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Slovakia
Skiing season open

HAVING started in December, Slovakia's skiing season is now in full swing with almost all the country's skiing resorts open and taking visitors.
The High Tatras mountain range is a favourite destination for skiers. Its Štrbské Pleso ski centre, with 60-centimetres of snow on its two ski slopes, Interski and Esicko, is reported to have good skiing conditions. The Ždiar Strednica ski resort is also enjoying good snow conditions with 25 cm on its two ski slopes, both 340 metres in length. Another good choice in the High Tatras is the Jezersko-Bachledovo valley ski resort, which currently has 20 cm of snow on its 900-metre-long slope. Fans of winter sports shouldn't forget Lomnické sedlo (saddleback) with 130 cm of snow, the Roháče-Spálena ski centre with 30 cm, or the Kubasok-Spišské Bystré ski resort, which has 20 cm.
In the Low Tatras, skiers can enjoy the Čertovica and Podbreziny ski resorts, both of which have 20 cm of snow. Other ski-centres are in Tale (30 cm), Polomka-Bučník (25 cm), Litmanová (30 cm), and Vyšná Boca-Bačova Roveň (30 cm).
The Malá and Veľká Fatra mountains have skiing at the Skalka ski centre near the town of Kremnica (25 cm of snow) on two slopes measuring 600 and 800 meters in length. Good skiing conditions can also be found at the ski centres in Jasenská valley (30 cm), Vrátna-Paseky (35 cm), and Snowland Valčianska valley (30 cm).
Eastern Slovakia's offerings include Relax Center Plejsy (40 cm of snow), Litmanov (30 cm), Rittenberg-Spišská Nová Ves (35 cm), and Drienica (30 cm).
Those looking for good skiing in northern and central Slovakia can find it at TMG-Remata (20 cm of snow), Ski-Blanc Ostrý Grúň-Kollárova (20 cm), and Snowparadise Veľka Rača Oščadnica (25 cm).


Slovakia
41.1 percent of Slovaks plan to make resolutions

ACCORDING to a December survey carried out by the TNS agency on a sample of 1,017 respondents over 15 years of age, 41.1 percent of Slovaks plan to make new-year resolutions for 2007.
The planned resolutions mostly concerned leading a healthy lifestyle. Out of those interviewed, 37.8 percent said they would promise to start playing sports, eat healthier food, or lose weight, while 19.4 percent said they would try to study harder, go to university, or successfully complete their studies.
Other popular goals were quitting smoking (17.9 percent), changing jobs or getting promoted (11.2 percent), and devoting more time to family (10 percent). Other resolutions included improving personal qualities (9.1 percent), sorting out housing (5.3 percent), saving money (4.5 percent), going on a good holiday (4.3 percent), devoting more time to oneself (3.6 percent), drinking less (3.3 percent), and getting married before the end of 2007 (2.6 percent).
Seven out of ten respondents who were planning to make new-year resolutions said they would do their best to keep them. Two out of ten said they would probably or certainly not have enough willpower.
New-year resolutions were planned mostly by young people up to 29 years of age, respondents with fewer qualifications, citizens of the Nitra, Banská Bystrica and Košice regions, and those who live in large towns (up to 100,000 inhabitants).
Resolutions are very often not considered by people over 60 years of age, people from the Trnava region, and those from towns that only have up to 20,000 inhabitants.


Slovakia
Pig's tail in New Year's Eve cabbage soup brings luck

A PERIOD rich in customs and traditions, the season around Christmas and the end of the year reached its climax on New Year's Eve.
In the past, villagers would finish their chores - taking care of livestock and preparing the festive dinner - before going to church to offer their worship of thanksgiving.
The peasants would thank God for his charity, for health, the harvest, happiness, and protection from natural disasters, calamities, and hardship. In their prayers, they would ask God not to abandon them in the coming year.
The young people would make preparations for the New Year's Eve festivities and to welcome the New Year. Inside their houses, families saw the old year off with a family supper. Fruit, walnuts, gingerbread, and other goodies were served on a richly spread table in a way similar to the Christmas Eve meal, only this time the cabbage soup was served with smoked pork or sausage rather than fish.
Pieces of the pig's tail were also put in the soup, as this was said to bring luck throughout the New Year. The custom was to use the same tablecloth on New Year's Eve as on Christmas Eve, in order to gather together all the mystical power of these festive days.


Pinciná
900 cigarette cartons seized from smugglers

CUSTOMS officers found more than 180,000 cigarettes hidden in a Romanian lorry near the village of Pincina (Banska Bystrica region) at the end of December, the Nový čas daily reported.
The Renault was concealing contraband cigarettes under a false floor in the back of the vehicle. "Customs officers have found 180,000 Romanian cigarettes. The level of customs and other taxes evaded has been calculated to exceed half a million crowns (€14,000)," Customs Directorate spokesperson Andrea Zemanová said.
"If prosecuted and found guilty, those responsible could face as much as five years in prison," she added.


Banská Bystrica
New project aims to boost tourism

PLANS are underway to develop the tourism-related infrastructure in Banská Bystrica and its surrounding area in hopes of boosting the region's tourism industry.
The town of Banská Bystrica has received as much as Sk10 million (€290,500) for the project. Of this sum, Sk7.9 million will come from EU funds, while Sk2.1 million will come from the country's 2007 state budget. Any extra expenses will be pawn itself.
The project, entitled "The Heart of Banská Bystrica", will involve installing multilingual information boards on 13 historical listed buildings, providing details of each building's history.
Some 10,000 multilingual booklets containing information on historical monuments will be printed and made available to the city's visitors. The booklets will also be available at exhibitions and expositions and will be distributed abroad by agencies promoting Slovakia and the Banská Bystrica region.
The project also includes the restoration of an historical wood-processing workshop in Dolný Harmanec and a tunnel in the Kremnica mountains, the replacement of ladders on Trávny Ždiar hill, and the completion of footpaths, bike paths, and cross-country skiing routes.
The project has been prepared by the Slovak-Swiss Association for the Development of Tourism in Banská Bystrica, in co-operation with experts and representatives of the Banská Bystrica local government. At least two new jobs will be created as a result of the project.


Slovenský Grob
Goose feast

AT THE EUROPEAN Enterprise Awards in Brussels on December 7, the European Commission presented a special culinary award to the Slovak village of Slovenský Grob near Bratislava.
Slovenský Grob, a village of 2,000 inhabitants, has become famous around the world for its specialty known as Husacie hody (goose feast), whose several ingredients include roast goose and goose liver, the Pravda daily wrote.

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