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Holidays in Slovakia

Understanding Slovakia

Much of the central and northern part of Slovakia is rugged and mountainous Gerlachovský štít at 2,655 m in the High Tatras is the highest point The Tatra Mountains in the north, shared with Poland, are interspersed with many scenic lakes and valleys The lowlands are in the south with the lowest point of the Bodrog River being 94 m above sea level

Slovakia is also a country of massive medieval castles built on the rocks, beautiful detailed ones located on plains there is about 180 castles and ruins as well as country of caves Only a small number of over 3000 caves 12 is open for public forever

Mostly traditional karst caves, ice caves, aragonite cave etc

History

In 1918 the Slovaks joined the closely related Czechs to form Czechoslovakia Following the chaos of World War II, Czechoslovakia became a communist country within Soviet-ruled Eastern Block Soviet influence collapsed in 1989 and Czechoslovakia once again became free

For many years overshadowed by their north-western Czech neighbors, political representations of Czech and Slovak decided to strike out on their own The Slovaks and the Czechs agreed to separate peacefully on 1 January 1993 and Slovakia became a country in its own right

Historic, political, and geographic factors have caused Slovakia to experience more difficulty in developing a modern market economy than some of its Central European neighbors Finally, however, Slovakia joined the European Union and the NATO in 2004, and finally the Euro on January 1st 2009

Ethnicities

There are some similarities between the Czech and Slovak cultures However, although the Slovaks may talk and eat like the Czechs, they are not the same One of the most striking differences is that while Czechs are largely atheists, Slovaks are largely Catholics This they share with the Poles

As a Hungarian territory for approximately thousand years, there is a Hungarian-speaking minority of 97%, mostly in southern Slovakia Historic German populations were mostly uprooted and expelled after WWII but their historical influence remains

In the eastern part of the country, there are many Romas/Gypsies and some Rusnacs/Rusins and Ukrainians There are also some Czechs, Poles and still some Germans living in Slovakia

Climate

Slovakia has a temperate climate with sunny summers and cold, cloudy, humid and snowy winters

Talking in Slovakia

The main language is Slovak Slovaks are very proud of their languages, and thus, even in Bratislava you will not find many signs written in English outside of the main tourist areas Also, most older people except some in Bratislava are unable to converse in English; however, most young people speak at least some English, as it has been taught in most schools since 1990 Czech and Slovak are mutually intelligible, yet distinctive languages at first, one might think they are dialects of each other

Slovak is written using the same Roman characters that English uses, so Western travellers won't have any trouble reading signs and maps

As Czechoslovakia was an Austro-Hungarian territory for centuries, there is a significant Hungarian-speaking minority of 97% Most of the Hungarians live in southern regions of the country and some of them speak no Slovak Other Slovaks however normally do not speak or understand the Hungarian language

While you can make do with English and German in Bratislava, in smaller towns and villages your only chance is trying to approach younger people that speak some English Older residents may know some German People born between 1935 and 1980 will have learned Russian in school, though few Slovaks will appreciate being spoken to in Russian Due to the significant tourism growth in the North and the East of Slovakia, English is becoming more widely used and you may try Polish Other Slavic languages, especially Russian, Serbian, Croatian, and Slovene may also work In the east Rusyn, a Ukrainian dialect close to Polish is spoken It is also intelligible with Russian to some extent

If you speak the international language Esperanto, you can take advantage of the network of Esperanto delegates scattered across Slovakia

What to do in Slovakia

While you can find a place to practice nearly any sport in Singapore — golfing, surfing, scuba diving, even ice skating — due to the country's small size your options are rather limited and prices are relatively high For watersports in particular, the busy shipping lanes and sheer population pressure mean that the sea around Singapore is murky, and most locals head up to Tioman Malaysia or Bintan Indonesia instead See also Habitatnews 40 and WildSingapore 41 for news and updates about free tours and events

Culture

On the cultural side of things, Singapore has been trying to shake off its boring, buttoned-down reputation and attract more artists and performances, with mixed success The star in Singapore's cultural sky is the Esplanade theatre in Marina Bay, a world-class facility for performing arts and a frequent stage for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra 42 Pop culture options are more limited and Singapore's home-grown arts scene remains rather moribund, although local starlets Stefanie Sun and JJ Lin have had some success in the Chinese pop scene On the upside, any bands and DJs touring Asia are pretty much guaranteed to perform in Singapore

Going to the movies is a popular Singaporean pastime, but look for "R21" ratings 21 and up only if you like your movies with fewer cuts The big three theatre chains are Cathay 43, Golden Village 44 and Shaw Brothers 45 Censorship continues to throttle the local film scene, but Jack Neo's popular comedies showcase the foibles of Singaporean life

In summer, don't miss the yearly Singapore Arts Festival 46 Advance tickets for almost any cultural event can be purchased from SISTIC 47, either online or from any of their numerous ticketing outlets, including the Singapore Visitor Centre on Orchard Rd

Gambling

Singapore is no Las Vegas or even Macau, but nearly 10 billion dollars were poured into its two sparkling-new casinos and it shows Marina Bay Sands at Marina Bay is the larger and swankier of the two, while Resorts World Sentosa at Sentosa aims for a more family-friendly experience While locals have to pay a steep $100/day to get in, visitors can enter for free

Golf

Despite its small size, Singapore has a surprisingly large number of golf courses, but most of the best ones are run by private clubs and open to members and their guests only The main exceptions are the Sentosa Golf Club 48, the famously challenging home of the Barclays Singapore Open, and the Marina Bay Golf Course 49, the only 18-hole public course See the Singapore Golf Association 50 for the full list; alternatively, head to the nearby Indonesian islands of Batam or Bintan or up north to the Malaysian town of Malacca for cheaper rounds

Races

The inaugural F1 Singapore Grand Prix 51 was held in September 2008, and will be a fixture on the local calendar until at least 2012 Held on a street circuit in the heart of Singapore and raced at night, all but race fans will probably wish to avoid this time, as hotel prices are through the roof Tickets start from $150

The Singapore Turf Club52 in Kranji hosts horse races most Fridays, including a number of international cups, and is popular with local gamblers The Singapore Polo Club53 near Balestier is also open to the public on competition days

Spas

Singapore has recently been experiencing a spa boom, and there is now plenty of choice for everything from holistic Ayurveda to green tea hydrotherapy However, prices aren't as rock-bottom as in neighbors Indonesia and Thailand, and you'll generally be looking at upwards of $70 even for a plain one-hour massage Good spas can be found in most five-star hotels and on Orchard, and Sentosa's Spa Botanica also has a good reputation There are also numerous shops offering traditional Chinese massage, which are mostly legitimate, and "health centres", which are mostly not

When looking for beauty salons on Orchard Road, try out the ones on the fourth floor of Lucky Plaza They offer most salon services like manicures, pedicures, facials, waxing and hair services A favorite of flight crew and repeat tourists due to the lower costs as compared to the sky high prices of other salons along the shopping belt Shop around for prices, some of the better looking ones actually charge less

Swimming

Forget your tiny hotel pool if you are into competitional or recreational swimming: Singapore is paradise for swimmers with arguably the highest density of public pools in the world They are all open-air 50 meter-pools some facilities even feature up to three 50 meter pools, accessible for an almost ridiculous entrance fee of $100-150 Actually, this is so cheap that half of the visitors don't swim at all They just come from nearby housing complexes for a few hours to chill out, read and relax in the sun Most are open daily from 8 AM to 9 PM, and all feature a small cafe Just imagine swimming your lanes in the tropical night with lit up palm trees surrounding the pool

The Singapore Sports Council 54 maintains a list of pools, most of which are part of a larger sports complex with gym, tennis courts etc, and are located near the MRT station they're named after Perhaps the best is in Katong 111 Wilkinson Road, on the East Coast: after the swim, stroll through the villa neighbourhood directly in front of the pool entrance and have at look at the luxurious, original architecture of the houses that really rich Singaporeans live in

Buying stuff in Slovakia

The official currency of Slovakia is the Euro € Until January 1, 2009, the official currency was the koruna "crown", sk which can still be found and accepted by the central bank until 2017 at a rate of 30126sk to €1

Automatic teller machines ATM, "bankomat" in Slovak, pl "bankomaty" are widely available in Slovakia except in smaller villages, and obtaining money there should not present a problem In most of small villages you can gain money at local postal offices cashback Credit cards and debit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, Visa Electron, Cirrus Maestro are widely accepted both in shops and restaurants in bigger cities

Food and eating in Slovakia

'Bryndzové halušky' is Slovak national meal made with potato dumplings and special kind of unpasteurized fermented sheep cheese called 'bryndza' You will get pieces of fried meaty bacon on top of Bryndzové halušky Apart from being very tasty and delicious, the bryndza is also extremely healthy Some scientists suppose it can even prevent cancer and treat allergies Other typical dishes include the sauerkraut soup kapustnica, typically eaten on Christmas, plum dumplings, chicken or goose stew with dumplings paprikas and Segedin goulash

Some kinds of bread contains caraway You may or may not like it!

When you want to prepare food by yourself, you may find it interesting buying in villages:

  • pork and chicken are the norm
  • fruits tend to be seasonal
  • vegetables or salads, seasonal
  • bread in late hours

There is a myth that fried cheese is often considered as substitute of meat That is a long way from the truth For more information visit10Slovensko However, a thick fried slice of cheese served with French fries and a salad is a common Slovak dish11 It is served in most restaurants

Drinking in Slovakia

For non-alcoholic drinks try Vinea, a soft drink made from grapes, in both red and white and also non-carbonated Kofola, a Coke-type soft drink, is also very popular among locals and is available both on tap and bottled Slovakia is one of three countries in the world where Coca-cola is not the number one in the market

Mineral waters are some of the best in the World and can offer positive effects, such as helping get rid of heart burn There are many types available from shops and supermarkets, for example Budiš, Mytická, Slatina, Rajec, Dobrá Voda, Zlatá studňa, Mattoni etc Others are only available directly from the many spas that naturally spring up all over the place

For beers, there are a great variety of local brews that are similar in style to Czech beers Try out the local Zlatý Bažant, Smädný Mních, Topvar and Šariš Šariš is also available in a dark version that is thicker and heavier on your stomach If the local tastes do not satisfy, "Western" beers are sold in the bigger restaurants and pubs Note that quality of the tap beer may vary dramatically between different restaurants and pubs, depending on how well they can prepare the beer and how they care about the equipment clean pipes etc

Slovakia has also some great local wines, many similar to Germanic Riesling styles There are also sweeter wines from the Southern border regions called Tokaj Slovak wine might not be widely known outside the region but it is certainly worth a try The best recent wine years in Slovakia were 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2006 The year 2006 is expected to be the best in the last 40 years backwards

Slovakia produces good spirits Excellent is the plum brandy Slivovica, pear brandy Hruškovica or liquor Demänovka But the most popular alcohol is Borovička, a type of gin In some shops you may try a 25 or 50 ml shot for very little money, so as to avoid buying a big bottle of something of unknown flavour, then decide whether to buy or not to buy ;

If you are a more adventurous type, you can try some home-made Slivovica that the locals sometimes offer to foreigners While it is allowed to ferment alcohol at home by law, it is prohibited to distill it The home-made liquors are very strong up to 60% alcohol If Slivovica is matured for 12 or more years, it can become a pleasant digestive drink

Accommodation in Slovakia

There is a wide diversity of rooms available in Slovakia These range from 19 AquaCity, based in Poprad, through to budget priced rooms 20 in rental chalets

Working in Slovakia

Casual work is nearly impossible to come by, as you must have a work permit WP or employment pass EP to work in Singapore In practice, receiving either requires that you have a firm job offer and the sponsoring company applies on your behalf; however, highly skilled people can apply for an Employment Pass Eligibility Certificate EPEC, which allows you to stay in Singapore for a maximum of one year while you look for a job There is also a Working Holiday Programme 70 for recent university grads who want to live in Singapore for up to 6 months

Work permits are mostly intended for menial, low-skilled laborers To be eligible for an employment pass, you would generally need to have a minimum salary of more than $2500 per month and hold at least a bachelor degree from a reasonably reputable university There is also an intermediate known as the S pass, which is usually granted to mid-skilled workers who have been promoted to positions of junior leadership such as worksite supervisor, and would require you to have a minimum salary of more than $1800 per month as well as your employer's recommendation Employment pass holders as well as S pass holders with a monthly salary of more than $2500 are allowed to bring in their family members on a dependent pass

If your employment is terminated, you will get a social visit pass a visitors visa with no employment rights which allows you to stay for no longer than 14 days You can look for another job during this time, but don't overstay your visa, and do not think about working without the right papers, this will result in a short stay in the local prison, with added fines, possibly caning and certain deportation For more information, contact the Ministry of Manpower 71

Once you have been working in Singapore for a year or so with an employment pass or S pass, applying for permanent residence PR is fairly straightforward If granted — and the rule of thumb is, the higher your salary, the more likely you are to get it — you can stay in Singapore indefinitely as long as you can show some income every 5 years and can change jobs freely

Cities in Slovakia

banovce  banska bystrica  banska stiavnica  bardejov  bojnice  bratislava  brezno  brezova pod bradlom  bytca  cadca  cierna nad tisou  detva  dobsina  dolny kubin  dunajska streda  galanta  gbely  gelnica  giraltovce  handlova  hlohovec  holic  hrinova  humenne  hurbanovo  ilava  kezmarok  kolarovo  komarno  kosice  kremnica  krompachy  krupina  kysucke nove mesto  leopoldov  levice  lipany  liptovsky hradok  liptovsky mikulas  lucenec  malacky  martin  medzev  medzilaborce  michalovce  modra  moldava nad bodvou  myjava  namestovo  nemsova  nitra  nova bana  nova dubnica  novaky  nove zamky  partizanske  pezinok  podolinec  poltar  poprad  povazska bystrica  presov  prievidza  puchov  rajec  revuca  rimavska sobota  roznava  ruzomberok  sabinov  sahy  samorin  secovce  senec  senica  skalica  sladkovicovo  sliac  snina  sobrance  spisska bela  spisska nova ves  spisske podhradie  stara tura  strazske  stropkov  stupava  sturovo  surany  svaty jur  svidnik  svit  svodin  tisovec  tlmace  trebisov  trencianske teplice  trencin  trnava  trstena  turcianske teplice  turzovka  tvrdosin  vrable  vranov  vrbove  vrutky  zarnovica  zeliezovce  zilina  zlate moravce  zvolen  

What do you think about Slovakia?

How expensive is Slovakia?
(1 EUR = 1.12 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant4.96 EUR
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)18.2 EUR
McDonalds meal4.85 EUR
Local beer (0.5 draft)1.11 EUR
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 1.46 EUR
Cappuccino1.33 EUR
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)1.11 EUR
Water (0.33 bottle)0.89 EUR
Milk (1l)0.8 EUR
Fresh bread (500g)0.87 EUR
White Rice (1kg)0.94 EUR
Eggs (12) 1.89 EUR
Local Cheese (1kg) 7.12 EUR
Chicken Breast (1kg) 5.93 EUR
Apples (1kg) 1.27 EUR
Oranges (1kg) 1.4 EUR
Tomato (1kg) 1.37 EUR
Potato (1kg) 0.56 EUR
Lettuce (1 head) 0.71 EUR
Water (1.5l)0.56 EUR
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 3.83 EUR
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)0.59 EUR
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 1.13 EUR
Cigarettes3.3 EUR
One way local bus ticket0.72 EUR
Monthly pass for bus22.05 EUR
Taxi start2.02 EUR
Taxi 1km0.69 EUR
Taxi 1hour waiting9.4 EUR
Gasoline (1 liter) 1.31 EUR
Utilities for a "normal" apartment177.38 EUR
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 8.16 EUR
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 410.49 EUR
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 265.65 EUR
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 644.7 EUR
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 528.69 EUR
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