Lessons in the "Slovakia" Category

The Blood Countess

Today, let’s talk about the Blood Countess. Never heard of her? Well, while she was no relation to Count Dracula, her story is equally interesting!

Countess Elizabeth Bathory was actually a real person, as opposed to the fictional character of Count Dracula. Bram Stoker who created Dracula in 1897 is said to have been inspired by Bathory’s real life story.

The Blood Countess acquired her name as she is said to have tortured and killed between 80 to 650 girls. She liked to bathe in the blood of her victims, as she believed the blood of virgin girls would maintain her youthful looks.

Category: History / The Blood Countess / Central Europe

Red double-decker buses to be considered in Bratislava!

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

Bratislava or Bust!

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

World Ice Hockey Championships 2011

The 75th International Ice Hockey Championships in 2011 will be held in Slovakia. The tournament takes place between 29th April and 15th May 2011. It will feature the world’s top ice hockey nations taking part.

Slovakia’s capital Bratislava and the country’s second city of Košice will host the tournament. The newly refurbished Ondrej Nepela Arena in Bratislava and the Košice Steel Arena (U.S. Steel is a major sponsor) in Košice will cohost the event. Both cities are major bastions of ice hockey.

Organisers are hoping to attract more than 350,000 ice hockey fans to the matches. Fans will be able to see live action of this exciting game that is said to be the fastest collective game in the world. There are 16 teams participating in the ice hockey tournament. A total of 56 games will be played.

It all starts with a preliminary round of four groups each containing four teams. This leads to a qualifying round before the quarter and semi finals, followed by the final that will be played in Bratislava.

Category: Sport / Ice Hockey Championships 2011 / Slovakia

The difference between Czechs and Slovaks

What’s the difference between a Czech and a Slovak? This is not a joke! It could be but for now it is a question for you to think about.

Generally speaking the Czechs, who live in the ‘heart of Europe’, are culturally assertive, more dynamic and are mostly atheist. Their men more ‘cunning’. Having formerly lived under Austrian rule they are regarded as rational good administrators. They look to Germany as a role model, preferring to distance themselves from Eastern Europe.

The Slovaks who had been a part of the Hungarian Empire are regarded as more friendly, proud of their nationality, and are more hospitable. Slovaks are more temperamental, mostly Catholic and are regarded as more romantic. Slovak men are more aggressive. It is said that Slovak women are the most beautiful in the world. They are certainly more beautiful than Czech women.

Czechs have a different mind set and different habits to Slovaks. Czechs like to regard themselves as more superior than Slovaks. This of course is absolute rubbish as both are equal. But it is known the Czechs like to look down on the Slovaks as the poorer class. Czechs are a bit snobbish about their Slovak neighbours...

Ski in Slovakia in style

There are many places in the world to go and ski - like the Alps, Bulgaria or North America. But have you ever considered skiing in Slovakia? The country that is in the heart of Central Europe has an abundance of ski slopes in the Tatra Mountains. In fact the country has a long skiing tradition.

Coming to Slovakia won’t even break the bank, as the cost of living makes it one of the cheapest places to currently visit in the eurozone. The euro is another major plus point for visitors when they visit the country now. Slovakia lies within the Carpathian mountain system, which after the Alps is the second largest and longest in Europe. The huge arc of the Carpathians begins beside the Danube, close to Bratislava, and stretches through the length of Slovakia, Ukraine and Romania.

Category: Europe / Slovakia / Skiing

Rusyns survive time in Central & Eastern Europe

One of the joys of living in Central Europe is to discover more about its history. On a trip over from Luxembourg, a while back, I came across an interesting article in Time Magazine about ‘Lost Tribes in Old Europe’. One of these ‘lost tribes’ is that of the Rusyns who are located in eight countries spread over Central and Eastern Europe. Most live in Eastern Slovakia and Western Ukraine.

Rusyns are also known as Ruthenians. They are members of a Slavic tribe that settled in this area in the 6th century. Rusyns speak a distinct language. They are renowned for their exquisite wooden churches, often built without nails. They were mainly a poor farming community yet their culture and tradition were very vibrant and widespread.

Rusyns have resisted assimilation for centuries. They have endured hardship. The Hungarians suppressed them by forcing them to learn Hungarian. The Austrians stole their land and taxed them to the hilt by demanding more animals and crops. This severe hardship forced thousands and thousands of Rusyns to emigrate after 1880 to the industrial regions of north-east America.

Category: History / Central & Eastern Europe / Rusyn

The things that make Slovakia great

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

Centre-right opposition ‘wins’ Slovak election

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

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.