Monday, August 20, 2012

Bratislava by Lucy Mallows

Travel writer Lucy Mallows shows some personality in Bratislava: A City Guide, published by Bradt. Most travel guides are so bland that it's refreshing to come across odd statements like "Slovak mineral water is delicious and contains many life-enhancing properties" -- even when I don't believe her. I'm a fan of water, truly, but "delicious" is going a bit far.

Mallow pays attention to small, but important, details, like where to find the best public toilets. She gives advice about how to get small denominations of money to make it easier to pay bus fare, even going so far as to mention "The girl at the exchange booth on Rybárska brána is very helpful." (The guidebook was published in 2009. I wonder if that woman still works there.)

Me in traditional dress, Slovakia 2002
Twenty-five pages at the beginning give just the right amount of the history, politics and economics for context. Unusual facts are what I like best, like this list of names that the city has had over a succession of occupants and occupiers:
805 - Wratislaburgum
907 - Braslavespurch
1038 - Breslava Civitas
1042 - Brezeburg
1050 - Brezalauspurch
1052 - Preslawaspurch
1108 - Bresburg, Bresburch
1146 - Bosonium
1300s-1400s - Poson, Posonium
1465 - Istropolis
1500s - Posonium Pressburg
1848 - Pozsony, Pressburg, Presporok, Bratislava
1918 - "Following many centuries of Austro-Hungarian domination, Czechs and Slovaks were so thankful to American President Woodrow Wilson for supporting the establishment of their independent common state, Czechoslovakia, that they renamed Bratislava 'Wilsonovo Mesto'; the new name didn't last for very long."
1919 - Bratislava

Former American president George W. Bush was not held in the same regard as Wilson. "'The only thing I know about Slovakia is what I learned first-hand from your foreign minister who came to Texas,' Bush told a Slovak journalist, shortly after meeting the prime minister of Slovenia."

I'll be in Slovakia in two weeks.  I'm looking forward to seeing my cousins and talking like a pirate with every hello and goodbye: Ahoj!


Shawna Lemay said...

looking forward to hearing how you'll describe the water : ) what a great photo of you!

Lindy said...

Hah! Yes, I must make note of the taste of the water. And the pivo, vino, slivovic, borovicka... all those wonderful beverages. Na zdravie!

Lindy said...

Also, Shawna, isn't it remarkable that a costume passed down from my grandmother's generation fit me perfectly? I love the stacks of wood in the background, ready for winter.