• Vlkolínec, Čičmany
The villages represent preserved original folk architecture.
Capital city of Slovakia with many famous sights like for example Bratislava castle with well-known four towers, Old Town Hall (this building belongs to the oldest buildings in Slovakia), Cathedral of St. Martin (place where Maria Theresa was crowned) and many many more.
There are 4300 caves in Slovakia. Dobšinská ice cave belongs to the biggest caves in Europe. The longest cave in the country is Demänová stalactite cave in the Low Tatras with length of 33 km.
• Mineral and thermal springs
There are more than 1,300 such springs in Slovakia. Many of them were basis for establishing spa towns like for example is Piešťany or Bardejov.
CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS
Every country has something special, something what own only it. As well as Slovak natural beauties here belongs typical food as well. The Slovak national dish is bryndzové halušky. It consists of the Slovak traditional sheep cheese – bryndza and of gnocchi, which are made of potatoes and flour. Other typical food is potato pancakes - haruľa, legume soup, mutton and lokše. Growing wine has also long been a tradition. The best areas for wine growing are south-eastern slopes of the Small Carpathians and Tokay region on the east of Slovakia. Another typical drink is liquor from juniper berries called borovička. Drinking hard spirits or plum brandy is also a tradition.
Slovak people have a lot of festivities which have roots in their history. One of the oldest is fašiangy festival held at the end of February or the beginning of March. People walk down the street dressed in funny costumes, sing and dance to celebrate the end of winter and welcome the coming spring. Another festival is Easter. People go to church to commemorate Jesus Christ’s crucifixion on Good Friday. On Easter Monday boys go from house to house and splash girls with whips and wash them with water so they will be healthy and strong all the next year. The boys are given coloured eggs as a reward. But the nicest festival of the year is Chistmas, especially Christmas Eve (24th December) and Christmas Day (25th December). On 24th December people decorate house and Christmas tree and prepare a special Christmas dinner which is served in the evening. It consists of waffles with honey, then cabbage soup with mushrooms is served. On 25th December people visits each other.
Slovaks like traditional music and dancing. Stringed instrumental (violin, cymbalo) and pipes (shepherd pipe, fujara) are typical in Slovak folk music. The most popular Slovak folkloric group is Lúčnica. Famous folkloric festivals are in Detva, Východná and Terchová.
The most popular sport is football. Every twentieth person plays football professionally. Ice hockey is popular too and especially after the obtaining gold medal from World Championship in 2002. Among other favourite sports are cycling, skating, swimming, volleyball and basketball as well.
Many foreign tourists can experience culture shock in Slovakia because of another culture, different attitudes and a different way of life. There are a few topics in which you should be attentive:
Clothes are socially important, especially in large cities. If you are not well-dressed, be prepared for stares. Your shoes should be polished and when you enter someone’s house, you are expected to leave your shoes at the door. Your host will offer you a pair of slippers.
If you have a date, bring flowers, but always give an odd number (even numbered bouquets are reserved for funerals). Also if the flowers are wrapped in paper take them out before you present them.
Men should go first when entering the bar in case that there is a fight. You have to protect a woman.
When you are offered a drink, you are expected to clink glasses and to make eye contact. And don’t forget that Slovaks are quite passionate drinker.
Drivers are impatient and do not respect speed limits. It is rare to see a driver who goes prescribed speed (40 km/h) in a village.
It is said that Slovak people are hardworking, very friendly, hospitable, although they are not very rich. But one thing what really drives me mad is a discrimination. As I already have mentioned, the biggest minority group in Slovakia is Hungarian. They have their own political party, which is widely supported also by non-Hungarians, and has its place in coalition.
However, in real life, there are different relations between Hungarian and non-Hungarian people. In minds of Slovaks is deeply engraved, that we had to live under pressure of Hungarian reign for many years. And so people behave. Generally unfriendly. Best is this fact proved by the statements of the president of Slovak National Party politician Jan Slota. His maybe best known statement concerning Hungarians is: “We’ll get into tanks and set out to Budapest!” Same discrimination is against Roma inhabitants. Example can be the fact that every employer rather employees a guy with a good social hinterland, and whom he can trust. And that’s the reason why majority of Romans doesn’t have a job. It means no nice income, what reflects in bad home and social hinterland. This is a very simple view, but we can call it magic circle.
SLOVAK’S PLACE IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
Slovak republic joined EU on the 1st May in the year 2004, but I don’t think that we are a full member of this union. We can’t go working into the European states because they made a 7-year working moratorium against the 10 joining countries. The reason of this behaviour is that they afraid of cheap working forces. We aren’t a member of Schengen so it means that we still must use identity card or passport when we want to go to another state of EU. Despite of these limits I think that in soon time it will be all right and Slovakia will be equal to another members of EU.
We all know that Slovakia is not big, wealthy country or we don’t have huge amount of mineral resources. So then, in what things we could be useful for the EU? Slovakia has brought up many clever people like for example constructor of parachute Štefan Banič or a constructor of helicopter Ján Bahýľ, Slovak origin have people like Eugen Cernan (the second American cosmonaut who stepped on a moon), Paul Newman (actor), Martina Hingis (famous tennis player) or Andy Warhol (painter and major figure in the pop art movement) and many many more. So I think that Slovakia could bring more sacks to the mill with people which could make this world better for living…
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