Many countries in some Cold War films centered around the little known country of Czechoslovakia hidden behind the dreaded Iron Curtain by Soviet rule. In the early 1990s, known as the Velvet Divorce, Czechoslovakia became two independent countries--the very famous Czech Republic with Prague as its capital; and Slovakia with Bratislava as its capital city.
Both at one time were united, and despite being overshadowed by Prague, Slovakia is just as wonderful as its former spouse. And you might not think to find something as ostentatious as the Andy Warhol Gallery (with all sorts of Modern Art) here, you'd be surprised. Mr. Warhol's parents came from the region around the city of Medzilaborce--so it actually is a fitting place for his eclectic work.
Bratislava is a bit more, ah, historical and traditional. The architecture you'll find around its medieval Old Town center even has its own castle. And luckily, Slovakia isn't a one castle town. The ruins of Devin Castle are famous, but probably not as famous as Spis Castle, the largest of its kind in the country. Its small museum will fill you in on all the medieval details.
Castle design isn't the only kind of buildings famous in Slovakia, people from all over come to Vlkolinec to see the log houses, even earning it a UNESCO designation.
Places like Kosice are great, especially if you're into little cafes and performances at the State Theater; but this place is best enjoyed underground. Follow the extensive network of underground passages for something different.
Rather be outdoors than below? Hike through the High Tatras, or find a trail in the Mala Fatra National Park. Either way, you can't go wrong. For those wanting the vino, take the Carpathian Wine Route.
Maybe its best to wait on the wine until after you've partied at the International Festival of Ghosts and Goblins. Just saying.
Shopping is a good time in Slovakia, and some of the best bargains are pottery and porcelain items, clothing, and woodcarvings. After a day looking for the best gifts to bring home, treat yourself to tickets to the theater or opera. Afterwards, hit up one of Bratislava's nightclubs.
Getting around in Bratislava is quite simple, there's extensive network of public transportation. If you're looking to go further out (to like the northern town of Bardejov that's got very few tourists), the train is a great option. Slovakia's rail system is quite extensive--and popular, so make reservations on trains if possible.
Car rentals are available if you want to drive yourself, but one of the best ways to experience Slovakia is on bicycle. This leisurely pace will allow you to see more of the forest countryside, meet friendly people, and stop for some local fare.
Most food and drinks are safe all over the country--more so than trying to ski your way down the mountainside in Stary Smokovec or Jasna.
Too cold for you in the White Carpathian Mountains? Just come in the summer when the country experiences a warm season to be enjoyed by everyone. The country itself certainly has everything and anything that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Yes, Prague is one of the world's most wonderful cities--and yes, it belongs to the Czech Republic; but it wouldn't be right to forget about its former partner, Slovakia and its capital city of Bratislava--that should also be considered one of the world's most wonderful cities.
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