Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bratislava's Dobry trh

Four times a year downtown Bratislava hosts this event called Dobry trh (*see bottom for pronunciation), which means Good Market. It takes up much of the length of Panenska street, a slightly ramshackle but generally picturesque historical street about a block outside the pedestrianized center, and the event is absolutely mobbed. Vendors set up stalls selling artisanal food and wine, as well as etsy-esque arts-and-crafts stuff, random junk, used books, and a variety of other things. Some of the stalls were occupied by local shops who seemed to be selling excess or old stock cheaply, while other stalls appeared to be manned by individuals or very small "businesses" selling random ephemera.

What's interesting to me about Dobry trh is that all of these kind of semi-hip and culturally switched on looking people come out of the woodwork for this market. Where some of these people disappear to when the market is not happening, I've no idea, but it's the one event in Bratislava that feels a bit like, say, the Lakeshore farmer's market in Oakland, or the Center St. farmer's market in Berkeley. Although this isn't a famer's market, it attracts that kind of crowd, if you know what I mean. A colleague of mine joked that if you dropped a bomb on the Dobry trh, you'd wipe out a good portion of Bratislava's middle class.

The artisanal food stalls seem to be the most popular. Giraffe Bakery always has the longest line, with its tasty cupcakes, cheesecakes, and macaroons. The cupcake craze is still somewhat of a novelty in central Europe, since cupcakes are much more of an American thing, so people still get excited about them as they obviously haven't reached the point of over-saturation like they have in the States, where these days mentioning the word cupcake might elicit jaded eye-rolling. This woman's cupcakes are pretty good.

There was also a stall serving Mexican food, but we were mystified by the basket of sliced dark bread they had on their table. I think that some Slovaks have a hard time stepping out of their comfort zone when it comes to food.

A sushi place we've yet to try had a stall here, and there were also people selling artisanal cheese, wine, Slovak sausage, strudel, and other baked goods.

This woman is selling wine made from black currants.

I was hoping to see more in the way of old junk. There were a few stalls selling vintage fashion accessories like old glasses, and a guy selling ephemera like old postcards, but ultimately not much. One of the many things I miss here, which we have an abundance of in the US, are junk shops or flea markets where people sell interesting antique or vintage crap. Strangely, I never see these in Slovakia! For example, I'd love to be able to sift through some old communist paraphernalia, something that is oddly quite elusive in this country. People here seem to be so hyper-obsessed with having new things that it's rare to find shops or people who are into vintage stuff. It's like there's not much of a market for it here. I don't know if it's a matter of people trying to leave all memories of communism in the past, but all of the junk that was amassed during the 40-year regime had to have gone somewhere, right? Hopefully not in a landfill.

It's always nice to see people selling LPs, but this guy didn't have much.

This woman was selling a small assortment of vintage and vintage-y things.

At any rate, it's nice to see Bratislavans actually get out of their flats for something other than the annual Christmas market in December. This town normally feels so dead on the weekends that stumbling upon this market was a pleasant surprise. It'd be nice if they held it more often, and it would also nice to see more types of ethnic cuisine represented. Bratislava really needs more of this kind of thing. 

*To pronounce trh, you can take the word "turd", nix the d, roll the r, and follow that with a soft, quick h sound, sort of like the sound you'd make when exhaling.

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