Velke Bilovice--Fulbright Conference
It was once again time to convene the Fulbrighters. Time for sharing experiences and plans, and also time for meeting new arrivals. This time, the group consisted of the Fulbrighters form both the Czech Republic and Slovakia. What a great idea! It was soooooo nice to see and meet our compatriots in Slovakia. We got along so well; it was as if we had known each other for years--okay maybe months. =) The point is, it was a great conference. I met some very interesting people, and I wouldn't be surprised if we were to meet up again and again as time goes by and the Fulbright experience continues to shape our lives in some unexpected ways.
Anyway, each participant gave a presentation of about 15 minutes. Teachers reflected and shared his/her experiences in their towns, and the scholars talked about their research projects. New arrivals talked about what they hoped to achieve during their term of lecturing, studying, etc. It was a good time. Very interesting to hear what everyone was up to. I had read about each grantee and his/her work before, but it wasn't quite the same as seeing each Fulbrighter present (with audiovisuals) the work each was personally involved in. It was a very stimulating few days.
OK, enough of these pictures. Just wanted to give you sense of the place we inhabited. We were in the very South of the Czech Republic. A place conducive to bring the Czechs and Slovaks together. The town, Velke Bilovice, is typical small town. Lovely and quiet.
The most important thing is of course the people...
Beth and Drew, during one of our "deep" discussions during the break.
and Girls--out on the town.
Since Velke Bilovice is in Moravia, we, of course, had to try some of the wines that the region is known for producing; just as when in Bohemia (where I live) one has to try the beers!
Winery--actually started (and owned) by the Knights Templar, during the Holy Crusades!!
Buying wine--I took four bottles, but not one made it back to Zatec--and I was glad not to have to carry them! Two made it to Vienna, and that was far enough! AND when I got home, I found that the same wines are actually sold in my little local market!! =)
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We also visited a castle (manor house, or large mansion in the US). It was really a special treat because these castles are usually closed in the winter time. I think they opened especially for us. I am told that the name for this one--Lednice--means freezer, and I can surely attest to the appropriateness of that name. We trekked through the snow to get to the house, and at first it was fun, but then we really were anxious to get inside so we could warm up. Yeah...Not warmer inside. While the place was undeniably beautiful (even when the gardens were covered with snow, I could tell that they were something special to see in the Spring or Summer), as we toured the house, I became increasingly concerned about things such as how long one would have to be freezing cold before frostbite started to set in. I was SURE it was possible for me to lose a couple of fingers--or at least a couple of toes!! =)
Armor man. OK, you can't ell form the photo, but this is a full-sized man. A small, shortish type man, but full-sized, nonetheless.
The Gates of Heaven! This is greenhouse that we saw from the outside, before we entered the house. We passed it as we shivered and admired some really stately and gorgeous rooms, and then finally...ADMITTANCE!!!! Oh my god! It was so wonderful. I never wanted to leave.
Fuzzy bench. When I first entered the house, my very cold camera's lens got fogged up. For a minute, I couldn't understand why my pictures were not clear and the light was so funky, then...ahhh! Of course. I did like this picture though--even with the foggy lens! Super effect-- and completely serendipitous.
Pond--after I have cleaned the steam from my lens. =)
Back out there??!! NO WAY!!! Why? Why? Why? Of course we had to go eventually, so I stopped my whining and survived it just fine. Of course =)