I'm going to assume that "east of Prague" includes Prague itself.

I'm thinking of running a game set in Prague. I was wondering if anyone here could point me towards any good books about the city and its history, and Czech/Slovak history in general. I'd like to focus on things from the late 1700s to before the outbreak of WW1.

Feel free to recommend travel books, since I'd like to get a feel for the city itself, but it'd be nice if they're heavy on history, folklore, and culture.

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    Azra - Tko To Tamo Pjeva

Russians closing down European University in St Petersburg (EUSPb)...

Dear colleagues.

By now many of you will have heard about the situation at the European University in St Petersburg (EUSPb). The university has been suddenly closed by the Russian authorities due to a reputed "violation of fire codes". The classes have been suspended indefinitely and the rooms have been sealed by fire marshals.

The University faculty and students, whom many of you know as colleagues and friends, have appealed to us, the international academic community, to write collective letters to support the university and to urge the authorities to reopen it.

There have been many speculations as to the real reasons for the closure of this university, known for its high level of scholarship and independent social and political analysis.

You can read about these various theories and explanations on the Live Journal web site (and also here: — and here:

However, colleagues at EUSPb have asked us "not to politicize" the situation, in order to avoid creating more problems. Right now time is an issue – this is the middle of the semester at EUSPB, as elsewhere –and we must act quickly.

We have written a petition, and invite all of you who agree with its content to sign it. The text of the petition is provided below.

We plan to collect as many signatures as we can in a speedy fashion and send this petition to administrative and educational institutions in Russia.

Thank you,

Alexei Yurchak, Department of Anthropology, University of California,

Michele Rivkin-Fish, Department of Anthropology, University of North
Carolina, Chapel Hill


Thanks to U~ for the information.
x-posted everywhere...
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Visiting 1 to 5 November & staying in apartment in Old town. Any suggestions on things to do? Do you still need to buy tickets for luggage?

Northeastern Slovakia

Hi! I need some advice about travel in Northeastern Slovakia, specifically to the towns of Habura and Stropkov. I'm Canadian, but my grandparents were born in those villages, and next summer, I'm hoping to head that way and see where my family originated from. So, I have a few questions...

1. Accomodation - based on my limited Google searches, it doesn't seem that there's too much in the way of accomodation in either of these towns. Am I just missing the right sites online, or am I going to have to stay in a larger city and drive in?

2. Arriving in Slovakia - I'm going to be coming from London, England (will be studying in England for two months before this trip); what is my best option for cheap travel to Slovakia?

3. Language - I've been told that the dialect of Slovak that my grandparents spoke is much closer to the Ukrainian language than it is to the Slovak spoken in Bratislava. Before I go, I'd like to gain at least a working knowledge of the language - would I be better to study Slovak or Ukrainian (or something entirely different?) to be able to communicate effectively in this region?

4. Anything else I should know??

Thanks :)

News on Bulgaria & Romania from the BBC . . . .

Bulgarian enthusiasm for EU wanes
By Nick Thorpe
BBC News, Sofia

Last Sunday's Euro election failed to excite Bulgarians Collapse )

New EU states attacked over graft
By Oana Lungescu
BBC News, Brussels

The European Commission is to criticise Bulgaria and Romania for failing to tackle deep-rooted corruption and reform their judiciary.

Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU six months ago.

A report by the Commission highlights the lack of convictions in high-level corruption cases and voices concern about contract killings in Bulgaria. Collapse )

Bratislava/Slovakia - worth a visit?

I'm thinking about holidays for later this year - I'm a teacher so I can only go in school holidays, and flights tend to be very expensive so it's usually a case of finding out where is cheap and seeing if we like the sound of it, rather than deciding in advance where we want to go! Our last travel experience was a bit of a wash-out (Easter in Andalucia - it rained for 3 days, then we both got terrible food poisoning for the rest of the trip!) so we want a really good trip to make up for it! Anyway, we're moving house over the summer so we don't want to go away then, the next chance we'll get to travel is the last week in October.
The only cheap flights I've managed to find are to Bratislava in Slovakia - I don't know anything about this area at all, so I'm hoping to hear from someone who's been there before. I've travelled around the Czech Republic - is Slovakia fairly similar?
How much is there to do in Bratislava or nearby (we'll only be going for 5 days at the most so we don't want to spend too much time travelling)?
Any idea what the weather might be like at the end of October? Is there enough to do if the weather's not good?

Thanks for any suggestions!

x-posted to a few travel communities - sorry if you end up seeing this more than once.

News Items from & about the BBC

Poles and Slovaks in cheese stink

The Oscypek tradition goes back centuries in the Tatra region
Poland and Slovakia are engaged in a European Union row over the right to register a traditional smoked cheese, called oscypek.
Oscypek is made from ewe's milk, soaked in brine and smoked. Poland had wanted it added to the EU's protected list this month.

But Slovakia has objected, meaning that neither country can lay claim to it.Collapse )


And, though I can't find the link, I read in the Slovak Spectator that the Slovak government has pulled the BBC's broadcasting license -- for violation of the Slovak-language broadcasting law, which means the BBC lost its license for broadcasting too much English-language programming. Depressing.