Imagine: the country splits into two parts. The two states that were formed began an independent life, while remaining on good terms with their neighbors. After all, it’s almost like getting a divorce without mutual complaints – it’s almost impossible. And Czechoslovakia succeeded. We will talk about the Czech Republic next time, and today we will go to Slovakia.
A quiet corner in the foothills of the Carpathians. Many small rivers flowing into the majestic Danube. Mild continental climate: mountains close the country from winds from the north. Fertile soil. In the dense mountain forests there is a variety of game, and the rivers are full of fish. It is not surprising that the first human settlements in these places appeared during the Neolithic period – it is already too good a place for settlement.
Surprisingly, Slovaks never existed within the current borders of the state. In those times, when the brothers Kiy, Shchek and Horiv inhabited the hills above the Dnieper to the east of the Carpathians, the first Slovak states were formed here, which later united into Great Moravia. But then from the far east, across the Urals, warlike Hungarians led by Árpád came here, Great Moravia fell apart, and these lands became part of Hungary. And then Hungary itself became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. When after the First World War the empires began to collapse, the Slovaks themselves insisted on unification with the Czech Republic. And so it continued until 1992.
After gaining independence, Slovakia was not going through the best of times. Part of the factories oriented to the Soviet market was closed. Due to high unemployment, people began to leave the country. But in the early 2000s, European automobile giants – Volkswagen, Skoda, Peugeot – came here. They were attracted by cheap labor and available raw materials. Currently, Slovakia is the leader in the European car market. The fertile land was also not overlooked: the country’s agriculture is flourishing. In addition, these places revealed an unusual tourist potential. Bases for winter sports appeared in the mountains. Kayaking lovers like fast mountain rivers. Sports fishing enthusiasts have joined them: there are selective trout in the river water. However, just catching fish for dinner is prevented by EU laws. It will be necessary to buy an expensive license, and all the catch over two kilograms should be released back into the river. But that’s not a problem: Slovakia has plenty of delicious food, and it’s not just about fish. Slovak cafes and restaurants serve hearty and delicious game and vegetable dishes, bake delicious pastries and brew beer. The best establishments are, of course, in the capital.
Bratislava has been the capital of five different states, happily avoided becoming a suburb of Vienna and is now thriving. It would seem that who would be interested in the small, quiet and somewhat provincial capital of Slovakia, when in half an hour’s drive, the lights of luxurious Vienna shine? But it turned out that Bratislava’s provinciality is only beneficial. Prices are so low here that many tourists heading to Austria stop in Bratislava. The price of five euros for a ticket to Vienna is much less than the difference in the price of hotels. And, by the way, you can have a great time here too.
What to do in Bratislava? Of course, take a walk through the historic center. Go up to Bratislava castle. Look at the beautiful buildings left over from the times of Austria-Hungary. Organize a photo hunt for murals and statues. In the nineties, Bratislava did not shine with beauty, and there was not enough money for capital repairs. Then local authorities gave the green light to young artists and sculptors. Now in the center of Bratislava there are almost five hundred different sculptures, from classical statues to crazy avant-garde, and several dozen murals.
It is easy to get hungry in the pursuit of good shots. Good news: in Bratislava you can find a restaurant for every taste. Old establishments with pompous wooden furniture, which still remember Princess Stefania, and brand-new urban café-bistros. Traditional cuisine with soup in a bread roll and cocktails with awards from special competitions. But, in addition to cocktails, pay attention to TatraChai. This is a line of liqueurs of different strength and with different tastes. A bottle costs about 20 euros.