Sunday, December 21, 2008

Unidentified Flying Bear (UFB)

This post is a bit of a misnomer because, of course, I'm not an unidentified flying bear because not only am I highly identifiable - I am after all a former international fashion model and currently a freelance Goodwill Ambassador - I can't actually fly without the use of a Boeing 777 and a pilot.

Last week - in an effort to culturally enrich their lives - I took the bipedal attendants to Bratislava's Museum of Jewish Culture which, in spite of what their website said, turned out to be closed. A quick-witted bear, I devised a Plan B, which was a trip to the city's super groovy Novy Most, or "New Bridge", formerly known as Most SNP: Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising, which spans the Danube. And as you can see from the photos, atop the Novy Most sits a super-space age UFO tower.

The ewfo (a.k.a, the UFO tower) - proudly holds last place on the World Federation of Great Towers (WFGT) list of, well, great towers. At 303 metres, the Novy Most is the world's longest cable-stayed bridge in the One Pylon-One Cable-Stayed Plane category. I don't really know what that means - my specialties are pretty much confined to cutting edge fashion and organizing relief to much of the developing world - or how many bridges actually belong in that category. Probably more than one though.

For 200 koruny, you can take the elevator to the top of the ewfo but since 200 koruny will - as my male bipedal attendant reminded me - buy 8 half-litres of beer (or 16 half-litres since there are two of them), we (or they) chose not to.

At the top of the ewfo is a swanky restaurant and its Italian chef has pressed me to celebrate New Year's Eve there atop the city. I find it really hard to enjoy your meal with the paparazzi in your face (although I should be used to it by now) and my bipedal attendants can't really afford the 6,000 koruny price tag (booze not included). Besides - as my male bipedal attendant reminded me - 6,000 koruny will buy 240 half-litres of beer (or 480 half-litres since there are two of them), so we (or they) chose not to.

Back in the late 60's-early 70's, when they built the bridge, the city had to destroy almost all of the historic Jewish Quarter (inefficiently represented by the closed Museum of Jewish Culture) and a lot of the Old Town. By doing so, access to the nearby neighbouring Communist Block-'burb - and former site of a labour camp for Hungarian Jews - of Petržalka was greatly improved - so I guess it all depends on what your priorities are.

Their culture-destroying efforts were not in vain though because in 2001, Slovakia declared the Novy Most the "Structure of the Century". I'm not sure if it's really worthy of being the Structure of the Century, but having seen its 20th century competitors, the panelák's - blocks of high-rise pre-fab concrete panel buildings slapped up by the Russians from the 50's to the 80's - I guess it does win hands down.

My bipedal attendants are pretty sure that the ewfo was built by visiting space aliens - although in my mind, there's something quintessentially Slovak about it. But that could just be the
8 half-litres of beer (or 16 half-litres since there are two) of them talking. Besides, the majority of visitors to Bratislava only stay for half a day at most and I don't think that even space aliens could have built the ewfo so quickly.

No comments: