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9/19 Prague  |  9/20 Terezin 
9/11/08 Thurs shipboard day and galley tour
SS River Adagio on the Danube: view from the lounge
tour of the galley where our terrific chef created miracles
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9/11/08 Thurs shipboard day, galley tour, talk on lives under Communism, crew show

On Thursday we had a long discussion of lives under communism from each of our 3 main tour leaders: Nevena, Loren, and Eva.


Loren said that communism was abut having no choice in products, in ideas, in everything. The government kept us busy so we wouldn't think on our own. We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.

The 4 paradoxes of communism are

  • Everyone works hard, but nothing is produced.
  • Nothing is produced, but production quotas are always met.
  • Quotas are always met, but stores have nothing to sell.
  • Stores have nothing to sell, but the standard of living is always rising.

Movies were heavily censored. We had to queue up for almost everything. My brother had to wake up at 4am to stand in line for food before school. Once there were visit by Ceausescu to his school, and the school selected Loren to give Ceausescu flowers, which was a huge honor. They rehearsed giving the flowers for a whole week. When the day came, Loren couldn't recognize Ceausescu because to flatter him, all photos and illustrations showed him as a much younger man. Loren was born in a small town, where the only escalator in town had never worked because of electrical shortages.


Nevena was a Bulgarian teenager when the Russian-backed government fell. The leader of the Communist government (who was not too smart) was put under house arrest and died in his sleep in 1995. Toroshzifkov (the new leader) later opened a semiconductor factory.

The Hungarian Uprising was in 1956. Right afterwards, the military came through the villages and killed all the dogs. Why you ask? Because then there would be no dogs to bark when the secret police came to get you in the middle of the night. Nevena's father was anti-communist and was sent to the mines and died of cancer at the age of 37.

Religion was denigrated. Priests and families of priests had a hard time. You wouldn't go to church openly - you would sneak in.

It will take at least 2 generations to recover because of the many wrongs and resentments and lack of work ethic.

There were fuel shortages and very cold winters. There was no electricity in the evenings. We would use batteries from cars charged during the day, and hooked up to the lights at night.


Eva, who is Hungarian, was 25 when communism fell, so she was fully grown under communism. Her father is a Lutheran minister, and her mother is a teacher. After the 1956 Hungarian revolution there were queues for food and spies were everywhere. There were no dogs to bark, and black cars would come in the night and take people. After the revolution, even though still under communism, it was a gentler form. We always had food and clothes, although it was always the same everywhere. The communists tried to stamp out the elders and their history, but some survived and told tales of what it was like before communism. We weren't allowed to travel freely. There was lots of censoring, and lots of taking of packages.

We have now been under capitalism for about 20 years, but we're finding that there were some things that were better under communism. TV was minimal and boring, so the children played. Now they are all in front of TVs and computers, and don't play at all, and don't read books.


Emil: My family was agricultural with acres and acres of land. All boys were educated. My father graduated from Vienna in architecture. We lost everything when the communists came in. Mother was an orphan, and the communists gave her opportunities that she wouldn't have gotten otherwise, and she became a gynocologist. She got an apartment after waiting for 5 years. She got the first telephone in town. The police were everywhere. There was no crime on the streets. My mother was sent to Africa and then spent 3 years with a bunch of Americans in a Baptist school in Nigeria, so we had some exposure during those years to a life outside of communism.

I like American education because it teaches you to think and to question.

Under the communists there was a great lack of consumer goods. No bananas. Oranges only once a year. You wanted t become a party member because they had privileges. Anything mailed into the country was stolen and taken by the communist party. The shops didn't go by the usual rules of supply and demand, but rather by: “What we have is what you want.”

After WW II people were very poor. But almost immediately, after communism, they were even worse off because everything they had at all was taken away. But in Bulgaria, people were pretty happy with communism because people were very poor and at least under communism they had jobs. Before the communists took over there were active communist parties in Bulgaria, Romania, and Yugoslavia, but In Hungary and Czechoslovakia there was no communist party to speak of.

In the 1300s, the southern Slavians (the Yugoslavians) came under Turkish rule. In 1806 the country successfully revolted and a king was crowned. During WW I they fought on the wrong side - the German side, and afterwards they decided to stay as a federation. Again in WW II they chose the wrong side, and Tito became head of Yugoslavia. Now, Tito's Yugoslavia has split into Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia/Herzegovina. Currently the exchange rate is 52 dinars for $1 American.

_, who had taken the most trips with Grand Circle
SS River Adagio on the Danube: shipping signs
we've gone 767 km from Constanta up the Danube.
SS River Adagio on the Danube:
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SS River Adagio on the Danube:
a statue on the riverbank
bathers on the Danube
bathers on the Danube:
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P1000516.JPG dinner aboard the SS River Adagio P1000518.JPG
SS River Adagio on the Danube: Marita McClymond
Clarence McClymond
Arthur Luehrmann
Janet Maestre
Marcos Maestre
lamb chops for dinner
That night late we went through a stretch of the Danube that was once a raging river pounding through deep gorges. In the 1960s, Yugoslavia and Romania cooperated on a joint venture that raised the level of the Danube with a series of hydroelectric dams called the Iron Gates. The Danube is now placid through the Iron Gates, its spectacular two-mile-long gorge now underwater. We passed through Iron Gate II at about 11pm, and then through Iron Gate I at about 3am.
SS River Adagio on the Danube: one of the locks of the Iron Gate
a ferry at one of the locks of the Iron Gate
one of the locks of the Iron Gate
SS River Adagio on the Danube: night stars
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9/12 Veliko Gradiste, Belgrade
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