Big news I guess.I think everyone was older than me on board, so I doubt our boat had anyone, unless it was crew, that would have disembarked the boat and not returned.

  3. You had a wonderful trip Donna. The markets in various places are always favorites of mine as well.

  4. I loved the colorful photos of the markets and the dolls were just gorgeous.
    Some interesting thoughts on the missing items of passports and credit cards. I found it rather amusing that it didn’t take to long for the passports to be replaced, but yet here in the US it can takes weeks to get them.

    • It only took them hours at the embassy to get a replacement. Cost for the one in Prague was like $7 and the Russian one was $13. Pretty cheap I thought. I think it was temporary and good for six months, which allows them plenty of time to travel and get a new one on return.

  5. I loved the markets in Europe too. I was very careful what I carried and where I carried it. Great post Donna. Didn’t realize the cruise ships were being used for these people. It’s too bad.

    • Me too. Next post I say how I kept things and me safe. It is too bad that cruise lines are being used in this manner, but it was not too surprising when we stayed in our cabins while our passports were being taken ashore by the crew. It seemed far too easy when getting off the boat to leave and not come back. The boat only had us turn in a business card with our name on it. If we did not take one to return, they would not have known we never left or came back.

  6. Ditto what Sue said. When we’ve traveled overseas, I’ve always worried about replacing passports if they were lost or stolen, because it took so long to get them here. Interesting that people were able to get them quickly and easily during your trip.

    • No need to worry apparently. I was registered in each country (with our government) at the US Embassy so I was even better prepared than the folks that lost passports. I also had an app that has all information they request plus a copy of my passport and replacement photos. Where it took them hours, it would have taken me minutes likely. I tell all this next post.

  7. Fascinating info. and rather scary, Donna. I traveled freely across Europe in the 60s, staying in youth hostels and camp sites, with none of those worries it seems. We live in a very different world today. Love your market pictures. P. x

    • I agree Pam. When I went to Costa Rica, our danger was from rebels in Nicaragua. We were at a bank that was armed robbed by them. Lucky I was with a girl from Colombia so they did not see me as American fortunately or I might have been abducted.

  8. A.M.B. says:

    I love spending time in places like that. Markets tell us so much about how people live. Beautiful pictures!

  9. Victor Ho says:

    Manny many years ago I was stunned to see how many undercover cops are present in Times Square. There are a lot. A few years ago a bomber’s path was retraced by numerous monitoring cameras in Times Square. I wander around with big gear all the time. Luckily I have not lost anything. I agree that there is a certain amount of vigilance required.

    • For some reason, I have never feared for my camera and never had anyone attempt to steal it. I use tape to cover the Nikon name though. Plus everyone has cameras. I am more concerned pulling out a new iPhone. Funny though, police are not too keen on looking for crooks stealing cameras and phones. I guess they think it is “our fault” they get stolen.

  10. Sounds like an adventure! I can’t wait for the next installment.

  11. One thing I love about markets is how choke full of color they are. If only they came with a volume knob in order to turn it down a few dB’s! πŸ˜‰

  12. On our frequent trips abroad, some on river boats, our passports never leave our hotel room or cabin. They are always locked up in a safe. I don’t believe passports ever leave the ship on the better known river boat companies. They collect them and return them promptly. If you use money belts under clothing, credit cards and cash are always safe. And when on small group tours with local guides no one would dare approach– the only times we were approached were once in Paris and once in Zurich when we were on our own and all we had to do was shoe them away. They don’t like to have attention drawn to them. It’s never wise to carry back packs or large shoulder bags. Another interesting slant: tourists come in all sizes and shapes and colors everywhere. They can be Germans, Aussies, British, Canadians, French, and on and on and on. People travel widely these days. Great photos, Donna! Did your camera get you in trouble? Paula

    • I kept my passport in the safe at all times when I could, but in some countries, like Serbia, you had to have your passport on you at all times. The boat crew stored passports in open cubbies and took our passports off ship to have them inspected and stamped, so they did leave the boat anyway. I was not comfortable seeing all those passports behind the desk which a few times was unmanned. We also dropped them in a basket when we came back to ship. That bugged me too.

      I also used a money belt for credit cards and money. In Prague and those in Russia that lost passports were not yet on the boat. These were pre-trips. As for being in groups, it is very easy for the pick pockets to blend in when tourists are fanning out and busy looking at sights. While on the Charles Bridge, a few people including myself had thieves bump into us while their accomplice tried to distract. I spun around and foiled the crook, but I saw others (not from our group and not from the US) not even notice when a bag was being inspected for easy access. As for backpacks, many locals used them since they either used public transportation or rode bikes. I did not feel vulnerable because backpacks were everywhere and I always had mine securely on me. Thanks for your insight. I plan to go to Paris one day, so you thoughts on Europe are helpful.

  13. Going to Prague in 2 weeks! Very excited! And Germany on a Uniworld Christmas market river cruise. We haven’t travelled to any country that requires accessible passports, however next year we’re traveling to Russia where visas are required. We’ll see what happens there! Best to you, Donna

    • You will love it. I got great photos in Prague. Russia will be wonderful. My friend and I may head to Germany and surrounding countries next. I so want to see France and I think it is on one of the trips.

  14. Interesting post. Your photos are so bright and colourful. I remember that when I traveled all I had to worry about was the gypsies. Now it is so much more deadly. πŸ˜€

  15. Fantastic! A kaleidoscope of colors everywhere. What a treat for the senses, even if you don’t buy anything!

  16. debsgarden says:

    The markets are fascinating and remind me of the ones I saw in Taiwan, though those were more crowded. We don’t have anything like that here, though we do have some farmers markets. You made some important points about security. It is sad how we must consider all these things at home and abroad.

    • I agree, we have nothing like the ones I saw in Eastern Europe or you saw in Taiwan. It is a shame too because the food is fresh each day and selection is good. It also is great for a sense of community. We get out so infrequently with others now a days, going to markets like this are great meeting places. I am going to Seattle in January, I hope to get my friend to take me to Pike Place Market. It should be similar. The professor I had in college authored a book on Pike Place and it is like I already know this place.

  17. Visiting the local markets looks like a lot of fun. I was just listening to the news and it was reporting 70″ of snow in Buffalo with a state of emergency. Is that since you left the comment on my blog? How is Niagara Falls faring?

  18. I agree the markets in Europe are amazing…sad that the terrorists are still finding ways in and very scary about the passports. It seems the methods may be a bit different but the goal is still the same…lots of stealing in big cities everywhere it seems. Glad you were not affected.

  19. I’ve visited open air markets in France and Turkey. There is an almost carnival feeling, compared to the rather sterile atmosphere you find in supermarkets at home. Did I tell you my wallet was stolen when I was in St. Petersburg? Fortunately they didn’t get my passport. I was crossing a pedestrian bridge when I felt someone bump into me from behind, the next thing I knew …

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