Note for the New Year: as part of a grant to study Slovakia’s political parties (funded by the Fulbright Program and organized with great efficiency by the remarkable staff at Fulbright’s Bratislava office: http://www.fulbright.sk/) I have committed to regular posts on my research and other impressions of life and work in Slovakia. This is what I want to be doing anyway, so it’s a happy task to undertake.
We arrived in Bratislava one week ago last night and I am just now finding the time and energy to record that event. Of course the last week has been devoted to finding a flat, furnishing it, making initial contacts and helping the kids get adjusted to European time. Some of those tasks proved easier than expected (the flat) and others far more difficult (the time change). But we are now Bratislavcani, at least for the next half-year.
Of most note at present is our wonderful newneighborhood. We have settled on Kozia ulica—Goat Street—which was once indeed a path for herders from the city into the hills but is now part of the city’s core, just outside the old moat (now a very busy road) and just below the castle hill. Our street consists primarily of 4- and 5-story blocks of flats on a relatively narrow street, very much an early 20th century urban streetscape with buildings built between the late-19th century and the mid-20th (ours is in the latter category, concrete, glass and brick but not too terrible for all that because the streets are narrow enough that there are no grand vistas to call attention to how unimpressive it is). The apartment has 3 bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen with lots of glass and lots of light (even with the ubiquitous gauze privacy curtains). The back of the apartment faces a courtyard formed by about 8 other similar blocks containing a kindergarten and a park(though we cannot exactly see the park because the kindergarten is in the
way). The front faces the kind of streetscape I normally only dream about: some lovely 19th century flats fronted on the ground floor by a pharmacy, a greengrocer, a flower shop and a sandwich shop (all of which have lovely, colorful things in the windows. The flower shop and greengrocer are attractions in themselves). On our street we have 2 more pharmacies, a wine café, a Czech pub (pretty much in the old style), Bratislava’s best bookstore, and a
library. Around the corners are banks,small grocery stores, shops with antiques and office supplies. Down the way are more cafes, a few churches, Slovakia’s English-language bookstore and just about everything else I could think of. There is constant pedestrian traffic and a lively interplay. This is why people live in cities. Future posts may reveal more about why not everybody lives in cities, but for the moment this comes closer to “where I wish I could live” than anywhere I have ever lived before. (I hope future posts will also say less about me and more about this remarkable place. With any luck I will manage to post on poll results within the next 24 hours.)
p.s. We will occasionally be posting more of these “life in Slovakia” updates at the temporary “Goat Street” blog: