Pictures of the Other Europe

by Anna Kellar:

“Oh, no! We’re in *gasp* *shudder * Eastern Europe.”

In the film Eurotrip, the heroes arrive, accidentally, in Bratislava. As the quote above indicates, the city is depicted as a dystopian wasteland of cement-block Soviet apartment buildings, a place so empoverished that the American tourists’ left-over chang can buy a 5-star dinner and a night of absinthe-fueled revelry. For many Americans, these stereotypes is all that they know about Slovakia, and Eastern Europe beyond Prague remains a blank.

I am interning for the summer for Transparency International Slovakia, an NGO that fights corruption in politics, business and the media. While I am living in Slovakia, I am trying to capture the real images of Bratislava and Eastern Europe – the communist kitch and the capitalist excesses, the traditional beauty and the Euro-hipster new arrivals.

Oil refineries on the outskirts of the city. Its true that you don’t have to go far to see the legacy of the old regime: concrete-block apartment buildings, creaking trams and giant highways that seem to go nowhere. But most of the smoke stacks have been banished to the outskirts of the city as property prices have soared in the center (Kellar/TYG)
3. Hapsburg-style elegance in the Old Town. The center city is another world entirely. Here you might as well be in Vienna, as tourists and locals stroll through the well-preserved streets, stopping at outdoor cafes and beer gardens that start to get busy early in the afternoon. (Kellar/TYG)