|Cumil: The Watcher
I was pleasantly surprised to find a rather wonderful revitalization of an old world city. The split from Soviet Rule was in 1989 and called the Velvet Revolution (so named due to its peaceful separation). Four years later Czechoslovakia split again into separate countries, also known as the Velvet Divorce: where Slovakia and the Czech Republic went their separate ways.
In the years that followed, Prague was an up and coming tourist destination and Western influence flooded into the country. Not so for Slovakia, still considered an off-the-beaten track destination. While we were in Vienna our hotel concierge gave us a quizzical look when we told him we were heading for Bratislava next. His reply was, "it'll be quick, you can see it all inside of 2 hours." I disagree, and wish we had more time while we were there. It was charming and still had its authentic character in much of the old town, the people and the shops we visited. One of the things I loved were all the quirky statues about town. There seems to have been a revival in the old town (called Korzo) to shed the greyness of the Communist era by repainting buildings and enlivening the old town with interesting sculptures.
There are several other statues in the series called the Papparazzi and Schoner Naci. This last statue is the only one with a Bratislava legend. He is said to be a man named Ignac Lamar, son of a shoemaker. He was known as a gentleman wearing a black suit with tails and a top hat. He was smooth with the ladies greeting them with "I kiss your hand" in German, Hungarian and Slovak.
The thing that strikes me most about this quirky statue series is that it is a celebration of the common people who represent the country. Usually the statues are of the dictators, the scholars, the famous composers or memorials of some horror. But here in Bratislava it is the celebration of the people. And that in my book makes it unique and down right fun. I was taken with the response I saw on Lonely Planet from a local called Peter who took the time to translate and explain the meaning behind these statues. His final words were "Thank you for visiting our country." I found Bratislava to be a very friendly place to visit and worth the diversion off the beaten track.