„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.
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 used for the last time.
It is a time for KRASLICE, the beautifully decorated Easter eggs. Yes, it is not Easter but they are nice decoration in your house all year round.While straightforward egg painting is perhaps the most common technique in Slovakia, decorations using cut straw are still seen. The general technique is called “batik.” Symbols and pictures are etched on the egg’s surface in wax using a pin or tiny metal tube. The egg is then submerged in dye; then the wax is removed with a warm cloth. The color of the waxed areas is thus protected. New techniques reflect the development of local crafts and use motifs from folk costumes. Wrapping eggs in wire is common in northern Slovakia, known for its tradition of tinkers. The egg may also be decorated with wool, leather or other materials such as lace. Slovak decorated Easter eggs are also popular abroad. One year in a big souvenir shop in Boston they were selling original Easter eggs from Slovakia, and the next they had eggs with Slovak Easter motifs which had been made in Thailand! So why not buy these original Slovak souvenirs right here in Slovakia?
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.
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.
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.
Foto: G. Murín