What 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.
Travelers 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.