I was very lucky to be invited to my friend’s home in Slovakia, not only was I looking forward to meeting her family it meant I got a personal tour of this beautiful country.
After being greeted by her family at Bratislava airport we headed 47km northeast to the city of Trvana. This is the seventh largest city of Slovakia located on the river Trnavka. The city is often referred to as the “Slovak Rome” thanks to many churches within its city walls. Trvana was a very important market settlement as it was the junction of two roads, one from Mediterranean to Poland and the second from Bohemia to Hungary. The market used to be held on Saturdays which was the reason for its name – Sobota (Saturday in Slovak). Now every September they hold the yearly traditional Travana Fair as a memory of the successful market history of the oldest free royal town in Slovakia.
Arriving in the town it was easy to see why so many people turn out for this day. We enter the walled city by the 14th century St Jacob Church. The atmosphere is vibrant, with so much to take in, the architecture of the buildings, the sound of happy chatter and the lively streets filled with stalls offering a variety of delicious foods and crafts plus the essential glass of Burciak.
The beginning of the fair is announced by the fanfares from the town’s towers.
One tradition I was looking forward to was toasting my trip with a glass of Burčiak, and it wasn’t long before I found the crowds holding a glass, this deceptive beverage occurs at a natural stage of white wine making. About a week to ten days into the fermentation process, the sugary white grape juice turns cloudy, frantically bubbling and fizzing and should be consumed almost as soon as it is ready. In a matter of hours, the wild fermentation transforms the sweet grape spritzer into a drier cider or, in some unfortunate cases, vinegar. Drink with caution, the sweet cordial flavor hides the taste of alcohol which catches up with you later as it carries on fermenting inside you! Na zdravie (cheers).
After a quick drink we carry on walking around the streets, down the lines of pretty stalls we stopped several times to talk to the stall holders, each with a historic story of the crafts they were selling, luckily my friend translated the stories to me, but one thing I could understand was how happy and proud they were of their traditional produce and country. We passed stalls filled with decorative biscuits, pottery, linen, and a farrier happily hammering away but I was soon drawn to a stall selling carved wooden mugs….
A very jolly Slovakian explained the history behind these carved mugs – Žincica is a drink made from sheep’s milk, it is the juice taken from the top during the process of making Bryndza cheese. Traditionally, this drink is served in these mugs known as a Crpakm, a wooden cup with an animal or pastoral scene carved into the handle, which are still carved and used to this day to drink the milk. If my hand luggage had allowed I would defiantly have bought a few to take home.
I wish you could smell the scent from my photos as we wonder around, the aromas are mouth-watering. I think it is time to try a Slovak dish – Lokše – A carbohydrate delicacy! A potato dough pancake with lots of flour fried in a hot pan then filled with something salty – Cabbage, melted lard, goose liver pate, duck liver pate, or cheese, for the sweet toothed folk they fill them with poppy seeds, ground walnuts, caramel, chocolate or sweet cheese. The locals wander from each Lokše stall looking for a new filling they have never tried or one of their old favourites.
We sit down at a table with our choice – Goose Liver Pate – Delicious…..
Sitting in the square soaking up the sun and the atmosphere beneath the beautiful buildings I could of stayed a lot longer but we had to head off to our next stop, My hosts still had a busy day in store for me…….