Extinct fish can be your guide down the Danube

Bratislava's river has never ceased to fascinate its people. A new book, also in English, is the latest product of this enthrallment.

The beluga sturgeon takes readers down the Danube. The beluga sturgeon takes readers down the Danube. (Source: Monokel/Simona Čechová)

What would Bratislava be like without the Danube? The majestic river has defined the city ever since it first emerged on its banks centuries ago.

For its citizens, the river meant a way of making a living, protection from enemies, as well as the ever-present threat as she would flood the city and nearby areas before engineers confined the river to her man-made riverbed. The Danube has never ceased to fascinate people. The new book Danube – The Magic River, by writer Michal Hvorecký and illustrator Simona Čechová, is the latest product of this enthrallment.

Hvorecký has a close relation to the Danube, which in the book he addresses in the female gender. The writer spent almost two years working as a guide to American tourists on luxurious cruise ships. The river fascinates him with the peculiar direction in which she flows, so unusual among European rivers, also by her smell and taste, history and her natural assets.

“I love reading about the river as well as swimming in it,” Hvorecký told The Slovak Spectator.

Čechová, who just moved to the nearby city of Trnava after spending almost 10 years in Bratislava’s Petržalka borough on the Danube's left bank, has many memories connected to the river. During the summer, they would bathe in the Danube and have a beer at Twain, an iconic pub on a ship in Karloveská Zátoka bay, or have a barbecue on the Danube’s banks.

Čechová used to cross the river every day on her way to the studio over the Old Bridge, sometimes along Sad Janka Kráľa park and over SNP Bridge.

“During these morning shifts, I washed my head well and I admit that I miss this and so does the Danube,” Čechová told The Slovak Spectator.

Beluga sturgeon as the guide

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