Middle European Mathematical Olympiad (MEMO) is the mathematics competition for high school students. The first MEMO was held in 2007, hosted by Austria, with seven countries participating: Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland. In 2008, Germany and Hungary took part, and Lithuania has joined the competition in 2009. All these ten countries will participate this year in Slovakia, in Strečno near Žilina as well.
Slovakia is a small central-european country, with many mountain ranges, without sea. It borders with Czech Republic (we have shared the same country Czechoslovakia till 1993) and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south. The population is 5.4 millions. The highest peak is Gerlachovský štít (2655 m) in High Tatras, the lowest point is a place in the east where the Bodrog river leaves our country (94 m).
The capital and the biggest city is Bratislava (430,000 inhabitants). The second most important city is Košice in the east (230,000), the next ones being Banská Bystrica, Nitra, Prešov, and Žilina (each one of about 80-90 thousands).
The weather is typically Central European. This time of year you can expect either sunny days of maximum temperature 25°C or cloudy to rainy days of temperatures less then 20°C in Strečno. Unlike in the valley of Strečno, the temperatures are typically about 5-10°C lower in the mountains (1,500 m above the sea level). In case of a clear weather we are planning a trip involving a cablecar ride into the mountains and a magnificent passage through the gorge. We recommend you to bring appropriate clothes and shoes (something for unexpected changes of weather and solid shoes).
The official language is Slovak, which is spoken by a majority of the inhabitants. You can also use Czech, which people understand. There is also a minority of inhabitants (10%) speaking Hungarian, who can be found mainly in the south of Slovakia. Part of the residents speak English (especially the young generation), you can try Russian with the older ones. We recommend to visit http://www.slovensko.com/about/travel-language for more detailed information.
Since 2009 the official currency is Euro (€). Standard european currencies can easily be exchanged at banks and exchange offices. However, we recommend to exchange cash in advance before the trip. Standard credit and debit cards are generally accepted in towns (i.e., in shops and restaurants). You can also use them to withdraw cash from the ATM machines.
To call abroad, dial 00 first, then the country code and a the number itself (including the area code). There are three cell phone networks in Slovakia: T-Mobile, Orange and O2 with a coverage in most of the country.
Tap water is drinkable (unless you find warnings around) and typically very tasty.
The village of Strečno is located 10 km from Žilina (the center of northern Slovakia) on a bend of the river Váh close to the beginning of the mountain range Malá Fatra. It is easily accessible by the main road connecting Žilina and Martin. It lies on a main train route but only the local (and slow) trains stop here. The train station is quite far-away from the centre of the village (located on the opposite side of the river, accessible by the narrow footbridge or the ferry).
With 2,500 inhabitants, Strečno is a middle-sized village in Slovakia. There is a post office, elementary school, several grocery stores, some bars, and a few restaurants. The most notable tourist site and dominant of Strečno is the gothic castle ruins. Moreover, you can see another castle ruin called Starhrad on the other river bank.
There is no ATM or bank in Strečno (they do not accept credit cards in most shops).
All the participants will stay in SIP Strečno. This is a center for small local conferences, owned by Slovak Railways. Each room is equipped with a TV and internet connection. In case you plan to bring your laptop, it is a good idea to also bring a network cable with you to connect to the internet. MEMO organizers will regularly update the schedule and the results on the website.
Rooms are equipped with own bathroom and toilet or at most two neighbouring rooms share these (a towel will be provided). The institution only provides accommodation for organizations, not for individuals (it is not a hotel/hostel).
There are the following facilities available in the complex for a fee: swimming pool, tennis court, rent-a-bike, sauna, fitness center, billiard room. We may open the swimming pool for the participants for free if the time allows, so bring your swimming suits. There is a large, open access football (soccer) playground right next to the building where you can play football (soccer) or frisbee.