Hiking in Slovakia: Vapeč

Vapec, Slovakia

Last weekend my husband and I got the treat of going for a ‘date’ on our own. A brother and sister in law agreed to take the kids, and we decided to go hiking. While we do live near hills, we wanted something a little higher.

Vapeč (pronounced Vapech) is the nearest peak-out-of-the-trees-high-hill. Or is it a mountain? At almost 1000m (3280 ft), it was close, beautiful, and not too difficult. Continue reading

Children’s Firefighting Drill

Hasicky Kruzok

As an ex-pat, it’s easy for me to be completely confused about what everybody else takes for granted.

Take, for example, the large metal red and white box at the end of the schoolyard. When we first moved here, I asked my husband what it was for. “To hold water for the firefighters,” he replied, and then we got distracted by something else.

I thought of various reasons why that box would be there and occasionally saw a firetruck go into the schoolyard, but didn’t pursue what exactly it was all about. Was there an underground cistern or source of water? Did they need to keep extra water by the school for safety? SIX years later, I finally know. Continue reading

Welcoming Spring and Traditional Artisans

Slovak Singing children

A few weekends ago (I’m a rather behind), there was a little fair in our village, Vitanie Jari (Welcoming Spring). Children from the local preschools sang and danced in traditional costume, a few farm animals were available to pet, and local crafts people displayed their wares.

I am not naturally inclined to approach strangers and talk to them, but for the interest of my readers and in the interest of promoting Slovak culture I interviewed a few of the artisans. There were a few more tables, but wailing toddlers cut my journalist foray short.

One common element that struck me amoung all the crafts was that of patience. Crafting these works of beauty takes time, focus, and care, rather rare commodities in today’s instantaneous age. My favourite, though, is the last one! Continue reading

There’s a Castle in my Town

Smolenice Castle 5

Despite living in this town for six years, it still never gets old – my town has a castle. I find all the castles in Europe terribly romantic, though living in them in the winter might not have been quite as pleasant. The Smolenice Castle is particularly romantic – the first time I walked up to the grounds I thought, “Where is the princess sitting under the tree with a unicorn laying on her lap, while the dragon flies overhead and the knight trots up the road?” It sits atop a hill overlooking the town, with extensive meadows below, a little pond, and the Little Carpathian Mountains rising behind. Continue reading