In Transit


In the Balkans for a week. View from the window on the journey over.



Today we joined the in-laws for a trip to the Moravian town of Landshut, named Lanžhot by the locals (I’ve spelt it wrong on the sketches below). The village was celebrating the anniversay of the dedication of the church – essentially, the church’s birthday party.


The celebrations involved a lot of people in traditional festival clothes, or kroj, with groups arriving in different styles of dress over the course of the afternoon (presumably from other villages; and one group was Slovaks, Landshut being near the border). I did some sketches of the Landshut clothes (ignore the top middle, that’s Judge Dredd for last week’s post):

My sketches, however, do not do justice to the ladies’ dresses, and how far to the back they stick out, which is quite extreme. It is as if some woman, frustrated with constantly worrying “does this dress make my bum look big?”, had decided “you know what, to hell with that, I’m going to make a dress that makes my bum look huge. It will look like I’ve got the rear end of a hippo down there. And I will never worry about that question again.”

(There’s a photograph of traditional clothes at the top of the town website, if you’re curious.)


I have decided to work on some of the gaps in my artistic skills. I can sometimes draw buildings well enough to garner praise from friends and family; I cannot reliably draw a tree so well that it actually looks like a tree. So a-googling I did go, and found this on youtube:

My first attempt at using the technique:


and some tree-containing sketches of things visible through the windows:





The Most SNP (Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising):



During the post-war period the government of Bratislava decided they needed a main road somewhere near the city centre, crossing the river Danube. After much deliberation they decided this road should go directly through the city centre, requiring the destruction of several historic buildings, including a 900-year-old synagogue. The city council defended this on the grounds that no-one used the synagogue any more but everyone would use the bridge.

It is true that, coming over the bridge, you get a wonderful view of the city, with the castle on the left (where Maria Theresa was crowned) and the cathedral on the right. Sadly the cathedral, while it escaped being bulldozed, does not benefit from the vibrations of heavy traffic passing by several metres from its doors.

The bridge is crowned by a restaurant, which resembles a flying saucer on stilts, which was supposed to rotate. I do not know if it actually does; I have never been up there. It is colloquially known as “the UFO” for obvious reasons.

I would say something like “communists, eh, what can you do?” but I am painfully aware that democratic and capitalist systems do not always respect venerable antiquity either (e.g.)