3 reasons why you should visit the Christmas markets in Bratislava

3 reasons why you should visit the Christmas markets in Bratislava

It is the most wonderful time because it is the time of the Christmas markets in Bratislava! For me, this is the highlight of the year. Christmas markets are all about spending quality time with friends and family, lot’s of hot wine, perhaps a schnapps or two, and lot’s of greasy food. You quickly forget about the cold creeping up from the soles of your feet up your legs and through your entire body, because you’ll simply have a great time, you laugh, you get tipsy on hot turbo punch, all the while having your hands full with greasy deep-fried potato pancakes.

If you haven’t been yet and the above description is not enough, let me convince you with 3 good reasons why you should visit the Christmas markets in Bratislava!

Chrumky - the stuff of legends

Chrumky - the stuff of legends

One doesn't need to spend much time in Slovakia to realize Slovak people have a special relationship with their snacks - whether it is the all-time favourite Horalky wafer bar with peanut filling, the salty sticks (tyčinky) from DRU, bananas covered in chocolate (banány v čokoláde) or the endless supplies of Deva and Rumba at grandma's house, these snacks have been a must-have in any Slovak household for decades. However, probably none of these snacks are as shrouded in legend as Chrumky.

Yet another burger restaurant in Bratislava

Yet another burger restaurant in Bratislava

On my way to work this morning, I noticed a new burger restaurant being constructed. As a self-professed burger enthousiast, my first reaction was one of sheer happiness. My most favourite burger place, Roxor, recently moved from just around the corner of my work to a few blocks away, so I was positively surprised to see a new restaurant open up close by. This feeling of joy, however, quickly gave way to the thought: “Really? Another burger restaurant in Bratislava?”

A few days walking in the Ždiar region and beyond

A few days walking in the Ždiar region and beyond

Over the past years I have visited most corners of Slovakia. Surprisingly enough, however, the High Tatras remains still very elusive to me. I have visited the obvious places like Štrbské Pleso, but other than that I haven't seen much of this gorgeous region. I therefore got very enthousiastic when my in-laws proposed to spend a long weekend in Lučivná, in the Ždiar region.

Live in Slovakia, care for Slovakia

Live in Slovakia, care for Slovakia

As a foreigner living in Slovakia, how much should I actually care about what is going on in this country, whether it is a political crisis as seen in the last months or something altogether different? Do I bare any responsibility for the future of this country, or is this rather a fight reserved for Slovaks alone?

King’s Day – The day the Dutch unite

Today is a special day in the Netherlands. Today is the birthday of His Royal Highness, our King Willem-Alexander of Orange-Nassau. This in itself may not inspire you to leap of joy immediately. What makes this day special to the majority of the Netherlands, however, is that this means we will celebrate King’s Day. And boy, is that a party!

GUEST POST: murder in Slovakia / coffee in Canada

GUEST POST: murder in Slovakia / coffee in Canada

I have visited good friends in Bratislava for a number of years, always learning more and deepening my understanding of Slovaks and their country. My feeling for Slovakia grew out of friendship and carried its quality of pleasure and connection So it was a shock when I read about the deaths of Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová.

Slovakia’s time to shine is now

Slovakia’s time to shine is now

Slovakia is by some (including myself) affectionately described as the “Hidden Gem in the Heart of Europe”. But how hidden should this gem really remain from the rest of the world? Ever since I moved to Slovakia and discovered how beautiful a country it is, I have struggled with the realisation that back home no one really seems to know anything about Slovakia.

In Slovakia, tradition is key

In Slovakia, tradition is key

In Slovakia traditions still hold a very important place in people’s lives. In fact, the year round, the calendar is filled to the brim with traditional habits, happenings that seem to go back centuries, folk festivals, village feasts, Church feasts, very local celebrations and country-wide festivities.

The motivation of exposure

The motivation of exposure

I firmly believe in the idea that you are responsible for making your own success – whether it is success you seek in your career, in your personal life, in your hobbies, or anywhere else. Nothing in life simply comes flying into your lap. You need to work hard, exercise discipline, make yourself visible and, let’s not deny it, hope for a fair amount of luck.

My wife is in love with an alien!

My wife is in love with an alien!

Most of you know by now that I absolutely enjoy living in Slovakia and that I found my home here. However, there has been one major dirty spot on this country’s beauty that I have refrained from writing about, so far – any foreigner’s absolutely involuntary dealing with the so-called “Foreign Police”.

Why Bratislava should get on a bike

Why Bratislava should get on a bike

Being born Dutch means being born to ride. Some may say we are born with a bike in our hands. We bike a lot, it’s a simple truth. We learn how to ride a bike from an early age. Our level of self-confidence, self-conscienceness and, to some degree, plain arrogance rises the moment we get on that bicycle. We know how to ride on one wheel, how to ride with five bags of groceries and a crate of beer, with three kids (one on the back, two on the front), without hands, during storms, and hand-in-hand with your loved one (riding a bike right next to you).

Učím sa slovenčinu – to make the impossible, possible

Učím sa slovenčinu – to make the impossible, possible

So far, I have been able to live my life in Bratislava pretty comfortably, using a mixture of English and the few words/sentences I know in Slovak. However, boys eventually become men, and important things in your life will need to be arranged at some point….in Slovak of course. So, after four years living in Slovakia, I finally made the decision to start to learn Slovak.

1st of November, a day to remember…

1st of November, a day to remember…

As far as I know, there are only two holidays in the Slovak calendar that make people to willingly drive tens, even hundreds of miles across the country to be with their family: Christmas and All Saints’ Day. The only difference being that the former is to be with the living, while the latter is to be with the dead.

Karol Kállay and the soul of Slovakia

Karol Kállay and the soul of Slovakia

A couple of years ago, my wife and I visited the Slovak National Gallery to see the exhibition of Medieval and Baroque art. When we arrived at the cash desk of the gallery, the lady behind the counter enthusiastically informed us that with the entrance ticket, we get free entrance to the other temporary exhibitions currently on display in the gallery. Her advice was: go and see the photography exhibition of Karol Kállay. And so we did.

Peter Sagan and why he is important for Slovakia

If you live in Slovakia, there is no way you could have missed the news about the Slovak cycling sensation called Peter Sagan. Whether you are actively following his career or you simply came across the T-Mobile commercial on TV and/or on billboards around the country, “the Terminator” from Žilina could not have escaped your attention.

Trenčianske Teplice and a past worth remembering

Trenčianske Teplice and a past worth remembering

Snugly tucked in between two hills at the foot of the Strážovské vrchy mountains, along the river Teplička, one can find a small city called Trenčianske Teplice. Only one and a half hour from Bratislava, my wife and I decided to take a little trip and visit this city, once famous for its Spa hotels and the annual Art Film Fest. Walking through the streets of Teplice, I somehow got a distinct feeling of nostalgia and yearning for the past. To me, what made the visit memorable, were the many buildings that have not stood the test of time.

The egg, the whip and the fire truck

The egg, the whip and the fire truck

It is Easter! That means bunnies, finding hidden Easter eggs and watching the 500th rerun of Jesus Christ Superstar or the like. That is, of course, if you are not living in Slovakia. In Slovakia, Easter Monday is host to one of the most fascinating traditions you will ever find in this country. Sure, people go to Church and some may even want to search for eggs, but it is the tradition of boys going out into the village, armed with a bucket of water, a bottle of cheap perfume and a whip made from willow branches,  and, awaiting rewards like chocolate eggs and even money, to search out the female population of said village, drag them outside, soak them in water, spray them with perfume and hit them with the whip, that makes Easter Monday a true spectacle to behold.