Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Where the Slavic Speakers Are

First off, I'm not in Russia yet. I have my visa in hand, but can't leave until Friday, June 11th because of some kind of paperwork that needs to get approved in the US. Sorry for the vagueness. I had to stop paying attention to details to preserve my sanity.

However, I did make it to some other Slavic-speaking areas in the last week. I took a day trip last Wednesday to the Slavic-speaking enclaves in Germany. You see, only about an hour by train from Leipzig are areas where the Slavic languages Upper and Lower Sorbian are spoken by an ever dwindling number of populations.

I visited two towns: Bautzen and Cottbus, which are home to the Upper and Lower Sorbian cultural centers, respectively. In Bautzen, in particular, there is a lot of Sorbian language presence.

Here is the Bautzen train station with the sign written in German (top) and Upper Sorbian (bottom):

And this sign from Cottbus reads "Train station road" in German (top) and Lower Sorbian (bottom):

Bautzen seems to be much cuter and is more "gung ho" about Sorbian culture than Cottbus (from what I could tell in the short amount of time I spent in both places). Here are some pictures of Bautzen being cute:

Then over the weekend I finally made it back to the Czech Republic. I was in Brno (in Moravia, in the eastern part of the Czech republic) where I visited a Berkeley friend and some other acquaintances/friends. It was quite fun -- my last hurrah in Central Europe before 9 months in Russia -- but I failed to take a single picture. So just trust that I was too busy to take any pictures. At some point I might tell you more about it, including the story of the 45 minute walk home through a pitch black forest on a muddy path at 5 am, but for now: Nazdar!


Christine said...

You're right. Bautzen is cute. But really, I'm slightly more interested about the forest story. Were you on some sort of quest?! What's funny is it's 4 a.m. here, and I'm just getting up : ) Well, hopefully you're moving today. Good luck and let everybody know of your safe arrival.

Christine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julia M. said...

Well, that's basically the whole forest story... the part I left out was that I drank too much, got sick and so couldn't wait to take the train home (which didn't start running again until 6 am) and so we got a cab to the nearest drop-off point, which (due to flash floods) turned out to be a long walk through a dark forest. Happy? ;-)