Intro: After the particle accelerator in Switzerland, I went off to the east. This was actually my first time solo travelling (my sister had to head back to Canada a bit early), and was also when I decided “I should write a blog on travel… and SCIENCE!” haha.
With a week to spare, I desired to see the east, mostly because my dad is from Czechslovakia so I was excited to visit his old-country. Thus, this post is a whirlwind of my trip to the east and the counties of Austria, Slovakia, and Czech Republic.
I was going to write a large blog about the geological history of Eastern Europe, however, since its 3.5 billion year history Europe has gone through significant changes with the geometry and geography of its tectonic plates. Therefore, I will just quickly highlight my travels through Austria, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic and then briefly dive into and simplify some broad, complex, underlying geology for these eastern regions.
First stop via Switzerland, and still in the shadow of the Spectacular Alps, was Austria. On my way to the east I had to spend a couple days in the country.
So where did I stop? In the town of Salzburg. And what is there in Salzburg? Music!
Austria did not fail to disappoint with its proud history as a musical country. Salzburg is home to two musical giants! The Sound of Music, one of my (and pretty much everyone’s) favorite musicals was set and filmed here…
And the second musical giant? Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart! Again, one of my favorite (and pretty much everyone’s favorite) classical composers.
As a bonus there was is also the stunning Hohensalzburg Castle looking over the town, and a festive Austria celebration at the time, not bad for a stop-over.
A second stop over was in Vienna. I didn’t have too much time but managed to squeeze in a Mozart and Strauss concert and enjoy the city sights.
Slovakia was next to the east. Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and where my father spent considerable time when he was young. I got to explore the small but friendly old town, which falls in the shadow of the tall, and newly restored from a recent fire, Bratislava Castle.
My time was short, so I only got to check out the smaller old town and the Bratislava castle, but Slovakia left a nice impression on me. I hope to discovery more of it’s culture and country in the future.
Finally, I made my way north, to the Czech Republic. Formally Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic split from its Slovak neighbors 20 years ago. I spent my time in Prague, which in my opinion, is the most gorgeous city in Europe. The stunning architecture and vast history make the city of Prague shine.
I did a walking tour and would highly recommend it; this historic town is owed an explanation. You get to see and learn about famous landmarks including the Astronomical Clock, Charles Bridge, Wenceslas Square, and the Prague Castle.
In fact, funny thing about the Prague Castle…
Can you spot it?
Well, turns out the St. Vitus Cathedral in the castle wasn’t fully finished, so some hundred years later they wanted to finish it and got another guy to do the job. But the ‘in’ style for architecture had changed… Therefore, the even though the 95% of the cathedral is Gothic, he decided to complete the top of a town in Baroque!
Science Spheel: Simplifying Some Complex Geology (Geology)
The geological and tectonic history of Europe is immense! With over 3.5 billion years of twisting and turning, there was a lot going on to say the least. But in general, Europe can be divided into two region:
1) A stable Precambrain craton in the north and east, known as the East European Craton. This is a > 0.5 billion years old stable part of the continental crust.
2) A mobile belt, in the south and west. This is encompasses younger crustal blocks that have been consecutively attached to the ancient craton.
Between these two regions is a boundary marked by the northwest-southeast-trending Trans-European Suture Zone (TESZ, or previously known as the Trans-European Fault). The TESZ is a “broad zone of NW-SE-striking faults” and it extends for approximately 2000 km, lying fairly close to the eastern counties I visited; Slovakia and The Czech Republic (Plant et al. 2004).
The beauty of the old country and Eastern Europe really stunned me. Geographically, most of Europe can fit in my province of British Columbia, Canada. However, we have nothing on the architecture and history of Europe, especially the east. As well as that, an exciting and complex geological history underlies this ancient and turbulent continent.
If I got anything out of this blog post and trip it would be that even though I thought I knew a fair bit about Europe, I really know nothing, and I look forward to exploring and learning more about both Europe’s Human and Geological History.
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