Open every door

One of the joys of travel is the unexpected surprise and the unanticipated glimpse into another culture and society. We had this in spades while traveling in Slovakia this past Easter. One incident in particular stands out for me as an excellent example of this – and an inspiration for me to not be too shy or dissuaded from closed doors or unknown places.

While walking around Bratislava during the late afternoon/early evening of our first day there, we saw a sign for a “folk arts” centre/shop. We walked in to see what was on offer, thinking of souvenirs to take back for us and family. The entrance led into a small entranceway/courtyard with doors on either side. Peering into the windows, we saw workshops for pottery, basket making, fabric work, etc. All were empty of people and the doors were shut. It seemed like the centre was closed & we’d have to go back again the next day to see what was on offer. As we were walking out, we saw another door that was open and a couple of people going in. There was no sign saying what it was for (certainly nothing that my minuscule Slovak would understand!), but on the spur of the moment we walked in. The door led to a small staircase – we could hear some voices upstairs. So we went up.

Upstairs we were surprised and delighted to find that there was a small art gallery with a folk art demonstration/class in progress! Seated around a few tables were a few groups of women making traditional Easter eggs. There were various adults and children watching them and browsing in the art gallery, with a low murmur of conversation. Fascinated, we joined in and watched what was going on.

giving a lesson in egg decorating

One woman was gluing long strands of flexible fiber (some type of soft grass) to plain eggs. She was explaining what she was doing to an eager student who was watching, listening and taking notes. The process was quite intricate, and although she worked quickly, it was obvious that it took great care.

egg gluing

The results of her work were beautiful. Plain – all the grasses were white and the eggs plain and not coloured – but the intricate decorations made the eggs absolutely gorgeous. I wished I had more Slovak at my disposal to ask her about her designs.

At another table was a larger group of women. No students were taking notes, but they were chatting amongst themselves – talking about their designs or the latest gossip?

group of eggsters

These women were using thread to create intricate and beautiful colorful eggs. They used small paintbrushes to paint glue on the eggs and then wound the thread into curlicued and looping patterns. The eggs were all on sale, but we were delighted to just watch. The resulting eggs were gorgeous!

eggs

What a delightful find …that would have laid undiscovered had we relied on guidebooks or had been afraid to poke our noses into unknown areas.

So my new traveling motto: open every door.

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