Slovakia TravelMagnificent Ancestry Tours

A short history

Magnificent Ancestry Tours

Ancestral village - Liptovska Luzna, Ancestry Tour of Slovakia


One of the most exciting tours we offer are undoubtedly our private Ancestry Tours where we make connection between an American and Slovak family, we get in touch with Slovak living relatives/distant relatives and organize the meetings / re-unions. These moments are unique, special, meaningful with once-in-a-life-time memories.

Read about our last ancestry tour organized for (and written by) Mr. Ray D. and his mother Carole to fulfill her life-long dream to come to the country of her ancestors – SLOVAKIA.

Meeting with Anna in Liptovska Luzna, Ancestry Tour of Slovakia

DAY 1 – arrival to Prague, Czechia

Mom (Carole) has always wanted to see where her Slovakian-born dad and grandparents grew up before they left for the U.S. to pursue the American Dream. So, we’re doing a mother-son week together to find out. We started out today in Prague, Czech Republic, where we walked in the Old Town Square, saw the Prague Astronomical Clock, walked along the Charles Bridge and admired Prague Castle from afar. Tom

Meeting with priest in Liptovska Luzna (we participated in Sunday's Holy Mass), Ancestry Tour of Slovakia

DAY 2 – drive to Slovakia

Today was day 2 of our visit to Slovakia to see where my mom’s (Carole) dad and grandparents grew up before departing for America in the 1920’s.

– We left Prague and traveled south to Bratislava, the beautiful capital of Slovakia on the Danube River.

– We started at Devin Castle, which was destroyed by Napoleon in 1809. Most startling were the remnants of the Iron Curtain of Communism and the oppression of the Slovakian people. Our fantastic tour guide Peter Blazicek grew up under Communist Slovakia and told us about the lack of freedoms he never truly appreciated as a child. In fact, his uncle, a doctor (highly educated people were highly discouraged under Communist rule) emigrated to Austria, and the family had to travel to Hungary just to see each other. And this was in the 1980s.

– Next was a look back at World War II and the Soviet liberation of Slovakia and crushing the terrors of Nazi Germany, including the killing of thousands of Slovakian Jewish people.

– We then visited Bratislava Castle and the government buildings, with this city being the seat of the national government.

– We ended the day in Bratislava Main Square, enjoying Slovakian wine and cheese. Mom and I drank an entire bottle of local Slovakian white wine and enjoyed local goat cheese for dinner — and watched the local crowd on a Friday evening.

Tomorrow, we head east to the countryside of Banska Bystrica, which is famous for Slovakian beer!
Great memories and fun times!

Bringing 'a piece of Slovakia' to the USA, Ancestry Tour of Slovakia

DAY 3 – we go to the countryside

Our Mom-Son pilgrimage to Slovakia: We left the big cities from the past two days (Bratislava and Prague) and headed south and east into the small villages and mining towns. The term Banská used before many Slovakia city names marks them as mining towns.

First stop was Banská Štiavnica in central Slovakia. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its well-preserved town square. Silver, gold and copper mining has been the town’s legacy since the third century BC. Key sites are the Old Castle, New Castle, Holy Trinity Square and Kalvária religious sites. The town also is known for traditional Slovak food and local beer (and we sampled both).

Next, we traveled to Banská Bystrica, also known historically for copper mining and for culture today. It was the center of anti-Nazi opposition in Slovakia during World War II. The town is marked by the large center Námestie SNP square, filled with flowers and fountains — and lots of people today due to a wine-tasing festival (which we were happy to join!).

Tomorrow — after we recover from all the beer and wine we drank today in the mining towns — we travel north to the small towns where Mom’s (Carol’s) dad and paternal and maternal grandparents lived before they emigrated from Slovakia for the promise of a better life in America in the 1920’s. We are meeting people in both towns who are direct or indirect relatives of the Kajda and Hussarcssik family on my mom’s dad’s side (from Liptovská Lúžna) and the Dzuriš and Rajtsan family on my mom’s mother’s side (from nearby Liptovská Osada). The older townspeople have invited us to church with them in the morning, a home-cooked Slovak lunch and an afternoon of seeing the two towns together. They are as excited about seeing relatives from America as my mom is about seeing relatives from Slovakia!

Long days — and great memories!

Lovely welcome in Liptovska Luzna, Ancestry Tour of Slovakia

DAY 4 – family re-union

Day 4 of my Mom’s (Carole) visit to Slovakia: Today was very special. While the rest of our time in Slovakia has been about seeing fantastic places, Sunday was all about meeting fantastic people – Slovak relatives. My mom’s dad was born in Slovakia and left for America in the 1920s, and my mom’s maternal grandparents also were born in Slovakia and left for America at about same time. They all moved to southern Ohio, where my mom’s mother was born – all living near cousins in the Martinsky family, also from the same part of Slovakia.

My mom’s lifelong dream has been to see the mountains and villages that her dad – whom she idolized – told her about before he died when she was 14.

Today started by joining Anna for services at the Church of the Holy Trinity in the wonderful village of Liptovská Lúžna, the town that the Kajda and Husarcik families on my mom’s dad’s side helped form. When two people who never have met – separated by nearly 5,000 miles – are both in tears the minute they meet and hug each other, you know a special Slovak bond has been in their hearts for years. Anna is my mom’s cousin and one of the most gracious and welcoming people I ever have met. After church, we enjoyed a wonderful Slovak lunch, music and tour of the town.

Later in the afternoon, Anna joined us on the short drive to the adjacent village of Liptovská Osada, where the Dzuriš and Rajtsan families on my mom’s mother’s side lived. There, we met Margita, whose grandfather was the brother of my mom’s maternal grandfather. She brought old photos, showed us the barn that still exists from where my mom’s grandparents lived and walked us through the old cemetery pointing out historical markers.

Anna then took us on a walk in the beautiful nature that surrounds the regions – between the Lower Tatras mountain range and Veľká Fatra national park. The small but strong Lúžňanka River and the snow-capped mountains in the distance define the region and its incredible beauty.

I captured some cool videos and photos of Mom dancing, laughing and telling old stories with distant relatives – capping a day she described as “one of the most memorable experiences of my life.”

A big thank you to Peter Blazicek, Jana Blazickova, Michal Razus and all the Slovak relatives who made us feel so welcome – and sent us home well-fed, extremely relaxed after drinking 50-plus-proof homemade brandy all day and bags of gifts and incredible memories we never will forget.

Browsing the family ancestry photos, Liptovska Luzna, Ancestry Tour of Slovakia

DAY 5 – the High Tatras

Slovakia with Mom Day 5: We admired the rolling hills and mountains from afar yesterday. Today, we took a closer look by traveling into the High Tatras mountain range. We hiked, walked, admired the natural beauty and, of course, had more great Slovak food – at 5,000 feet.

Next, we traveled a bit further into eastern Slovakia to visit the medieval town of Levoča, which dates to the 14th century. It is a walled city surrounding the beautiful Basilica of St. James, which has the world’s tallest wooden altar at 61 feet.

Next stop was Spiš Castle, built in the 12 century and the only one in Slovakia to never be conquered by invading enemies. Fun fact: Several movies like Dragonheart and Phoenix were filmed there. To many, Spiš is the iconic symbol of Slovakia, and it appears on nearly every travel video and brochure.

Finally, we headed back to our beautiful hotel in the High Tatras and took a two-mile walk around a mountain lake – listening to nature and having an hour of mom-son one-on-one talking time!

Home-made Pecene Buchty, Ancestry Tour of Slovakia

DAY 6 – Orava region

Day 6 of Slovakia with Mom (Carole): Today, we learned a ton about history and the Slovak culture.

We drove north to the Orava region, which borders Poland. When we went to my mom’s dad’s hometown on Sunday, the priest/historian said her ancestors originally were from Orava. The Oravaci people, as they are called, are known to be tough with a strong, tireless work ethic. They traveled in the 1650’s from the bitterly-cold-in-the-winter Orava region to better weather and better jobs in my mom’s dad’s hometown of Liptovská Lúžna.

During our drive today, we passed through the quaint town of Liptovský Mikuláš. Mikuláš is Slovak for St. Nicholas or Santa Claus as we know him in America. Svätý Mikuláš comes on the evening of December 5 and gives presents to good children. Children place their shoes near the door so Svätý Mikuláš can fill them with sweets and fruit the next morning. However, if children have not been good, they receive garlic, onion or coal in their shoes. This tradition of St. Nicholas Day is one Debbie Day and I have continued each year with our own girls – as we loved it so much from our time living in Europe in the late 1990s.

For Christmas, December 24 is the most important part of the holiday in Slovakia. Most families enjoy a Christmas dinner and open all their gifts that evening. The dinner often includes eating a wafer coated with garlic and honey for blessings in the year ahead. Fish typically is the main dish – and, sometimes, Slovak families keep fresh carp in the bathtub several days before Christmas Eve for the freshest fish possible at the family meal.

Speaking of holidays, many of the places we have been visiting are still decorated for Easter. Unlike America, Easter Monday has special significance in Slovakia – with young men visiting the homes of young women, gently whipping them with fresh-cut willow-tree branches or dumping a bucket of cold water on them. After, the young lady invites the young man into the house and gives him beautifully decorated Easter eggs. The tradition is meant to promote good health and beauty for the women in the year ahead.

Also interesting is being here on April 30, known as the “night of witches” in Slovakia. It’s when Slovaks gather around bonfires to burn “the spirits of witches.” April 30 was the day when evil forces were believed to reach their peak after the long, cold and dark winter months. Burning witches is a cathartic act meant to cleanse the air.

It’s also the eve of a national public holiday, May 1 – or “May Day.” This spring tradition dates to the 6th century. In every city we visited today, we saw “May poles” – or “máj.” A long fir, spruce, birch or pine tree is peeled off the bark and branches, leaving only the green top. They then are decorated with various paper and cloth ribbons.

During our travels today, we also saw several wooden homes and churches – often with onion- or helmet-shaped domes. Also interesting was the historic Orava Castle, which was designed to protect Slovakia-Hungary from invaders from Poland (only 30 minutes away). From 1867 until 1918, Slovakia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. From 1918 to 1992, it was part of Czechoslovakia. Modern Slovakia has been an independent country since 1993.

We called it a day by spending the night in a hotel built underneath the historic castle in Trenčín, which dates to Roman times. And, of course, we enjoyed even more great Slovak food and wine!

Carolyn or Karolinka in Liptovska Luzna, Ancestry Tour of Slovakia

DAY 7 – Small Carpathians & Good Bye Slovakia

Slovakia with Mom (Carole) Day 7 – the finale: Today, we said “goodbye” to beautiful Slovakia and prepared for our journey back home tomorrow.

First, though, we headed west to Trnava, which is called the “Little Rome” of Slovakia with its Roman roots and city walls dating to the 16th century. The town is filled with countless churches, underscoring its role in the Counter-Reformation that restored Catholicism to this part of Slovakia. While Mom sat in the city square enjoying a tea and traditional Slovak veterník – a dessert that reminds me of the Sanders Hot Fudge Cream Puffs we love in Detroit – I climbed to the top of the town clock tower.

Next, we headed to Modra, known throughout the country for its wine and pottery. While the Czech Republic is known for crystal, Slovakia is known for the art of pottery-making. Pottery-making here dates to the 14th century and is serious business – audited regularly by the government to ensure it conforms to historic procedures and painting.

Our fantastic tour leader and friend Peter and his wife, Jana, hosted us for lunch in their home in Pezinok, just outside of Bratislava. We once again had wonderful Slovak homemade food, including red lentil soup, pork medallions, grilled vegetables and what their two terrific sons call “Corona cake,” as it’s a recipe they mastered during the pandemic’s lockdown.

Finally, we made the short drive from Bratislava to Vienna, Austria – where we will fly home in the morning – and enjoyed a formal night at the Wiener Mozart Orchestra for a production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute.

What an incredible week it has been – making special memories with new relatives in Slovakia, seeing an absolutely beautiful country for the first time and enjoying seeing my mom smiling widely.

As mentioned in a prior post, Mom lost the Slovakia-born dad whom she idolized at age 14, was forced to leave home at 16 and grew up during World War II in a house that shunned the family’s Slovak roots for fear of being associated with the Nazis. (Nazi Germany occupied Slovakia from 1944 until the war’s end – when my mom was 7 years old.) Mom always has dreamed of seeing the country that her dad described to her before he died and of being able to proudly say “Som Slovák” – “I’m Slovak.” This morning, she told me, “Slovakia feels like home, and being here made me feel like I have part of my dad back.” Also, receiving emails already from our new Slovak relatives calling Mom “Grandma Karolinka from America” has been a big hit.

Huge thanks to the many people who made us feel so welcome and arranged plans and details this week, including Peter Blazicek, Jana Blazickova, Michal Razus and Katarína Kettrinn and family. Big thanks, too, to the many family and friends who commented lovingly and put up with my unusually long-winded social media posts.

Zbohom, Slovensko, kým sa znova neuvidíme! (Farewell, Slovakia, until we see you again!)

Fairy-tale village - Liptovska Luzna, Ancestry Tour of Slovakia

A bit of Slovakia in Detroit

Slovakia with Mom (Carole) update: When we were in my mom’s dad’s hometown in Slovakia on April 28, she took some of the country back home to Detroit to put on his grave. (Mom’s dad described how beautiful Slovakia was to her before he died when she was only 14.) Today, we brought Slovakia back to him and his resting place after 72 years.

We, at Best Slovakia Tours – Travel Team, are grateful for being part of the tour.
Dovidenia! Good bye! Peter, Jana, Miso

Would you like to plan a private ancestry tour?
We’re ready to help you.

Write us at
Peter, founder & CEO of Best Slovakia Tours


Contact Best Slovakia Tours

Payments Accepted

Secure Payment online

We are proudly part of:

Slovenská asociácia cestovných kancelárií a cestovných agentúr

Our Newsletter

Subscribe to our free e-newsletter and receive the latest news, valuable information, and special offers for your trip to Slovakia.

Our Newsletter

Subscribe to our free e-newsletter and receive the latest news, valuable information, and special offers for your trip to Slovakia.

Copyright 2008-2024 All rights reserved 
Best Slovakia Tours, s.r.o., Bohrova 7, 851 01 Bratislava, Slovak Republic

Visit us on Social Networks

Copyright 2008-2024 All rights reserved 
Best Slovakia Tours, s.r.o., Bohrova 7, 851 01 Bratislava, Slovak Republic

Visit us on Social Networks