SMS message – ‘I’ve just been for a free ride on a brand new red double-decker bus in Bratislava’. It’s true I did! The red bus was, to say the least, an unusual sight as it travelled around the historic old town of Bratislava in Slovakia.
Why is it in the city? The new Slovak built and designed red double-decker bus is on loan to the city to see if its citizens would like to have them in the future. Why not?
Category: Transport / Double-decker Buses / Bratislava
Whilst flicking through the British newspaper The Times recently an interesting charity advert caught my eye…
- ‘Bratislava or Bust!’ July 22-26 2011. Meningitis Trust.
- Set yourself a challenge with a difference for 2011. 1 car. Your friends. 5 days. 6 countries. 1,000 mile road trip of a lifetime. 1 fantastic challenge. 1 fantastic cause. For more information visit www.meningitis-trust.org/BoB Reg charity Nos. 803016/SC037790
Further investigation revealed it’s a charity event for students of all ages! The money raised is for the charity the Meningitis Trust. The event is a car rally that starts in St Omer in northern France. This is where a driver and co-driver check in.
The rally lasts for three to five days. It offers a fun-filled adventure that will see participants wind their way through France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Slovakia. Teams can choose to stop in Italy or go the whole hog and finish in Bratislava. Naturally, it is no ordinary road trip!
Along the way participants will be set a series of daily challenges delivered by the organiser’s man in a white coat, which will test driver’s ingenuity, their co-driver’s map reading skills and the driver’s ability to barter and negotiate in a foreign language! Master the art of the challenges and you will be rewarded with riches and glory.
Category: Car Rallies / Fund Raising / Meningitis
Long cold winter nights in Central Europe can be brightened up by receiving an invitation to a Ball. The annual Ball season in the region has now commenced and will continue until Ash Wednesday. The most famous Ball in the world has to be the Opera Ball in Vienna. Many call it the jewel in the crown of Balls.
There are however hundreds of other Balls in the Austrian capital. Other famous Balls in Central Europe include the Prague Ball, the Czechoslovakian Ball and Budapest’s Opera Ball. In Slovakia the Ball season sees two big Balls, the Bratislava Ball and the Opera Ball.
The Ball season follows on from the 18th and 19th century traditions when Balls were highly popular, especially during the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The idea of the Ball is to honour the traditional values of the city.
The Ball itself is frequented by many artists, bankers and entrepreneurs, together with other local people, for whom the participation in a city Ball becomes a social prestige. The Ball is used as an occasion for the introduction of young ladies and gentlemen to society. The impressive cultural event is where many prominent people meet.
Category: Central Europe / Events / Balls
So what do Slovaks think that make their country great? Well, many love its nature. The beautiful forests and mountains that are in its national parks. The Tatra Mountains are perhaps the country’s greatest asset. They form part of the Carpathian Mountain range.
Another great thing in Slovakia is the national park Slovak Paradise (Slovenský Raj). Slovakia also has many beautiful lakes to see including Štrbské Pleso in the High Tatras. Slovakia has a lot of interesting castles to visit including Spišský castle and Bratislava Castle.
Spas are pretty popular, especially those at Piešťany and Bardejov. There are some interesting caves to explore including those at Dobšinská l’adová and Demänovská. There is some great folk architecture to see including many traditional villages.
On the eastern side of Slovakia there are many wooden churches to visit. Folk music and dancers wearing traditional costumes are also great things to enjoy. Slovakia is also famous for its pretty girls. It is said they are the most beautiful women in the world. It thus boasts some top models. It also has some incredibly nice people.
Category: Central Europe / Slovakia / Places to Visit
Slovakia - A coalition of four centre-right opposition parties has won enough seats to unseat Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico’s coalition government. With most of the votes now counted opposition supporters across the country were partying the night away knowing the results will bring about a change of government in the small Central European country.
Mr Fico’s leftist Smer-SD party beat each of the opposition parties in the countries parliamentary elections - capturing 34.79% of the vote, enough to gain 62 seats in the 150-seat parliament. But the four centre-right opposition parties picked up 79 seats. Smer-SD actually increased its share of the vote. It will have the largest number of seats in parliament by far, but will fall short of an overall majority. Mr Fico has said he was willing to try to form a government or to lead the opposition TASR reported.
Slovak President Ivan Gašparovic has said he will ask the winner of the general election Smer-SD to form the next government. He said it is the moral thing to do. Opposition parties have however united against forming any form of coalition with Fico. SDKU-DS opposition leader Iveta Radicova: “I am ready to be the first female Slovak Prime Minister.”
Category: Central Europe / Slovakia / General Election 2010
A brand new state-of-the-art multi-functional shopping mall opened in Bratislava recently. The new Eurovea Galleria opened its doors to the public for the first time during the last weekend in March. Located in a prime location on the Danube riverfront Eurovea has already become a major draw.
In fact, many would say it is the new centre of entertainment, leisure and high street shopping in the Slovak capital. With more than 150 shops the three-level complex, which has a glass domed roof, is cleverly designed. Over the opening weekend shoppers were treated to many introductory offers.
Shops include many top brand names for one to nose around. These include British stores like Next, Debenhams and Marks & Spencer. The latter having real British food, which in central Europe is a godsend for any expat’s living there! Other famous brand names include Tommy Hilfiger, Peek & Cloppenburg, New Yorker, Penny Black and H&M.
While Easter is loved by men in Slovakia it is positively hated by women. Let me explain…If you are a girl from a village in the east or centre of Slovakia Easter Monday is not always fun. Why? You are likely to be chased by the village boys who will throw you in the nearest stream.
Worse - the girl is likely to be whipped by the boys in the morning using a specially decorated hand woven local willow cane with colourful ribbons. Called a “korbáč” in Slovak it’s used by the young men to whip the girls on the legs below the knees when they catch up with them. Such whips are sold before Easter outside Tesco in Bratislava!
Tradition adds a ribbon on the cane for each ‘victim’. This testifies the number of girls and women a lad has managed to whip or soak. In return the girls give the young boys hand painted decorative eggs or chocolate eggs. Older lads are offered a drink of spirits.
Today we are looking at the Slovak capital Bratislava. Let’s start with its Old Town. Dating from the 15th century, its centre has largely been preserved and is a positive delight to see. It has charm!
Since the collapse of communism and gradually since independence the Old Town has seen much reconstruction. Today it has many highly popular coffee shops and bars to visit. During the summer months the streets are packed with bar terraces, which bring the Old Town alive. One can sit, relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or have a beer and watch the world go by.
There is also the Bratislava Summer Festival where one can see street entertainers, exhibitions, open air opera, orchestras and music festivals. In wintertime when it snows the Old Town becomes a winter wonderland. The narrow streets give one a glimpse into the past right here in the present. December sees the Christmas market in the Old Town. It offers visitors a multitude of unusual gifts to buy, hot wine and excellent foods.
Category: Central Europe / Slovakia / Bratislava
If you fancy visiting Central or Eastern Europe, would like a refreshing change and an interesting place to visit, then could I suggest Bratislava in Slovakia? It’s smaller than nearby Prague, Budapest or Vienna but is most certainly worth a visit, as many visitors have recently discovered.
The Slovak capital city, which is situated on both sides of the river Danube, has had its name since 1919. Previously it was known as Pressburg by the Austrians and Pozsony by the Hungarians. In fact, many Austrians and Hungarians still refer to the city using these names. It was also known as Possonium in Latin.
Today Bratislava has a population of 430,000. It is the youngest capital city in Europe. Bratislava is situated on the edge of the small Carpathian Mountains; to its west is the Austrian border; to the south is the Hungarian border.
Category: Central Europe / Slovakia / Bratislava
Tragedy struck in Slovakia recently at a music festival attended by over 33,000 music lovers. The 13th open air music festival called Bazant Pohoda was being held over the weekend of July 18th-19th at a military airfield near Trencín, Slovakia when the gig was hit by freak weather conditions.
A massive thunderstorm and gales ripped down the main tent that covered the main O2 sponsored arena. The result was that tragically a 29-year-old man from Piestany was killed. 52 people were injured. Another 40 people were hospitalised. At the time the disaster occurred inside the collapsed canopy more than a 1,000 people were watching a concert and sheltering from the storm...