Monday, November 21, 2022

Travel the World - Slovakia

I started a 50-week series in 2019 that I called Travel the World. Each week of the series I visited a randomly-selected country, sharing bits of information about that country. I then chose one tidbit of information about that week's country as inspiration for a card. As I explored those 50 countries in 2019, I knew I would continue on until I've visited every one of the 195 countries in the world. By the end of 2021, I'd virtually traveled to 145 countries and plan to complete my journey to all 195 countries by visiting the last 50 this year.

This week's country is...


Slovakia is a landlocked nation located in central Europe.

Slovakia borders Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and the Ukraine.

It is a fairly small country. In fact, it is only about twice the size of New Hampshire.

Slovakia could fit within the boundaries of Minnesota three times.

Slovakia is noted primarily for its mountainous nature. The Carpathian Mountains are in the north, and various lowlands are in the south.

Slovakia’s climate is humid at lower altitudes. This includes warm summers and humid winters. At high altitudes, however, the climate is subarctic and alpine.

The capital of Slovakia, Bratislava, lies on the borders with Austria and Hungary. That makes the city the only capital in the world that borders two independent countries. 

Slovakia has the world's highest number of castles and chateaux per capita. Just imagine an incredible number of 180 castles and 425 chateaux in a country with the entire population far smaller than the city of New York! 

More than 6,000 caves have been discovered in Slovakia.

With more than 1,300 mineral springs, Slovakia has incredible sources of mineral water and healing thermal springs. Most of them are actively used for therapeutic and recreation purposes within 21 spa resorts.

Forty percent of the country is covered with forests.

Slovakia is home of the highest wooden altar in the world. This remarkable work was created by Master Paul. It is located in Church of St. James right in the historical centre of Levoča. The altar was made without the use of a single nail!

There are numerous churches in Slovakia that are made completely of wood. Most don’t have a single nail in them. For numerous centuries, non- Roman Catholic churches were forbidden by law, to use any hard materials like metal and stone in their construction. This is one of the very few countries in the world that has preserved these marvels so well.

Since November 2014 all children, full-time students less than 26 years old, widowed or disabled pensioners under 62 and seniors 62 and older are eligible to travel by train for free using the Slovakian national railways. It is available only for citizens or permanent residents of countries that are member states of the European Union.

As with many European countries, the family is very important in Slovakia. It is not uncommon for families in rural areas to have children, parents, and grandparents under one roof. This arrangement allows grandparents, especially grandmothers, to help care for children so their parents can work.

The varied landscape of Slovakia supports a wide variety of animal life. This includes bears, wolves, lynx, wildcats, marmots, otters, and minks.

A popular site in Slovakia is what is commonly known as Devil's Rock. This unique natural phenomenon can be found at the nature trail near the Budča village. The large round boulder standing on a tiny area of a high cliff is extremely photogenic.

Slovakia has 9 national parks and 14 protected landscape areas.

The highest statue of a horse in the world is located in Slovakia's Sport and Congress Center in Šamorín-Cilistov. It is made entirely of stainless steel, rises to a height of almost 30 feet and weighs 20 tons.

The national tree of Slovakia is small-leaved lime.
Slovakia is one of three countries in the world where Coca-Cola is not the most popular drink. It gives way to Kofola, which was introduced in the 1960s.

Shops in Slovakia do not stay open particularly late, close early on Saturday, and are definitely closed on a Sunday.

Slovakia has a solar clock that shows the accurate solar time and it is the only one of its kind. It is located in Stara Bystrica. 

Slovak Folk Dance is one of the most fascinating things about the country. The different styles and colors of the costume is an inspiration from the region which it belongs to and a certain way of life. As a matter of fact, there are numerous folk groups in the country. The dances are marked by features such as briskness, temperamental, and following the tunes of the instruments such as cymbalo, violin, and bass. The folk performances can be witnessed at the community festivals during the summer times.

Slovakia is often mistaken for a similar-sounding country – Slovenia.

The team of Slovak and Slovenian embassies gathers once a month with their associates to swap wrongly-addressed letters.

December 6th (the feast of St. Nicholas) is impatiently awaited in Slovakia, especially by children. On this day St. Nicolas visits households accompanied by the devil, gives sweets or toys to children who were good. The sweets are put in boots that children prepare before they go to bed. St. Nicholas gives naughty children onions or coal instead.

Many customs in Slovakia are related to the Christmas holiday. Although it is a Christian holiday, Christmas is celebrated not only by Christians, but by nearly all families. Christmas is most beloved by children, who look forward to it all year. People clean their households, bake honey cakes, and decorate their homes long before the holiday. Children especially look forward to the Christmas tree decorated with sweets, which is not-to-be-missed. The first course at Christmas dinner is composed of Christmas wafers with honey and nuts or garlic, so that those eating it would be healthy all year. An apple is then picked and cut open – when the seeds form a regular five-pointed star it means good health. The menu differs depending on the region. Cabbage or pea soup is usually served, followed by fish and potato salad. After dinner the family unwraps the gifts under the tree, carols are sung, or Christmas tales are watched on television.

fujara is a large folk shepherd’s flute from central Slovakia. It is typically played standing up and is especially popular during folk festivals and celebrations.

May 1 is a national holiday in Slovakia, and there is no school or work. Instead, the men go out into the forests to find tall trees to use as May poles. The Slovak traditional May pole is a tall tree which has been stripped of all of its branches except the very top two to three feet which are left intact to look like a small Christmas tree. To these branches, Slovaks tie colorful ribbons which symbolize love, new life, and good growth. The May poles stay up in neighborhoods and in front of community centers until June 1, when they are taken down with another day of celebrations, bringing friends, family, and neighbors together.

Whether in a restaurant or at home, Slovakian meals always begin with soup. Some soups are broth based with veggies, while others are cream based. Some soups just pique your appetite, while others feel like entire meals.

Native wildlife in Slovakia includes chamoiswolves, martens, marmotsbears, and otters.

Slovakia’s native birds include wild geeseducks, storks, partridges, pheasants, and many raptors.

My inspiration for this week's card is based on this fact about Slovakia... The backbone of the Slovak economy today is the automotive industry. Slovakia produces the largest number of cars per capita in the world – 191 per 1000 inhabitants.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

Stamp Set: Unity On All Cylinders stamped with Memento Tuxedo Black Ink and colored with Copic Markers

Paper: Hammermill 110# White and SU Basic Black CS and DP from my scrap file

Dies: MFT Stitched Rectangles and Simon Says Sentiment Labels

Embellishments: Amazon Rhinestones

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