Trnava had piqued our interest for its designation as “Slovak Rome” because of its many churches; and having read that a food truck festival and flea market was happening there last weekend, this “special offer” made the Saturday plan to visit the neighbors come together.
The “Pinterest: Central Europe” photo, as I like to call this snap. Could be any number of cities.
It is not a proper former Easter Bloc city without the spectacular Communist architecture.
Trnava was also home to a sizable Jewish minority, as evidence by its two synagogues: one is now a museum, closed for Sabbath; the other, restored as a cafe.
A “Milk Bar.” First introduced by Polish Gentry in the late 1800s, this popular cafeteria gained prominence with Poland’s independence after WWI and was copied around Central Europe, as an affordable means by which workers could enjoy a simple and good lunch. Milk bars have continued into the 21st century as a way to offer ost-algia quality food without the “fast food” experience. The laid-back atmosphere is also popular with hipsters.
The city had important religious roles while in the Kingdom of Hungary; and is now the seat of the Archbishop. Hence the, “Slovak Rome.” There were quite a few churches, indeed, though most were not open.
Touring these quiet little cities follows a predictable pattern: we begin with the old city and its churches; then, the castle or palace if there is one. Lunch is somewhere in one of the ethnic or Italian restaurants, typically filled with older visitors.
Not today! After the creation of Czechoslovakia Trnava became industrialized; and now, after almost 30 years of Soviet maintenance, it is rediscovering itself as an industrial center for Slovakia. Young families filled the square; everywhere we roamed had a vibe of rebirth that we don’t usually encounter. The food trucks were more Vegan and American and Hipster than we’ve ever seen outside of Bratislava, and certainly outnumbered Slovak classics; and the music, a mix of Top 40 and Hungarian folk dances. We queued at a NYC Reuben Sandwich truck, then found a shady space at which to dig into our grilled rye and pastrami goodness.
The old and the new meshed perfectly.