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Monday, October 26, 2015

GAWA Day #40: Bratislava--Gem of the Danube

Bratislava is clearly my most surprising city on this Grand Around the World Adventure.  Why?  I pictured a city of poverty and war.  I must have confused this area with Serbia or whatever.  Bratislava is the gem of the Danube, and only recently so.

First settled around 5000 BC, a good beginning point of the modern history is when the Iron Curtain fell in 1989.  Czechoslovakia eventually, and reasonably amicably, split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.  The former had the more advanced economy and the latter was the poor sister, where Bratislava is the capital.

Slovakia is a country of 5 million, and 10% live in Bratislava.  You can read about how they got so far so fast--decent leadership, a people insulted and the flat tax are some reasons--but the country now produces more vehicles/capita than any country.  The labor cost is the second lowest in the European Union (EU28 member nations, now referred to as states) and the labor force is the most productive in the OECD (organization of 34 countries in this total region).   The information technology infrastructure is excellent and major international companies are establishing here.  The GDP/capita is 178% of the EU average and unemployment rate is below 2%.

Their most important one event in history?  It's a long story, but their 2002 Men's World Ice Hockey Championship, for this incredible achievement, for the first time ever, brought the entire populace together.  Previously, there were all these petty and significant political and economic rivalries.  These attitudes melted away, and the country came tougher because of this victory.  The biggest national heroes are stars of the National Hockey League.

The future?  Cars that fly?  Sure, they had an accident, but here is a product of their aeromobile program:


Mind you, there is considerable graffiti, worry about the motivation level of the next generation and our tour guide warned about pickpockets.  These roving bands come from outside the country.

So here are a few photos of our tour, beginning with St. Martin's Church:



Note the ad above McDonald's.  Finally, Bratislava Castle and St. Martin's Church as we leave the city:


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