Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A bit of Information about Slovakia - Summer 2002

My name is Petya and I'm from Bulgaria. I came to the UK to work at Concordia as a medium term volunteer for six months. I also participated in one of the UK projects in Seaford as a co-ordinator and I will participate in one more, which is in Brighton. I've had a great time here in the UK and for me this kind of work is very interesting and gives you opportunities to learn more about different cultures, to travel, to know how to deal with different situations and people.

In my country we also organise a lot of interesting projects, so if you want to have an exciting holiday and in the same time to do something useful you should think about Bulgaria. It is a very beautiful country with a lot of mountains, which offer excellent skiing terrain, and a big part of the Black Sea coasts if you like hot weather and lovely golden sands.

The geographical situation is very interesting; the country is like a crossroad for the Balkan Peninsula. Serbia lies to the West and Macedonia to the Southwest. Greece and Turkey share the southern border, Black Sea is at the East and river Danube is the natural border with Romania on the North.

The country has a Mediterranean climate and the weather is warm for most of the year, but it also can be very cold in the winter especially in the mountains.

Bulgaria has a very old history; it is more of an ancient Slavic nation than Russia. The country was something like a cradle of civilisation and it is national pride that the Cyrillic alphabet which Bulgarian people use has its origins in Bulgaria and should have been exported to Russia and Ukraine.

Bulgarian people are famous with their incredible sense of humour and hospitality. Even in tourist areas curiosity about foreigners is considerable.

Bulgaria has many different and very interesting folk music and customs. In the Rodopi Mountains you can see people playing on pipe as they do it in Scotland and it is very typical for this region. In the middle part of the country, where Sredna Gora is situated there is very interesting custom to dance over embers. It is very beautiful and picturesque to see.

In March there is one special tradition in Bulgaria – all over the country people make a kind of ornaments from white and red strings - a man figure (in white) and woman figure (in red). They are called Pijo and Penda and the whole ornament is called 'martenitca', which comes from Mart - the Bulgarian word for March. It brings health and happiness and people give them to their friends and family.

Curious to know is that Bulgarian people has opposite way for head movements for yes and no, they move their heads from side to side to signify ‘yes’ and up and down for ‘no’.

Bulgaria is moving fast from the previous communist politic situation to a new democratic future. Soon the country will be a member of The European Community and will continue developing easier and faster.

Viktor, a volunteer from INEX Slovakia, who has also co-ordinated our Peak National Park project this year, explains why Slovakia is an appealing destination for all bear - or maybe beer(!) - lovers

First of all, please, forget Yugoslavia!!! Although Slovenia sounds similar, it’s not what I am writing about. Slovakia (or Slovak Republic) is a former sister country of the Czech Republic and those two countries are still very close to each other: common history, similar languages (in Slovakia you might get by with your Czech...) and the love for the beer (where else can you buy a pint for 20 p???)

Slovakia is very favourable for hikers and “nature-lovers" as there are all kinds of landscape ranging from green plains near the river Danube to the exposed peaks of 2500 metres high Tatra mountains. INEX Slovakia is running more than 20 workcamps all around the country, so everybody can find a niche for him/herself. If you do like wine, there is a workcamp in a small village in the middle of the vineyards near the Hungarian boarders, but in case you prefer more action, you might come across a bear (and plenty of beer too....) in the surroundings of the Lom/ Cierny Balog workcamp campsite in mountainous Central Slovakia. Last year I was co-ordinating the latter project and it was a really extraordinary event for everybody. Imagine being daily driven to the worksite by a small forest railway, taking a bath in a fresh stream or cooking in an old military field kitchen....just amazing.

If you feel more like being “urban-type“ you should definitely come and see Bratislava , the capital, where the INEX ‘s office is based ( sorry , but no workcamps run here....). Visiting its two castles, historic centre and experiencing the pedestrian zone atmosphere with plenty of cafes and beer cellars is what you shouldn’ t miss. Besides calling in our office, of course....

Click here for a country profile on Slovakia

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