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Sunday travel anthology

Calderas, Corfu and … cream cheese?

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Sunrise over the Danube River. bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — In between fretting about Colorado River flows and reporting on the travails of endangered lynx and sage-grouse, it’s good to get out and see the world. It helps look at issues in a global context — and so many issues these days are global. Of course, not every story is environmental. Sometimes, travel comes down to the simple task of trying to find a Frisbee in Rome … Travel: Around the world with a Frisbee.

Searching for roots can give travel great meaning, and if it involves a bit of Cold War cloak and dagger and European history, so much the better … Travel: Cold War memories along the Danube.

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Leigh Wadden at the edge of the Wadden Sea, Texel Island, The Netherlands. bberwyn photo.

Or, you can search for the roots of your family name, perhaps linked somehow with one of the world’s great estuarine wetlands, inhabited by talking bumblebees … Travel: Mystery meat and talking bees on Texel.

Travel doesn’t necessarily require a passport. There are plenty of adventures to be had within a few hundred miles of anywhere, especially when you set out for the remote hinterlands north of the Grand Canyon with what you know is sketchy starter in your engine … Travel: Karma and climate change in the Southwest.

Little things can be the most memorable, like buying a big box of blueberries from a roadside vendor at a dusty, nowhere crossroads in Slovenia, then eating on the train while watching a blazing Adriatic sunset … A Balkan sampler: Blueberries and mopeds in Slovenia.

The lure of far-away places can reward with the unexpected. When you miss the ferry in Corfu — twice — you get to know a place a little better … Travel photo essay: World Heritage preserved in Albania.

And there’s probably nothing better than introducing your kids to the wonders of the world with a trip focused around one of the planet’s greatest sporting events … Travel: Father and son with World Cup fever.

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Morning photo: Along the Danube

“Listen to the river sing sweet songs, to rock my soul … “

Sunrise over the Danube.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Danube River weaves together a rich and diverse tapestry of culture and scenery, and it’s also an important thread in my life. Both my parents grew up along its banks; my mom in Linz, Austria and my dad in Bratislava, capital of the Slovak Republic. As a young boy, I spent many weeks near the river at my grandmother’s home and since then, I’ve returned to visit as often as possible.

As they easily transcend national boundaries,  great rivers hold a fascination for travelers. This summer, I gathered once again with family and loved ones to complete a very special trip started by my dad long ago in another era.

Kayaking the Danube.

Rivers can connect cultures, but they often also form the borders between countries, or, in the case of the Cold War, between two completely irreconcilable ideologies. As a young man, my dad was on the wrong side of that boundary, trapped behind the Iron Curtain while his spirit longed to fly free. Eventually, he was faced with a tough choice; stay and give in to the ideology of fear, hate and cynicism, or flee, leaving behind his family and loved ones, knowing that it would quite a while, if ever, before they knew his fate. Continue reading

Travel: U.S. eases access to Cuba

Fidel Castro and members of the East German Politburo view the border between East Germany and West Germany in this 1972 image from the German Federal Archive. (PHOTO VIA WIKIPEDIA).

Absurd U.S. policies echo totalitarian East German Cold War travel rules

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY —News about the U.S. easing travel restrictions to Cuba made me think back to when  I was growing up on U.S. Army bases in Germany.

The Cold War and the Iron Curtain around eastern Europe manifested in very tangible ways. West Berlin, technically part of West Germany, was completely surrounded by Communist East Germany, and we couldn’t just hop into a car or on to a train and go there at will.

Instead, traveling to Berlin involved making special reservations on a so-called duty train, intended mainly for U.S. soldiers and their families stationed in Berlin. The train left Frankfurt late at night and traveled through East Germany in the dark, to prevent Americans from “spying” on East Germany during daylight hours. Continue reading

Weekend headlines and top stories

Still some confusion about global warming science ...

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —A lively mix of stories in our most-viewed sidebar today, including a contribution from Matt Krane on visiting with Taos author John Nichols, a winter weather forecast from Grand Junction-based climatologist Joe Ramey and a look at a new Yale study that assesses the state of climate science knowledge of the American public. Click on the headlines below to see what other people are reading at Summit Voice, and don’t forget to use the buttons at the bottom of the post to share the stories on your social networks.

A few more of the weekend headlines …

Travel: Cold War memories along the Danube

John Berwyn stands near a monument on the banks of the Danube built to memorialize thousands who escaped, or died try to escape from the Cold War prison of Eastern Europe.

Don’t ever take the freedom to travel for granted

By Bob Berwyn

With last year’s focus on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, it’s important to remember that the Wall was just the most visible manifestation of the Iron Curtain, a much larger enclosure that kept millions imprisoned in eastern Europe.

We take our freedom to travel very much for granted; it wasn’t so long that people died trying to earn that right by tunneling under walls and fences, swimming through icy waters or even making homemade hot air balloons to try and soar to freedom.

I grew up in Germany during the Cold War. My parents met as a direct result of that era’s geopolitical upheaval. My dad worked for the American government in Germany and my mom lived in Linz, a city that, at the time, was cut in half by the ideological divide, with the Danube River forming the border between the American and Soviet sectors.

So a few years ago, when my dad suggested that we visit a Cold War memorial site near his hometown in Slovakia, my son and I jumped at the chance to join him and explore the banks of the Danube, near Bratislava. And we weren’t just there to look at a statue. My dad wanted to find the exact spot where made his own escape more than 50 years ago by dodging border guards and swimming across the chilly river. Continue reading

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