National Geographic : 1965 Jul
CZECHOSLOVAKIA Gray hulk of castle dominates Bratislava, the canoeists' first landing place in Communist terri tory. The city seemed forbidding until a welcoming committee from the Tatran Sports Club met the expedition with the warmth and enthusiasm of young people everywhere. Ducks for dinner swing from the hands of Maria, one of five Czechs who traveled through their country with the Americans. Bill Backer escorts Maria from the collective farm where they pur chased the birds. Although unwilling to kill the ducks themselves, the soft-hearted Dartmouth boys did help pluck them. KODACHROMESBY CHRISTOPHERG KNIGHT( N.G .S. Czech companions interpreted for us in a talk with the bookkeeper of the farm. We had heard that agriculture was lagging, and that collective farmers seemed short on incentive. "Are the men happy being farmers for the state?" I asked. "They are satisfied," came the answer. "The farm is a success, but the young people go away to city jobs or to attend a university." All along the Communist Danube we were to find this tug of war-so familiar in the West-between the needs of agriculture and the lure of the burgeoning cities. We weren't in Czechoslovakia long. The Danube flows for only 14 miles with Czech territory on both sides. We stayed on the Czech side of the river another 50 miles, to Komarno. There we shook hands with our Czech friends, who paddled ashore whistling and waving, to return home by train. Our first Hungarian landmark was the im pressive cathedral at riverside in Esztergom. Here begins the Dunakanyar-the Danube's elbow, or bend-where the river swings south between the Borzsony and Pilis Mountains to emerge on the Great Hungarian Plain.