Slovakia is still, for many foreigners, hidden in the middle; however the 17th edition of the annual Spectacular Slovakia travel guide will help travellers to discover the country over the course of 2012 and 2013. It presents well and less-known tourist destinations in Slovakia, enriched by the experience of both national and foreign writers. The full colour 200-page publication was officially launched on World Tourism Day (September 27).

This year’s edition also contains an exclusive 24-page photo-story entitled “ Hidden in the Middle ” by Chris Steele-Perkins – member of the prestigious photographic agency Magnum Photos and holder of several international awards. Mr. Steele-Perkins, a British photographer of world renown, can through his lens - usually in a single shot - capture more vitality, mystery and depth than could be contained in thousands of words. This famous photographer wasn’t visiting Slovakia for the first time – he had the opportunity to get acquainted with our country in 2004, when he took photographs for a project mapping the 10 new countries of the European Union. Perkins said: “Some things had changed: there were whole new parts to Bratislava, but culturally, in the large sense of the word, it remained the same”.

The authors of this year’s Spectacular Slovakia have chosen a new approach to guide readers around the country’s most interesting tourist sites: rather than follow the official administrative divisions of Slovakia they have created 18 tourism “hubs” or bases. These each have considerable tourism potential, featuring various spas, wellness centres, golf courses, and other tourist attractions. Traditionally, the publication contains contact details for a wide range of touristic attractions and offers all the information necessary to discover Slovakia.


Video prepared by Roman Cuprik

The publication for season 2012/2013 was created by a team of 31 authors, 14 of whom are journalism students. The students’ participation was based on a joint educational project by The Slovak Spectator and the Department of Journalism of Comenius University - “Get trained and then get published”. The project was held for the second time and consisted of training and fieldwork for students under the supervision of experts and foreign editor Howard Swains. The project participants travelled to Slovakia’s regions to prepare, under the supervision of editors, a detailed view of our country based on interviews with locals and foreigners living in Slovakia. Together young journalists created more than half of this year’s Spectacular Slovakia. The whole project was made possible also thanks to the support of Orange Slovakia. The Pontis Foundation awarded the publisher of The Slovak Spectator, The Rock s.r.o., its Award for Socially Responsible Market Operations at the 12th year of the prestigious Via Bona Slovakia Awards, for the pilot project implemented in 2011.

The publisher of the 17th edition of Spectacular Slovakia was Ján Pallo, and the editorial team was led by editor-in-chief Beata Balogová. British journalist Howard Swains edited all the prepared materials. Together with Swains and the photographer Steele-Perkins, an American couple, Donald and Pat Stoll, contributed to the new travel guide. They share their experiences of visiting spas and golf resorts, as well as some other touristic destinations. They found Slovakia largely undiscovered by non-Europeans, which is OK from the more selfish traveller’s point of view, but they added: “Still, we think the country needs to blow its own horn just a little bit louder”.

Another American, Jeff Whiteaker, who has been living in Slovakia for several months, shares his perceptions of Bratislava and thus offers the possibility to see the Slovak capital through the eyes of a foreigner who would like to call the place home.

The Spectacular Slovakia 2012/2013 can be purchased directly in the reception of Petit Press at Lazaretská 12 in Bratislava, online at spectator.sk or martinus.sk; from the bookstores Panta Rhei, Eurobooks and Megabooks; and at selected newsstands and Interpress shops selling foreign-language literature around Slovakia. All subscribers to The Slovak Spectator weekly will receive a free copy as part of their subscription. Older editions of Spectacular Slovakia can be viewed at the website www.travel.spectator.sk , where online versions of the publications are available. Beside destination descriptions and original photography, the foreign journalists who wrote the previous editions also convey their experiences and practical observations from their travels across Slovakia.


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About the project Get trained and then get published
The educational project “Get trained and then get published” was implemented by The Slovak Spectator for journalism students at the Journalism Department of Comenius University in the summer semester of 2012. The Pontis Foundation awarded the publisher of The Slovak Spectator, The Rock s.r.o., its Award for Socially Responsible Market Operations at the 12th year of the prestigious Via Bona Slovakia Awards, for the pilot project implemented in 2011. For the second year of the project experienced professional journalists and one renowned photographer shared their experiences and helped prepare students for real-life situations in the field. They walked the trainees through the whole process of story creation, from the birth of a story idea, through data collection, preparation for travelling, working with sources, data verification, and final revision of the edited product. Lectures and workshops by professionals from the international sphere and the Slovak media environment exposed the students to various journalistic skills such as working with text, photographs, and video material. After the theoretical part, the contributors travelled to all corners of Slovakia to visit museums, castles, and other sights, and to interview locals and tourists for additional travel tips. The results of their weeks of effort were, after fulfilling strict journalistic standards and taking into account remarks by their lecturers, included in the travel guide Spectacular Slovakia 2012/2013. Howard Swains, who was one of the instructors, also edited the prepared materials and authored a special part about Košice as a 2013 European Capital of Culture. The Get trained and then get published project was carried out thanks to the support of Orange Slovakia.
Of particular interest to the students involved in the project, was the opportunity to listen to the stories and observations of Chris Steele-Perkins, the world-famous British photographer and member of the prestigious photographic agency Magnum Photos. As well as helping to train the students, Mr. Steele-Perkins also prepared his own photo-story for Spectacular Slovakia. The students, after passing the theoretical training, got a unique opportunity to accompany him on a tour around Slovakia and watch him work on the exclusive photo-story which was published in the latest edition of the annual Spectacular Slovakia.

About Chris Steele-Perkins:
Chris Steele-Perkins, a member of the photographic agency Magnum Photos, was born in 1947. He is best known for his depiction of Africa, Afghanistan, England and Japan.
While studying psychology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne he worked as a photographer and picture editor for the student newspaper. After graduation in 1970 he moved to London and started working as a freelance photographer, taking a particular interest in urban issues, subcultures and urban poverty. In 1973 he started his first foreign work in Bangladesh and worked for relief organisations. In 1975, he started working with EXIT, a group dealing with social problems in British cities. This involvement culminated in the book Survival Programmes in 1982.
In 1976 Chris Steele-Perkins joined the Paris-based Viva agency. Three years later he published his first solo book, The Teds, that is now considered a classic of documentary and even fashion photography. The same year, 1979, he joined Magnum Photos and soon began working extensively in
the developing world, in particular in Africa, Central America and Lebanon. His last large-scale project in the developing world was on the situation in Afghanistan. He is now also working extensively in Japan and England, and his latest book is Fading Light, on British people who have reached the age of 100.
His reportage has received high public acclaim and won several awards, including the Tom Hopkinson Prize for British Photojournalism (1988), the Oscar Barnack Prize (1988), the Robert Capa Gold Medal (1989), and the latest Royal Photographic Society Terrence Donovan Award (2008), among others. His photos have been published in Times, Newsweek, The Sunday Times, The Observer, The Guardian, The Independent, National Geographic Traveller, Condé Naste Traveller, Stern and Paris Match.


About Spectacular Slovakia:
Spectacular Slovakia is a travel guide about Slovakia which has been published annually since 1996 and records the real experiences of its authors and the places they write about. For the second time in its history, it was created based on a joint educational project of The Slovak Spectator and the Department of Journalism of Comenius University - “Get trained and then get published”.
Spectacular Slovakia was published in a print run of 15,000 copies on 200 pages, where readers can find information on 302 interesting places in Slovakia and its border regions. This year’s edition also contains an exclusive photo-story entitled “Hidden in the Middle” by famous photographer Chris Steele-Perkins. The whole project was made possible also thanks to the support of Orange Slovakia. The Spectacular Slovakia 2012/2013 is on sale from September 27, 2012 and can be purchased directly in the reception of Petit Press at Lazaretská 12 in Bratislava, online at spectator.sk or martinus.sk; from the bookstores Panta Rhei, Eurobooks, and Megabooks; and at selected newsstands and Interpress shops selling foreign-language literature around Slovakia. Older editions of Spectacular Slovakia can be viewed at the website www.travel.spectator.sk , where online versions of the publications are available. Beside destination descriptions and original photography, the foreign journalists who wrote the previous editions also convey their experiences and practical observations from their travels across Slovakia.