Friday, October 10, 2014

Food in Slovakia

In Slovakia you will find colorful regional dishes with high quality and attractive prices. In the mountainous areas, you will find more reliance on cheeses and milk products while the more spicy food with cabbage specialties, goose, flat bread and sweet pastries can be found in the valleys and low lying areas. Their food developed in the villages using locally produced ingredients. This is the reason the food varies by region. Slovak cuisine such as stuffed cabbage are known everywhere Slovaks have settled throughout the world. You will find staples such as potatoes, wheat flour, milk and cheese from both cows and sheep, cabbage, onions and garlic. Combine that with pork, poultry, cabbage, and imported rice and you have the basics of Slovakian cooking.
So here are a few typical dishes in the area.

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Bryndzové halušky is a traditional dish found which consists of potato mixed with a soft and salty sheep curd. Fried bacon chopped in tiny pieces is added to the ready meal, which makes it especially tasty. The traditional beverage to accompany the meal is sour milk or whey.

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Treska is a cold salad made of codfish, mayonnaise and some vegetables. Quite popular snack in the Bratislava region, and lately also in other parts of Slovakia.

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Kapustnica (cabbage soup) is a thick Slovakian soup which is  traditionally prepared at the end of the year, generally for Christmas and New Years Eve. There are lots of varieties of this soup, regional specialties and even family modifications. In some regions, it is spiced up with smoked meat, sausages and mushrooms. Those prepared for special holidays are also different. For example, even within a specific regions, this soup will vary on holidays, with special ingredients such as the Vianočná Kapustnica (Christmas Cabbage Soup) which is cooked without meat, it is thickened with the soft, salty sheep curd, cream and potatoes.

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Make sure you don't miss out on the local sweets. They include tarts, cookies and sweet breads using wheat and potato flower, powdered sugar and chocolate. 

Enjoy your visit to Slovakia and their food.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Brief History of Slovakia

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The Slovakian history has be dominated by wars for power and control of the people of this land. Slovakia has been inhabited since the early paleolithic period with evidence of tribes as the predominate social organization through the 5th century. By 1200 BC the Lusitian culture was spread through Slovakia. Some scholars think that this culture was protoslavic and the region of northern Slovakia and southern Poland was the ancient homeland of Slavs.

By 400 BC the Celtic tribes occupied the southwestern part of Slovakia and ruled the territory more than three centuries. They brought new production techniques to metallurgy, pottery, textiles and agriculture.

By 9 BC the Celtic dominance began to give way to Germanic and Roman expansion, establishing the Roman provinces Panonia and Noricum  and the Germanic tribes Marcomans and Quads.  Three centuries later, Roman legions under command of the Emperor Tiberius attacked the territory of Slovakia and began to organize all of the Slovak territory. The period between the Roman defeat of the Germanic tribes and approximately 406 AD saw intermittent peace and war. At the end of this period the majority of the Quad population began to withdraw from Slovakia towards southern Germany. The territory of Slovakia became the temporary homeland of numerous Germanic tribes escaping the Huns who dominated the Danube Basin in the first half of 5th century.

By 470 AD the last Quads left Slovakia, creating a vacuum where Slavic tribes consolidated their power . Then in 568 AD the nomadic Avars who were of  Turkish origin invaded the Danube Basin and became the dominant power in Central Europe until 795 AD when Charlemagne's over throw of Muslim rule in the end of 8th century. Then the local Slavic tribes began to centralize power and began the long process of state building. By 822 AD the Moravian prince, Mojmir I, unified the principalities of Moravia and Nitravia to one state named Greater Moravia. 

By 880 AD the Pope, Johanus VIII, published the Industriae Tuae in which he establish the independent ecclesiastical province in Greater Moravia and recognized Slavic as the forth ecclesiastical language beside Latin, Greek and Hebrew.
Then in 907 AD in the battle near Bratislava, Magyar armies defeated the Bavarian military and the Moravian principality was split between Magyars, Bavarian's and Czechs. Then in 955 AD the Magyar military forces were defeated and forced to accept Christianity and settle down. However, these battles for control of the Slavic lands continued through 1848 when Slovaks revolted, declaring themselves a nation and founded the Slovak Fellowship with the aim of independence. But, by 1880 the bulk emigration of Slovaks to the United States began. Within 30 years almost one third of Slovaks fled national and social oppression.
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Finally, 1000 years after the Battle of Bratislava, living under the freedom of America, this large population of Slavs founded the Slovak League in America and started the campaign for national freedom of Slovaks in their homeland. Then fours year, after the Great War of 1914, the Pittsburgh Agreement created the Czech-Slovak state which was to guarantee home rule for Slovaks after creation of a Slovakian state.  However, the Czechs broke their word and refused to accept the new state of Slovakia as equal partner and two years later adopted a Constitution declaring Czech-Slovakia as a national “Czechoslovak” state.  This domination of Slavs by others continued through WWII and the following Russian domination through Communism. Finally, on January 1, 1993 the Slovak's realized their dream and a Slovak Republic became an independent and sovereign state.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Loss of my beautiful Husky

I lost my best friend 2 days ago, her name was Tundra.
She was so extremely special and I miss her so very much.
My heart is so tight and tears are on my face.

Everywhere Tundra went, she stopped traffic. People always stopped to see her and pet her.  She knew exactly what "beautiful" meant. When people would say what a beautiful dog, she would go to the person with her beautiful fluffy tail wagging and would try to kiss them. She especially loved children.

Every time she would see a smaller dog, she would lay down on the ground so the other dog knew she was not a threat.

She was pure love, such lady.

We never left her in a shelter.  Rather than leave her alone, either my husband or I would stay with her.  She knew she was our  baby and did not like to be alone. I was so careful, always making sure she had fresh, filtered water, the best food from the Vet and the treats that she loved. 

Tundra was almost 13 years old, that means she was almost 91 in our age, she died of old age but no one could tell her age. This picture was taken the day she passed.

I have no regrets, she was not  just a dog, she was my family.

Please, if you still have your dog, treat him or her with love, they only give love to us. They trust us to do the best for them. They will defend us against anyone or anything that will try to hurt us.

My husband made a song for her many years ago and it was like this;
"We love you Tundra, oh yes we do, we love you Tundra and we'll be true, when you are far from us, we're blue, Oh Tundra we love you."

I miss you now so much my baby Husky and I will miss you forever.
Marcia / July 16, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

How careful should you be going to Slovakia

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The Slovak Republic has a “Medium” rate of crime. Crimes against individuals remains a concern as criminals enjoy a relatively permissive operating environment.

Westerners, especially short-term visitors such as tourists and students, are the primary targets of street crime. The majority of street crime is non-violent and includes petty crimes such as pick-pocketing and purse/cellular telephone snatching. However, more serious crimes such as mugging, armed robbery, shooting, drugging, and robbing of  unsuspecting victims at nightspots and bars is also a concern.

Pick-pockets may seem harmless, but they are professionals. They generally use distraction to confuse their target while they pick their pockets. Pickpockets  prefer busy locations such as shopping centers, markets, public transportation, tourist areas such as Old Town, near major hotels, and on the night trains to Prague and Warsaw - where travelers let their guard down and become victims.

Purse snatching does occur in Bratislava. Purse snatchers typically work in crowded areas, allowing them to cut straps of purses and run away in the crowd. Be especially careful with mopeds that might sneak up behind you while you are crossing the street. If you are out strolling, I recommend you put the strap over your head and across you body so that you can hold the bag tightly between your arm and your body. Also, don't be casual about your bag, phone, wallet or other valuables. Placing them on the table or in a jacket hung on a chair are open invitations to snatcher. Credit card, Internet, and ATM fraud are also increasing.

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Non-Caucasians might also be targeted by  Skinhead groups and suffer from 
hate crimes. Skinheads also target members of the Roma (Gypsy) minority.

Theft from autos occurs with valuables in the car while driving or parked and some auto theft of high-end European and American vehicles. Valuables should never be left in a vehicle. If you are driving in the area,  utilize a garage or a lighted parking area on the street. While driving, lock all doors, wear seat belts, and open windows only as far as needed for ventilation.

Theft of high-end European and American cars occurs and is usually linked to organized crime.

Finally, if you are driving, be aware of Slovakia zero tolerance to "Driving Under the Influence".  The legal limit is 0%. So if you are going to a party, having drinks over dinner, or any similar activities, have the concierge arrange for transportation.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Religion & Weather in Slovakia

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Most Slovaks are very religious and predominately Christian with a few thousand Jews. The Christian majority are mostly Roman Catholics; however, you will also find large groups of Evangelicals and Protestants. Greek Catholics and Orthodox Christians are mostly found in Eastern Slovakia.

Slovaks don't just claim a religious affiliation, they live it every day. You will find a saint's feast day, virtually every other day and it is easy to find a local religious festival. Most Slovaks attend church weekly and are very devout. It should come as no surprise that most of the important works of architecture are churches.


The Slovakian climate varies across the country; however, it tends to be a more temperate continental climate zone leading to a beautiful Spring, warm Summer, crisp Autumn and cold Winter with an abundance of snow. As you would expect the mountainous area is cooler and the South and Western areas tend to be warmer. 
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Spring and Autumn the best time to visit with less rain, clearer skies, milder weather and fewer crowds. July temperatures average 21°C (70°F) in the lowlands such as along the Danube and January averages -2°C (28°F).  Remember, if you are going to the mountains prepare for temperatures below freezing.

While Spring sees the lowest rainfall, generally the weather is damp and travelers would be advise to prepare for sudden heavy storms. In addition, the lower regions are subject to heavy fog, so driving can be treacherous.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Language, Capitol & Currency in Slovakia


Approximately 5 million people speak “Slovakian”, the Slovak language. It's origins come from West Slavic languages similar to Czech, Polish and Serbian. It has also been influenced by German and Hungarian.  Here are some examples:
Thank you – Ďakujem
Please – Prosím
It is nice to meet you – Teší ma
Welcome – Vítajte
How are you? – Ako sa máš?

Many others who speak languages based on standard Slavic can understand basic Slovakian.
The  speakers of different varieties have a long history of interaction and mutual influence, However, often significant variation among Slovak dialects will confuse the speaker of another dialect. For example, eastern varieties differ significantly from the central and western varieties. As usual, the written form is more consistent than the verbal form which have phonetic differences. The German and Hungarian influence can be seen mostly in vocabulary. For example the German word for "coins," is “Munzen“ in Slovak it is “mince”.


Bratislava the largest city in Slovakia, it also serves as the state capitol. There you will find the National Council of the Slovak Republic, the Government of the Slovak Republic and the national administrative offices of the republic. Bratislava is situated a little east of Vienna and northwest of Budapest, close the center of Eastern and Western Europe.The town spreads like a fan on both banks of the Danube river and at the foot of the Low Carpathian mountains.

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Bratislava is the largest city in the Slovak Republic with a  population is some 450, 000. A major industrial center, Bratislava is known for producing:
  • VW cars
  • Furniture
  • Chemicals
  • Tobacco products
  • Musical instruments
  • Woolen goods
  • Leather products

Visitors will also find the:
  • Restored 11th century Gothic cathedral 
  • Former Hungarian Royal Palace overlooking the city
  • Franciscan church from the 13th century
  • Town hall, also from the 13th century
  • Comenius University in Bratislava (1919)
  • Slovak Technical University in Bratislava (1938)
  • Slovak Academy of Sciences (1953)
Founded as Press-burg before the 10th century, the city expanded to include strong fortifications erected during the 12th century and located on the Danube, it held a strategic importance in the area and was the capital of Hungary from 1541 to 1784. In 1805 at Austerlitz (Slavkov), when Napoleon's army defeated the armies of Francis I, the Austrian emperor and Alexander I, the Russian Tsar, the peace of Bratislava was signed in the Primate's Palace. Then in 1919, when Czechoslovakia was created in 1919 after World War I, the city was renamed Bratislava and made capital of the province of Slovakia.


In the Czechoslovak federation (prior to 1993) the Czechoslovak Koruna (= 100 halierov / hellers) was used. As the country split in 1993, two new currencies were introduced: Czech Koruna and Slovak Koruna. Both Korunas had initially the same value as the old Czechoslovak Koruna. Due to different economic performances of the two countries, the Czech Koruna became about 20-30% more valuable the the Slovak one.
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By May 1, 2004  when both countries joined the European Union the migration to the Euro started. The Euro replaced the Slovak crown (koruna) in 2009. In the Czech Republic the Czech crown is still in use.

You are strongly advised not to deal with moneychangers in the street even though they may be offering you a favorable rate.