„The spring is full of little winters“ croons Slovak singer Pavol Hammel. And it is true. In Bratislava, April is associated with the time when women discard their heavy furs and overcoats and begin to reveal their shapely beauty.

Tulipán individualista

Tulipán individualista

However, you can still ski in the frozen wastes of the northern region of our country, such as our unique mountain range, the High Tatras, also known as the pocket Himalayas.

Usually the last chance to do so is during Eastern, which is well-known signal in the calendar that winter sports should be played for the last time.

Štrbské pleso I

Štrbské pleso I

After your last run on the ski slopes you may, for the first time in the year, stay outside in the evening for a local version of barbecue called “živánska”. This traditional food connects us with the nations in 9,000-kilometre span, from Germany (where they called it “spießbraten”), Greece (“suflaki”), Croatia (“razhnichi”), Georgia (“shashlik”), India (“tandoori sheek”) up to Malaysia where they called it “sate”. All are prepared “on the skewer” and in Slovakia you can find almost everything on it – pieces of meat, onion, bacon, sausage, potato, paprika, tomato. In fact, anything you like to roast on the open fire. Local people now like to prepare it the “civilized” way and cover it before roasting in aluminium foil. But the original preparation is connects us directly with the tradition of forest heroes such as Robin Hood (or in Slovakia, our very own hero-bandit, Juraj Jánošík) who prepared their mostly modest meals this way.

Štrbské pleso II

Štrbské pleso II

Like the heroes of old, you can reach for any hard spirit in your sight, as almost every fruit in Slovakia can be turned into alcohol. Most famous is, of course, borovička (from the fruit of the juniper shrub, the same source as gin), slivovica (plum brandy), hruškovica (from pears), malinovica (from raspberries), marhuľovica (from apricots) or just everything the garden produces.

Štrbské pleso III

Štrbské pleso III

Almost all these drinks can be found during your trip to the High Tatras. However, those arriving for the first time there it could be almost a shock. Years ago devastating wind storm shaved laid waste to thousands of trees and caused a hiatus in the regular life of the little towns and villages of the High Tatras.

Paradoxically, at the same time some local names became accurate again. Like that tram-stop near Starý Smokovec, for decades called “Nice view” although foreign visitors of local hotels could not find any “nice view” there being surrounded by high trees. Now, as a result of the tornado, the nice view is back. So, enjoy it before new trees cover it again.

 Gustáv Murín

 Foto: G. Murín