Five feasts from the east


Musical interlude: An open air Chopin recital (Koncerty Chopinowskie) at the monument to Poland's greatest composer, in Lazienki Park, Warsaw. A welcome antidote to the harshness of much of the rest of the city.

Musical interlude: An open air Chopin recital (Koncerty Chopinowskie) at the monument to Poland's greatest composer, in Lazienki Park, Warsaw. A welcome antidote to the harshness of much of the rest of the city.

Ceausescu's folly: The Casa Poporului (People's Palace) at the end of the monstrous Boulevard to the Victory of Socialism in Bucharest. Socialist architecture on a scale that not even Stalin envisaged. Grotesque. But awesome.

Baltic beauty: The Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) buildings of Riga (such as the one pictured above, right) and the fantastical designs of Mikhail Eisenstein (father of the Soviet film-maker) along Alberta iela. The beauty of parts of Prague with only a fraction of the tourists.

Turkish delight: The Rudas baths in Budapest. The Hungarians do not generally look back fondly on the long period of Ottoman rule, but it did mean that they inherited some pretty amazing Turkish baths. The domed Rudas is one of the best. Cheaper and even more atmospheric than the better known Gellert .

Beer we go: The beer cellars of Ceske Budejovice, home of the famous Czech beer, Budvar (Budweiser). The beer experience does not come better than this. Oh, and if you really must have something more cultural, the nearby medieval town of Cesky Krumlov is an absolute gem.

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