Around Slovakia

Ex-president's family home turns into state museum

THE HOME of former president Rudolf Schuster's parents is set to become a public museum.

Schuster granted the house, which is now a private museum full of historical filmmaking devices, to the director of the Slovak Technical Museum in Košice, Eugen Labanič, on October 20 in the garden of the house in Medzev, eastern Slovakia.

"I have only two conditions," Schuster said, as quoted by the Sme daily. "Nothing must be moved outside, sold or exchanged. All exhibits must stay in the house. The second condition is that the museum must be open to the public year-round."

In 1927, Schuster's father and two other documentary film pioneers set out from Medzev for the Brazilian jungle.

"The museum should pay tribute to them," Schuster said.

The highlights of the collection are film and TV cameras and projectors. Schuster said he considers an Ernemann wooden camera to be the most precious exhibit.

"I have been searching for wooden cameras around the world, even at auctions in America," he said. "Uncle Benedikt used such a camera when he was filming in Brazil. Alas, his camera has not survived."

The museum will also include the house's original furniture and a functional tilt-hammer powered by a water wheel. It the past it was used for forging.

One of the first private museums in Slovakia will open to the public in early November, after the exhibits are checked. So far only VIPs have been allowed into the museum.

High Tatras
Schengen might deter Ukrainian tourists

THE ENTRY of Slovakia into the Schengen Zone might have an impact on the upcoming winter tourism season, Slovak and Ukrainian business owners agreed at a recent tourism fair in Kiev, the Hospodárske Noviny economic daily wrote.

Tourism Association Vysoké Tatry representatives said Slovakia's entry into Schengen, expected to be on January 1, 2008, will put an end to free-of-charge visas for Ukrainian citizens. The new visa for Slovakia will cost €45 (Sk1,500), which will boost the price of a winter holiday in Slovakia, they said at the October 22 meeting.

The hotel owners are afraid that higher prices and more complicated administrative procedures to get a visa will put off tourists who travel on their own.

The number of Ukrainian tourists in the High Tatras has been growing quickly over the past two years, compensating for the falling number of Russian visitors. In 2006, 8,271 Ukrainians visited the High Tatras.

High Tatras
Divers fish garbage out of mountain lakes

Divers combed the bottom of the High Tatras' lakes for garbage as part of the Clean Waters event on October 19.
photo: SITA

FIFTY-SEVEN divers dragged 163.5 kilograms of waste out of lakes in the High Tatras during the Clean Waters event on October 19, the SITA newswire wrote.

Twenty-five divers collected the most trash from Štrbské Pleso, the most visited lake in the High Tatras - as much as 106.5 kilograms.

Apart from the usual plastic cups, they also found a beer glass and some bottles of sparkling wine at the lake's bottom.

"In all probability, these are the remains of a New Year's Eve celebration," event organiser Pavol Král, from the state forest company Štátne Lesy Tatranského Národného Parku, told SITA.

Nové Štrbské Pleso was the cleanest lake, from which 10 divers fished out only three kilos of waste.

Velické Pleso has not stopped yielding waste from construction works. Seven divers collected 39.5 kilograms from its bottom, most of which was construction waste.

The Clean Waters event is the younger sister of the Clean Mountains event. In the last 14 years, divers have hauled almost 3,200 kilograms of trash out of the Tatra lakes.

Since 2005, the forest company has also organised clean-ups at less visited lakes in higher altitudes. But it holds that event in the summer and it is attended by a lower number of divers.

"This is also physically demanding, because the divers have to carry all of their gear to the lakes," Král said.

In cooperation with foresters, divers have cleaned the Hincove Pleso, Malé Žabie Pleso and Spišské lakes close to Téryho Chata (mountain cabin), the Zbojnícke lakes near Zbojnícka Chata, and lakes in the Bielovodská Valley. In the last three years, divers have collected more than 300 kilograms of waste from these mountain lakes.

The Clean Waters event is both fun and useful, Král said. The clean-up is part of an international diving films festival, whose 22nd edition took place in the town of Vysoké Tatry between October 18 and 20.

Husák's children having children

DEMOGRAPHIC develop-ments in Slovakia have finally taken a positive turn, with more children born last year than in previous years, the Plus Jeden Deň daily wrote on October 22.

This was because children born during the baby-boom when Gustáv Husák was Czechoslovak president in the 1970s and '80s have started having children of their own.

The demographic crisis in Slovakia reached a peak in 2001, when 51,136 children were born. Last year, however, 53,904 new Slovaks came into the world.

The number of children born in Slovakia last year was still smaller than the figure from 10 years ago. The ratio of children born per woman was 1.43 then. Last year the ratio stood at 1.2.

Demographics experts warn that by 2050, Slovakia will lose 12 percent of its population, which will fall from the current 5.4 million to approximately 4.7 million.

Some people may wonder why so few children are being born in a mainly Catholic country.

"The economy is at the top of the hierarchy of values," psychologist Katarína Ludrovská told the daily. "Most people strive to be financially secure and to achieve higher living standards for themselves and their children."

New tourist path spans Slovak-Hungarian border

A NEW path will let tourists and nature lovers walk from Brezina in the Košice Region to the Hungarian town of Pusztafal.

Hundreds of people took part in the opening ceremony on October 13, the Slovak Radio reported.

The path followed a Slovak-Hungarian agreement on opening border crossings for tourists.

A main draw of the path is Lake Izra, which is located one kilometre from the border with Hungary.

The guideposts on the path were set up by members of the Slovak Tourist Club, using funds from the Košice and Brezina local authorities, at a cost of Sk96,000 (almost €3,000).

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