Lessons in the "Slovakia" Category

Food scandal in Eastern Europe – lower quality than West Europe

Recently a friend suggested I write an English lesson about inferior food being sold in Central and Eastern Europe. In other words products of lower quality, or the same product - but the contents having lower quality inside the package.

How can this be possible? Believe me it is! I live in Slovakia and I hear this story time and time again from my students and friends.

Many Slovaks like to go to Austria to go shopping. Why? Because food is cheaper, and of better quality.

Anyone shopping in Slovak supermarkets is likely to be sold inferior quality goods, like cheese, washing powder, coffee, milk chocolate, and Coca Cola. In Austria those same products are of a much higher quality.

Student Uniforms

Today, let’s talk about student uniforms - what students wear to school, college or university. Depending on the country you live in and its habits may determine whether students wear a uniform or not.

In Britain schoolchildren wear a uniform to school. It installs a form of discipline in them that is valuable in later life. If a girl wears a skirt that is too high on the hemline or too tight a pair of trousers she will be sent home to solve the issue. Come in with a funny haircut and a student will be pulled out of the class, reprimanded and sent home. In Britain students do not wear uniforms to college or university.

Referendum on family values

Today’s English lesson is inspired by one of my students. When discussing her weekend activities, she told us she had been helping to promote an upcoming referendum on family values that will take place shortly in Slovakia.

There are three questions:

  1. Do you agree that only a bond between one man and one woman can be called marriage?
  2. Do you agree that same-sex couples should not be allowed to adopt and raise children?
  3. Do you agree that schools cannot require children to participate in sex education or euthanasia education if their parents don’t agree?

Mysterious Slovak words in Yellow Submarine

Now, you have all heard the song Yellow Submarine by the Beatles. We must all have sung it at some point in our lives. But how many of you actually knew that mysterious Slovak words exist in the song? Not many of you I guess.

One has to listen very carefully to find them but as I discovered they are indeed hidden in the depths of the submarine song! Only a few people in Slovakia know this carefully guarded secret. I discovered about it in a pub thanks to a friend who later sent me a link, as I didn’t believe him.

Here in Slovakia the words have become a kind of myth. One has to listen to the song carefully then after about 1 min 40 secs is a single sentence in the Slovak language. Miss it and you have to listen again but then it gets harder to spot as I discovered. The actual words are “Mozte mi vylizat.” The sentence though is not part of the “official” lyrics.

Eurovea Galleria opens in Bratislava

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.

Easter folklore traditions live on in Slovakia

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.

Bratislava old and new

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

A visit to 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

Sky Europe finally goes bankrupt

Ailing low cost Central European airline SkyEurope has finally gone bankrupt. After struggling for months it finally admitted defeat at the beginning of September. The airline that existed for 7 years has had ongoing financial problems. It is yet another casualty of the economic recession that has seen other low cost carriers recently slash routes and jobs.

The collapse left thousands of passengers stranded abroad. The airline that flew across Europe from its hub bases in Prague, Bratislava and Vienna ceased trading after airports banned SkyEurope planes over non-payment of debts at the beginning of September.

Having been banned from Vienna Airport in August the airline shifted its flights to nearby Bratislava in Slovakia. It faced a similar ban at Prague airport unless regular payments were made. A day later Slovakia revoked its operating licence as a result of the bankruptcy. Previously SkyEurope had had planes impounded in Paris and Bulgaria over non payment of airport fees...

Tragedy at 13th Slovak music festival

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...