Bratislava and Slovakia
In the summer of 2003, I seized the chance of a personalized invite to
Because Bratislava is a mere half-hour train ride from Vienna and a few hours from Budapest, the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Empire's influence is reflected through the architecture and general feel of the place. In nice weather, during the day many of the cafés in romantic twisting alleyways of the city's tiny historic old town are packed; at night, even more so. Be sure to linger carelessly here and take in the cheap tall vats of fine beer, and seep yourself in
Tómaš guided me to Devin castle, an old ruin situated outside the city. It is positioned on a hilltop right by the river Danube; on the other side of the Danube was
Today this isolationism is a dinosaur.
eclipsing its close western neighbor with whom it was once united: the
Part of this economic fine-tuning naturally includes tourism. Not unlike
Culturally, the two have much in common, and both certainly love ice hockey, a national obsession here as much if not more so than in Canada. Tómaš, who now works and lives in Prague, told me that Czechs are known to be cheerful, hedonistic and reckless with their money while their Slovakian counterparts are said to be stingy and gloomy. Another difference is that apparently Czechs are beer drinkers while Slovaks lean more towards spirits. Admittedly, contentions of these kinds can also become arbitrary, and I for one did not note any striking differences between the two nations.
On my final night on the
Sights to see in
Devin Castle: 9km west of
Východná Folklore Festival: 32 km west of Poprad, late June/early July. There are also many other music folk festivals throughout
Skiing: Malá Fatra and Vysoké Tatry in northern
Museum of folk music: At the north end of
Lake 'Nové Kosariská:' Near the
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A wonderful winter holiday wiling and watching whales.
I'm not afraid of flying . . . I hate landing.
In the summer of 2003, I seized the chance of a personalized invite to Bratislava. Upon arriving at the city's train station from Budapest, I was collected by Tómaš, a Slovakian I had met in Vancouver, who was then toiling as a tech wizard for Orange telecom. On this piping hot day, Tómaš and his high-IQ biologist wife Katrina drove us in a smart new Skoda (the famous Czech car) to an ice cold crystal lake on Bratislava's outskirts. Here, amongst the tolerance of naked or non-naked bathers, we could happily cool ourselves off before proceeding to eat a Slovakian staple, apricot jam-filled dumplings, that were prepared by his mother,.
Grey and impoverished, a downtrodden land inhabited by dour cynics. This was my perception of Poland prior to going there.
Say what you will about traveling light, it is a sound theory, and one which I usually adhere to, but if you happen to be on an around the world journey, traveling lets say, from Perth on the West Coast of Australia to the United Kingdom up into northern Scotland, then flying across the Atlantic to Toronto and from there down to San Francisco, over to Sydney and finally back home to Perth again, as my wife and I did last year, you will no doubt find that the notion of traveling light is simply not a feasible plan.