IVA KARLSSON – HOTEL DEVÍN**** WAS MY TRUE HOME
I’m sure all of us have already said to ourselves: if only the walls could talk. What would they talk about, how many stories would they tell us? Especially at the places breathing history or shrouded in mystery, our curiosity awakens the most.
We know a lot about it, too, at Hotel Devín****. For more than 60 years here, life has written countless stories, experiences, and much history. Of course, we can read the chronicle or historical paper, but it will never be as charming as when someone tells you the real story.
During a recent September weekend, we welcomed a charismatic and nice lady with her smiley family to our Hotel Devín****. Upon her arrival, we did not even know we would be enchanted not only by her smile, but also by the story that connects her with Hotel Devín****. Iva Karlsson had been living in the hotel for 10 years while staying here with her mom. How she got here, what this place means to her and mainly how Hotel Devín**** had been her real home, she talked about to our nice colleague Alice during a pleasant conversation.
Iva, would you tell us something about yourself? What is your connection with Hotel Devín****?
In 1968 I emigrated as a young divorced woman to Sweden with my daughter Ivanka. Since then, I have remarried, had other children, and now I am a happy grandmother. But my youth was connected with Hotel Devín****. I had spent incredible 10 years here; I had grown up here.
How did you get to Hotel Devín? What was the time like then?
In the 1960s, if an employee had nowhere to live, the employer would help them with accommodation. They found a little room for my mom right in the hotel, and my mom insisted on me living here with her. We had been living here till I was 23. The time I spent here means a lot to me, it was a beautiful period. I knew every nook and cranny, every corner, every room in the hotel.
Do you know about any secret rooms and we don’t?
Laugh 😊. We lived in a small room for the staff, without a toilet or bathroom. When I needed to go to the bathroom, I had to go to the end of the hall. There were a toilet and a bathroom for the staff. We could use the bathroom once a week. But don’t worry, we didn’t mind at all. We were very happy to live here.
What did your mother do at Hotel Devín?
My mom worked as a housekeeper. She was really respected here; she gave everything to her work. As we were living here, she was always available and helpful. Her job was mainly to allocate the work among the other maids. And her next task was to change bed linens. She even changed our beds every day. I got so used to it and changed linens on my bed every day. And I still do. My mom instilled it in my blood 😊.
Do you have any stories from the time you lived here?
While I was living here, I even married a man. A while after the wedding, however, he moved in with his mother and father and I returned to my mother to Hotel Devín**** with a baby in my belly. From the hospital, I went back to the hotel. But of course, the director didn’t want us to live here, as the baby cried at nights and could disturb the guests. It was a very difficult situation. However, he helped us a lot at the time. He found us another apartment, our new home. I’ll never forget it.
Iva, what has brought you back to Devín now?
It was my birthday and my children invited me to my birthplace, Bratislava. I have always been telling them about my youth. They were curious about where I went to school, what alleys I wandered around, what I used to eat. I also told my children and granddaughters the story of how I lived in Hotel Devín 54 years ago – oh, it was such long time ago. So we have decided, despite the fact the hotel is luxurious for us, to book accommodation right there. And that is the biggest birthday present for me.
Is there anything that has surprised you after your return to Hotel Devín?
I am surprised that it still retained its style, exactly as it once used to have. I can remember what the hotel looked like, how it smelled when it wasn’t quite finished yet. There was a smell of wood, fresh paint. From the very first moment I felt fantastic in it. This place had a soul from the beginning. Everything here has had its charm – from furniture, through windows, high ceilings to crystal.
What does it mean to you to be here again? What was the very first step like when you came in here? What was the very first thing that came to your mind?
I thought I was dreaming 😊 and I would wake up in a moment. I wasn’t able to say a word, I just inhaled the atmosphere. It’s really been 54 years. The impression of this place is so strong for me, it´s nostalgia. After all, I am already a grandmother and I have returned to the place where I grew up. I immediately felt at home and that really meant a lot to me. Even when I went to bed, I suddenly thought: “Oh thank you My Lord, I am home again, I am home, home again” 😊. And it seems to me Slovakia is much better than Sweden 😊, I would prefer to return home, but now I can’t anymore. It is a tremendous gift, an experience for me and I feel a huge gratitude.
Is there anything you would say to our guests?
Everyone, we have met here, is very friendly and helpful. They are so great. I am really proud of Slovakia for coming from here. My children are very surprised by so much cordiality, even though I have told them many times. My daughter-in-law also whispered in my ear “I want to live in Bratislava”. Bratislava has a huge charm. The staff at the hotel is very friendly, forthcoming and we feel very welcome here. Each of us will talk about this experience endlessly. You can expect an invasion of tourists from Sweden and it does not matter at all that there is no sea here😊.