I had occasion to stay at the art'otel (Art Hotel) in Budapest once shortly after it opened in October 2000 and once again during my September 2005 visit. The hotel is well located on the Buda bank of the Danube with views of the Parliament building across the river. It's a short walk from the Chain Bridge, the funicular to Castle Hill and Margit Island. The rooms are decorated with various objets d'art that add to the experience.
If you find yourself needing to stay overnight in Plzen (Pilsen), Czech Republic, I can highly recommend the Hotel Continental (www.hotelcontinental.cz). It has been restored after years of neglect during the Communist era, but the old-time feel of the hotel has been preserved. The rooms contain the perfect blend of period decor and modern plumbing. The hotel is also well located, just a block or so from the main square in the historic area of Plzen.
Hotel Termag proved to be a wonderful find at the ski resort of Jahorina in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was a short walk from the ski lifts and offered top-notch service from a very friendly staff.
Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine, by Anne Reid (2000).
This is a fascinating and very readable account of Ukraine's history of domination by other countries, culminating, of course, in it's inclusion as one of the "republics" in the former Soviet Union. Described as "flat, fertile and fatally tempting to invaders," Ukraine had never been an independent state until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. This book recounts the violence, the pogroms, the famine and the other tragic events in Ukraine's history, as well as the emerging nation's current efforts to establish its own identity (sometimes by inventing needed heroes).
The Death of Yugoslavia, by Laura Silber and Allan Little (1996).
The authors – correspondents for, respectively, the Financial Times
and the BBC – were on the scene in the Balkans during the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the conflicts that followed. This highly readable book recounts not only the wars, the sieges and the atrocities, but the political developments in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina
, Croatia and Slovenia
that set the stage and fueled the fires. This book highlights how Serbian nationalism and the political aspirations of the late Slobodan Milošovic brought death, destruction and "ethnic cleansing" – a term coined during these Balkan wars – to this previously peaceful region.
Useful Travel Links:
It is always a good idea to check the U.S. State Department's Travel Warnings & Consular Information Sheets early on in your travel planning. You can learn whether the countries you plan to visit require entry visas and whether there are any safety warnings that apply to your intended destinations.
Another important web site to check early in your planning is the Travelers' Health page maintained by the Centers for Disease Control. They have up-to-date information on infectious diseases for all areas of the world, plus information about required and recommended vaccines.