January 2010

Do the Irish people call their state names when a man fails?
Liptov will become a European Destination
What is a strategic goal of your cluster?
What kind of doubled numbers are you talking about?
What is it necessary to improve?
How does the Ministry of Economy of the SR help the cluster?
Does the cluster support the development of gastronomic, congress and cultural tourism?
The most beautiful café in the world
Brontvai´s Country Farmstead
Return after 30 years
Inspiration from the USA
They began on one cooker
Healthy bio - product
Plans to the Future
Books for Slovak Children in the Serbian Village of Pivnica
Books that are inherited
They study four languages
First Big Present from Slovakia
Slovak Aid which hurts
Help Slovak children in Serbia Would you like to help them as well?
We will be happy to meet and agree with you.
Croatian Ethno Nativity Scenes
Traditional Croatian Christmas customs are represented at the exhibition called

Do the Irish people call their state names when a man fails?

Slovakia has experienced a dramatic beginning of the year 2010. First, authorized clerks and employees did not manage the implementation of the toll at the border crossings, later, the test of airport anti- terrorist practice at the airport in Poprad. In both cases, it was not the failure of the state or its system but mainly communication and the control of people involved. And it all resulted in hysterical and ridiculous attacks of Slovak and foreign media, various commentaries by “always- wise –and- fair” citizens and politicians. And was Slovakia, which has been celebrating only the establishment of the Slovak republic” and not the day of its renewal on the first of January for 17 years, really responsible for all that? However, our brethrens from the Czech Republic celebrate the day of the renewal of the Czech citizenship on the same day…

Well, let get back to our topic. So little should have been done. It would have been enough to control and communicate more. In case of toll implementation mainly the readiness of border crossings for inflow of trucks and registration points. The lack of instructions for filling in registration forms in other languages, some buffet refreshment and at least dry lavatories for truck drivers, lack of employees at registration centres were just banal mistakes which were likely made by the National Motorway Company and the company SkyToll… And thus the matters got so bad. Hardly any drivers, who had to wait at border crossing, sleep overnight and queue for a few hours in freezing cold weather, said anything positive about Slovakia. Obviously, media did not pay any attention to these “details” but they focused on statement whether toll implementation had been prepared properly in Slovakia or not. Fortunately, at the beginning of January, I did not have to pass barriers on the sides of the roads where parked trucks were standing in rows. Naturally, packages from food, drinks and human excrements had no other place to end up but just there, didn’t they? Well, it is rather similar to what truck drivers have been experiencing at the Slovak Ukrainian border in Vyšné Nemecké for several years, however, as it is said, our nature will bear it. And no one is ever concerned as it is not in Bratislava…

Let me allow saying a few words about a few-day strike and illegal blockade of roads by furious small Slovak transporters. Was it appropriate or politically motivated? Surely, it was appropriate due to unfair payments of toll without taking into consideration whether drivers will go all the direction or a part of it, or whether drivers use Slovak territory as a transit country from one border to another one. And in this case, exactly, particular people failed as they did not communicate enough and worse of all, cynically approached towards ethical and moral sides of the toll business. They might have thought more about profit than people.

“ Do you have a bomb in your hand luggage?” a TA3 television reporter stupidly asked a random passenger in front of the airport in Bratislava in order to demonstrate “ wisdom of a journalist and quality of journalist’s work performance” regarding the case at the airport in Poprad. What had happened there during the anti- terrorist practice of a dog with forgotten or lost packet of RDX explosive had become a part of police investigation and did not have to be the reason for blaming the state and policemen and complaining about them! If there had not been that training, we would have never found out what danger each passenger has to face at the airport and one might not be even aware of the fact that a terrorist could have an explosive activated this way.

Let’s look at it from a different point of view. Slovakia learnt about this affair from the Irish media. Neither Irish nor Slovak, and not even European, media dealt with the fact why the Irish police treated a Slovak in that way, i.e. they let houses and street empty where “importer” of the bomb among luggage (having not known about anything) lived. What this intervention adequate and appropriate? Why did Irish police make this unfortunate incident public and did not trust in the information provided by the Slovak police? Yes, a particular man failed, and so did the control and basic communication. But not the state and its system. When a doctor, a teacher, a journalist or a student fail, who is responsible? The state? I will ask in a different way. Is Ireland a strange and old-fashioned country as the Irish Prime Minister’s wife had a sexual affair with a 19- year- old teenager and now she has to leave the post of a well- paid MP? Will, therefore, Slovak parents not let their sons go to Ireland in case they come across elder ladies and widows or women- politicians who might abuse them sexually? Or Will Slovak Catholics avoid going to Dublin where some priests abused and raped boys and girls? Will Irish journalists bother people in Dublin asking: “Have you ever been abused by a priest? Or have you ever had an affair with the Irish Prime Minister’s wife? “Anyway, is the Irish state or its system responsible for those actions? Do Irish people call their state names? Or did those actions threaten business relationships of Ireland with other states? I am afraid not. For sure.

Róbert Matejovič,
editor in chief


Liptov will become a European Destination

“We had to move forward, improve our services. And many examples from the similar Austrian regions have proved us that there is no other way. In this region, we have carried out the biggest investments in the infrastructure in the field of tourism in Slovakia, “says Ján Blcháč, a Mayor of the town Liptovský Mikuláš and the chairman of the board of directors of the interest association called Klaster Liptov.
 
Róbert Matejovič

Photo: Jozef Veselý, Ing. Michal Rengevič, Mgr. Ivan Malárik
 

Slovak tourism eventually has its organization of destination management (DMO). It is called Klaster Liptov, an association of tourism and also the common marketing centre from the destination of Liptov in the north of Slovakia. It associates subjects of public and private sectors with a goal of united advertising of the region of Liptov as a unique “green” region for leisure activities full of experiences. Its activities are carried out by financial support of founders: Thermal Park Bešeňová, Aqua park Tatralandia, Jasná Nízke Tatry, Skipark Ružomberok, the towns of Liptovský Mikuláš, Ružomberok. Its headquarters is situated in the building of the City Office of Liptovský Mikuláš.
 

Mr Blcháč, you played an active role in establishment and creation of this cluster which was started almost two years ago (in April 2008). Was its foundation initiated by the self-government or the entrepreneurial sector?

The establishment of this cluster is a result of three factors which played a very important role. I had been dealing with an idea of cooperation in development of tourism among the self-government, entrepreneurs and interest associations before I was elected the mayor of the town. During the year 2006, I regularly met the owners of Thermal Park, Tatralandia and SKI Jasná to discus the matters of further development of tourism in the region. We understood one another mainly in the fact that the only common way and the highest form of competition is cooperation. The second factor that played a positive role was the change in communication and thinking after new mayors in Ružomberok and Liptovský Hrádok were appointed. All three of us began thinking together and we were thinking ahead. And the third factor was- the activities of the Žilina Self- Governing Region, which would like to support the creation of cluster and subjects that understood new European policy of cooperating partners, i.e. firms and institutions in the field of tourism within its Innovation Policy of Žilina. The same trend is supported by the Slovak government.
 

Let’s take a closer look into the motivation of its establishment. Do you intend to stop stagnation of Slovak destinations compared to services and offer abroad, for example in Hungary, Poland and Austria?

Our cluster was founded according to the model of Austrian clusters and the Ministry of the Economy of the SR and the Slovak Agency for Tourism lent us hand in our attempts. The reason why the cluster was formed just in Liptov, naturally, comes from the features of the region itself. At present, Liptov is a leader in Slovak tourism in both summer and winter and along wit Bratislava, it is the most popular, visited and developed regions in Slovakia. Out of five regions of the Žilina County, almost 50 % accommodation capacities are located in Liptov and over 50 % of tourists come to relax in our region. We have also carried out the biggest investments in infrastructure of tourism in Slovakia. We had to move forward, improve our services. And many examples from the similar Austrian regions have proved us that there is no other way. Our ambition is to get Liptov with its activities into the map of popular European destinations, to present Liptov under one brand at home and abroad, to create competitive products of tourism and thus initiate and active cooperation in the region.
 

What is a strategic goal of your cluster?

To develop a marketing brand of Liptov and mutual coordination and cooperation of subjects of tourism in Liptov. Moreover, we would like to coordinate, plan and strategically direct development of regional tourism Liptov. The result is supposed to be two times more visitors and doubled number of overnight stays until the year 2013 in our region compared to the year 2007.
 

What kind of doubled numbers are you talking about?

There are more than 133,000 citizens living in our region. So far, 350,000 visitors arrived here every year. However, we would like to reach the number of 700,000 Slovak and foreign tourists in the year 2013.
 

How many people does the cluster employ? And how many of them deal with marketing of Liptov?

We started with one marketing employee, later we hired other four people. They could not manage their work and we needed at least 20 people to cope with all out intentions and goals. At the beginning, there was nothing. First of all, we had to create an organization, then we had to make up a regional brand having been helped by tender and our first product- a regional card called Liptov Card with a package of services and discounts for the winter and summer 2009. Meanwhile, we implemented the Central reservation system for accommodation provides in Liptov. They were very daunting tasks which tested our abilities and enriched reserves in a very good way.
 

Can you say that Liptov has already become the European destination of tourism? Or is it better talk about the first stage it has gone through in order to reach the goal set?

Liptov is a historical region. Its traditional value was oppressed by the pressure of marketing of the other regions in Central Europe. We have to pay much more systematic attention to it; and this is exactly what we want and are doing. We believe that Liptov will be an attractive European destination very soon.
 

How do you evaluate current cooperation of the self- government and entrepreneurial sector in the cluster after a year of its existence?

The self- government has found a good model of cooperation wit entrepreneurial sector and both parties wish its future development.
 

Cluster activities are financed from the contributions of members. What budget do you have available?

The first budget of the cluster (the 2008 cluster budget) reached the volume of 33,000 Euro (1 mil. SKK). At the beginning of the year 2009, the Annual General Meeting passed the resolution to continue developing the marketing and cluster activities despite the economic crisis. Its members have approved the increase of their contributions at the level of 100,000 Euros without any problems. It is an obvious demonstration how necessary is the mutual cooperation. Towns pay contributions from the fees charged from accommodation and entrepreneurial subjects from admission fees.
 
What is it necessary to improve?

We need to improve the balance between the individual micro- regions. The offer of the regional card Liptov Card for the summer 2009 involved more subjects from upper than lower Liptov. The ideal offer would be if we have achieved mutual balance.  
 

How does the Ministry of Economy of the SR help the cluster?

The cooperation is based on the bases of consulting and information exchange. The Ministry and the Slovak Agency for Tourism are aware of the fact that the cluster Liptov is the first Slovak pioneer of an exact regional product. We expect that after the parliament passes a new law on tourism that has already been approval by the Slovak government, direct state subventions like in Austria. The state will give us as much as the cluster has collected.
 

During the year 2009, no new members join the cluster- no entrepreneurial subjects, associations and self- administrations of municipalities. How do you evaluate this? Where is the problem?

We already have two letter of application on the table – the Associations of Accommodation providers (Združenia ubytovávateľov) in Liptovský Ján and a civil association that represents providers of accommodation in Smrečany, Veterná Poruba and in Žiar. Liptov is divided into 16 micro- regions that are not mutually connected yet. It is the first problem. The second is that last year, i.e. 2009, we were utterly occupied by resolving winter and year-long tourist offer and into the implementation of the central reservation system, in which more than 300 accommodation capacities are registered. This year, we are going to deal with enlarging our membership base of the cluster. Over the past months, every week, I have been signing new contracts with accommodation providers what is a positive trend and it proves we have set on the right way.  
 

Are the others just waiting or they do not trust the cluster of only big players? What would help to overcome distrust of “small ones” against “big ones” and how is possible to join offers for tourists and guests in the region?

Distrust of small ones should disappear. They must realize that one micro-region has only a few hundreds beds and limited services available. A tourist who comes to Liptov for two weeks should be given a particular pack of services and attractive programme. On the contrary, just small entrepreneurs and associations should join the cluster at their earliest opportunity so that they are able to offer their services and programmes. Or just to connect their services and offers provided by big players.
 

How does your brand “Liptov” help to make Liptov more visible in Slovakia and thus increase the number of visitors? Have you received first statistic data? Did the number of overnight stays and tourists increase in 2009?

We carried out a huge billboard campaign that helped to increase the number of Slovak tourists in Liptov. Last year, more Slovaks than Poles visited our region. Before the economic crisis it was the other way round. Active advertising in media in Slovakia and organization of studying trips for journalists from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Israel helped as well. The Žilina self-governing region played its important role in organizing trips for journalists.

So far, we have statistics for the first quarter of the year 2009. Revenues from accommodation in Liptov reached the share of 62 per cent within the Žilina Self- Governing Region, counting the number of overnight stays is 56% and in the number of visitors 52 per cent share.
 

A year-long regional card Liptov Card 2010 can be purchased by every tourist for 5.90 Euro and it allow to get attractive discounts (10- 50 %) to enter over 20 biggest winter attractions and tourist places in Liptov. Does this card offer better and more competitive prices for skiing compared to the destinations in Austria, Poland or Slovenia?

This card offers what is possible to see, experience and try in Liptov. Our tourist does not necessarily have to ski, he can have a delicious meal and taste regional specialties, bathe in thermal water, visit cultural and historical sights. Guests staying in accommodation facilities of our contractors will be given a regional Liptov card with various offers of discounts or free-of –charge offers at the reception along with a room key. There is no service or opportunity of such kind anywhere else in Slovakia.
 

How does a cluster support development of country tourism in municipalities, villages and in their surroundings, the development and sales of domestic regional products and specialities? These services have been developed in the neighbouring countries for a few years already…

We are only two years old. Many projects are being prepared at the moment, however, it all takes time and surely, we will approach to the offer in this area as we want and have to have such goals. However, the issues concerning Slovak country is that lack of people dealing with small production or selling homemade products.

On the other hand, there are some small producers (for example a sheep chalet near Černová) with typical meals or butchers offering their products to accommodated guests. In the near future, I expect that we will be able to present ourselves by presenting new productions of traditional products of Liptov- for example bryndza (processed sheep cheese) and various cheeses.
 

Does the cluster support the development of gastronomic, congress and cultural tourism?

Well, we are still at an early start in this matter. We offer these services just via our contractors. We would like to begin congress tourism; nevertheless, we are searching for an investor who would build up necessary capacities near Demänovská Dolina (Valley). Last Year, the town of Liptovský Mikuláš started up a regular and all- year services of a travel guide via the town information centre which focuses right on the cultural tourism. We have what to offer, for example, the topic like “Tracing mansions and chateaus, country noble settlements, yeomen’s culture…
 

So far, has the cluster not been just about thermal spas and ski slopes or cross- country skiing tracks, luxurious accommodation and it has not focused on mass tourism yet? Why don’t you concentrate on special clients like businessmen, seniors, families with children?

First of all, it is necessary to close the “entire circle” so that the clusters are able to offer and influence majority of services provided. Then, we will be able to organize centrally programmes for specialized clients; however, it has been all done individually, so far.
 

Which special programmes are included in the offer for tourists who do not want to ski or bathe in thermal pools but they would like to get to know Liptov better, to learn about its mentality and traditions?

From historical point of view, Liptov was already a well- known place in the Era of Celts, which left the settlement called Havránok near the dam of Liptovská Mara. Templar knights also left their legacy in the castles of Likava, Liptovský Old Castle or the castle in Liptovský Hrádok. Typical architecture has been preserved in a lively village of Vlkolínec which is protected by UNESCO status but also in the Museum of Liptov Village in Pribylina. A wooden articulate church in Svätý Kríž, which is one of the biggest in Europe, is sought as well. There are picturesque small churches in Ludrová, Martinček, in Svätý Kríž or Liptovský Sliač.

Our cultural specialities are mainly the Liptov Gallery of Peter Michal Bohúň (Liptovská galéria Petra Michala Bohúňa) v Liptovský Mikuláš. It is the second biggest and the third oldest Slovak gallery. There is a torture room of Juraj Jánošík preserved in the Museum of Janko Kráľ. However, Ovčiarske museum (Shepherd’s Museum) in Liptovský Hrádok is very attractive as it focuses on the history of sheep keeping traditions and thus it is a unique one in Europe.

Liptov can also be proud of caves in Demänovská dolina (Valley), a newly opened cave in Jánska dolina (Jan´s Valley), Stanišovská cave which offers a completely different view on the world under the ground and a unique experience without mass tourism. Creative handcrafts workrooms are organized in the Museum Čierny orol in Liptovský Mikuláš in January and February and creative activities are run all year round, the first months of the year 2010 will be dedicated to creation of carnival fancy clothes.
 

How the cooperation with a Polish town Zakopane going is, are you going to establish an international cluster? In May 2009, you submitted a project together for using the Euro funds. What does it contain?

Our communication with both the government of the town Zakopane and honorary consuls of both the Czech and the Slovak Republics is at a very good level. We regularly meet Slovak ambassador in Poland and with a Polish ambassador in Slovakia. And what have Liptov and Zakopané in common? What connects them? A large number of tourists and outstanding offer. The main point of a common project is to gain money for installation of informational navigators for Zakopane in Liptov and in Zakopane about Liptov. We would like to organize workshops for tourists together. The Tatras are 800 times smaller than the Alps. We think that only the mutual cooperation could help us in order to achieve a positive synergic effect.   
 
 

Who is
Ing. Ján Blcháč, PhD

He was born in Liptovský Mikuláš on 15 March 1959. He studied at the Operation- Economic Faculty at the University of Agriculture in Nitra (at present the Slovak Agricultural University) where he passed his doctoral work. He worked in agriculture, for diplomatic services and at the Ministry of the Agriculture of the SR. He was the general director of Liptovský mliekarne, a.s. Liptovský Mikuláš (Liptov Milk Processing Plant in Liptovský Mikuláš), a chairman of the Board of Directors of the Slovak Association of Milk Producers and a CEO of the company Poľnonákup Tatry, a.s. Between the years 1998 and 2009, he attended a few courses of management focused on project management, time management, team work and strategic management. He is a hosting reader at the Faculty of Economics and Management at the Slovak Agricultural University in Nitra and he is also the member of the scientific board, a member of Rotary Club in Liptovský Mikuláš, a member of the scientific board at the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Industry at the Slovak Agricultural University in Nitra and the ember of the board of directors of the Community Foundation of Liptov where he was a chairman for eight years. In 2006, he was elected a mayor having been supported by the coalition SMER SMER-SD, SNS, ĽS-HZDS, Slobodné fórum, ANO a HZD. He is also the chairman of the Association of Towns and Municipalities in Liptov and a chairman of the International section of the Association of Town and Municipalities of Slovakia. Since the last election, he has been a member of the parliament of the Žilina Self- Governing Region. He is a deputy in the Slovak delegation of the Committee of the Regions based in Brussels.     


The most beautiful café in the world

The Art Nouveau style and Belle Époque atmosphere of the Boscolo New York Palace and New York Cafe
 
Prepared by Dimenzie
Photos: Jozef Veselý
 

The building housing the Boscolo New York Palace, a 5 star luxury hotel in the heart of the Hungarian capital, was built between 1892 and 1894 to designs by the architect Alajos Hauszmann, with the assistance of Floris Korb and Kalman Giergl. The project was commissioned by the New York Life Insurance Company for its Hungarian head office. The prestigious building, in the eclectic neo-Renaissance style, features a typically Art Nouveau monumentality. Decorative features inspired by the natural world (plants and animals) and sinuously curved lines (spirals, volutes, curls) adorn the vaulted ceilings and columns; sumptuous and elaborate details and an assortment of lavish materials are used to embellish the premises.
 

The great hall is a large rectangular space, a large courtyard roofed in with glass. The interior courtyard walls are painted a very light beige, with arches and different architectural and decorative details for each floor.

One wing of the luxury hotel, on the ground floor, is occupied by the historic New York Café, dubbed “the most beautiful café in the world”. Opened in 1894 by Sandor Steuer, a member of an important Hungarian coffee family, the café soon became the centre of Budapest’s vibrant artistic and cultural life at the turn of the twenty-first century. Visiting the New York Café today is like stepping into a time warp, back to the Belle Époque: you are suddenly totally enveloped in an atmosphere of luxury, opulence and sophistication, highlighted by marvellous ceiling frescoes by Gusztav Mannheimer and Ferenc Eisenhut, painted in the mid-19th century.

Between the two World Wars the Café went through a period of decay. It reopened in the mid-20th century, but it is only thanks to the recent thorough restoration programme, which lasted 5 years (2001-2006) and was carried out by the Boscolo Group, with the collaboration of the National Centre for the Restoration and Reconstruction of Heritage Sites, that the building has been brought back to its original beauty and splendour, and now the city and, indeed, the entire world can once again admire this artistic landmark of great social and cultural interest.

The opulent decor is not just an interior feature but spills out onto the façade as well, where bronze demonic-looking fauns and delicate wrought iron details gracing the entrance portal, which is framed by superb and majestic stone telamons, are only a few of the features that highlight and underscore the magnificence and importance of the building.

The restoration and transformation of the building into a Boscolo Hotel is the result of the combined effort of the architects Maurizio Papiri, Adam D. Tihany, Massimo Iosa Ghini and Simone Micheli. In their work they perfectly and successfully blend and combine old-world prestige and sophisticated contemporary design, creating a preferred destination in Budapest not just for historical and artistic reasons, but also for top-of-the-range luxury hospitality.


Brontvai´s Country Farmstead

“If you want to come to the paradise, drink beer called Brontvai,” says the marketing of the regional Brontvai beer, a new gourmet attraction in Liptov.
 
Róbert Matejovic
Photo: Jozef Veselý
 

If you visit curing thermal spa in Bešeňová, do not forget to stop in the village of Kvačany which is only 10 kilometres far from this popular centre of tourism. It is a gateway to a well- known Kvačianska Dolina (Kvačianska Valley) in the West Tatras with an attractive canyon, a saw and two wooden mills. It is a relaxed village with almost 600 people, which a pioneer and advertiser of country tourism. Brontvai´s Country Farmstead is situated there as well as a family restaurant brewery with some accommodation capacities.
 

Domestic and foreign visitors are offered not only various gourmet specialities “cooked” in beer (beer cheese, sausage in beer, goose, poultry) but also three kinds of 11.5 ş yeast- like beer of Pilsner kind- ale larger, semi-dark amber and dark beer.
 
Return after 30 years

The story began in 2003 when a married couple Jozef and Katarina Brontvai re- purchased a land with an original house in Kvačany from the SES Tlmače where Katarina’s grandparents and mother used to live. Before her parents sold it, she had spent her childhood there. At present, she is an owner of a language school in Ružomberok and a teacher of English and Slovak languages for foreigners. “I returned there after thirty years,” she says smiling. “We ordered a project at Milan Gromica, an academic painter. The project involved the entire reconstruction of the house and turning it into an original “country house” which joins tradition of a village in Liptov and present architecture. We have built two stylish houses on the site- from the wood and stone. The first one, which used to be a language school, is a modern pension with a restaurant and five double rooms. Another house used to be a smith’s workroom for my husband,” Mrs Katarina adds. She is a daughter of a reputable doctor and writer Benjamin Tinák, who wrote his verses and prose using a pseudonym Pavel Beňo. His poetry focuses on the issue of concentration camps, the world of poverty and exploitation of people. His prose deals with experience and facts from Ethiopia where he operated as an internal doctor and director of hospital, with problems of doctor’s responsibility for the patient, the issue of termination of pregnancy and present disaster for human beings- drug addiction.

“We bought the original house when I decided to stop running my business in the field of lock- smithery and smithcraft in which I had been travelling from Slovakia to Germany and back since 1990. Polish competitors and the lack of production partners did their deal of work as well. I really wanted to leave Ružomberok and go to the mountains and change my life- style. And thus I found myself in Kvačany and I began dealing with the idea of country tourism connected with providing accommodation and performing folk handcrafts,” Jozef Brontvai told me.
 
Inspiration from the USA

“The idea to brew beer appeared during our stay in Pennsylvania, the USA, where I visited my sister- in-law. Her husband brewed his own home- made beer in the cellar of his house. It is not unusual that in America you can get all the ingredients and substances you need and you can brew your own beer. And that was that moment when I said to myself: Why shouldn’t I try it too? “ Jozef Brontvai remembers. And thus, when coming from America, the biggest luggage of all contained malt from which I made an outstanding porter. And while he was drinking it together with his wife, he was becoming more and surer that they will begin brewing their own beer. Jozef started studying literature concerning the history of beer, its ways of production, he searched for the information on the Internet, information about small breweries and he was forming a team of his advisors. “Who is looking for anything intensively, one will find it one day. Near Kvačany I met our supporter and specialists, Mr Vojtech Giertl who had built breweries all over the world. They taught me so much and I would have never had achieved anything like that without their help,” he says.
 
They began on one cooker

Originally, he started making Brontvai Beer in the former smith workroom with just a single cooker, four pots, a sieve and a thermometer. Having brewed the first beer, we had to wash plenty of dirty pots, sticky- malty- hopped wort concentrate for brewing. It was the year 2005. “However, we really enjoyed drinking our first beer and we really liked it. I learnt from my own mistakes. Once, I took advice from Vojtech Giertle who was convincing me that a brewery man could not use a mercury thermometer. I was sure it could not break! But it did happen and we had to dispose all the beer. At that time, I said to myself that a black craft but turned in to the white. Having been lent a hand of my advisors, I use my smith tools and make the whole set for brewing beer which according to the strictest European directives. He named Paľko, his son-in- law, the main brewer for brewing beer. He already has his successor,- a son Jakub.”

The equipment of a domestic brewery copies traditions of brewing beer: preparation of malt and its steaming in anti-haze vessels where the process of hazing devotional way, draining malt in draining vessel, separation of hot sludge by tangential cooking, cooling hop wort through anti- stream cooler, souring of hop wort by yeast and fermentation of green beer in a cylindroconical fermentation tanks. Fermentation and ripping of beer is done in adjusted KEG barrels. After having been stored, beer is pushed into 5 or 10 litre- mini- barrels with a special head for drawing.
 
Healthy bio - product

The final product of this manufacturing process that takes 122 days is unfiltered and unpasteurized beer with no chemicals and preservatives. “In other words, it is a healthy bio- product, an extract from malt which contains yestlike base. Monthly, we produce 1,700 litres of beer from Slovak ingredients and water from Kvačany. We also sell it in our restaurant and many gourmets from nearby surrounding,” Jozef Brontvai continues.

As he further told me, philosophy of family beer is not about drinking alcohol but about satisfaction, about human relationships, nice experiences and funny gatherings wit friends.

The quality of the beer was the last tested by the Beer Research Institute from Prague. Based on their study, Brontvai beer contains a lot of fyto-estrogens and it suitable mainly for women.
 
Plans to the Future

Kvačianska dolina (Valley) is beautiful but attracts only a few tourists. And that is why Mr and Mrs Brontvai are going to organize the second beer festival in their country house. The festival will not miss fun, music and presentation of folk arts. Jozef Brontvai is a born gourmet and that is why he likes cooking and preparing various specialities. In the future, he is planning to hire a piece of wood where he would build a few chalets and they will present their traditional handcrafts again. Most of all, their “yard” creates space for everyone, there is a place to sit and chat while having a glass of freshly brewed beer and gourmet news- specialty, i.e. malt sorbet. “It is boiled extract from malt before souring, caned hopped wort enriched by fruit concentrates makes this drink suitable for vegetarians, vegans and people suffering from diabetic,“ adds Jozef Brontvai and I am glad I have no digestion problems as I am used to having from other industrially manufactured and pasteurized beers.


We were there

Books for Slovak Children in the Serbian Village of Pivnica

Pupils from the Primary School, Bernolákova Street no. 16, in Košice helped Slovak children in Serbia. How? They have collected more that 400 books (student’s books, fiction, literature for children, picture books, poetry) for the pupils in the bilingual Slovak- Serbian School of the 15 October in the village of Pivnica in Vojvodina. “We believe that our gift will become a useful part of your school library and will help to enlarge knowledge not of your pupils only but also pedagogues. We are glad we could help your school,” reads the letter addressed to Tatiana Naďová, the headmistress, written by Ivan Vydra, a headmaster of the Primary School, Bernoláková Street no. 16 in Košice.
 

Ms Sonja Bakaličová is the author of this idea. She initiated the similar collection of books for the Slovak School of Jan Amos Comenius in Kulpín, near Bács Petrovec (see Dimenzie no.12/2008) at the end of the year 2008.
 

Books that are inherited

“I began organizing the second charity collection soon after finishing the first one. First, I addressed a headmaster of the school and he agreed with it. Later, in cooperation with the headmaster’s deputy and with Ms Mária Spišiaková, the charity collection started. Teachers were thrilled about it and wanted to help Slovak children in Serbia which has been suffering from the consequences of tragic war and economic events. Some teachers even brought books that were their heritage from their parents and they did not know where to put them or whom to give them. It has always been true that book have always been fashionable and those of high quality are inherited from one generation to another,” says Sonja Bakaličová. She was born in Komárno and has been living in Serbian Horgoš at the Serbian- Hungarian border. She used to teach biology and technical work at primary school (She is unemployed at the moment) and thus she had an opportunity to see poor library funds in the school library. And this exactly motivated her to visit primary schools in Košice where her sister lives. She addressed headmasters with this idea of collecting books for Slovak children in Serbia. “Our parents´ family libraries contain many books of a high quality- Slovak and international classics which his not published so frequently these days as they are not best- sellers and you can rarely get them in shops. I would like to help and wish Slovak children in Serbia stayed in touch with their mother tongue although they live so far away from their state,” emphasises Mrs Bakaličová (nee Ďurkovičová) who a few years ago fell in love her husband, a Serb, and also in an old good former Yugoslavia,” as her contemporaries usually say.
 
Since 1790

The village of Pivnica (Pivnice in Serbian language) is situated in the south- west part of Vojvodina, in the district of Báčska Palanka. It is only 50 kilometres from the city of Nový Sad. There are almost 4,000 inhabitants thee out of whom majority is Slovak (76%). They are still using their dialect, customs and traditions at present. Majority of people deal with agriculture, keep pigs and cattle. Young people leave the village to work in Novy Sad, Báčšska Palanka or to Slovakia.

The history of Slovak immigration in this originally Serbian village says that the first Slovak evangelic family came there in 1790. They came from some villages and towns from the west of Hungary, from the surroundings of Veszprém and Szekesfehervar where they came from Myjava, Modra, Vrbové, Stará Turá a Nitra in the 18th century. Later Slovak families from Romanian Nadlak came to Pivnica; they were joined by Germans, Hungarians, Jews, Romany people and orthodox Cincari (Aromanians) from Romania. Slovak culture and cultural heritage are still presented there by the Janko Čeman´s Amateur Theatre which has longer than a hundred year theatre tradition in Pivnica and the Festival of traditional Slovak songs called “Gathering in the fields in Pivnica. At the end of January 2010, there will be the 45th international festival held- it is also the competition of singers- soloists singing original folk songs from all the regions and states of the former Yugoslavia.
 
They study four languages

The 15th October Primary School is the only one in Pivnica. It embodies heritage of some Slovak evangelic schools that were nationalized after the Second World War. At present, the school is named after the day when the village was deliberated from the Hungarian oppression by the 12th division of Vojvodina together with soldiers of the Slovak brigade. The school is located in the building in the centre of the village.

It has 285 pupils and 79 are Serbians. Slovak children are in Slovak classrooms Serbs in Serbian ones. Serbian children study all the subjects in Serbian language, Slovak children learn in Slovak language. “There are very few schools in Serbia which can be proud of something. Our Slovak pupils also learn Serbian as a second language. Apart from that, they have mandatory English language and from the fifth class children learn Russian as a second mandatory language Tatiana Naďová told me. She has bee a headmistress for eight years.

“Our Slovak pupils prefer Serbian secondary schools because they are afraid that after finishing secondary grammar school because children are worried they might not be able to find a job otherwise they will have to go to university which they all will not definitely manage. Slovak secondary grammar school usually has between 5 and 6 students enrolled,“ she continues.
 
First Big Present from Slovakia

I visited this school just before a New Year’s Eve to bring children the first half of ht books. I took Samko, my younger 16-year- old boy son with me so that he could see how people and children live in the country in Vojvodina. Over the past 20 years, they have experience three wars, bomb attack and strict economic embargo. I wanted him to compare the quality of life in Slovakia to that in the village. I wanted to show him how Slovak villages used to be like a longer time ago.

“The books you brought are the first present from Slovakia- better said. We had received some books from our partner schools in Slovakia – Jozef Horák´s Primary School in Banská Štiavnica and in Liptovská Osada. Most of the books were for studying but mainly the books they did not use but they were so precious for us,” says Tatiana Naďová, a headmistress.

Her school has been cooperating with a Janko Horák´s Primary School in Banská Štiavnica. Within the cooperation, many exchange stays of teachers and pupil are carried out, many literature and painting competitions are organized. The cooperation wit the Primary School in Liptovská Osada has lasted for two years and its main contents is a common project focused on the life and works of Milan Rúfus. “Our pupils read his works and made presentations, sang his poems made into songs, illustrated them and performed a small theatre performance. They pupils from Liptov showed us similar things and finally, everything was evaluated together. Comparing was very useful for both sides.”
 
Slovak Aid which hurts

In spite of school holiday, we were eagerly awaited by pupils, the headmistress and three teachers and ten pupils-girls-the best ones from each year (as I learned later). I was glad that I could talk to them not only about the magazine but mainly about the books and things they miss from Slovakia. They told me how excited they were about Slovak films, children stories, cartons, magazines, novels, detective stories, and books for teenagers. Teachers told us they would really appreciate poetry for children, scientific literature, dictionaries and latest students´ books (because of terminology), methodical guidebooks and aids for the Grade one at primary schools and for kindergartens as little children are the part of ht school too. Of course, I wondered if Slovakia helps them anyhow and how are the money from taxpayers of the Slovak republic used to support Slovak minorities abroad.

“Although our school is being helped by the local government, Vojvodina secretary for Education and the National Assembly of the Slovak National minority. WE were a bit hurt to hear the Serbia got funds to support the secondary grammar school v Báčšska Palanka (200,000 Euros) for the reconstruction of an already repaired building, the project was founded within the programme Slovak Aid. We would rather got money for insulating our building, changing the windows and furniture, wooden floor and establishing a completely new computer cabinet where they need 15 computers. Well, we are the only Slovak schools in the districts?” she answered to my question.

And how are we helped by a higher representative body of the Slovak minority- the National Assembly if the Slovak National Minority in Serbia which is financed by the Slovak Republic? -  I continued asking.

“For example, we received money from them to furnish and equip the music room; we got books and CDs for the school library. Children studying at Serbian schools learn Slovak from the special students’ books for learning Slovak language. Our teachers are also given an opportunity to improve their professional knowledge in Slovakia and children come to Slovakia to so-called “school in nature in Detvianska Huta. The organization helps us within its possibilities. And we are grateful for a kind of help and cooperation.”
 

Help Slovak children in Serbia Would you like to help them as well?
 

Please, contact the editor of the magazine Dimenzie on the following GSM number: 0903646090 or on the e-mail: dinemzie@internet.sk.

We will be happy to meet and agree with you.


Croatian Ethno Nativity Scenes

Traditional Croatian Christmas customs are represented at the exhibition called

“ The King of Heaven was born” in the seat building of the Slovak National Museum (SNM) in Bratislava and its Museum of Croatian Culture in Slovakia in Devínska Nová Ves. It was opened to public on 15th December 2009 and will last until 31st January 2010. The exhibition is organized under the patronage of the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia.
 

It represents traditions and customs in various Croatian regions from the Advent Season to the Three Kings´ Festival. The domains of the exhibition are the nativity scenes dating between 1880 and present. They are colourful and natural made of sea shells, pottery, salt, corn leaves, wood, cardboard, stone and even from the sieve on the pan with small santons of the Three Kings and floral decoration, which dates back to the year 1922. They have various backgrounds- they are placed freely, surrounded by the fence, under the roof and in the whole house. They also really vary in size- from small ones to a large church nativity scene consisting 28 santons. Moreover, a visitor will enjoy the sight at a few kinds of corner nativity scenes as well as various nativities (cribs). There is also a Christmas tree (a fir) decorated with colourful paper, straw and gingerbread, nicely laid Christmas table with a family wearing folk clothes or decorative chandeliers. The exhibition is adorned by lightened pumpkins from St Lucy, the statue of the Mother of God, various pictures and photographs. One of them depicts a rite of burning an old boat in the evening before St Nicolas Day, which is believed to bring luck to sailors.

Showing Croatian Christmas customs and manners is the continuation of already started cooperation between the Ethnical Museum in Zagreb and the Slovak National Museum in Bratislava. At the end of the year 2008, the citizens of Zagreb already had an opportunity to see a Slovak Christmas exhibition named “Glory to God… symbols of Christmas in traditional Slovak culture” which introduced rich national custom.

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