True stories from Slovakia (a guide)
I am sure you all have read Stoker´s Dracula. As Jonathan Harker travelled across the then Austro-Hungarian Empire (not Robo-Hungarian as depicted in famous Futurama show!), he was passing the parts of the Upper-Hungary which happens to be the Slovak Republic nowadays. He described the Slovaks as poor shepherds with wide hats and in such a manner that young Rockefeller might have used to describe the cannibals at the Papua island. Well, that was in 19th century and the nation of Slovaks was only in its awakening phase. Today, in the second decade of the 21st century, Slovaks are a nation with their own state. They still have sheep, of course, just like the Irish or British farmers do, and they carry hats (well, who doesn´t?), but at the same time, they live in a modern way, they have cars, computers, smartphones, iPods, they read e-books, travel around the world – they´re basically just like everyone else in this modern world of ours.
However, what still strikes me is the fact that not many foreigners actually travel to Slovakia. Yes, there are tourists in Slovakia, but one can´t compare them to the numbers of visitors coming to Prague, Budapest, Vienna or Krakow – towns that are only in short distance from Slovak borders. Slovakia, squashed between Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Ukraine, is kind of a maiden of tourism, one´d say. It is also because this country is not that well-known and in this chart it sits probably somewhere near Kiribati. So I keep saying I am from Czechoslovakia to older Americans or Australians coz they know Czechoslovakia (but not the two young republics). In addition to that, people often confuse Slovakia with Slovenia (I get questions about the Yugoslav civil war) or they ask if Slovakia is part of Russia. And once I was asked – only a few minutes after I said I was from Slovakia – why do we Serbs hate the Croats so much…? Oh, and one more – for my manager at one of the Bondi pubs I was simply “Daniel from Serbia”
But as I said – there are some tourists in Slovakia. Most of the tourists from abroad come to Bratislava only. The reason is simple. Vienna is close by, Budapest is close by, Prague is close by. Tourists visiting these cities happen to come to Bratislava for a day – this happens thanks to her position on the map as three countries (AT, HU, CZ) at once are really close to Bratislava. Plus, you have the Vienna airport only 45 km from the Slovak borders. By the way, did you know that Vienna and Bratislava are the closest European capitals? Not even 70 kilometers are between them and they even used to be connected by a tram in the times of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Oh, and Bratislava used to be the capital of Hungary for many years – because of the Turks in the Kingdom of Hungary. I will get back to that at some point.
So what does Slovakia offer except for the capital situated on the Danube River which used to be the Limes Romanus in the ancient past? Well, Slovaks have lowlands, mountains, caves, old mystic forests… But there is one feature that I specially want to draw your attention to – lovely romantic CASTLES. There are plenty of them in Slovakia and one is better that the other, not to mention the beautiful surrounding where they are situated. I will guide you through the best of them in this blog. Also, Slovakia is rich with water. It doesn´t have a sea, but it has the Danube, lake resorts and spas. Lots of them. You just have to come and enjoy them for less money than in western Europe. I have to say that the beer is great there and the wine is superb. Cuisine is Central-European, rich and cosmopolitan. Slovak women are beautiful, the men are equally good looking. Young generation mostly speaks English, many speak German, not to mention Hungarian in the southern part of the country. And as Slavs they all understand Czech and to some extent Polish or Croatian.
This all is Slovakia. You just have to come for a couple of days. Let me be your guide, I will show you around. Castles, towns, nature parks…I wrote this travelling blog for you.
Welcome to Slovakia, the land of unknown beauty.
Name: Slovak Republic
Other important towns: Senec, Trnava, Košice, Prešov, Terchová, Trenčín, Banská Štiavnica & Bystrica, etc.
Region: Central Europe
Neighbours: Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine
Population: 5.4 million (85% Slovaks)
Minorities: Hungarian, Ruthenian, Roma, Czech etc.
Territory: 49 036 km2
Administration: 8 self-governing regions (79 districts)