Around Slovakia

Wild Pear named tree of the year

A Wild Pear in Bošáca is the tree of the year for 2006.
photo: SITA

A 300-YEAR-OLD Wild Pear, pyrus pyraster, in Bošáca (Nové Mesto nad Váhom District) was announced 2006's tree of the year.
Its exceptional height and history earned the tree 1,323 votes. A London Planetree (platanus acerifolia), the biggest tree in the village of Soblahov in the Trenčín District, came in second with 1,188 votes. A Sweet Chestnut (castanea sativa) in the village of Častá not far from Bratislava came in third with 946 votes, Zuzana Hudeková of the Regional Environmental Centre of Slovakia and organizer of the competition, told the SITA new wire on April 26.
The centre, together with the Slovak Association for the Protection of Nature and Country's Bratislava city committee, announced the competition on October 20.
The contest's purpose was to draw attention to the importance that the tree has in the environment and give the public a chance to vote for the most beautiful tree.
A jury picked 12 finalists from the candidates proposed by the public. Everybody was able to vote for the preferred tree by e-mail, text message, letter, phone or through the website, which features the contest's finalists and winner.
A total of 4,756 people participated in the voting.

Farmers hit with driest spring in over a century

SLOVAK farmers are getting worried. This April was the driest Slovakia has seen since 1881, when meteorologists started recording daily temperatures.
Pavel Faško, a climatologist with the Slovak Hydro-Meteorological Institute, told the Pravda daily that the situation is quite critical.
"Last autumn was already quite dry," he said. "There was some rain and snow in the winter, but mainly only rain and because of this there was no water from the melting snow in the spring. This has worsened the situation with the current rain shortage," he said.
The weather in Slovakia has swung from one extreme to the other over the past couple years. Last year there was a lot of snow in the winter and a lot of rain in the spring.
"We are seeing the effects of global warming," Faško told Pravda. "We predict that the development over the next 10 years will be similar and that dry periods will alternate with very wet periods. Normal conditions will be less common."
Faško also said the weather in Slovakia will become more Mediterranean.
Not only is the current weather having a negative impact on farmers, but it is also increasing the danger of forest fires and reducing the water level in rivers.

Tourist season opens

A trip down the Váh offers spectacular views of Slovak nature.
photo: SITA

CASTLES and national parks across Slovakia opened for the new tourist season during the last weekend of April.
Scenes of medieval life, period music and performances by a medieval re-enactment group from the nearby village of Chlebnica marked the opening of the tourist season at Orava Castle in northwest Slovakia.
Last year around 180,000 tourists visited the castle, which is perched on a steep rock above the river. This was about 10,000 more than the previous year. The opening of St. Michael's Chapel after 13 years of reconstruction and festivals and cultural events contributed to last year's high number of visitors.
Červený Kláštor monastery, which dates back to the 14th century, opened the monastery's most valuable historical site, the Church of Saint Anthony the Hermit, on April 28. The Monument Board managed to complete the reconstruction of the church's interior after almost 50 years of work.
After changing hands a number of times, the church was decorated in the Baroque style in the mid 18th century. Valuable paintings and stuccos inside date back to this period as well.
The monastery was turned into a museum focusing on the life of the monks who lived here. One of the best known is a monk called Father Cyprian. He was a well-educated medieval doctor and botanist and was called the Flying Monk, because of his experiments in flight. The most
The Church of St. Anthony the Hermit has been reconstructed.
photo: SITA

beautiful remembrance of this legendary monk is a well-preserved herbarium consisting of more than 270 plants, collected either by Cyprian himself or by his companions in the Pieniny, or Belianské Tatra Mountains.
The ceremonial 'unlocking' of the nearby Dunajec river was part of an all-day programme that marked the beginning of the new tourist season.
The Hron River also officially opened its rafting season. More than 50 people climbed aboard the Dancing Rafts for the first voyage of the year on April 28.
The First Rafting Union of the Hron River took them on a 20-kilometre ride from Budča to Revištské Podzámčie. The union has been running raft trips down the river for five years already.
"We try to offer an interesting tourist attraction to both locals and foreigners," the Union's representative, Vladimír Ivanko, told the TASR news wire.
The main rafting route starts at the port in Budča and ends after four kilometres in Hronská Dúbrava. Operators offer tourists bicycles or a ride in a van back to Budča. The rafting season will continue at least until September.
The rafting season on the Váh River in northwest Slovakia started on April 27. The main attractions of a raft trip down the Váh, which lasts more than one hour, are the ruins of the Strečno and Starhrad castles, and Margita and Besná, two large rocks on either side of the river that tower over the passing rafts.
Rafters on the Váh hope this season will be even better than last year, when they took a total of around 7,500 tourists, both Slovak and foreign, down the eight-kilometre route. The local rafting union increased the number of 12-person rafts on the river from six to 10 this year.

Little Adelka dies

THE GIRL who underwent a unique operation while still in her mother's womb has died, the Nový Čas daily reported on April 18.
Adelka died at just 47 days old of a collapsed lung.
During her mother's 18th week of pregnancy, doctors found that Adelka was suffering from a serious lack of development of the left pulmonary lobe because part of the diaphragm was missing.
The mother, 24-year-old Katarína Karaffová, underwent an operation at the neonatal centre in Leuven, Belgium, during which a plug was put into baby's airways.
After the birth on February 17, the missing diaphragm was replaced by a material similar to Gore-Tex. Without the operation in her mother's womb, Adelka's chances of survival would have been minimal.
"The lungs of the newborn collapsed in spite of the intensive care given," said Peter Krcho, head of the neonatal ward at the Children's Hospital in Košice.
Krcho said that persistent high blood pressure in the lungs and impassable bowels complicated the treatment.

photo: SITA

KNOWN FAVOURITES won at Slovakia's Bodybuilding Championship for men and women in Poprad on April 28. Adam Cibuľa, a four-time Euro-pean master, won in the 70 kg class and Peter Tatarka, who has come in second in two European contests, won in the 95 kg class. The winner of the last two European championships, Ľuboš Maliňák, won best in classic bodybuilding taller than 178 cm. The nomi-nation committee of the Slovak Association of Bodybuilding, Fitness and Powerlifting also chose other body-builders who will represent Slovakia at the 2007 European Men's Bodybuilding, Classic Bodybuilding and Mixed Pairs Championships to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, on May 5 and 6.

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