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Around Slovakia

Underwater photo contest is first ever in Slovakia
Medieval dentist tools on display
Horrible wind damages gold town

ŠTRBSKÉ PLESO
Underwater photo contest is first ever in Slovakia

This mountain lake in the High Tatras during the first weekend of May was the site of a new Slovak championship in underwater photography, which included photography in all sorts of water bodies ranging from mountain lakes to swimming pools.
Underwater photographer Marián Legutký took part last year in a similar contest in Spain. That inspired him and other Slovak divers that Slovakia should have its own championship in order to choose the best divers for the world championship.
According to Ivan Oravec, one of the organizers, only four men competed in the contest. They dove and shot photos in the Studenohorské waterfalls, in Blajzovo lake and in the swimming pool at Podbánske.
Paľo Kráľ, one of the contestants, said that the hardest thing was to get in the waterfalls. The water was still partially covered with ice, and all divers had a hard time getting underwater.
"What fascinates me about taking pictures underwater," Kráľ said, "are the frogs in the lakes, the layers of peat, and the beautiful creations they make."
There is a great difference, though, between photographs taken in mountain lakes and those from swimming pools, the organizers said. "What matters most in swimming pools is a new idea or a different perspective," said Ľudovít Hanák, a member of the jury. "In lakes, it is usually color and shapes."


MODRÝ KAMEŇ
Medieval dentist tools on display

The Gothic castle in this village of 1,420 in central Slovakia has opened a new exhibition of medieval dentist's tools. The exhibition offers a wide variety of tools that have been used for several hundred years by dentists honing their craft - items such as toothdrills and the pincers used for yanking out teeth. Some of these instruments are as painful looking as the process in which they're used, said Vladimír Siváček, the museum's director. Just as visitors walking out of the castle, are recovering from eyeballing medieval "health care," they can enjoy a small exposition about the castle's history and the Novohrad region, Siváček, ever the salesman, added.
The castle, rebuilt in the 18th century in the Baroque style by the Balass family, is considered this region's pearl. It was planned to be the Slovak President's summer residence, but that scheme was shelved, partly because Premier Vladimír Mečiar's cabinet took out their own drill and pulled the teeth out of the idea.
Instead, the castle offers a great variety of exhibits. Right now there is an exhibition of puppets, marionettes and toys. "Our exposition of toys and puppets is one of the few of this kind in Slovakia," Siváček said.


KREMNICA
Horrible wind damages gold town

A heavy storm - unusual for this time of year - whipping winds and hemorrhaging heavy rains engulfed this central Slovak town of 6,100 on May 6, leaving a trail of damage in its wake.
The strong rains and high-velocity winds shattered several windows in the city, and blew off a roof from one of the schools, reported residents in the area.
But the greatest damage was done to the trees in the surrounding forests. As Ondrej Kormaňák of the local forestry said, the storm's strength splintered some trees two or three meters above the ground. "Not only small trees, but also huge, almost century-old trees were damaged in the storm," Kormaňák said, estimating that about 5,000 cubits of wood was lost.
Kormaňák explained that the winds in Kremnica usually come from the north. This time the storm came from the southwest.

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