For a girl from a very Texas-centric family, I have a rather out-of-nowhere, abiding love for Slovakia.
Before you get confused, let me tell you what (it’s Nov. 29, 2015) Slovakia is not:
- part of Czechoslovakia – no one is part of Czechoslovakia because it doesn’t exist anymore
- in the middle of a civil war (you think I’m joking, but I’ve heard it…recently)
- in southern Europe (again, Slovakia is not Slovenia and…by the way…)
- related in any way, shape, or form to the Bosnian war
Okay, that should just about do it.
Let me tell you what Slovakia is:
- beautiful – still slow to adapt, which means Slovakia has pure, natural, and traditional beauty (mountains, cities, rivers, etc.)
- friendly – try just one word of Slovak and they’ll love you, my favorites are the same in every language…Ďakujem (thank you) and Prosím (please), but most people speak or understand English
- open – smiling goes a long way and Slovaks are THRILLED to teach or show you new things
- accessible – so easy to get to via a quick drive from Vienna
- connected – WiFi is fairly common in most hotels, restaurants, and public spaces – they figured it out quickly – WiFi it up and have people Tweeting and FBing about how great it is 😉
- a fantastic vacation spot – ski vacation, bachelorette or stag party, or just a getaway weekend, do it here
Slovakia is one of those fabulous places about which no one really knows. In my latest trip, I learned more. Why? I asked. Locals. I impressed them with my absolutely deplorable Slovak and they talked and shared.
There is almost an inferiority complex with Slovakia. It’s bizarre to me because Slovaks are SO amazing and the country is SO fantastic. Don’t they know how great they are?
Perhaps, it’s because it is a country that can be seen as, historically-speaking, tending to get the short end of the stick. For example, the Czech Republic got super shiny Prague and the Slovak Republic got Bratislava.
From: Texas girl
Subject: Winner, winner, chicken dinner
You got freaking Bratislava. #Winning.
Now, tips for your quick trip:
- From Vienna Airport into Bratislava, it can be expensive. But, it need not. Try this service: http://www.taxinaschwechat.sk
- Bratislava always has amazing things going on. For pity’s sake, I toured Slovak bunkers at night while Czechoslovakian folk music was playing. (Flask of Slivovitz helps on that one, not gonna lie). A friend recommended this website: Bratislava English
- One time, please be in Bratislava when it is Advent season. The Christmas market and spirit…it will get you.
- Oddly enough, I really enjoyed a place called Original Slovak Restaurant. I know, I know…but, try it.
- Just off the square, there is a fantastic shop with a small museum, Obchod v múzeu (Obchod v múzeu FB). The charming owners (they understand English) knocked my socks off. They are truly committed (so I am) to showcasing goods that make Slovakia unique and wonderful. This is one of the shops selling exclusively “Made in Slovakia” products. Give them your money, please. Every present I brought home was made in Slovakia because I made a point of it.
- The Danubiana Museum. It felt like I was in the middle of nowhere, and then I saw the Danube and this gorgeous structure. It is breathtaking. Be sure to be there around sunset. One of the BEST things about the Danubiana is its promotion of truly gifted Slovak artists. I was humbled by their artistry.
- Take 30 minutes to pop into the Bibiana, International House of Art for Children. The things this place does to encourage, nurture, and educate children is beyond commendable. I found it by happenstance a few years ago and was thrilled to see it thriving. I have no connection to it, just admiration for anyone using art to inspire children.
- You must eat Bryndzové Halušky with a Zlaty Bazant followed by a shot of Slivovitz. Then, you must take a nap.
The Presidency of the European Union rests with Slovakia from July – December of 2016. This is an exciting chance for Slovakia to show the EU and us all just how amazing Slovakia (and Slovaks) are. Check that info out here: http://2016sk.eu/ Maybe not today, not the greatest headline.
Go to Slovakia and see for yourself! It is a wonderful place to visit, explore, relax, re-create and recreate, and enjoy yourself.