Hunger march across Eastern Europe

20th July 2007 at 01:00
In the 1980s, before the Berlin wall came down, my husband and I decided to tour Eastern Europe with our car and a tent, says the headteacher of Kilmarnock Academy.

We wanted to see what life was like under communism, but also we are fairly intrepid tourists and we've been all over most of western Europe there's probably not a square inch of Italy, Spain and Greece we haven't visited so going into Eastern Europe was extending our range.

We were away for six weeks and started out by travelling from Austria into Hungary a highly organised place and it seemed to work well at the time.

Then we crossed into Romania and it was unbelievable what we met. We were there 10 days and could not get food.

On our first night we arrived at a camp site and there were all these people descending. We couldn't understand what the attraction was, so we followed them. It turned out a man was selling beer. My husband bought some but other people were filling up blankets.

That was the last beer we saw for sale in the country. The only place you could buy anything was at stalls set up on the side of the road, where you might find someone selling apples or maybe a few loaves. Even in Bucharest there were no restaurants and the cafes only sold orange or lemon syrup mixed with water.

Eventually, we headed down to the Black Sea resorts and things were better there.

Then we crossed into Bulgaria. That was more like Hungary; the system seemed to be working. I remember buying an ice cream, though, and it being weighed to make sure you got the exact amount of ice cream for your money.

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