Bratislava Day 1 – Church, Choir, Hockey, and Football!

I knew today’s post was going to take some time.  But, as I sit here, watching the NFL playoffs with Slovak color commentary, I am realizing it just how difficult it will be to summarize such a wonderful day in a short blog post.

I arrived in Bratislava, Slovakia last night by train from Leipzig (via Prague, Czech Republic).  It was a long day by train but absolutely worth it.

Tom Nelson had arranged for me to stay with Dusan and Ruzena Kret.  After only 24 hours I know they will be friends for life.  What wonderful people!

Ruzena and Dusan

They have opened their home to me without reservation and been so generous.  And, it is a wonderful house!

The first picture is a view of the house from the back.  The second is a view of their garden in the winter.  In the summer it produces many fruits, from which Ruzena makes jams and Dusan makes Slibovita, a Slovak drink.

They have one dog and one cat just like our family.  Unlike our family, their dog (Rosie) is good friends with their cat 🙂

As I mentioned, Dusan and Ruzena have opened their home to me and given me free reign over everything.  This afternoon, Ruzena asked me to leave my dirty clothes so she could put them in the wash (very needed at this point of my trip).  When I arrived home from my concert everything had been washed and was drying!

This morning I had the wonderful opportunity to worship at the Bratislava International Church in downtown Bratislava. Where I served as Cantor for the Psalm during the service.



I met many new friends during and after the service, when we had coffee time at the coffee house next door.  Two people have been very important in my planning of the trip to Bratislava, Eva and Ivana.  Eva is an oncological surgeon and Ivana is a musician and teacher. Both were students of Tom Nelson at the Evangeliche Lyceum in Bratislava in the mid 90s just after the end of communism.  Eva has put together much of my schedule and has been transporting me around town.  Ivana is a graduate of both Notre Dame and St. Olaf and has some wonderful ideas about music and the opportunities students from Bethany College could have in the future.  Plus, she is an outstanding organist and singer!

l to r (Ivana Jelen Sabanosova, Me, Eva Rovenska)

After the service, I was invited back to the home of Dusan and Ruzena for a traditional Slovak meal.  I was happy to be able to meet their daughter, Sasha, and her husband, Peter during that time.

Traditional Slovak Meal


Lunch was incredible!  Afterwards, Eva picked me up so we could travel to a nearby village named, Stupova, for what I thought was a performance of folk dancers.

Stupova Church

As it turned out, the concert was of one of the best choirs in all of Slovakia!

It was wonderful to hear such excellent choral music.  And, it was a performance of Christmas songs.  I can honestly say I never in my life pictured myself sitting in a church in Slovakia listening to singers in native costume sing Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.  🙂

I was honored to attend the concert alongside both Eva and her brother, Pavol, who was visiting from the UK.  Afterwards, we had coffee and conversation. . .

Eva and Pavol

I knew it was going to be a long (but happy day) so next on the plan was a visit to Dusan’s hockey match.  Dusan Kret at one time played at the level just under professional in Czechoslovakia.  You can imagine how high that would be since their team nearly always won a medal at the Olympics.  Dusan still plays 4 times per week in what we would call “pick up” games.  I was invited to attend and gladly accepted.  I not only was an observe, but I got a new stocking cap out of it as well!

Dusan on the ice

Selfie with the hockey star

My new hat

We arrived home and Ruzena was very concerned that I had not had enough to eat.  So, while we watched some American football we ate paté.

paté and football

Now it is finally time to go to sleep for the night because it is after midnight and there are so many things to accomplish tomorrow.  Final verdict. . . Bratislava is awesome!


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