NEWS from SLOV:SLOV (22-28 Feb)

Currently happening in SLOVENIA:

  • Hotel Park Ljubljana is the first hotel in Slovenia which achieved the prestigious certification Travelife. A hotel with the “green” heart with the motto “reduce, reuse, recycle ” can be only successful, right? They are planning to create a herb garden on the hotel’s rooftop in the future. 
  • Congratulations to ManuElla for being the chosen representative of Slovenia in this year’s EMA in Stockholm. The Slovenian selection took place in Ljubljana for the Eurovision Song Contest. 
  • At Postojna Cave one of the female olms, who are also known as “baby dragons”, has laid 24 eggs in the aquarium. This is a very rare event and the biologists are super excited about it.

 

Currently happening in SLOVAKIA:

  • Be careful if you are traveling in Slovakia, new timetables and schedules are valid now. So check the lines twice before you enter the train!
  • The bridge Valy, which is a part of D3 highway in Kysuce, will become the highest  bridge not only in Slovakia but also in the whole Central Europe. Looking forward to see it!
  • New farmers market opened in Bratislava’s New Town on February 24. Sounds delicious and healthy!

 

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How to recognize a foreigner in the TOP SECRET mode in Ljublana? (Blog)

It is my third day in Ljubljana now and even though I have been here for few weeks on Summer school before, I still feel like a foreigner. I am doing my best to not make it as obvious for the others, but it is really hard for me to tell if I am doing a good job. If you are wondering, how to recognize a foreigner in the top secret mode in Slovenian crowd, I have listed some possible useful hints for you!

  • this simple

    It was this simple all along!

    We hide our papers with hand-drawn maps made by our Slovenian friends and walk the streets super confidently. In the Ninja mode you don’t want the others to know that you still have no clue which direction the Aškerčeva street is and what is the difference between Cankarjev dom and Dom Ivana Cankarja.

  • The sudden confusion when the waiter asks us if we are eating on “boni”. What is that thing and why do I still not have it if it makes my eating routine easier?
ljubljana bike

Ljubljana, bicycle (photo by: K. Lalikova)

  • Struggles with the pavements and the bicycle section. Yeah, we have that in my home city as well, but it is not like I would get a serious jump-scare every time I accidentally step on it. Slovenes drive their bicycles FAST and pretty often. So we foreigners always check twice on which side of the pavement are we walking.
  • The forced smile and head shake when people guess where we are from according to our accent, yet they all guess the same country and it is really not even close to our home.
  • The super flattered smile when they compliment our Slovenian. Seriously, that will never get old for me. Especially if they skip the previous point.
  • Our stubborn insistence on speaking Slovenian. Me no speaky English. Moraš govoriti slovensko. (OK, I guess this only applies on the students of the language. The others are really lucky that Slovenes are so educated when it comes to English!)
lljubljana castle

Ljubljana street view, Slovenia (photo by: K. Lalikova)

  • Trying to not be obvious, we try to take the pictures of the gorgeous buildings and Prešeren’s statue (with his half naked muse in the background) in the least suspicious moments. Only Instagram can know our secret!

 

Yet, after all, I have to say I don’t really mind it when people can tell that I am new around here. I have only met Slovenes who were really supportive and friendly once they found out I am trying to adapt in Ljubljana and making an effort to master the dvojina of their language. And after all, the sooner I will find some good Slovenian friends, the better for me. So, the next time you will see someone jumping into the air when the bicycle passes by, don’t be shy and compliment their Slovenian. 🙂

KL, 2016

 

What is happening right now? (14-21 Feb)

In Slovenia:

  • Congratulations to Peter Prevc for taking the Gold at Ski Flying World Championships! The jump was just amazing, check it out!
  • The Old vine symbolizes the rich wine culture of Maribor and the region Štajerska in general. Maribor’s Old vine is the oldest vine in the world. Believe it or not, the vine was planted more than 400 years ago! You can also visit some events organized in honor of the Old vine.
  • Slovenia is one of the partner countries of Belgrade Tourism Fair on February 18-21, 2016, the largest tourism event in Serbia and Southeastern Europe.

 

In Slovakia:

  • Teachers are striking in numerous schools all over Slovakia. There are also lectures and discussions about the school system being given, e.g.at the The Faculty of Philosophy at the Comenius University in Bratislava.
  • 12 beautiful girls were chosen for the beauty competition Miss Slovensko 2016.
    You can check out the candidates HERE!
    The hard choice is ahead of the Slovaks: which of these ladies will get the crown of the beauty queen in the end?

 

 

F. Prešeren, A. Sládkovič: Were those ladies worth it? (blog)

marína dom_Lalíková

Locks of love on Marína´s house in Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia, (photo by: E. Lalíková)

When it comes to the similarities of Slovakia and Slovenia, we have one to share with you on the Valentine´s Day. It has something to do with our most famous poets – Slovak Andrej Sládkovič and Slovenian France Prešeren. If you have never heard of them, no worries, we got you covered.

Both poets were creating in the 19th century, when the national awakening was coming to life. The fight for the right to become an independent nation was everywhere – but especially in the literature. All the poets spent days and nights finding new rhymes to words like nation, independence, injustice and language. They searched for the evidence in the nature, folklore, everyday life of the village people.

And in this burst of nations, here they were: Sládkovič and Prešeren. Two guys, who just fell in love A LOT.

Not to be ironic, their poetry was connecting love and nation in the most brilliant way. The way Sládkovič loved Slovakia, was identical with the way he loved his muse – Marína. Or, at least he claimed so. However, on the Valentine´s Day, we will not talk about the national struggle. So let´s get back to those similarities – ladies.

Sládkovič fell in love while teaching the exceptional Marína. Somewhat we believe that she was radiantly beautiful and incredibly smart, because why else would he write over 290 stanzas for her? His Slovenian colleague Prešeren found his new meaning of life in Julija. He expressed his love in the same manner – through sonnets. Prešeren wrote the whole impressive masterpiece, Sonetni venec, which has remained the pride of Slovenes until today. He is considered the first author of the Slovenian artistic poetry, proof that Slovenes are just as capable of creating art through their language as any other European nation.

Yet what is the next parallel of these two? Firstly, they were criticised for writing about love and intimacy, when there were more important topics to cover. Secondly, both got heart broken and refused by their muses. They lived in their pain, digging in it deeper and deeper and expressed the process of this whole masochism in their art.

Now we are thankful to them, impressed even. But to be honest, if we were their friends back in the days of the 19th century, we would slap them both in the faces and tell them to get a life. To find a new woman, new hobby, new thing to write about. Tell them, that nation needs their attention much more, than some woman, who is more interested in the account of the man than in some fancy words written in the ordinary peasant language.

We would ask them, what we are also asking ourselves today: France, Andrej – were those girls of yours worth it? Were they really so exceptional? Or if you would look closer, you would find missing teeth, wrinkles, irritating lack of hygiene or would notice that they gossip about all of their friends, including you?

I bet we all know the answer. They wouldn´t care, just as the people do not care today. Love is blind, people are always hungry for passion and so it seems, it can move the humans to incredible or devastating actions.

But Prešeren and Sládkovič found the hole in the system. They have gone through their suffering in such a way that did not impress their muses, however, did help out their nation. They made the places they lived in – Ljubljana and Banská Štiavnica – the cities/towns of love. And – to conclude their masterpiece – they made the women who have refused them be always remembered as theirs – “Prešeren´s Julija” and Sládkovič´s Marína. So after all, they have won.

LJ ducks

Love locks on the Ljubljana bridge in Slovenia, (photo by: A. Jordan)

The females, who were perfect only on the paper, became with the sonnets immortal. And after all, we have to give them credit for that as well. Because hardly any big passionate love poetry was created out of pure love to poet´s wife and to the mother of his kids. All that those ladies often got was just a drunk and busy daydreaming husband, who did not help out at home. It was the “gold diggers” (as we could call them today) who got the sonnets from the poets and the rich guys as husbands.

So our SLOV:SLOV love story is at the end here. None of the poets found their happy ending, but they found their meaning in life and were followed by hundreds of artists, who were inspired by their work. After all, maybe love is not always about the happiness, but also may be the source of inspiration and the way how to set the inner genius free. Think of that when celebrating the Valentine´s Day this year and maybe take the time for some 19th century Central European love poetry as well ;-).

K. L., 2016

What is UP in SLOV:SLOV this week?

dragon

Dragon in Ljubljana, Slovenia (photo by: J. Slimák)

SLOVENIA:

  • The annual Dragon Carnival is held in the streets of Ljubljana. Don´t miss the parade on the 14th of February!
  • Carnival season is always connected with doughnuts. Visit the village of Trojane and give them a try in Gostilna Trojane!
  • Guess which city is EU´s Green Capital of 2016? The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana!

 

 

 

ba hrad_Lalíková

Bratislava castle, Slovakia (photo by: E. Lalíková)

SLOVAKIA:

  • On the 11th of February starts the Slovakia Cup tournament in Žilina.
  • Since this week you can visit the exhibition about the Slovak history (from prehistoric ages until Great Moravia) in the Bratislava castle!

A POLE’S TALE IN SLOVAKIA: It’s like a marriage

“Slovak/Slovene for a year” is a section about those who have experienced one of our countries as foreigners. We will share their stories with you, so you can take a look at the countries from the foreigner perspective.

The first post we have chosen is written by a Polish student of both Slovak and Slovenian languages who lives in Slovakia.
_________________________________________________________________________

“Our knowledge about Slovaks is comparable to our knowledge about Chukchi.”

Malá Fatra 2

Malá Fatra, Slovakia (photo by: W. Suski)

I usually don’t like those wise words squeezed into quotation marks, but I have to admit – that sentence, written by Polish linguist Roman Zawiliński in his book Slovaks: Their life and literature (illustrated) from 1889, is an exception. A good one. Although I’d personally modify it a bit, because it’s not only the lack of knowledge that matters here. It’s also the lack of will or motivation to change it.

So, Mr. Zawiliński, allow me to transform your idea: Our interest in Slovaks is comparable to our interest in Chukchi.

But let’s leave poor indigenous people of eastern Siberia behind and focus on Poles and Slovaks. Beginning with Poles, I’d selfishly begin with myself:

I’m a 23-year-old male coming from an ordinary mid-sized eastern Polish city, where nothing really happens, nothing really changes and nothing really amazes. I am quite sure that people take me as a relatively normal guy with one exception. It’s the fact, that I’ve decided to move away to Slovakia, that makes people wonder what the hell is wrong with me.

Pezinok

Pezinok, Slovakia (photo by: W. Suski)

Visiting Slovakia is undoubtedly a very common thing for Poles. We invade our southern neighbours as tourists, we hike in Slovak part of the Tatras, we relax at numerous thermal pools, we explore caves, castles et cetera, et cetera… And that’s what I used to do with my family as well. My dad had been taking me on trips to Slovakia bunch of times when I was a kid and I really enjoyed my indistinctive role of a Pole conquering all those typical tourist attractions that (mostly northern) Slovakia has to offer.

But it all changed when I attended high school and became more aware of a fact, that the world itself is much more interesting than I initially thought. And that’s why I started to think about Slovakia. It just made no sense to me, that this country is just about mountains, caves, castles and spas. What about history, culture, language, mentality? And most of all – what about ordinary people living there? I knew nothing but a one thing. I knew, that I wanted to learn more.

Basically that’s why I’ve decided to attend Slovak studies in Cracow, Poland. I was one of about ten people, who have done that that year (considering there’s about 40 million of Poles, it says a lot about our interest in Slovakia, doesn’t it?). I learned the language, made many Slovak friends, explored more non-tourist aspects of Slovak life… And I sort of fell in love and got used to all the facts I learned and moments I experienced. After three years of studying in Poland (and a wonderful 4-months-long Erasmus stay in Bratislava) it was clear to me – I need to go there for good.

So here I am, continuing my studies and living in Bratislava.I’d say it’s like a marriage. I have sort of married Slovakia and decided to share my life with its pros and cons. But what are those pros and cons?

Kriváň

Kriváň (photo by: W. Suski)

There is a saying that grass is always greener on the other side (and it has its equivalents in both Slovak and Polish). I could totally relate to that, as mountainous Slovakia always seemed more interesting to me than relatively flat Poland. All those mountains, hills and plateaus not only present the beauty of that country, but also make me feel that each valley has something unique to offer, that something new and different waits for me behind that next mountain. And it’s true! Majority of Slovakia basically consists of hundreds of valleys, with each one preserving its own folklore, cuisine and dialect. For a country about six times smaller than my motherland it’s a really interesting mixture, and it still surprises me.

Zelené pleso

Zelené pleso (photo by: W. Suski)

I’ve mentioned cuisine. No doubts, it’s that one thing that always keeps me positive about the fact, that I’ve made a right choice moving there. Although tourists mostly have a chance to get familiar with only few of them, there are millions of tasty and original dishes. It’s not only about bryndzové halušky or vyprážaný syr. There’s more. Have you ever tried a magnificent koložvárska kapusta? Or sweet, delicious skalický trdelník? It’s hard to say how many times I’ve enjoyed my bowl of one of many Slovak soups, like šošovicová or cesnaková polievka. And I’ve mentioned only a tiny part of Slovak dishes’ world…

Of course, one might say that it’s a pretty heavy cuisine. But that’s why I like it. Some may also argue that many of those dishes can be found also in Hungarian/Czech/Romanian/other cuisine. And that’s true, most definitely. Could it be that Slovaks just stole the ideas from other nations? No way! It’s just the effect of a pretty complicated, yet very interesting history of Slovakia. Something that most of us do not acknowledge, as quite many Poles tend to say that Slovakia’s history began after gaining independence…

Pardon my French, but this sort of b******t is something that drives me crazy every time I hear it. Not only Slovakia and Slovaks have history, but it’s also very complex, very diverse, very interesting. First Celtic settlements, Medieval Duchy of Nitra, Great Moravia, Kingdom of Hungary, National Movement, Hungarian Revolution, Czechoslovakia, Tiso’s Slovak Republic… I could talk about it for a year or so, but It’s all already written in history books. I guess one can agree with me, that thinking that Slovak history began only after they gained independence is comparable to thinking that a human begins his life only after he leaves his parents’ home. Ridiculous, isn’t it?

moje nogi

(photo by: W. Suski)

Poles tend to find Slovak language funny, as to us it often sounds like a child struggling to speak our mother tongue. It gets even funnier when you realise that Slovaks think exactly the same about Polish (which most Poles don’t acknowledge, though). So here we are, laughing at each other’s speech and looking at each other’s like we’re sort of funnier versions of ourselves. Yet, we get along pretty well and no wonder I’ve met many wonderful people in Slovakia. I guess this is something that attracted me most. We’re a bit different, our habits and mentality may not always be the same, but all in all it’s pretty easy to make friendships there, as Slovaks and Poles mostly like each other and are both considered open and easy to socialise with.

And then there are those cons I’ve mentioned before.Little things I either can’t fully understand, or simply don’t really like about Slovakia. As I said, it’s like marriage… You love it, but at times some things make you hate it.

Košice 1

Košice (photo by: W. Suski)

Bureaucracy. Sometimes I have a feeling that Slovaks simply take their never-ending long-lasting visits to thousands of offices as a natural part of living. For every single matter there are tons of paperwork and although I’ve met many kind and polite clerks (frankly, most Slovaks say that it’s impossible there), there was never any other way than following all those complicated bureaucratic rules. I’m not trying to say that this matter is ideal in Poland. No, it’s not. It’s just worse in Slovakia…

Politics. Something you’d always like to avoid, but will never be able to do so here in Slovakia. And it’s not only because there are so many bad guys in the government, bad guys in the opposition and basically bad guys trying to convince you they’re the good guys. It’s not only that people here find it refreshing to debate about them. That’s nothing new for a Pole. But there’s something that worries me more. I noticed some sort of radicalization among Slovaks. It seems like you’re either pro-West (Hooray to Uncle Sam and the EU) or pro-East (Save our dignity, good old mother Russia!) here.

It doesn’t help that all those well-known conspiracy theories are so popular among many Slovaks of all generations, that I sometimes don’t know whether to laugh or cry about it. It’s my personal opinion of course and some might disagree, but I just don’t like discussing politics in Slovakia. It happened too many times that a decent man surprised me with some ridiculous conspiracy theory and desperately tried to convince me that it’s true. Not cool at all.

Oh, and there’s one more thing. Not a very serious one, but definitely fits this short list of things I don’t like/don’t understand. I’ve never had my dinner in Poland before 2:00 PM. Correct me if I’m wrong, but nobody I know from Poland has it earlier in the day. In Slovakia on the other side, it’s absolutely normal to go for a dinner at twelve or even eleven o’clock! It’s awkward to a Pole, believe me. I’m still struggling to fit this daily routine, but the results are – roughly speaking – dissatisfying.

Malá Fatra 3

Malá Fatra (photo by: W. Suski)

Nevertheless, my marriage with Slovakia is a happy one. I do acknowledge all the reasons we’re together and I remember them every day. It doesn’t matter that we don’t always get along. It was my decision to move here and I don’t regret it. Slovakia indeed is a country full of interesting things and despite its small size and the fact, that not many people in the world actually care about it, I just can’t be bored in here. And I’d love it to stay that way, because Slovakia, even with its darker bits, is totally worth living in.

Wojciech Suski, 2016