Around Slovakia

Historical fire-trucks compete

Volunteer fire-fighters and their historical fire engines competed in Trenčín to support the preservation of vintage engines.
photo: SITA

SEVENTEEN teams from across Slovakia equipped with historical fire-trucks arrived in Trenčín on May 26 to compete in a unique contest. The engines dated back mostly to the beginning of the 20th century, with the fire-fighters from Bratislava's Jarovce neighbourhood having probably the oldest one, from 1875.
Ján Roth, a co-organizer of the event from the Volunteer Fire-fighters of the Slovak Republic, told the SITA news agency that all the engines were originally pulled by horse and had hand pumps.
The volunteer fire-fighters competed, pumping water from a container by hand and spraying a target in the shape of fire standing some tens of meters away.
Roth highlighted the determination and enthusiasm of the volunteer fire-fighters, who brought the old machines to Trenčín at their own expense. He added that the main aim of the event was to participate and promote vintage engines, not to win.
There are about 2,700 volunteer fire-fighters in Slovakia, but no detailed records about the number and state of historical fire engines. Such events should encourage them to be repaired and displayed.

Slovakia's population growing thanks to immigrants

THE NUMBER of immigrants who settled in Slovakia in 2006 increased by the highest rate since 1994, the Sme daily reported on May 24, citing a report on the social situation in Slovakia published by the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family the day before.
As many as 3,854 more immigrants came to Slovakia than emigrants left in 2006, the report states. The so-called migration surplus, which demographics experts define as the difference between the number of immigrants and emigrants, has been constantly increasing since 2003, rising above 3,000 per year for the first time in 2005.
"Certainly, Slovakia is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for migrants, gradually changing from a transit country to a target one," said demographics expert Boris Vaňo.
According to Vaňo, this recent trend has come mainly on the back of favourable economic developments along with overall social stabilization. "This process is very likely to continue," he predicts.
On the other hand, records on migration are not always complete. "A significant portion of citizens who leave Slovakia do not report that they are leaving their permanent address. Therefore, the number of emigrating Slovaks is actually underestimated and the exact migration surplus is smaller," said Vaňo.

Bratislava in top tourist league

THE SLOVAK capital of Bratislava has become a popular tourist destination. The number of foreign visitors to Bratislava rose by eight percent year-on-year in 2006. According to the latest European Cities Tourism Report, which evaluated tourism growth in 105 European cities, Bratislava has moved into a very successful fourth place in terms of the rate of increase, the Pravda daily reported on May 24.
"This means that Bratislava is ranked among the so-called top league of European cities," said deputy mayor of the Slovak capital Anna Dyttertová.
According to the report, the number of British people coming to Bratislava has increased the most. The statistics showed a 222-percent rise in the number of British tourists coming to Bratislava between 2000-2005. That is followed by visitors from Spain (up 157 percent), France (149 percent) and Italy (125 percent). Traditionally, most tourists come from the Czech Republic and Germany, but the Portuguese have also discovered Bratislava in recent years.
The growth in the number of foreign visitors has led not only to an increase in revenues for hotels and restaurants, but also to a growth in the city's incomes via accommodation taxes.
Most foreigners come to Bratislava on business trips. They mainly require quality accommodation close to their business partners, but they also like taking guided tours through the city, dinner with a show, or high-adrenaline sports such as white-water rafting at nearby Čunovo.
Some groups of foreign visitors, mainly from Japan, Germany, Italy and Scandinavia, prefer to go to the theatre or attend concerts, or go on themed tours such as the wine route in the Malé Karpaty (Small Carpathians).
Surveys have also shown that foreign visitors appreciate the improvement in transport links to Bratislava, the renovation of historical buildings, pavement cafes in the historical centre, and the friendly attitude of the local people.

Englishman masturbates in SND fountain

A NAKED Englishman was found bathing in the fountain in front of the historical building of the Slovak National Theatre at Hviezdoslavovo Square on the evening of May 26. Police detained the bathing man, identified as George M., 25, after he started masturbating in front of some women who were standing nearby, Tatiana Kurucová from the Bratislava police corps informed the TASR news wire.
George, who arrived in Bratislava to have a stag party, now hopes that police will release him from custody before his wedding, which should be in a week, the Plus Jedeň Deň daily wrote on May 29.
Alcohol most likely played a significant role in the case. A test showed 0.63 mg/l of alcohol on his breath, which is 1.3 pro mille of alcohol. George faces a charge of disorderly conduct.

Nitra's highway of death

SLOVAKIA'S roads are becoming increasingly more dangerous. The number of people killed in car accidents in the first quarter of 2007 was 48 higher than last year, with a total of 151. This brings the fatality rate to over three people every two days.
This is an alarming statistic, wrote the Hospodárske Noviny daily on May 17.
Certain strips of the country's highway seem particularly accident prone. The western Slovak town of Nitra saw 29 fatalities last year. A literal cemetery has appeared along the road between Nitra and the nearby town of Zlaté Moravce. "It's called the road to death," said police vice-president Stanislav Jankovič.
Why this road exactly? According to police, it is because it is a narrow and extremely busy road, with a car passing around every six seconds. Moreover, the road curves, and drivers have trouble slowing down between the small hills.
The authorities plan to build a new and wider road between Nitra and Hronský Beňadik (Nitra Region). "It should be completed by 2010," said National Highway Company spokesman Marcel Jánošík.
The country's other most dangerous roads include the main road through the town of Žilina and some parts of Bratislava - including Lamačská Road, which leads into town from the D1 motorway - and the junction between Bajkalská Street and one of the exits from Prístavný Bridge.

Stará Ľubovňa
Medieval camp below castle opens for new season

A historical re-enacted opened the new season below Stará Ľubovňa Castle.
photo: SITA

A RE-ENACTED military battle from the threshold of the 15th and 16th centuries opened the new summer season in the medieval military camp below Stará Ľubovňa Castle on May 26. A total of 150 historical fencers from Slovakia and Poland showed in a one-hour programme what happened many years ago when Knight Richard kidnapped a daughter of Lord Mattias to blackmail him for the castle. After a the re-enactment, which was not based in history, visitors watched shows of individual fencing groups and listened to period music.
Last year, the Marmon agency brought to life a medieval military camp project from the 15th century with the help of EU structural funds. It will hold various shows at a permanent venue in the camp in July and August. Visitors will be also able to ride a horse and try to shoot from a bow or a crossbow. There will also be a pub offering medieval meals.

Garden visitors admire blooming rhododendrons

Tens of visitors went to see blooming rhododendrons at the Borová Hora Arboretum during the weekend May 26-27. The arboretum, which is at the northern edge of the central Slovak town of Zvolen, is precious due to its collection of tree species originally grown in natural Slovak forests, and is about 50 hectares large.
photo: SITA

THE SPRING Garden Party opened a new season in the botanical garden Mlyňany Arboretum on May 28 and 29. Among the season's offerings are beauties of the blooming botanical garden, entertainment programmes, and fun for the whole family. This was the first event that one of Central Europe's largest botanical gardens has prepared for its visitors this year.
During these days, blooming rhododendrons, azaleas, and roses, which are just starting to bloom, give a special charm to the garden.
Workers of the arboretum have also prepared an exhibition to mark the launch of the arboretum by Stefan Ambrózy-Migazzi in 1892.
About 60,000 people visit the arboretum annually. On its 67 hectares, visitors can see more than 2,200 kinds of evergreen trees and bushes, thousands of flowers and other plants from Japan, North Korea, China, Europe, and North and South America.

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