More (hidden sea and other benefits)
The word ‘more’ [mo:re:] (more: “man, person” in the Romany and Košice languages, “sea” in the Slovak language), which entered the Košice language from the Romany, is used non-stop in the city, functioning as a pronoun, an exclamation, a question tag, an imperative. In isolated cases it can also denote, as in the common forms of the Slovak language, that part of the ocean that washes the shores of a continent. Only a negligible, unenlightened fraction of the Košice petit-bourgeoise and newcomers from the villages spend the summer months in seaside resorts outside of Košice.
The birth of the city’s proud, landlocked swimming-pool aristocracy can be attributed to its stable, unchanging location deep inside the Eurasian landmass, thousand kilometres away from the nearest seashore (moving in any direction), combined with a long-standing tradition of city spas, swimming pools and lidos, weak transport links to the civilized world and centuries of economic underdevelopment.
The river Hornád flows through the city at a lazy pace in a heavily-regulated basin, reaching a maximum depth of two to three metres. However, the danger it poses does not rest in its form but in its content. Upstream from the city as well as inside it, a good number of factories and waste disposal units enrich the river’s waters, bringing to Košice a noteworthy bacterial diversity. In spite of this, the people of Košice like spending time by their river, though all forces conspire to keep their access to it to a minimum. The river was diverted from the Old Town in the 1970s by the Communist city planners and replaced by a major road. Today the water-yearning people of Košice thus flock to the water banks in the north and south of the city. In the north, the Anička resort offers an ideal combination of green spaces, a sufficient density of establishments offering alcoholic refreshments and an access free of charge. The same goes for the countless artificial lakes and water reservoirs that lie in the close vicinity of the city. The most popular are Čaňa, Geča, Bukovec and Ružín. Each of them struggles in its own way with hygiene, a wildly variable quality of services and weak public transport links. In contrast, the artificial lake Jazero (meaning simply ‘the Lake’) is ideally situated right inside the city, giving its name to the Nad Jazerom (‘Above the Lake’) tower-block district that lies on its shores. In summer the lake is used for water skiing and wakeboarding. However, all these are just supplements to the real attractions - the city’s swimming pools and lidos.
Triton, Ryba, Čeháčko (ČH or Červená hviezda, meaning ‘Red Star’) and Mestská plaváreň (the City Lido) facilitate social interactions comparable to a visit to the Opera, offering plentiful opportunities for comparing economic, silicon, muscular and power statuses. The high-school terminology of the Košice šráci (boys) and čaje (girls), freshly discovering their sexual maturity, mixes with the exchanges of the old Košice čavargoši (50+ years old boys), talking about water polo, which, together with ice-hockey, enjoys a privileged status in the city.
The geographic coordinates of the city enable it to benefit from all the advantages offered by the continental climate. While in mid-September you might still be having a nice Indian Summer dip in the lido, by the end of November, following an abrupt arrival of winter, you might already be skiing down the slopes that surround the city.
Directly within the city there are three skiing slopes accessible by public transport. Červený breh is a small meadow more suited to sledging, while the ski resorts Jahodná and Kavečany fulfill all the basic skiing and snowboarding requirements. More challenging slopes and trails can be found at Plejsy and Kojšová hoľa, each only about thirty kilometres from the city.
While other Europeans travel to spend their summers by the Mediterranean and their winters in the Alps, the people of Košice enjoy the stifling summers and bitter winters from the comfort of their tower-block abodes. Any similarity with the cities lying past the Ural mountains is only superficial: Košice is part of the EU, latin alphabet is used in the city and capital punishment has been abolished.
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