Re: Travelling to your ancestor's village
Car Rental vs. Public Transportation
If your village is remote (not in or adjacent to a medium/large city) I would highly recommend renting a car. It would have added a lot of burden and additional time if I had to arrange a train and then some type of car service to get to my ancestor's village (Stiavnik) which, although near to some cities when looking on a map, it was still rather remote. And I didn't want to impose on my relatives or be at their mercy by having them be my transportation.
My own experience was that the maps provided online (like Via Michelin http://www.viamichelin.com) were very accurate. I didn't get lost once, despite never having been to Europe/Slovakia before. I found the traffic signs to be very decipherable, although different then what we have in the US. No, their infrastructure is not as built out as ours, but in some ways that makes travel easier, as their is only one way to get to where you need to go. I should point out that this was in the Western corridor, so I don't know how applicable it is for the Central or Eastern portions of the country.
I would highly recommend having one arranged ahead of time. Others here can give you specific suggestions on who provides these services in country. I did not have an interpreter. I lucked out that my relative just happened to have someone around that spoke English that day. Had he not it would have severely diminished the value of my trip as we would have done a lot of smiles and head nods but not little real communication or information sharing.
Make sure you have a plan ahead of time for what you want to accomplish on your trip. And prioritize those items because you never have enough time to do everything. So be realistic. I wasn't realistic in what I could do with the time I had. I had plans to go to Bytca to look in the archives, to spend time in the village cemetery, and start looking up another side of the family while I was there. But the relatives I met were so social I ended up spending most of my time just talking and getting to know them, introducing me to other relatives, giving me a tour and hike of the village and surrounding countryside. Not what I had planned but it was just as (if not more so) fulfilling.
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