The Slovak Spectator fell into my hands while travelling in Slovakia and stopping at the Hotel Grand in Banská Štiavnica. I spent a week in the Partizánské/Žarnovica area and wanted to relay my impressions of the trip.
Like many Viennese, I have been to Bratislava, but I have always been interested in getting to know Slovaks, getting to know their country and exploring. Despite the short geographical distance, it's rather unknown here.
About the trip: I was welcomed by the family of my friend with so much warmth and hospitality. Everybody cared for me. We visited Bojnice and other places of interest. On All Saints Day, I was in a church in a small village called Radobica and even though I didn't understand a word, I was positively surprised by the people's religiousness. As a 32-year-old, I was also interested in the nightlife and again positive experiences in two pubs in Žarnovica and two discos in Banská Štiavnica greeted me.
One day, however, I was quite desperate. The weather was gray, rainy and ugly and I was amidst what I call "socialist houses," those huge concrete living blocks, and I felt a certain sadness. But that was a one-time experience.
In general, I was so positively surprised that I returned right away the next weekend with an Austrian friend who was as glad and happy about what he saw and the people he encountered.
Briefly, I am happy I had a chance to see the real Slovakia, and as someone who travels a lot to far-away countries, what a nice feeling to discover beautiful places, unknown areas right in Austria's backyard. I wish that more Austrians will discover more in our neighboring country than some shopping malls in Bratislava and vice-versa Slovaks should try to discover my native land, which also offers more than the shopping centers in Hainburg and Vienna.
Thomas J. Resch, Vienna
3. Jul 1997 at 0:00