Word Limitations and Destinations (Autumn 2012)

Me on the trail to Chata Pod Chlebom in Mala Fatra National Park, April 2012…

This was my first ever post on the Englishman in Slovakia site, back in 2012. Other than this explanatory sentence it’s been preserved, unchanged ever since: I guess I’m attached to it, because whilst my perspectives on the country have changed radically since these words were written, it’s ancient history in this ever-changing blog world, and I like ancient history…

I’m a writer. I write a lot, and somehow even manage to make a living from doing so. A not insignificant part of this writing comes in the form of travel guidebooks. Recently, in fact, I’ve been working on the Slovakia chapter of the latest Lonely Planet Eastern Europe book. And whilst I’m not going to give out any secrets about the exciting places included, I will say one thing. Writing for guidebooks can be frustrating.

Not the first phrase that comes to mind, sure. How about “lucky bastard” for example? Well, that’s true too. But guidebook writing is frustrating mainly when it comes to space. I’ve never felt that quite so acutely as when writing a book about a country I’m actually living in.

How, for instance, can you fit in appropriate descriptions of Bratislava’s wonderful boutique hotels, like Hotel Marrol’s? There just isn’t sufficient space to describe the ornateness. How to include mentions of my favourite hikes? Really only a fraction of the beauty of one of Slovakia’s national parks can be communicated in even the most comprehensive of guidebooks. I go to these great places and (not being of a naturally selfish disposition) want to share them with others (you, dear readers). Then I can’t because whether it’s a book, or an article, space restrictions have you always watching your words. Twitter too come to that. And as anyone who knows me will happily tell you, I don’t always like limiting my words. It can have its uses but not when I’m taking a hike up Suchá Belá in the Slovak Paradise and want to talk about the endemic butterflies I’m seeing, or the shapes the streams form when they freeze.

That’s partly the reason I’m setting up this site. To do justice to Slovakia and what I believe to be some of Europe’s greatest, and most versatile beauty… in the scenery, in the architecture, in the folk culture, in the people.

0 thoughts on “Word Limitations and Destinations (Autumn 2012)

  1. Hello,

    My name is Zuzana and I am Slovak girl. As a proud Slovak I always want to tell people about my country and the beauty. however, it is so sad that people are not interested because there are many other countries more known than Slovakia. By this comment I would like to THANK YOU SO MUCH for coming to Slovakia, seeing it, feeling its beauty and spreading the word to the world. There are many hidden places, little villages which are worth to see, but they are forgotten. You have my eternal thanks and I cannot wait to see what you wrote about us, where did you go and how you felt. Thanks thanks thanks!!!

    Kind regards,

    Zuzana

    • Thank you Zuzana :) I agree – Slovakia deserves so much more publicity than it gets – no one realises how the mountains, forests and castles here are some of Europe’s best! Well, hopefully this blog will change that a bit!

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