I have said it before, but it really is true: Slovakia is very beautiful. I have enjoyed all of my previous homes to be honest. My four years spent in downtown San Jose during college were great. The urban feel was exciting, compact, and, well, dirty. My one year in Palo Alto was a refreshing change. It’s bike trails, friendly people, and beautiful parks showed semi-suburban living to be quite nice too. Thinking about it kind of makes me miss it.

Banská Bystrica, on the other hand, is conveniently right in the middle of my former two living styles (in a distinctly European way). It’s a smaller city with a population of 80,000 or so and like most European cities they choose to live a more urban life. There are three “burrows” all with a large number of tall apartment buildings. They cover the landscape leaving the few houses to go relatively unnoticed. I recently found out this is because during the communist era there were regulations on how much space a person could have as a home. If your house was to large for you it was split up and the remaining space was given to someone else. Anywho, history aside Bystrica also has an extensive electric bus system like that of which you would see in heavily urbanized cities in America (San Francisco MUNI comes to mind). There is a mall and even a few stores that are open 24 hours a day, a rarity in Slovakia. With all that said, you can still ride a bike across the whole city in 15 minutes. The air is never brown or hazy although it does smell funny in the mornings. And even though there are a lot of tall apartment buildings you can always see a big green hill/mountain covered in trees. Bystrica could probably be best described as a large mountain city leading me to wonder how it would compare to one of Colorado’s cities.

I’ve painted this picture because outside of my apartment is a small piece of this beautiful place: a big tree covered hill that I look at it whenever I come and go. There is a zig-zagging road that goes up its face leading to the handful of different colored houses that adorn it like ornaments on a Christmas tree. On top a red and white communications tower that, while always visible, is faint to the eye. There is something peaceful about this hill. On sunny mornings it shines against it’s bright blue background. The clouds are always there, perfectly the way one would think big white clouds should look like. On colder mornings, the clouds are different. They sit low and thin masking it’s peak in opaque white. I look forward most of all to its soon to be snow covered appearance.

The hill outside of my apartment

This beautiful scene seems to always escape my camera’s ability to capture its entirety. My photos always leave me feeling like they are lacking something. While a photo can transport your visual senses to a place they have never been or seen before; they lack the ability to impress on its viewer an entire scenic experience such as temperature or smell. Some may say this is the beauty of a well taken photograph, that it provides its viewer with just enough information to want more. Maybe my inability to capture the the hill suggests that the hill should stay that way, uncaptured, and always enjoyed in the moment. Maybe I am simply just not satisfied with my photos because I want them to impress upon you how it makes me feel to stand before it. I not only want to stand in the silence of snow fall looking at it but I want you, my friends and family, to stand there with me. I want to climb to the top and enjoy it’s view. Maybe, I am not satisfied with my photos because no matter what I do to capture the scene so I can share it later it is just not that same as being in the moment. I guess what I am saying is, if you come to Slovakia we can enjoy one of my favorite parts of Slovakia together and if not you can try to enjoy the photographs. But I think the really beauty in all of this is that it is still just the hill in front of my apartment.