Spisska Sobota, Slovakia

This is from a letter in the early 2000s We drove from Bratislava to Kosice and made some stops on the way.  I wanted to visit a little town named Spisska Subota, or “Spis Saturday.”  (Slovakia also has a town named “Upper Wednesday.”  I have not been able to find “Lower Wednesday” or even “Wednesday.”  Ever practical, Suzi says the towns were probably named because … Continue reading Spisska Sobota, Slovakia

Slovak Whimsey

One of the most delightful things about living or visiting Slovakia are the surprises you find.  Whimsical statues celebrate men in manholes, a paparazzi may poke a lens from around a corner.  There are street performers who delight.  Two Hot Chocolate shops, one in Bratislava and one in Poprad,  were decorated by Children’s Theater set designers.  OK, so the plaque commemorating the first witch burning … Continue reading Slovak Whimsey

Presov, Slovakia (Slovakia’s Candy Land.)

On Saturday we went to Presov and discovered the old town square hosting the city’s folk festival.  There was lots of traditional singing and dancing and all sorts of craftspeople, weavers, musical instrument makers, metal workers and carvers demonstrating along with falconers in the long town square.  It was a mixed crowd, with blonde Slavs and dark Roma enjoying the music and dancing of both … Continue reading Presov, Slovakia (Slovakia’s Candy Land.)

The Valley of Death (Dukla Pass), Slovakia

This is from a June 2003 letter: There’s a valley on the Slovak-Polish border that’s been a constant battle-ground, so much so that its official name is Dolina smrti, the Valley of Death.  The Dukla pass is where the Poles and the Habsburgs and then the Russians and Habsburgs fought during the 18th and 19th centuries.  In the twentieth century, during the First World War, … Continue reading The Valley of Death (Dukla Pass), Slovakia

Levoca, Slovakia

In Eastern Slovakia there are many fine old towns, often settled by German craftsman and guildsman brought in by various emperors to jump start the economy.  They are still working towns.  One of the most beautiful, Levoča, which is noted for its fine wood carvings, has gothic and baroque buildings still lived in.  It has a museum dedicated to the alter carvings of Master Pavol.  … Continue reading Levoca, Slovakia

The Kosice Bride Industry

This is from a June 2008 letter. On Saturday afternoon at one most of the stores in downtown Kosice close and the town gets down to the real business of a June Saturday afternoon, manufacturing brides.  St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral is running an assembly line.  Earlier in the week I wondered why there were so many catholic churches in old town Kosice.  On Saturday afternoon I … Continue reading The Kosice Bride Industry

Devin Castle, Bratislava, Slovakia

This is from a letter written in June 1999.  I was musing on the Celtic revival in Central Europe.  Devin Castle was an old Celtic fortification that became Roman, then Slavic, than Austrian.  The Hungarians may also have been involved.  It is just outside Bratislava where the Morava River joins the Danube at the Austrian border. According to some histories the Celts formed as a … Continue reading Devin Castle, Bratislava, Slovakia

Čičmany, Slovakia

Čičmany is not a UN heritage site but it should be.  There are wooden houses painted with different geometric designs and animal figures.  They were originally designed to ward off evil spirits.  The fact that the town mostly survived fire and the Second World War is a testament that the designs (as well as the many images of the Blessed Virgin) just may work.  I … Continue reading Čičmany, Slovakia

Bratislava, River Town.

Bratislava is a river town.  In season we watched the cruise boats going between the Black Sea and the North Sea along the Danube and Rhine.  Sometimes they stopped in Bratislava, sometimes they sailed by heading to Vienna or Budapest, their loss.  We also watched freight boats and noted flags from the Ukraine to the Netherlands and all the countries in between.  During the NATO … Continue reading Bratislava, River Town.

Bratislava, Our Neighborhood.

We lived in an old German neighborhood with houses and mansions owned by German Merchants.  Our apartment building was in the garden of an old mansion.  It was built to house doctors.  We rented from a couple, both of whom were doctors.  We got good medical care along with the rent.  Each month when the landlord came to collect the rent and have coffee she … Continue reading Bratislava, Our Neighborhood.

Blava Modern

Bratislava is mostly known for its old buildings, or 19th century Empire or Art Nouveau, but there are some modern buildings as well.  The SNP bridge, with its space age pretensions is a controversial symbol of Bratislava.  To build it the approaches ripped through the old town taking out the Jewish quarter.  However, 40 years after it was built it has become an accepted symbol … Continue reading Blava Modern

Banska Stiavinica, Slovakia

The city of Banska Stiavinica, an empire mining town, is a world heritage site.  The legend is that a shepherd saw two salamanders, one silver and one gold.  He watched them crawl under a rock and discovered the mother lode.  The town’s symbol is a shovel, pick and two salamanders.  Empress Maria Theresa founded the School of Mines here, it was the first technical university … Continue reading Banska Stiavinica, Slovakia

Kosice, Slovakia

In Eastern Slovakia there are three shakers on the table, sometimes labeled “black,” “white” and “red;” salt, pepper and paprika.  This region mixes cultures as well as spices.  The towns were settled by German (Saxon) craftsmen, ruled by Hungarian nobles, administered by Austrian bureaucrats, Slovaks and Ukrainians did the farming and Roma handled the transport.  Kosice, Slovakia’s “Second City,”  is the business center of Eastern … Continue reading Kosice, Slovakia