Monday, October 8, 2012

The new Spectacular Slovakia is out!

As mentioned in this post, I had the chance to write six (well, five and a half) articles for this year's (2012/2013) issue of Spectacular Slovakia. The magazine is out now, and we had a groovy launch party a couple weeks ago to celebrate.

The new Spectacular Slovakia tastes good too!

I don't believe much of the content is available on-line (nor will it be for sometime), but you can at least check out the table of contents and some sample pages, or order a copy, if you feel so compelled.

What caught the attention of the people behind the magazine (and what compelled them to contact me for this project) was this blog post that I wrote back in January, about how in the 1960s the communist regime bulldozed nearly all of old Jewish quarter and a large chunk of buildings adjacent to it to clear the way for the UFO (SNP) Bridge and the connecting freeway. I also wrote a sequel to that post that discusses other areas or structures that were demolished by the communists, and Spectacular folks liked the before and after photos I included in both posts. I took the mad, wordy, and pedantic ramblings of these posts and reworked and condensed them into a ~1500 word article on the subject, which will hopefully give future travelers a little insight into why the historical center is as small as it is (compared to other European cities), and why it seems to get cut off so abruptly at certain points.

I also did an obligatory but incredibly fun article on Bratislava's historical center and main attractions, as well as three shorter pieces about where to find traditional Slovak culture in Bratislava, Bratislava's swankier side, and things to do and see around Bratislava's outskirts. Basically, they entrusted me with writing all of the pieces on Bratislava for this issue. There is also a short sidebar piece on miestny rozhlas, which is a condensed, new-and-improved version of this blog post.

The other articles were written by Slovak journalism students from a local university, which is great because it gives them the chance to write interesting and fun articles in English, and also allows them to show off their country to a foreign audience. Another good chunk of the articles were written by an American couple who I have never met, but who are clearly enthusiastic about Slovakia. Finally, a renowned British photographer named Chris Steele-Perkins, came to Slovakia to do a photo-essay for the issue. (He first made his name in the early 70s by delving into the culture of English teds, or teddy boys, and taking photos of them, and I got to see a lecture he did for the journalism students who contributed to the magazine this year).

At any rate, it was an immensely awesome experience to write these pieces, and it's equally awesome to have been published in what is a unique and worthwhile travel guide. I'm hugely indebted to the folks at the Spectator for giving me this chance, and I hope I'll get the chance to contribute something in the next issue.

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