This year marks 30 years since the communist regimes fell in Central and Eastern Europe, and I’m traveling around the former Eastern bloc to gauge the mood. Well, that’s not the only reason. I’m also ticking off a few personal travel blind spots (such as Ukraine and North Macedonia) and taking a break from having to update a guidebook this summer. I started traveling at the end of July, and so far I’ve visited the former East Germany, Czechia (Czech Republic to anyone who hasn't gotten the memo), Slovakia, Poland (just a sliver), Ukraine, Romania and, today, Bulgaria. I’m writing this post from a shady terrace on a hot August day in Sofia.
Thirty years is an awkward anniversary. It’s a round number, but it doesn’t feel quite as significant as, say, 25 years (a "quarter century"). On the other hand, the next “big” anniversary, 50 years, is still 20 years away (and who wants to wait that long?). I think it’s still a decent excuse to look back on that pivotal year of 1989 and remember just how significant and miraculous it really was.