The Bratislava Easter markets are basically extra booths added onto the open air booths that are in two of the squares all season (Hviezdoslavovo námestie and Františkánske námestie.) The Bratislava market had almost no emphasis on food (except for a few stalls selling wine and olive oil, no tasting). Local Slovak handicrafts dominate, with a lot of decorated eggs and a strange Slovak item called … Continue reading Bratislava Easter Fair or a Spanking for Easter.
There are Serbian Easter Eggs, Croatian Easter Eggs, American Easter Eggs, and Slovak Easter Eggs. Mikulas “Mickey” Derevjanik, is a Slovak craftsman, a metal worker, who designs Easter Eggs wrapped in wire. He comes from generations of metal workers who wandered from the Balkans to Central Europe and is proud of his craft. Mickey has started to do metalwork himself and is now a master. … Continue reading A Craftsman in Easter Eggs (From 2002)
“For All the Saints Who From Their Labors Rest,” Especially for one. All Saint’s Day 15 years ago at Dubcek’s grave. This is All Saints’ Say. Today Slovaks visit cemeteries and light candles on graves. Most of my staff members go home to their villages for the holiday so they can visit family graves. I asked Petra, our University intern from Kosice, whose grave … Continue reading Alexander Dubcek’s Grave. All Saints Day 1998, Bratislava, Slovakia.
This is from a letter written in October 1998: Eastern Slovakia is an area crossed in trade and fought over by Tartars, Lithuanians, Poles, Hungarians, Germans, Russians and Slovaks. It’s where cultures meet. Kosice boasts the eastern-most gothic cathedral in Europe, and while it is VERY gothic, the clock tower has a very un-gothic gilded dome. This region is a borderland, a krajina in Slavic … Continue reading Wooden Churches in Eastern Slovakia
This is from a letter in the early 2000s Friday afternoon we drove to Medzilaborce on the border with Poland and the Ukraine. Medzilaborce is the ancestral home of the Warhol family (as in pop artist Andy.) It’s easy to identify the town when driving through because of two huge Campbell’s Soup Cans that sit in front of the “Dom Kultura.” The Andy Warhol Foundation … Continue reading Andy Warhol’s Nowhere, Medzilaborce, Slovakia
Vlkolinec, is a Carpathian mountain village. It is a UN world heritage site. It has remained authentic, I think, because it is accessible only by a one lane serpentine road up a mountain with turnouts for cars to pass. The only stone buildings are the church, its “parish hall” which is now an art gallery, and the public restrooms. It is a working village, and … Continue reading Vlkolinec, Slovakia
The High Tatras pop out of the plains, flat land and then alpine peaks that catch weather and delight travelers, if you look north. If you look south you may see rolling hills leading to the low Tatras. We found the Tatra’s a good place to spend the New Year holiday. There are narrow gauge rail lines, skiing, and little inns. These pictures are from … Continue reading The High Tatras, 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
This castle is the largest in this part of Europe. It commanded trade roots to Eastern Slovakia. We pass it on the drive between Bratislava and Kosice. It never fails to impress me. The town nearby is called Spis under the castle. Continue reading Spis Castle, Slovakia
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
These are some pictures from our drives across Slovakia. Beckov Castle, in the first few pictures, is in Western Slovakia. Vah Castle is in a narrow valley between Zilina and Martin. The storks are all over. Steeples as well. Continue reading Roadside Slovakia
The festival mixes performance with booths demonstrating local crafts. Continue reading Presov Folk Festival
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.)
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
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
St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral is the Easternmost Gothic Cathedral in Europe, the frontier of Western Christianity. Continue reading Kosice, St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral
This is from a June 2008 letter The Golden Beggar is the symbol of Kosice. He begged for a living at the same place on the main square all his “working” life. When he retired he built a fine house right behind the spot where he “worked.” The house is topped a statue of the beggar, hat in hand, in a bow toward the street. … Continue reading Kosice’s Golden Beggar
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
Kosice is particularly active at night. There is a musical fountain in the main square between St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral and the National Theater. It’s a gathering point. Continue reading Kosice. Slovakia, at night
Kezmarok is a town at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. Continue reading Kezmarok, 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 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 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.
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.