Christmas markets, street markets, little stalls crawling under millions of little quirky objects. Little things we like looking at, little objects we like buying when we travel. A small Eiffel Tower from Paris, a carnival mask from Venice, a lucky charm from China.
Post cards we choose carefully for friends and family. A fat man on a beach for our best friend, a nice building for grandma and something typical for our parents.
Taking hundreds of pictures, we like thinking of ourselves as professional photographers.
Paying for visits makes us feel we were somehow involved in the local life.
Trying new dishes, drinking local beer and tell our friends about it, make them want to try it too.
Lots of little things you do for others. Because those who didn’t travel with you demand that you have something nice/funny or exotic to tell.
Lots of little things you do for yourself, too. Collecting objects and paintings from around the world for example. Make a slide out of your holiday pictures.
What can you bring back from Bratislava?
For the average tourist, who is looking for a nice little souvenir to bring brack home, the answer is simple: nothing.
I see a lot of people trying really hard sometimes to find SOMETHING that would remind them of Bratislava. I myself have wandered around markets and souvenir shops and came back empty-handed. I thought that in a way, no one wants to buy a miniature version of the Man at Work or the castle. It just doesn’t trigger anything.
So sellers tried shirts.
But it’s not working either, even though they put a lot of effort in those jokes.
Why can’t they think of something to sell?
My opinion is that you can’t define Slovakia that way. As much as you can reduce Paris to the Eiffel Tower, no one will associate The Man at Work with Slovakia. That’s not how you define a country that’s been independent for merely 30 years. That’s not the way to sell baby Bratislava.
It’s like going to Qatar and wanting to bring back a miniature camel. That’s not what’s happening there.
Does that mean that there is nothing to do then? No. Of course not.
I am beginning to think that Slovakia is not a country accessible to all kinds of visitors. I don’t think it’s made for groups of elderly people doing a cruise. I don’t think it’s for visitors coming from Vienna or Prague, or Budapest to spend a day.
Slovakia seems to be the kind of place you can enjoy for what it is: a natural paradise. With lakes, mountains, hills, forests and hundreds of castles.
There is so much to see and no one talks about it. The paper guide (that I am considering suing) has literally nothing to say. “Slovakia is a nice stop on your way to or from Vienna”. Really? Does that great advice worth 15 euros?
No mention of Dracula’s castle, nothing about the Slovak paradise. Nothing about festivals in autumn, when we celebrate the harvest drinking Burska and eating Hus.
So, what can you bring back from Slovakia?
If you really are a materialist:
A CD of traditional music
Brioche made with poppy seeds
If you can live without it:
Thousands of pictures from every corner, there’s always something hidden!
A healthy body: trekking, cannoning, cycling and hiking or skiing are the best and favourite Slovak ways to enjoy Slovakia.
General knowledge: History. Slovakia has a complex and wonderful story that you can look under many aspects. It has suffered the influence of Ottomans, Hungarians, Austrians, Communist Russia and the Czec Republic. Imagine what you can find in a single city…