When in Rome, Romanize

A traveler photo gallery of The Best of Eastern Europe

By Darlene Pitt, 4-time traveler, West Chatham, MA

May 18, 2012

My parents and I saw a TV show about Poland. The host was in Warsaw, and went down into the Wieliczka Salt Mines while in Krakow. After that, my parents—6-time travelers John and Susan Pitt—and I decided we wanted to go on The Best of Eastern Europe, combining Poland with Berlin, Budapest, and Prague.

Poland was, by far, the best part of the trip for us. The people were so positive and kind. One of the highlights was our first night in Warsaw. When we went to a restaurant near our hotel (frequented by locals), several of them came over and introduced themselves to us. These gentlemen sat with us for about an hour, sharing their culture and history. The owner of the restaurant was also equally as welcoming—though she spoke no English, she discounted our meal and gave us two rounds of a Polish aperitif. It was a night we will never forget—and my parents and I travel a lot together!

It was a good example of our travel philosophy: “When in Rome, Romanize.” It’s my shortened version of, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” While being sure to see the traditional tourist sites, we make a point of doing what the locals do and eating where and what the locals eat. We make a point of getting off the beaten path. When we travel, history comes to life. Walking down into a tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt or standing at the top of the Acropolis in Athens … there is no history book that can equal actually being where history was made and experiencing it firsthand.

Here are some of our favorite memories from our Eastern Europe vacation:

The astronomical clock in Prague, installed in 1410, is the oldest one still working in the world.

Birkenau concentration camp just outside of Krakow was a sobering reminder of some of Europe’s darkest history.

The colonnades of the Budapest Parliament building are a beautiful sight as viewed through columns at Fisherman’s Bastion atop Castle Hill.

We crossed paths with this woman making sheep’s milk cheese during a stop in the Slovakian countryside.

This fire-breathing dragon will surprise you if you don’t know it breathes fire every three minutes! Luckily there’s water nearby, as he sits near the Vistula River below Wawel Castle in Krakow.

My mom and dad, Susan and John Pitt, enjoyed a visit to the Berliner Dom Cathedral on Museum Island in Berlin.

Pigeons and tourists share space in Old Market Square in Warsaw.

Paprika peppers spice up a stall inside Market Hall in Budapest.

My parents, John and Susan Pitt, and I pose for a family picture on the Charles Bridge in Prague.

Our Program Director Magda Kurdelska gathered us for exercises at a square in Bratislava.