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The cities and people of Eastern Europe had a long road to recovery once the control ended. Many countries are still recovering. Slovakia is one of these countries. I continue to be amazed by the resilience of its people. They have been through so much, and yet move forward with an attitude that is so strong and positive that I am humbled in their presence. I never tire of seeing the beauty they have created out of the dismal, gray concrete buildings left behind by the Soviet regime. How difficult it must have been to live in such a state for so many years. Prior to the Soviets the Nazis controlled the area. For many older Slovakians, life is a memory of survival under one oppressive regime or another.
The capital of Slovakia is Bratislava. It is the only national capital that borders two other countries: Austria and Hungary. Bratislava and Vienna are the two closest national capitals, a mere 40 miles apart. Bratislava was the most important town in Hungary during the reign of Maria Theresa (remember the mother of Marie-Antoinette?). And a stomping ground for many musical greats including: Mozart (of course), Liszt, Beethoven, Hadyn, and more (can you tell that I love classical music?).
In an effort to lighten the atmosphere of their capital, several whimsical statues were placed around the city. To the left is one such example. It is the statue of Cumil. He rests on the sidewalk, half-in and half-out of the sewer. No one really knows what Cumil is doing there. Whatever the reason, he brings much happiness to passers-by, especially the children who love to sit on his head! Tourists are often encouraged to rub Cumil's head for good luck. Be careful! The local dogs often use Cumil's head for….well, you know.
The photo to the right shows Schone Naci. The statue represents a real person that was spurned by a woman that he deeply loved. Afterwards he was never the same. He continued to dress elegantly and started giving flowers to women on the street. As a statue, he continues to greet everyone daily with the same joy that he did while living. He, too, serves as a reminder of the freedom the people now enjoy.
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Citizen statues are not the only memorials placed throughout the city. War memorials are everywhere as well. You can see some of them in the slide show to the left.
Come and enjoy Bratislava with Steve Berry in September!
One more note: Steve's new e-book, The Tudor Plot, will be available at the end of this month on April 29th! It is going to be AWESOME (as always!)!