Christmas is approaching fast! In a few days time, the world will gorge themselves on delicious food, loads of gifts and buckets full of happiness. We did our Christmas dinner shopping yesterday, so we are all prepared for the big evening. Creating the shopping list, it brought me back to my first Slovak Christmas dinner, 8 years ago by now. How did that look like, you ask? Let me give you a glimpse into Christmas at my Slovak in-laws.
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.
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?”
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 and some of the bigger cities the foot of the mountains, 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 the north of Slovakia, with visits to the Chodník korunami stromov in Bachledova Dolina, the castle of Stará Ľubovňa and its skanzen museum and the small village of Lučivná.
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?
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!
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.