Anyone who has ventured off the beaten path into the ‘other’ side of Europe will know first hand just how strong the contrast remains to be between the East and the West. Sure, the likes of Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and Zurich are beautiful…. but they’re only half of the picture.
Over in the East lies some of the most incredible history, culture, traditions, art, castles, architecture, people…… the list is truly endless. Here’s why you should travel to Eastern Europe as well as the West…
Meet the People of the East
Contrary to popular belief in the West, Eastern Europeans are friendly, warm, and incredibly hospitable. For travellers who have ventured into the East, it is widely known Eastern Europeans are renowned for being some of the most hospitable people in the world – openly welcoming you into their homes to try traditional cuisine, understand their customs, and genuinely wishing to ensure you enjoy your time in their country.
While it’s not as cheap as it was in the 90’s, it is still very cheap to visit Eastern Europe – especially in comparative terms. Just be aware there are a few exceptions to the rule – particularly Moscow, as it has been named one of the world’s most expensive cities.
This is Europe’s most beautiful castle… but have you ever heard of it?
Find out where here in ‘10 places in Europe you need to visit…‘
The experience in the East is much more authentic for travellers as there are less crowds and less people coming here (at least for now), meaning it has been subjected to mass tourism as yet. This ensures a more authentic experience in every way possible – from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave. This also means a few more challenges along the way – for example don’t expect every sign to be in English – but THAT is what makes it such an amazing, authentic experience.
The Untouched Scenery
The elusive term itself has been used to describe many places around the world – but Eastern Europe is no exception. If you want to see clear open land, rolling hills, impressive (and cheap) ski slopes, head over to the East to pay just a fraction of what you would elsewhere in Europe.
Eastern Europe is still not entirely westernized
The beauty of Europe is that it is still not westernized in many regards. Indeed, many people don’t even speak English! Yes, there are Mcdonalds and every other fastfood chain imaginable – so it isn’t completely out of the loop – but you will equally find just many (actually more) small hole-in-the-wall cafes, local jaunts, and the craziest excuses for a store. I will never forget noticing how every store in the smaller European towns ‘does it all’ – tripling as a bar, general store, and hotel upstairs.
Eastern Europe has had an extremely turbulent past – but this shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing, but a lesson of history. Countries like Bosnia & Herzegovina were incredibly affected by history – as recent as in the 90’s – but to see the country now is truly amazing. The people will never forget the war, but are very optimistic in their approach to ‘forgive and forget’ – they are hopeful for their future, not tainted by the past.
The Souvenirs are ones to keep
While in the West you can buy a handful of keyrings for a couple of coins, over in the East you can spend barely any more and take home some beautiful handmade garments, hand-knitted scarves, crochet, crafts, textiles…. It’s the kind of things you keep onto for years and pass onto your children. Aint no snowglobes here!
It’s now or never: Eastern Europe won’t be this way forever
But it won’t be this way forever. Globalization is changing travel and tourism faster than we realise and it is now harder than ever to find ‘hidden gems’. But trust me, they’re out there. You just have to take a different path and look elsewhere before the crowds come pouring in… and eventually they will! In all honesty, there’s already been a huge influx of tourism in the East over the past decade – but it is still a great time to visit before this picks up anymore speed. It’s just a matter of time!