A true story from Slovakia (a series of blogs)
A series of blog stories from Slovakia between 2012 and 2014
A true story from Slovakia 12/06/2014 – The World Cup is coming. One month full of football and colorful images from Brazil. The fiesta is ready to start and even though there is no Slovakia this time – unlike in 2010 – we are all totally looking forward to it. My heart goes – as usually – with Italy, but I will also cheer for Uruguay and Australia.
Why? (I can see some faces surprised) Italy is my favourite from my early childhood as the first football players I have known by name as a kid were Donadoni, Giannini, Vialli, Di Napoli, Baresi etc. All of them stars of the World Cup 1990, the first I have watched and I can remember. Also because Czechoslovakia played there and lost to Italy after amazing strikers Schillaci and Baggio scored goals (otherwise CS did well and made it to quarter-finals). So since those times I have always supported the Squadra Azzura and celebrated when they won in 2006. Regarding Uruguay – I simply loved them four years ago and can´t wait to see Forlan & co. in action again. And the Socceroos? It´s coz I lived there for a year and loved it. Australia is one of my top places on Earth. Oh, and let´s not forget my champ Cristiano and his “dark-horse” Portugal!
I would also support Denmark, but they are not there. What a shame. Nonetheless, I will hope for a fifth Italian title. But it will be a challenge. Germany, Argentina, Spain or Holland are superb as well. Brazil, you ask? They will not win because they play at home. And for fanatic/emotional Brazilians it is a huge disadvantage. Anyway, it will be another great World Cup. Enjoy it and praise His Majesty Football!
A true story from Slovakia 21/01/2014 – There are two ongoing fights in Slovakia these days. First is the fight of candidates for President before the March elections. It is a typical political shotout when the candidates are attacking each other, presenting themselves in media, talk suddenly on various economic and social topics and you can see their smiling faces all across the country on billboards. Second is the fight among the population on the topic of leaving Miroslav Šatan out of the Sochi olympics nomination. As you can see, Slovaks are more concerned about the national hockey team than politicians talking on TV. So while the candidates are rambling on in media, people talk about the hockey.
Why is Šatan not going? Is it because of his previous injury caused by fellow national Zdeno Chára in a KHL match? Or is it because of his age? (he is 39). Or his possible conflict with Chára? Some think that leaving Šatan out is a slap in his face after all the Slovak successes he helped to achieve. And others think that Šatan´s era is already over and young players deserve to play. Plus, they argue that we don´t need an inner conflict in the national team (Šatan vs. Chára).
Well, I have a suggestion. As these two topics are separately evolving, we can join them by persuading Šatan to run for President. Then the politicians would get a real rival (and people a good candidate) and the hockey team would play in Sochi with Chára as captain. They would make some result there (maybe even a medal) and Šatan would become the President. Because we have to give a chance to the young ones, right? And young President Šatan would be awesome. True that.
A true story from Slovakia 03/12/2013 (connected to North Carolina) – Three years ago on this day, a man passed away. He was not world famous, he was not a world celebrity or a star. But he was a celebrity and a star for those who were lucky to know him. An ordinary man who was honest, nice and hard-working. A man who deserved respect and whose attitude to life inspired many. His name was Sam Parker and I was proud to be his friend.
Sam was my boss during my Work&Travel USA summer tours (2000 and 2002) when I worked in his restaurant and a gift shop in Cherokee, North Carolina. We got along very well and he was the best boss I´ve ever had and I wonder if I´ll ever have such a boss again. We met in June 2000 and our friendship lasted for another more than ten years. Even though I spent physically only 7 months with him, we stayed in touch during all those years, exchanging emails and occassional phone calls.
I liked him a lot and he became something like my American dad. We spent a lot of time talking on various topics (especially during&after evening shifts). He was a great companion, we talked politics, history, life in America and Europe… He had many great stories to tell and I loved listening to them. Sam was gifted with a great sense of humor and we really bonded. That was the reason why I came back in 2002 and why we stayed in touch for another decade.
Except for knowing him, I was lucky to know his family and friends as well, as many of them worked in his restaurant. It was a joyful company of warm-hearted Americans whom I have grown fond of during those times in Cherokee. Sam´s wife Judy and kids April and Adam were always nice to us, the European students, and thanks to all these aspects it was a pleasure to work for Sam. He did everything he could for his workers and we were wondering that if he is so nice to his employees, his family must be super happy to have him. And I know they were because Judy, April and Adam (and the other guys) always spoke nice of him and loved him. And he talked about them in the very same way.
It was a shock to hear about his departure on that frosty December day in 2010. Only a day before, he sent me an email in which I found this sentence: „The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.“ I cherish these words from him as I cherish all the memories connected to Sam. I will never forget him and I just regret we could not meet again. But I made myself a promise – I will return to NC and visit his last place of rest. He is in heaven now… And I know that we will meet again.
Until then, old friend. I miss you dearly, but I know it won´t last forever.
Your faithful Slovakian friend,
A true story from Slovakia 30/10/2013 – I was in the East recently. By „East“, I mean Eastern Slovakia, not USSR. Once I wrote a true story here about a trip to the East, how much I like it there and some responses were quite negative or – at least – surprised. Why do I, a Western Slovak, like the East so much (for foreigners – its one of those regional rivalries seen in every country)? Well, I do not give a damn shit about what people think, I simply love returning to Košice, to Šariš or Spiš regions. They are simply beautiful, people are joyful even though they are not as rich as Westerners, girls are pretty, food is good and the way Easterns drink – its simply amazing. We have a saying: Everyone lost with the alcohol, only the Easterns managed a draw. True story, I can testify 🙂
And what gives a special taste to the East, is the Roma community (oh, I can already hear the screams WHAT???). Through my work I keep coming back to Roma in Easterrn Slovakia and to NGOs and local authorities dealing with them. They are poor, they often live in shacks, but they have potential and, in general, they are joyful people who want to enjoy their lives. You just have to find your way to them (unfortunately, most of people do not care and simply condemn them) and then you are suddenly surprised how „normal“ they are and how „normal“ they desires are. They are so alike us in many ways („us“ means the majority population).
Also this time, I met some interesting Roma, old and young, students and adults, poor and less poor. I saw good things and I also saw bad things. As always when I come to the East and visit this community with my colleagues. But I always return home with a feeling that they are not as lost as many think and that they are a potential which this country can really use for its further development. A positive development. True story, believe you me.
A true story from Slovakia 22/09/2013 – Goodbye summer. The best and the sunniest part of the year has inevitable come to its end. It´s the last day today, actually, even though it has been not “summery” for a while now. After returning from sunny Dalmacija, the weather here has not been hot anymore. So we got used to the autumn quite quickly and no one actually noticed that the summer has been still lingering on in the calendar.
One might wonder what is fall about and what is it good for. We got back to work after holiday, we are squashed in morning traffic jams and we work our asses off while it is raining. Not every day, but quite often. But still… there is a beauty in autumn. The leaves are starting to become colorful, the trees look suddenly jaunty and dressed as for a party. The wine festivals are going on, goose season will be here soon, the sun is shining from a different angle and the light in the nature is spread somehow differently. The mornings are fresh, the evenings are cold, darkness is creeping in sooner and sooner, day by day. Slowly, but surely, as if the nature decided to take its time for us to adapt.
So the heatwave is gone for good, but when a bright day comes, the shores of our lake are full and people walk, bike or skate around, sit in the open-air pubs and are simply enjoying the sun. It will be colder in a month, not mentioning two months. But the beginning of the fall is always beautiful and strangely relaxing. I cannot really name the feeling, but it is here. So welcome, dear autumn. And don´t be too weepy.
A true story from Slovakia 29/08/2013 – Sixty nine years ago on his day something unusual happened. In the history of Czechoslovakia and Slovakia itself it is one of the few daring moments when people stood up and said NO. This refusal was to Nazis. The Slovak National Uprising, which started on 29th August 1944, declared a renewed independent Czechoslovak Republic and was against the Slovak wartime state (a puppet state of Nazi Germany declared in March 1939) and fascism in general. Thousands of Slovaks stood up against the regime with a weapon and fought bravely against the German war machinery and the Slovak state for two months until the uprising was put down. This fight – and the successful assassination of Heydrich in Prague two years earlier – put Czechoslovakia on the victorious side in the war and the country was re-established (after being destructed in 1938 – 1939 by fascists).
The uprising, which we call SNP here (Slovenské Národné Povstanie) is commemorated every year and it is a good thing, but not all politicians are honest when they praise it. They do it because they have to, but deep inside they praise the Slovak wartime state. And they are not alone, there are many other people who still think that SNP was a betrayal against the „independent“ Slovak state. It is sad, I know, as it was the same state which was responsible for the death of its Jewish population and which sent its soldiers to fight alongside the Nazis. That state is long gone (thankfully) but there are still many its „posthumous children“ among us who praise it and hate everyone but themselves. Another sad thing is that the young generation does not have a clear idea what was SNP about. They don´t have time for that being busy with their smartphones, facebook life and PC games. But anyways, its good that SNP actually happened. I will always have respect for those who took part in it.
God bless you, dear rebels!
A true story from Slovakia 25/08/2013 – I had 17 lovely days of freedom. No work, no travelling to the city, no early wake-ups… Just sun and fun. August is the month when I usually take my big summer holiday coz I like these lazy days of the eighth month. I went to the Adriatic coast with my friends for a week as I had an urgent need to visit my beloved Dalmacija once again. We went to Brela, which was my first time there, event though I passed this town on the Adriatic highway many times before. But this time I stayed and I loved it. We had a good time of relax, I enjoyed the morning coffees and reading of a book in the cafeteria among local Croats, lay on the beach or simply on the water (the salty water has an advantage of keeping you up on the surface with a very little effort) and enjoyed the simple beauties of the day. We also went for a trip which was refreshing and after a week we returned home. It was not that much sun and heat anymore, but at least I managed some things I had no time for before and met ex-classmates from the uni after 10 years (we graduated in 2003, cannot believe it has been a decade). I almost died laughing and drinking, it was that much fun. And now I am ready to go back to work. The summer is almost over but it was very refreshing and I feel a lot of positive energy in me.
And while in Dalmacija, I made myself a promise – if I manage to live through the long years til my retirement, I will once buy a house there and spend the rest of my life in peace and happiness in Dalmacija… Well, not the whole time, but a couple of month each year 🙂 Have a lovely Sunday, my dear friends!
A true story from Slovakia 26/07/2013 – The heatwave is coming. Like every summer, there is a time when the temperatures rise to horrific heights. The good thing is that you can talk about it with strangers as weather is one of the universal topics that you can discuss really with anyone without offending or arguing. For example, you can talk to hot chicas about it, hot chicas can talk to Baywatch looking boys on the beach about it… Or you can seriously discuss it with people that you stand in line with for a cold drink on the lake side. Oh yes, the lake. As usually, I am going to praise our beloved lake in Senec. It is so good to live here coz you simply have a holiday every single bloody day! You come from work and go straight to the beach to swim, to meet friends, to have a drink or a nice summer-style dinner (a fish, a caesar salad etc.). In the months from May to September, Senec is the best place to be. I would never exchange it for the city or other place in our Bratislava region. Probably that is the reason why so many people are moving here and why the town is getting bigger year by year. Plus, you have in Senec like zillions of tourists from neighboring countries, especially our Czech brothers who feel like at home here. And these days you can talk to them (and to lovely Czech girls, of course) about the heatwave. And I guess that this topic will be spoken anywhere in Europe this weekend. „What a fu..ing heat, scheisse Hitze, que puta calor, rohadt meleg…“ And so on. Have a lovely hot weekend my friends!
A true story from Slovakia 30/06/13 – I am sure you know how it feels to explain the ultimate difference between Star Wars and Star Trek (especially guys know it :)) Because every time the talk switches to sci-fi and to these epic superb achievements of human mind and film industry, there is always a girl who asks the iconic question: „And whats actually the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek?“ Then you usually end up explaining it, but its the same like explaining a difference between (for us guys non-existing) various shades of blue color to boys (Anyway, how on Earth are there so many colors??).
But back to the story. This week, me and my friend decided to take the girls to the newest Star Trek movie (Into Darkness). I spent several days explaining my girl what is Star Trek and what is Star Wars (It sounded like: „You know, Star Trek is the series with the space ship Enterprise, Spock with funny ears, captain Kirk and there have been several movies as well…“ – btw, how can anyone NOT know about this? – „…and the Star Wars are six movies with Jedi knights, Yoda, light sabers, Luke Skywalker and iconic Leia in bikini.“ – and beautiful Natalie Portman, of course. And so on). I thought I managed to explain it. And then we went to the movies to see the newest Star Trek… and it happened. Minutes before the movie, she turned to me and asked me with a happy smile: „And the green one with big ears will be there as well?“ … Well, I immediately understood that my explanations were good for nothing. And she was almost disappointed that Yoda will not be in the movie. The good thing, however, was that she liked Star Trek and the movie and she finally managed the difference. Now she knows who is Spock, who is Kirk (and Scotty, of course) and that they fly on the cool and legendary (wait for it…) Enterprise space ship. After this movie I can maybe show her one of the Star Wars episodes. We´ll see how it goes. By then, live long and prosper, my dear friends. Oh yes, and may the Force be with you. Bye now 🙂
A true story from Slovakia 22/05/13 – I went on holiday for two weeks. It was sun & fun, I enjoyed the hell out of it. And what was even better, I did not read any Slovak newspaper, so the world of corrupted politics, judiciary and oligarchs disappeared for a while. Of course, a day came when I had to open the newspapers in my office and found out what was goin on. I almost vomited when reading about the events in Slovakia.
But in any case, it was actually good to come home. To see the friendly and familiar faces of family and friends… and just in time to say goodbye to our 19-years old dog which died a few days after my return. One would say, it is just a dog… But those, who have one at home, can understand the strange feeling when the courtyard of the house is suddenly empty and there is no four-legged creature waiting for you. This little mix of breeds was our pet for so many years that we actually thought of her as a family member. She represented the living connection to the old (good) world, when my grandparents were still with us, when we were kids… She was actually named by our grandma who passed away so many years ago. She was with us when we were schoolkids, teenagers, university students, travelers, working adults… (in my case from the age of 13 to 32). She knew all our friends, girlfriends, broad family… And everyone knew her. She was always there when we returned from USA, Australia, Ireland, Denmark, Scotland… Can you imagine that? And now she is gone. The one return she did not wait for, was my brothers who´s been abroad for a while. C´est la vie… Anyhow, after this dog (and the older one which died a few years ago), we´ll get a new one. The house can´t stay without a dog. No one in our family can imagine that.
A true story from Slovakia 25/02/13 – It is the anniversary of the Victorious February (Víťazný Február) today. 65 years (quite a round one) since that horrible day which changed the course of democratic Czechoslovakia and marked the start of the totalitarian (communist) rule. Thankfully, those times ended in 1989, but many of the bolsheviks have stayed – they only pretend to be „honest“ politicians, judges or businessmen nowadays. So we have a rich class of arrogant oligarchs with their political puppets, but at least we can travel abroad, have the freedom of speech (almost 100%) and we belong to the European community. It is better than in the 1948 – 1989 period.
However, the freedoms are often misused, so we have far-right retards marching on the streets from time to time or old commies saying that their regime was not bad at all. And there are also cases like an anti-Semitic idiot having his own program in a popular private radio (I decided to boycott that station) or politicians and media (one particularly) who publicly praise the war-time Slovak fascist state. That all is present these days in our country, so sometimes you feel like that 25 February was still around and still actual. Unfortunately.
The good thing is, that there are also good people who speak up and tell the truth about the past and have the courage to criticize the idiots. Because if they (we) remain silent… then the Victorious February will come back in full force again. And we must not let that happen again. Cheers!
A true story from Slovakia 28/01/13 – There was a presidential election in Czech Republic. I know its not our matter anymore, but we follow the events behind our Western borders nonetheless. Czech matters still matter to us. So there was an election and we saw a mirror picture. The Czechs´ voter behavior has been just the same as Slovaks´. Two candidates – one populist guy with dictator manners and one nobleman with a German name. What was the campaign about? Not the current events but the painful past and the fucking nationalism. Of course, the populist won.
We had the same a few years ago – a Mr. Nobody against a well-educated, intelligent and perspective woman. Of course, the Nobody won because he was supported by the populist Prime Minister and because he stood as a representative against the evil Hungarians who still want nothing else but to annex the Southern Slovakia. This was in 2009. Next year we have an election again. The Czechs showed us last weekend how it probably will look like (if we actually manage to have a candidate compared to the Czech nobleman). I am quite sceptical – I think we will do the same again and elect some local idiot. Even though Czechoslovakia split 20 years ago, peoples are the same. Still afraid of the past, afraid of the future, afraid that they would lose their illusional „social“ benefits and assurances…
Thankfully, there is a rising young generation which thinks differently. It did not win this time, but its time will come. And I hope that we both (CZ and SK) will once have a noble and good-mannered nobleman sitting at the „Hrad“.
A true story from Slovakia 27/12/12 – Christmas is over and the end of the year is approaching. I cant believe another year is almost gone, I still vividly remember how we celebrated its arrival… Anyways, 2012 is coming to its end and the lucky thirteen is awaiting us behind the corner. When a year is closing down, one starts to look back and assess it a bit. How was mine 2012? Well, it had its ups and downs, was quite a turbulent one, too many things happened. Was not simple, was not easy, but thankfully had its shiny moments. A perfect summer full of sun and fun, a lovely fall, cool trips…
In this moment new beginnings are waiting, new stories, new ups and downs… I am thankful to good God that I came across this year in health, that I met new people, could travel, enjoyed (mostly) my work… I also learned a lot. Sometimes painfully, but así es la vida. I will be stronger in 2013. And I hope we won´t come to see some kind of catastrophe, lets hope the next year won´t be worse than this one. And maybe it will be a better one, you never know 🙂
I wish you all a lovely end of this year and health and happiness in the year to come. Cheers, my dear friends!
A true story from Slovakia 19/11/12 – We went on a wine tour on Saturday. It is one of the typical things you do here in November. One weekend when all the wine cellars in our region are open and you can go there with a pass and taste and buy wine from local wine-makers. The new wine is introduced but also the older ones are there to taste and to buy. This tour is really popular, the passes are sold out long before the November date (it is ususally the 3rd weekend of November) and the small towns around Little Carpathians are full of people. So I went with friends, 13 guys alltogether, we had fun, we tasted and bought wine, toured the little towns and villages and enjoyed the hell out of it. As usually. It is a perfect tradition, one which is also visited by foreigners and we are proud of our Slovak wine. It is really great (the tradition goes way back to the Roman times). And it was good to see the guys after a while, many are married etc, so we do not meet that often anymore.
Plus it was the 17. November, we celebrated the 23rd anniversary of our Velvet Revolution. Every year at this time it makes you think about where we have got as a country since 1989. Well, this state is not perfect and does not function properly, but it is still better than commie regime and closed borders to West. Better to be part of the EU bloc than USSR bloc. However, one thing shocked me recently – the whole Christmas tree removal in Brussels. WTF is that…? That is so un-cool and un-liberty… Anyways, have a nice week everyone!
A true story from Slovakia 03/11/12 – Oh yes, November has arrived. And it came with rain, the famous November rain that Guns´n Roses sing about. But nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain, so I still hope for some sunshine, although the days are short now and are getting even shorter. Not many people like November, but what can you do? I sometimes think about warm November in Australia which I experienced myself and it was followed by hot December. Whole that year was amazing actually, I came from a summer in Europe to a spring in Sydney. And now these nice memories help me to fight the dullness of grey November days over here. Anyways, there are things to enjoy also in a month like this – tonight, for example, we go for a goose fest to celebrate our friend´s 30th b-day. In two weeks we go for the wine route (wine cellars tour) which is an amazing things and we will for sure make up some other activites, too. Oh yeah, the Activities. We played it with guys the other day and were dying laughing. Its such a cool and funny game. See, thats also a good way how to survive the long evenings of November. Have a nice weekend, my friends! (and enjoy my new webpage!)
A true story from Slovakia 26/10/12 – It´s getting cold and really „autumny“. The temperature is dropping day by day just like the leaves from the coloured trees. It just reminds me of one of the great U2 songs where Bono sings „October, and the trees are stripped bare of all they wear…“ It´s quite melancholic, but so is the fall. And they are going to change the time to the winter one this weekend. So the evenings will be long. More time for meditation, some of my friends say. I do not know what I am gonna do, even though some meditation about my life would not be a wasted time… I just have to think about how to fight the returning restlessness to my soul. But I know I will be okay, the Force is still strong with me. And I am looking forward to the weekend – will get some rest, create finally my webpage, down some drinks with friends and simply mentally chillax – no hard thinking! Oh, and we´ll all get an extra hour of sleep (except for the Ozis, haa). Wish you a lovely weekend, and if its too cold, make it warm for yourselves! 🙂
A true story from Slovakia 15/10/2012 – Actually, this one is about Ireland, but written at home after returning from the Emerald Isle today. I had the best time there (again) as I was visiting old friends in Shannon and also in Dublin. I was accompanied by my friend Vlado with whom I went to Shannon to live and work back in 2004-05 and now we spent a few days with our CS friends from those years. It was another perfect reunion, we travelled a bit around counties Clare and Limerick, downed some (read “many!”) pints of Guinness and laughed a lot before moving for one night to Dublin to see other people whom I befriended during my Irish adventures. The thing is that Ireland has a special place in my heart and I keep going back there. The country is beautiful, the atmosphere there is not comparable to any other and I have some of my dearest friends living there. I simply can´t get enough of the that green island at the Western edge of Europe. You see, this romance is for life. I will be always coming back. Tá grá agam duit, Éire. Love you, Ireland. True story for the rest of my days.
…oh, and have a nice week, my reader friends! 🙂
A true story from Slovakia 28/09/2012 – I love this September. Maybe its because of the nice weather and thus a perfect beginning of the fall. And also because of many interesting things in work – this month has been extraordinary. I met three super cool Dutch gentlemen who helped the Slovak dissent in the 1980s, I travelled a bit, got to know interesting people and simply enjoyed myself in the work. And also in my private life. Being positive is awesome. People are smiling at you… yes, the girls as well, true story… they are nice and funny and those who are grumpy I simply defeat with a smile. Its so easy, one would have never thought that 🙂 Life is good. And its Friday today, there is no better day. The summer may be over and the shores of our beloved lake in Senec empty, but the roads and pubs around it are still full and people are obviously having fun trying to catch the last moments of golden late summer. Its gonna be October soon… No more summer time, but the more colourful trees, gardens, sweet grape in the vineyards, new wine, goose fests… Looking forward to it all! Have a lovely Friday and a lovely weekend, my dear reader-friends 🙂
A true story from Slovakia 10/09/2012 – Here we go again, the huge Monday traffic jams are back. One hour and fifteen today, the holiday season is really over. But I did not mind, I was relaxed and enjoying another day in life. The thing is I decided to be positive this fall. About everything. Its simple actually – if you are positive, then positive things happen to you. So I did not mind the long drive (just like last week), I was chatting with my friend who drives with me to the town every day, we listened to some good music from the morning radio, had a laugh and we simply enjoyed the lovely sunny September morning. Monday is fine, you know, its only four days to Friday. Its basically already „little Tuesday“ and thats almost the middle of the week. See the bright side, haha? You will just blink a few times and it will be weekend again. Hopefullly such a lovely one as was the past one – it really fills you with energy. Have a great day, my dear friends!
A true story from Slovakia 31/08/2012 – The summer is closing to its end. The shores of our lake are getting empty and the tourists are almost all gone. Its only the locals and people from around who are keeping up the spirit of the summer. Nevertheless, we know that in a day or two the season will be over and we will have to return to the reality of the common year. As Dolores and The Cranberries…sing: “All the kids are going back to school, summer is over, its the golden rule.” True… No more swimming every evening, no more summer cinema or water pipe on the lake side… But thankfully there are still some joys that we can also have in the fall – and hopefully its gonna be a sunny one. For now, the summer is almost gone. Its not fall yet, but its getting there…
A true story from Slovakia 03/08/12 – Summer is slowly passing by. Love it. Love these slow lazy days, especially in August when the world comes to a standstill. No one really works, you cannot reach anyone, its a small wonder if you actually manage to accomplish a given task. But I do not mind. August is the month of relax. July is behind us and we have one more month of summer and (hopefully) some heat to enjoy. We are thus outside at the lake every evening after work – first a bit of swimming and then a bit of drinking and having fun. Its like a piece of holiday every day. Its great to live in a town where you have a big lake resort and many tourists. It makes the summer special and it makes you wanna stay in Senec and not move anywhere. We consider ourselves lucky to live there. Summer in Senec is the best. There is no better place in this country. True story.
A true story from Slovakia 17/07/12 – Denmark was here. Torben, Mads, Kim and later Jakob arrived to our lovely land. They tasted it, drank it and loved it. And guess what – they fell in love with the „revenge of the forrest“. Yes, I am talking about borovička, our super-Slovak pine-tree liquer. Borovička + beer (the so called B12 or Workers´ mojito) is now also a Danish drink as my Vikings were downing them one after one. Good job, really. Anyways, it was great to have a piece of my beloved Denmark here in Slovakia. I havent laughed that much in a while. And I guess that my friends at home share this feeling with me. It was great fun going around, meeting people, talking to lovely girls, laugh on the most absurd and stupid bloke jokes and simply enjoying the company of each other. Tusind tak Torben, Kim, Mads and Jakob. It was great having you around. True story.
A true story from Slovakia 03/07/12 – Another day in hell. Its freakishly hot over here. 37 or 38, I don´t even know, but it doesnt matter, its just hot. You dont wanna go outside if you are in a building with air-conditioning. And if you are not, then you simply suffer. Thankfully, my case is the first one, so I do not really move out of the embassy during the day. Everyone is just waiting for the evening. In my case it means a swimming in our lake with friends and having a cold beer afterwards. Yesterday I had three just to be sure. The evenings are thus fine, you sit outside in a T-shirt (or without it), drying swimming shorts and with flip-flops on your feet not giving a shit about the whole world. Summer is great. Its only the day-mare with the hell on the streets which makes it tough. Poor our dog, she is almost 18 and she cannot find a place to cool herself until the evening comes. The good thing in this week is that on Thursday we have a national holiday. Thanks God for that, at least for one day I´ll escape from working in the heat. Have a lovely summer day, my friends!
A true story from Slovakia 27/06/12 – I am impatiently waiting for the summer holidays. The way to work will be much easier, no traffic jams, no school kids running around in the mornings. It will be enough to wake up at seven, watch Knight Rider at Prima TV (btw, what an awesome start of the day by watching the best 80s TV show 🙂 ) while eating the breakfast and leave the house at eight. July and August are the best months for morning journeys to work. Naturally, it is because people are going on holiday. Most of Slovaks probably to Croatia as the best sea is there, or to sunny Greek islands, but some also to „exotic“ holes like… uhm, I better do not mention any of them, so no one gets offended.
So only a few days and the roads will be cleared. And the real season will start. The good thing is that these last days of June are filled with football. Italy is still in the game, so I am quite happy but I actually do not mind if anyone from the semifinal four wins the tournament. They are all great. I just feel sorry for the Czechs, but c´est la vie. And now its only a matter of days to find out who will be the king of Europe for the next four years – Die Deutschen, Los Espaňoles, Português or Italiani? Have fun watching it!
A true story from Slovakia 19/06/12 – I like going to Eastern Slovakia. The nature is beautiful, people are friendly, chicas are hot and what is even hotter, they are NICE… The smile back when you smile at them, they joke with you when you joke, they seem honest and are not pretending anything. I guess I should marry one of them, I just wonder what would my folks say as the Easterns are not really popular in our prosperous West.
Anyways, its a lovely part of our country, Šariš and Spiš are regions that tourist should feel obliged to visit. They have a rich history, lovely towns, picturesque countryside and as I said, lovely people. I shall get here more often. East of Slovakia is a place to be, even though its far from Bratislava. Its always good to return here. True story.
A true story from Slovakia 15/06/12 – I love June. I simply cannot get enough of the long days. Its amazing that you can sit outside at 9pm and it is still bright. Awesome. Or legendary, as Barney would say, huh? Roxette has a song called June Afternoon and the chorus goes: „It´s a bright June afternoon, it never gets dark“. True story, they know what are they singing about, and especially in Sweden it must be much longer day than over here. And I keep singing this piece to myself these days, simply enjoying the fact that my favourite month is passing by. Another good thing is the football every day. I love it, too! Two games a day, its like a dream fullfilled for a man (and some girls, too ). Yeah, we are that simple. Beer and football. And good meal, of course. Plus, its Friday today, thanks God. TGIF. It will be like a race in the afternoon to get home, go out to the lake, do some roller-blading, drink a beer(s), watch a game. And all that in a good company of great friends. I can´ t get enough of June. I simply love it. Have a wonderful weekend, my dear friends!
A true story from Slovakia 11/06/12 – When it rains on Monday morning, it usually has catastrophic consequences over here. You travel to work fort like 1h 25 min. Nice. In a situation like this you cannot help yourself but singing „Tell me why I dont like Mondays“ from legendary Sir Bob Geldof and his Boomtown Rats. And it gets even worse when you hear in the radio news that some guy from the state railway company got a 170.000 euro contract bailout. Nice again. This state can really save the taxpayers´money. No wonder that everything is expensive here. Oh yeah, about that. I went to do some shopping in Austria on Saturday. I do it quite often as the goods are cheaper and higher quality there than in Slovakia. But this time I was buying lamps and stuff for my new apartment. And the prices were like half of those in Bratislava. I gonna buy everything there, fuck the overpriced BTS shops. Its crazy – the rich Austrians have lower prices for basically everything and the poorer Slovaks pay the shit out of themselves to stay alive here. Thank you, dear politicians, for all that. Its really an honour to live in this awesome republic of ours.
A true story from Slovakia 08/06/12 – The Euro 2012 is finally here. At least something nice and funny these days next to all the catastrophic economic news from all around. Its good that we´ll get to see the Spain´s bright side which will overshadow the bailout announced for tomorrow, that we will be able to admire the Portuguese, Irish and Greeks not thinking about their economies, that we can be proud to be Europeans showing the world the best of football. As usually, I will try to watch every game together with my friends, and chant from heart for the Danes, Czechs and the Irish… And out of nostalgy after my childhood idols like Donadoni, Schillaci, Baresi or Del Piero also for the Italians. Btw, its a shame that our boys did not make it there…
Anyways, have fun, my football loving friends, la fiesta del fútbol is about to start and entertain this struggling continent of ours for three amazing weeks.
A true story from Slovakia 25/05/12 (watch out, its a gloomy one) – The euphoria from the hockey silver is over. Our beloved PM, The Allmighty Robert, has announced higher taxes, higher payments for basically everything and made us realize that we live in this awesome country of squandered chances (the incomes from the “Tiger years” were simply eaten and stolen, none of it is left) where the state and the authorities do not give a fuck about their own citizens and its really only the firemen and the police who are still doing their job and keep the country running somehow. I cannot help myself, but I see that Slovakia is becoming a country of grey average, people basically do not care about anything but themselves (because their representatives are doing the very same), their relationships are shallow, they are becoming more arrogant and what is even worse – they do not fight anymore… The good of this world is gone unnoticed by them.
Luckily, it is Friday today, so we can throw away these gloomy thoughts and just go home after work and get brainwashed (alcohol and stuff, you know it). That is one of the few things which is still functioning here. Have a lovely day!
A true story from Slovakia 21/05/12 – Hockey WM finale: Slovakia vs. Russia 2:6. Doesn’t matter, we don’t give a shit about Russia’s gold, our boys are now golden for us. It was an awesome tournament, no one would expect such a success 2 weeks ago. The hockey is back, we are proud once again and we enjoy it tremendously, as there are not many things we can be proud about here (politics, corruption…, arrogant oligarchs, primitive reality shows on TV etc.). But hockey has always somehow managed to pull the country together and make it cheer with joy. And the fact that we have beaten our Czech brothers in the semi-finals is making the success even more special 🙂 Thank you, boys!
Otherwise it is just another shitty Monday (except that the hockey team will be welcomed by tens of thousands today in Bratislava). The highway is packed, its 5 days in jobs ahead… But it was an awesome weekend. The Hockey Republic is alive again!
A true story from Slovakia 18/05/12 – We are a Hockey Republic once again. Our boys made it into the semi-finals at the world champs beating the allmighty Canada in the elimination round. Next to the old veterans like Šatan, Chára or Handzuš we have new heroes such as Laco, Kopecký, Tatár, Mikuš, Hudáček… And the country is crazy about them, you wouldnt find a single person who is not watching the games.
But otherwise, the life goes on. I started playing badminton after some years, love it! Although I was swept away by Dáša at the first time (1:7, yeaaah!) but I managed to play decent sets with her. Next time we play better, as Sir Alex Ferguson would say. Thankfully, I am off these days, so I can enjoy my own time and for example write these things to annoy everyone. And watch hockey, tomorrow we play the Czechs, a battle for the finals! But I guess (as my friend Miška wrote) that most of the world is wondering – Czechoslovakia against whom…?
A true story from Slovakia (14/05/12) – The same shit as every Monday morning. The highway is jammed, streets of Bratislava as well, people are desperatly trying to get to their work places after a (mostly) cold weekend. Naturally, the sun is shining on Monday morning but at least it is not hot and „beachy“ so you do not wanna kill yourself. After an hour in the car I got out at the embassy feeling happy that the Monday traffic odysea is behind me. May and June are usually a total hell in Bratislava county, the morning traffic jams are annyoing and regular. And its even worse when two (or more) impatient assholes collide on the road and fuck up the day for other thousands who have to wait in the long line. Thankfully, July and August will be okay because people and kids will be on holidays, so they wont stand in your way, not even on Mondays. Luckily, this week is only a 3-days one for me, feel jealous please! (I mean the Slovaks, not the Danes and Dutch).
…and yeah, we´re great in ice hockey once again. In that sense the weekend was a winning one. And a drinking one. Too much party for little David. I should reconsider my priorities in life. Cheers!
30.3. 2012 – A true story from Holland No.6 (Friday): Hello Amsterdam. Finally we’ve met. After visiting my colleagues at the Ministry this morning in Den Haag, I board the train to Amsterdam Centraal with an intention to explore the most famous city of Holland. It is awesome. I wander alone around the town, through the streets and canals, enjoying the atmosphere of this intoxicating place. I sit down for a coffee at Nieuwmarkt, relax, smoke a cigarette, walk further… The smell of marijuana is on many places, so its true what they say about Amsterdam. After a while I catch the train to Schiphol Airport. The Friday airports have a special spirit. They are full and busy, but people are smiling. They are either leaving home or going for a weekend somewhere… So here I am, hating to leave this country after an amazing week, hesitant to go home to the reallity. At the same time, I am glad I could be here. Thank you Holland. You were a balsam for my soul.
29.3. 2012 – A true story from Den Haag No.5 (Thursday): It sucks when it is the last day of a course you actually enjoy. Plus, the company is awesome. Sometimes I feel like I gonna die laughing with this band from all around. Today, we learn about the press and media so I get to know how to deal with the journalists. Its kinda against myself but at least I know the both sides of a story. We also go for a walk to the Royal Palace during the lunch break. We stop in front of a (actually one of many) gate and we chat and eat. Suddenly, the gate opens and a Volvo with smoked glasses comes out accompanied with a black Audi and a blue Audi. Our Dutch mentor tells us its most probably the Queen in Volvo going for a short ride. Cool, so the Queen saw David in the Netherlands! Now its the last evening here, so we go out for a dinner and a drink. Not that we have not done it before, but tonight we are gonna drink&yell even more and not think about tomorrow. Proost!
28.3. 2012 – A true story from Den Haag No.4 (Wednesday): It´s fun to talk to people from all around the world. You get to know important things like about the tropical heat in Karachi while in Islamabad it is cold, how the Jordanians are going partying only by taxi in Amman, the Greek way of going out in the night or you can laugh with girls from Croatia and Serbia on funny words. “Kuracina” is still funny for them and as I speak to Nataša from Zagreb about Istria, Dalmatia etc, we make sure to touch upon words like “kurac” and the Slovak cursings, of course. After the writing class, we go in seven to Scheveningen, a beach out of Den Haag and its really cool. Sun is shining, the sea is blue, people everywhere, I breathe the intoxicating smell of the Northern Sea. We laugh a lot, have a beer and go back to the city by tram yelling and laughing all the time. Being here is nice, especially with people who you meet (probably) once in life and you can be totally relaxed with them. It´s like a surreal exile from the gloomy reality at home. I should do this more often.
27.3. 2012 – A true story from Den Haag No.3 (Tuesday): You hear all the time that the weather in The Netherlands sucks. Well, its not always true. Its bloody sunshine and spring here, love it! Of course, it does not mean that all is fine, the weather is also encouraging the cyclists to speed and threaten your miserable pedestrian life all the time (its like billion of them!). Whatever, the city is awesome… and the beer is good. And its fun with my PPZ colleagues. One of them asks me: Where exactly is Slovakia? Somewhere near Georgia…? I have a temptation to say: No, its next to Alabama. But as I am used to all the I-Have-No-Idea-Where-This-Weird-Country-Of-Yours-Is questions, I simply smile and explain patiently the whereabouts of my unknown homeland. And naturally, I use the trump card which usually surprises people: Bratislava is only 60 km from Vienna! But anyways, its a lovely colleague. Today, we have a social media class and we are asked to create in pairs a fictive FB page of the Netherlands Embassy in Far Far Away. Of course, the legendary and totally awesome sci-fi saga of George Lucas comes to my mind and together with laughing Reem we create a Star Wars-style embassy at Tattoine with Luke Skywalker as the ambassador, C3PO as his deputy, Leia as his political officer and Han Solo as the embassy driver. And we add some action pics from SW movies to show Ambassador Luke and his team fighting for Dutch values in Far Far Away. It was a success actually, true story. Being in Holland is fun, het bevalt me hier!
26.3. 2012 – A true story from Den Haag No.2 (Monday): I leave the hotel at 8.15 to find my way to the Ministry. I check the route on the internet, write down a few notes (as I have no printer) and start walking. I get confused only once and look probably like a dog going around an overheated meal. As I walk further carelessly listening to my iPod, suddenly a bike swings by in a high speed and then a next one….Fuck, it almost scared the shit out of me. But then I smile as it reminds me of my beloved Denmark. These two countries are so much alike. I finally manage to get to the Ministry and the training building, where I spot walking in a hottie who I saw leaving my hotel some 20 minutes before. I go in and find out its Reem, my PPZ colleague from Amman. I´ve heard before that Jordanian chicks are hot. Well, true story. And so I have a cig pal as she lights up a Marlboro Light straight away. Later, we are joined by a Greek girl. Not too bad for little David, not at all. The course itself is cool, we are a dozen of people from all around, some from exotic spots like Egypt, Pakistan or old good Russia. After the training, we get a beer on a sunny square and enjoy the Dutch spring. The Bulgarian guy is full of jokes and motorbikes. I tend to my beer and later Reem takes a photo of David in Den Haag, so I have a proof. Its gonna be a good week, I guess…
25.3. 2012 – A true story from Den Haag No.1 (Sunday): Vienna Airport. Again. This time leaving for the land of tulips. Of course, the plane is late, so I have to forget about my plan to arrive to hotel before 9pm. Until I board the dodgy train from Schiphol Airport to Den Haag, its dark and I cannot observe the Dutch landscape (luckily I managed to see some dykes and barriers at the sea coast from the AA plane…). A French-speaking family sits next to me and chats, while the conductor announces in Dutch and English that the train is off to Den Haag. In Leiden, he rambles on in Dutch for two minutes but forgets to add the info in English. Whatever, I sit on a train directly to Den Haag Centraal. I get off there and go around looking for a tram no.6. I find the stop and wait. A huge group of Carribbean looking youngsters come yelling to the stop. They speak a mix of English and Dutch a listen to some loud music from their iPhones. One of them comes to me, gives me a Are-U-Gonna-Move-That-Bloody-Suitcase-Mon look so I smile a move it a bit away so he can sit down on a bench. Then we board the tram to center together. They keep yelling and a young white guy behind me gets really annoyed and fumes there. Suddenly, he lights up a cig and jumps angrily off on the next stop. The Carribbeans give him look obviously thinking ´Whats your fucking problem mon?´ but keep on yelling. Then I got off at Groete Markt and try to locate my hotel. I ask a Dutch lady in English where is the bloody Jan Hendrikstraat. She answers me in Dutch, but I got what means “rechts” on “Stoplichten” and I finally enter the hotel lobby. I check-in and I can finally light up a cig, but listen to a bunch of yelling Italians coming to the hotel from a bus trip. I rather buy a large Heineken and drink it alone in quiet. Enough of this day of yelling. Welcome to The Netherlands.