Guest Post by Alex Pejak:
Eastern Europe is increasingly becoming more popular with travellers around the world. Where is Eastern Europe? It encompasses the area of Europe east of the Czech Republic and extends from southern Bulgaria to Russia's Borders with Asia and the Arctic.
Some of the easily accessible countries of East Europe include Serbia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, and many more. The countries of Eastern Europe are all ethnically, topographically, culturally and historically distinct. The one thing they do have in common is a past under the Soviet Union's realm of interest and control.
Eastern Europe has seen its share of war and atrocities after the breakup of the Soviet Union, with various new countries fighting to gain independence from socialist federal republics such as Yugoslavia.
Today, twenty odd years later, all of the countries of Eastern Europe have either been accepted into the European Union or are working towards gaining this status.
This has made the region more open and attractive to tourists, so here are the top five reasons you should visit Eastern Europe....
5. The People
Eastern Europeans may seem cold at first, but they are warm, friendly and fun loving. They are eager to meet foreigners and make them feel at home in their countries, often inviting them into their homes for a meal or a quick drink. Hospitality is a major part of the region's culture, and Eastern Europeans pride themselves on being good hosts. Moreover, they are famously talkative and love to tell foreigners you about their history and customs, as well as learning about other countries.
Thanks to the internet and a strong presence of western movies and music, most young people in the bigger cities of Eastern Europe speak good English. As a result, there should not be much of a language barrier to worry about.
4. The Food
The food of Eastern Europe is healthy, hearty and very diverse. It is as varied as the history of the region, heavily influenced by various cultures - from the Mediterranean to the Ottoman Empire. Although there is an undeniable presence of Western fast food chains, junk food culture has not yet taken root in Eastern Europe. Whatever traditional food you order in Eastern Europe, you can be sure that it will be delicious, healthy and that the servings will be huge.
3. Cultural and Geographical Variety
Whatever climate or geography you are interested in experiencing during your travels, Eastern Europe has it.
If you seek sunshine and seaside fun, you can chose between thousands of miles of beautiful Adriatic coast or bask in the sun on the Black Sea. If it is a winter holiday you are looking for, there are many mountain ranges with modern ski resorts and endless hiking opportunities.
Moreover, each country has its own unique culture, traditions, influences and history. As Winston Churchill once said "The Balkans produce more history than they can consume" and this is arguably true for almost all of Eastern Europe.
2. Easy Travelling
Eastern Europe is well connected to major airports around the world, as well as to European rail networks. Cars are still not a predominantly popular mode of transportation, so for the most part public transportation is well organised and generally efficient. Taking the bus or tram is also a valuable way of getting a feel for the everyday life of Eastern European people. Although most countries are safe for tourists, it is always a good idea to get international travel insurance before you go.
1. Now is the ideal time to go
Although the dirt cheap prices of the nineties are gone, most of Eastern Europe is still relatively inexpensive to travel through. You can eat, drink, shop and stay for a fraction of the prices in Western Europe. The West is undeniably seeping in, with Western business and chains opening up in most large cities. The region is, however, still managing to maintain its ethnic charm and laid back attitude.
Traditions that go back centuries are lovingly nurtured and proudly maintained, as can be seen in traditional music, costume and dances. On the other hand, young people are embracing Western culture, with trendy nightclubs and bars popping up all over the place. Old or young, Eastern Europe has a lot to offer to any traveller.
Finally, don't let the instability in Ukraine scare you. You can even visit Western Ukraine now and not have a problem. Most of the rest of the country is stable too. There's no war. And for the rest of Eastern Europe, it's as calm as ever.
This guest post was by Alex Pejak, who is a girl from Sydney who loves to travel and later blog about her experiences. She often travels to Serbia, where she has a lot of friends and relatives.