Category Archives: travel

Four Years on WordPress

Trip from Czech homeland marks 4th anniversary of blogging

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- On board Air France flight 1383 from Paris to Detroit, I was watching our route leaving the shores of Europe on Jan. 15, 2017, as I realized it was the fourth anniversary of my writing on WordPress.

ew-anniversary-2x-4-years
500 posts Four-year anniversary

It was all so fitting, because I started blogging on WordPress in 2013 to promote my memoir “Greenwich Meridian” Copyright 2017 Emma Palova. I named the book Greenwich Meridian to depict our family immigration saga between the East and the Western hemispheres over the last five decades. The memoir tracks the Konecny family migration between former Czechoslovakia and the USA from 1969 through present.

Reaching higher with WordPress after four years.
Reaching higher with WordPress after four years.

The journey of blogging parallels my writing path through life almost identically. I don’t remember a period in my life not writing.

At first, it was writing letters to my mother Ella when she immigrated to the USA for the second time in 1980 to join my father Vaclav Konecny. Later, when I arrived in the USA in 1989, I embarked on a professional writing career as a journalist and correspondent for regional and Czech media, based in Michigan, New York and in Prague.

I followed Earnest Hemmingway’s correspondent footsteps.

Writing much like my husband Ludek have been my lifelong companions in good and in bad times, as expressed in our wedding wows in 1978 in Stipa, former Czechoslovakia at the Church of Saint Mary.

Writing has helped me survive major life crisis, like in 2008 when Ludek and I had to part due to the economic crisis in the first decade of the millennium. At that time, Ludek worked in Prarie du Chien, Wisconsin, while I stayed in Michigan to save our house. In the winter of 2008-2009, I wrote the screenplay “Riddleyville Clowns” Copyright © 2009- 2019 inspired by a hometown clown parade in Lowell that celebrated 175 years of the town’s establishment.

Writing has been the fuel of my life. Writing for me is like a fountain or elixir of life, when everything else around me is arid, dry and angry.

Instead of turning to violence and despair, I turn inside, meditate and feel into the overall emotions of the surrounding world. Then, I transform these powerful outside forces into a stream or an avalanche blanketing all with a soft cover of love, like a mother covering her child.

Transforming violence into love.
Transforming violence into love. A sculpture at LaCoste in Provence.

Today, as I write this 500th post on the WordPress publishing platform, I am thankful for the 1,066 followers and the future ones to come.

I also would like to thank all, who never stopped believing in me.

At the end of last year, just before I have reached the 1,000 followers mark, I realized that I have completed a second degree thanks to the WordPress (WP) Blogging University, the support happiness WP engineering team, my family and my beloved readers.

“Congratulations, honey. You have another degree,” said my husband Ludek. “It was just like back when you were in school in Brno. I had to be constantly quiet.”

I wanted to quit just as many times as I did while working on my bachelor’s degree at the Technical University of Brno from 1982 to 1986 in former Czechoslovakia. My path on WordPress was constantly jeopardized by the lack of finances and understanding of the principles of freelance blogging.

I plan on finishing my second degree on the WordPress publishing platform with a blogging directory and an app for the thesis.

Of course, in the meantime the memoir Greenwich Meridian has become the first part of the Konecny Saga (c) copyright 2017.

Thank you. You make me who I am.

Love always,

Emma

Copyright © 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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WordCamp US 2016 comes to Northeast

WordCamp comes to Northeast, brings technology evolution

Lowell, MI- Since one of my goals for 2016 was to stay up to date with technology, I would like to go to the WordCamp in Philly from Dec. 2 to Dec. 4.

First of all, the camp is close to home and I’ve never been to Philly or to a WordPress Camp. That in itself is very exciting for me.

I have recently completed a large Podcast Website project for Americas Community Voices Network (ACVN) based in Tampa, FL with founders Ronald & Donald Brookins. It was a very interesting project on the cutting edge of British developers changing under continuous development.

I finished one phase of the project during a recent stay at my daughter Emma’s house in Fixin, FR. The Internet in my studio wasn’t working half of the time, so I had to use my son-in-law Adrien’s studio overlooking the wine village.

 

The view from the window of the vineyards or the “climats” of Burgundy was awesome and inspiring.

Even though, I arrived back at home in Grand Rapids on Sept. 6  with a smashed computer screen, I still feel inspired by the stay in France. Travel has always fueled my writing, design and photography. It doesn’t matter if I go three miles east from my home to take photos in Fallasburg, Lowell or 4,000 miles to Paris, or even to visit my brother Vas Up North in Paris, MI.

Thoughts on fear in the wake of Paris attacks.
Paris from a rooftop restaurant with the view of the Eiffel Tower.

I keep my eyes open for new angles, new stories as everything changes in the flow of time. Whenever I look at the grandfather clock that says “Tempus Fugit,” I get scared. I am afraid of time. The clock was one of the first things I bought here in the USA in 1990.

Now, we don’t even need watches anymore because we have cell phones. Long before cell phones, I never had a watch. I didn’t want one. Not wearing a watch has sharpened my sense of time and dimensions.

I was comfortable using the clocks on church and cathedral towers. While hiking in Burgundy, I used the church steeples to orient myself in the “climats.”

This morning, I discovered the news about WordCamp on Facebook and I got a kick out of the fact that the after party “A Night at the Museum” will be at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

My husband Ludek and I organized “A Night at the Museum” Thanksgiving party at the Lowell Area Historical Museum in 2012. Ludek wanted to alleviate the stress on women during the holiday season.

What a great coincidence.

Last year in November, I participated in the 30 Day Content Challenge by Learn to Blog. On Day #3  I posted the following article:

“Thoughts on fear in the wake of Paris attacks.” And that was the end of my blog on Gateway Media. Some corporate brass didn’t like my thoughts.

While respecting both, my passion and fear of time, I love history. I always have. All the history, I don’t pick and choose. So, Philadelphia is the perfect location for an all time history lover and a technology user.

For more info on WordCamp go to: https://2016.us.wordcamp.org

For “Thoughts on fear” go to: https://emmapalova.com/2015/11/19/30-day-bloggigng-challenge-3/

or go to www.sentinel-standard.com/article/20151120/opinion/151129832

For Americas Community Voices Network go to: http://www.americascommunityvoicesnet.org

For Podcast Websites go to: https://podcastwebsites.com

 

Copyright (c) 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Following Van Gogh in Saint Remy

In Van Gogh’s footsteps “What I should like to do, Van Gogh writes to his brother Theo in Paris in 1889, is to go there as an inmate patient at the end of the month or early in May…let’s try thre…

Source: Following Van Gogh in Saint Remy

Following Van Gogh in Saint Remy

In Van Gogh’s footsteps

“What I should like to do, Van Gogh writes to brother Theo in Paris in 1889, is to go there as an inmate patient at the end of the month or early in May…let’s try three months to start with, and we’ll see how it goes..it is very likely that I am yet to suffer much.

The landscape of St.Remy is very attractive and I shall gradually become acquainted with it.”

Vincent Van Gogh

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Saint- Remy de Provence, FR- Leaving our beloved bastide near Cheval-Blanc behind, we headed further south for Saint- Remy, a city that proudly carries Van Gogh’s heritage with its Saint-Paul asylum.

We drove through alleys of stately plane trees lined by olive and almond groves, cypresses and cornfields at the foothills of Alpilles that have all inspired the master of post- impressionism.

Saint Remy de Provence
Saint Remy streets

Saint- Remy, whipped by mistral from the Mediterranean Sea, bustled with tourists.

A large painting of Van Gogh’s self-portrait without the straw hat greets the visitors at the 18th century Hotel Estrine. Van Gogh’s museum is located inside. He created more than 150 paintings during his stay in Saint Remy.

My French granddaughter Ella, 6, immediately recognized the famous painting.

“Our teacher showed us that,” she said all excited.

The French nation has immortalized its artists and scientists with busts, sculptures, in schools, museums and gardens scattered all over the country.

However, the lively town of Saint-Remy did not partake in any of Van Gogh’s pathos, who also painted the gardens of the asylum. Hundreds of boutiques, souvenir shops, bistros and cafes vibrated with l’art de vivre, known as the art of living prevalent in France.

Estrine Museum in Saint-Remy de Provence
Estrine Museum in Saint Remy is dedicated to Van Gogh.

Throughout our stay in Provence, our ladies “international squad” sampled this l’art de vivre on every corner of the tiniest streets, in regional dishes, in gourmet cafes, and in the Provencal architecture of churches, bastides and mairies.

All French city halls carry the motto of the French revolution: liberty, equality, fraternity.

Saint Remy de Provence
Saint Remy in Provence

To this day, it remains a mystery to me, why the People’s House aka Lidovy Dum in downtown Vizovice, Czech Republic, has the French national motto engraved in its coat-of-arms.

After exploring local shops with Provencal herbs, yellow and blue linens, lavender soaps, perfumes and candles along with the l’Occitane line of body products, we found a reasonable restaurant on Boulevard Mirabeau.

Fashionable Bistrot des Alpilles sits on the Mirabeau loop around the medieval city with the massive Roman catholic church Collegiale Saint Martin as its anchor.

“You should try their local soup,” said daughter Emma.

Wherever my writing takes me, I always make it a point to sample the local fare and drinks. In Provence, the regional dishes feature different variations of fish soups depending on where you are. It is the royal bouillabaisse in Marseille and fish pistou in the rest of the region, ratatouille or vegetable stew accompanied by a glass of pink wine from the local caves. Desserts in France always include an assortment of cheeses or you may opt for gourmet café.

Fish soup St. Remy style
Cassoulet de poissons St. Remy style

So, the entree cassoulet de poisson was a natural choice for me with a glass of the house wine, the “Lovely IGP Alpilles”, 2015.

Bistrot Les Alpilles
Bistrot Les Alpilles menu in Saint Remy

Daughter Emma chose the lighter sweet aperitif Kir. The kids of course had the syrup –dissolved- in- water fruit concoction that I despise from my childhood years in Czechoslovakia.

As I write this, I realize that I haven’t tried the “Eau de Vie poire”, the water of life  pear liquor or the pastis.

“It’s nasty,” Emma said about the pastis liquor made from licorice.

At the adjacent newsstand, I bought “Van Gogh in Provence” English Edition booklet with photos of major paintings created during the master’s stay in Arles and Saint-Remy.

As we embarked on the long road up north back to Fixin, we got stuck in the traffic jam, called “bouchon” in France due to the returning vacationers from the Mediterranean resorts.

“They all go for their vacation at the same time to the Med,” Emma said. “They use the only highway that goes from north to south, the A7.”

Saint Paul de Mausole in Saint Remy
Saint Paul de Mausole in Saint Remy

But being stuck in a “bouchon” in France is not necessarily a bad thing, because it’s another opportunity for more sight- seeing and treats for the palate. We stepped out at the Aire- de- Montelimar rest stop and I bought the real French white nougat with hazelnuts, the local specialty from Montelimar. At first Ella refused to taste the nougat.

“I don’t eat that.”

“Ella, you’re like an old person,” I laughed. “Don’t be afraid to try something new.”

“It’s delicious,” she said.

In the Lyon “bouchon” I admired the renaissance buildings on the banks of the river Rhone, reminiscent of the Prague riverside on Vltava. Emma pointed out the Museum of Confluence built on a peninsula in the river, where the Saone meets the Rhone.

“I love being stuck in traffic,” said sarcastically our driver Selene. “Give me some coke, please.”

Hundreds of cars stood still on the major Paris bound thoroughfare going through downtown Lyon, pop. 2.2 million. Only the colorful trams crossing the bridges and the boats navigating the Rhone were moving.

To the right, I noticed a girl waterboarding on the massive turquoise-colored river that originates from the Rhone glacier in the Swiss Alps.

The boat pulling the girl was full of young people having the time of their lives, while the nervous drivers drummed their fingers on the steering wheels. We were melting in the late afternoon heat in front of the tunnel.

Thanks to the obsolete infrastructure in Lyon dating back to the advancement of the automobile, I finished reading the Van Gogh booklet intended for the transatlantic flight home to Chicago. Two hours later, the youngsters were still waterboarding on the Rhone.

“Thank you Lyon, Mr. Van Gogh and Doc Emma for great entertainment, as always.”

Notable mention for Van Gogh lovers:

Van Gogh in Europe

The Estrine Museum in Saint-Remy de Provence is part of Van Gogh Europe, a vast European project associating places and museums concerned with the life and work of the painter.

The objectives of the Partners of Van Gogh Europe are to value the life and works of art by Vincent van Gogh by developing cultural, educational and touristic projects of the highest quality.

Some images are from the Commons at https://www.wikipedia.org

To be continued………..A Bohemian afternoon in Paris

 

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Exploring Lourmarin & Ansouis in Provence

I am back home in the USA from a writer’s retreat in France. Follow me on EW Emma’s Writings on http://emmapalova.com for stories from Provence, Burgundy and Paris. Pictured is Paris from a rooftop bar in the historic Le Marais quarter. To the right is the flashing Eiffel Tower. Every full hour the Eiffel sparkles in lights along with the blue beam that illuminates parts of Paris near the river Seine.

The fabulous panoramic “Les Nympheas” paintings inside the L’Orangerie Gallery were a gift from Claude Monet to the people of Paris.

Stay tuned for stories from Provence, Burgundy, Jura region and Paris on EW Emma’s Writings on http://emmapalova.com.

St

Villages of the Luberon Mountains Continued from Provence most beautiful villages at  By Emma Palova EW Emma’s Writings Provence, FR- After a morning writing session on Sunday in the large Provença…

Source: Exploring Lourmarin & Ansouis in Provence

Exploring Lourmarin & Ansouis in Provence

Villages of the Luberon Mountains

Continued from Provence most beautiful villages at https://emmapalova.com/2016/09/02/provence-most-beautiful-villages-2/

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Provence, FR- After a morning writing session on Sunday in the large Provençal social room with a view into the garden, we relaxed by the pool surrounded by the Aleppo pine forest with rosemary shrubs at the base.

The “girls” Emma & Selene had just completed a 10 kilometer hike to the Gorges de Regalon. The network of gorges and canyons plunges 30 meters deep and  a magnificent forest of oaks, maples, Aleppo pines, cherry and fig trees shelters it.

“We met a guy who had flip-flops on and asked us how far of a walk it is,” laughed Emma. “Then he asked if his t-shirt was alright for the hike.”

Gorges Regales in Provence
Gorges Regales near Cheval-Blanc in Provence.

In the afternoon, we explored another village of the Luberon, the artsy Lourmarin with population of 1,300. Lourmarin lies in the triangle formed by Avignon, Marseille and Aix-en-Provence.

Provencal town Lourmarin
One of arched entries into the center of Lourmarin.

The new château in renaissance style was restored by industrialist & philanthropist Robert Laurent Vibert in 1920. He was killed in an accident in 1925 leaving behind a foundation for young artists. The château overlooks the delightful Lourmarin with three belfries reflecting on the diversity of religion.

The right wing of the castle is fully furnished according to the renaissance period. We walked up the wide stone stairs leading into the main chambers of the castle. I especially loved the music room with music instruments from four continents, the library and the ladies room.

The castle serves as a major venue for the annual summer music festival from July 11 through Oct. 8th.

The kids delighted in the castle garden with sculptures and a pond with koi fish. A short walk down the hill led us into the bustling village with tourists, a festival and a market.

Lourmarin in Provence
A Lourmarin water fountain.

Fashionable shops and galleries lined the streets in the center of Lourmarin along with wine caves, endless restaurants and cafes.

Sitting at a sidewalk café on Place de l’Ormeau, I did as the Lourmarions do every day; I watched the pedestrians and an occasional car navigate the cobblestone narrow streets Mediterranean style.

A chic proprietor of a bed& breakfast sporting high heels was awaiting her guests at the cobblestone l’Oarmeau square adorned by sculptures with a water fountain. The water fountain with fish kept our youngest team member Sam, 2, calm. Ivy completely overgrows many of the bastides  at the Place de l’Ormeau.

In one of the galleries, I found an amazing 3-D bluish yellow collage picture of the Last Supper. Emma loved the slick modern lamps, as well as the retro art in a gallery across the street. I didn’t want to leave Lourmarin.

Chateau Lourmarin
The music room inside the Lourmarin castle.

But, we had one more village on our schedule: beautiful Ansouis, pop. 1,057, with French terrace gardens and the dominating castle at the top.

A jazz band used an opening in the castle walls as a stage with the setting sun behind for their light effects. Behind the spectator crowd, a couple danced Charleston on a sloping street.

Ansouis in Provence
French terrace gardens in Ansouis.

And there was a syrup stand; not a wine stand but a booth selling the old elixir, which Emma and I know so well from the Czech Republic. Long before coke, sprite and other pop arrived massively in Eastern Europe, there was an equivalent: the good old home-made syrup from local fruits.

“Syrup is big now in France,” Emma said.

No, kidding. I encountered the syrup-diluted-in-water concoction at our other tour locations such as St. Remi-de-Provence and Poligny in the Jura region of France.

St. Remy square
A square in St. Remy-de-Provence. Vincent Van Gogh made St. Remy his home for one year. He created his greatest works here.

For more info on Provençal villages go to www.provenceweb.fr

For info on the Lourmarin château go to http://www.chateau-de-lourmarin.com

To be continued. Stay tuned for more stories from Provence in “Farewell to Provence” and from the Jura region, home to yellow wine, Comte cheese and Louis Pasteur.

 

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

In Provence Aug. 26- Aug. 29

International “ladies squad” explores L’art de Vivre in Provence

Note: My summer writer’s retreat 2016 in France takes me from Burgundy south to the heart of Provence for magical four days. Our international “ladies squad” explored three of the seven most beautiful villages in France: Lacoste, Lourmarin, Ansouis and the town of St.Remy-de-Provence. For one year, Van Gogh made his home in St. Remy inspired by the Alpilles.

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Provence, FR- Provençal bastide no.23 sits on Chemin de la Font du Pin between the villages of Cheval-Blanc and Merindol. The mansion with seven bedrooms nestles at the foot of a beach pine forest.

Provencal mas or mansion.
Provencal bastide near Cheval-Blanc.

Typical architecture for this southernmost region of France embraces traditional elements of stone washed walls with tall French doors, large gathering places on the main level and sleeping quarters on the second level. Arches instead of doors open the space between different rooms.

The yard with the garden caters to relaxation and function with  a cafe-style  gazebo lit by sun energy lamps, a large dining table and an iron wrought bed. White Mandeville plants and Hydrangea decorated the gazebo.

The large pool with a colorful cabin is near the house on a cleared terrain in the  white pine beach forest with rosemary shrubs.

Our international “ladies squad” found their bedrooms each equipped with a bathroom and a view into the morning sun bathed beach forest. Tiles are a must in the hot dry climate of Provence.

I shared room no.7 dipped in hues of purple and decorated with butterflies with granddaughter Ella. After a recent conflict, I find solace in the peaceful Provençal atmosphere of farm markets, wine caves, cafes, cobblestone streets, olive groves and deserted châteaux lit by magnificent sunsets.

Interior of a French Provencal bastid.
Inside the bastid. A large living and dining room with French doors into the garden.

The first night we picked ripe grapes in the front yard. Vendange or wine harvest has already started in this part of France. There was also a lime tree and plentiful rosemary shrubs that grew both at the base of the beach forest and in it. To my surprise, on my “balades” through the forest, I also found shrubs of holly.

One morning In the middle of my walk, I stopped dead when I heard a rattling sound.

“A rattlesnake,” I thought and hurried back to the bastide.

Two days later by the pool, Claude pointed out the rattling sound.

“C’est une tone de Cigale de olive,” she said. “That’s the sound of the cigales.”

I laughed at my paranoia originating in my early childhood years while living in Texas.

Mornings, before the heat of the day breaks, are fresh. You wake up to the roosters’ crowing and to the sound of the Cigale in the olive groves and in the rosemary bushes.

Provence landscape.
Beach white pines near the Provençal bastide.

Instead of a Provençal breakfast of hard-boiled eggs with figs, we ate Lyon festive brioche with pralines, compliments of Mrs. Claude Chavent, Emma’s mother-in-law.

Each lady from the squad contributed her own tastes and flavors to the full gourmet experience. The traveling squad consisted of Captain Dr. Emma Palova of Fixin, Chef Selene Alvarez of Veracruz, Mexico, former anesthesiologist Mrs. Claude Chavent of Lyon, FR and journalist, writer Emma Palova of USA. Both Emmas were born in former Czechoslovakia.

On a late Saturday morning, daughter Emma and I headed out to the Merindol market.

Instead of a marche extravaganza,  we only found an olive and cheese merchant  along with a straw hat and a bag vendor.

“It’s the summer break,” said the olive vendor.

Marche in Provence
Olive merchant in Merindol, Provence.

“It’s all about the love for life here in France, not about money,” Emma educated me. “It’s called l’art de vivre.”

 

For our apero that night, Emma bought an olive spread “olivenade”, a dried tomato spread, cheese, spicy olives with pimento and olives in brine with Provençal herbs at the market in Merindol.

Wine tasting in Provence near Merindol.
Wine tasting stands at the markets in Provence.

Walking a narrow street up the hill, we stopped at a local hangout spot for coffee and tea on the sidewalk. I love watching people in these quaint villages not occupied by tourists. The locals were already drinking wine and beer.

A woman wearing an apron dress with a large grocery bag hurried past the abandoned tobacco shop. A chic woman overdressed in a black T-shirt with long sleeves pedaled uphill, while a youngster on a bike with fresh bread in his backpack closely followed her.

I wasn’t alone watching the action. A Provençal old-time villager was sitting in his chair right in front of his house on the street. Of course the woman haltered her hurry to exchange gossip with the old-timer. There’s always time for gossip in these villages.

Provence cafes and brasseries.
Cafe in Merindol, Provence.

We also came across a reformed church, an anomaly in  the mainly catholic France.

We stopped at a farm market on our way back to the bastide to get fresh strawberries and mangoes for the planned Daiquiri drinks by the pool.

We tasted wine from a local wine caterer stationed right by the market stand.

Even though pink wine known as rose is the wine of choice in the Provence region, I bought a bottle of white wine for the apero. Nothing like Burgundy whites, but it tasted better than the rose.

 

To be continued…………………The most beautiful villages of France

 

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Into Burgundy

“Climats” in Burgundy present a cultural landscape, a 2015 UNESCO world heritage site

Note: After my third visit to the wine region of Burgundy in France, I consider it to be my annual summer writer’s retreat amidst vineyards, exceptional gastronomy and the “Climats.”

By Emma Palova

Fixin, FR- On an early Sunday morning, I woke up to the ringing of the church bells and a local gentleman shouting at his dog, a lot louder than the dog’s barking.

From my studio, I heard the cars rolling down the narrow Rue Magnien that leads into the tiny wine village of Fixin. The walls around the estates magnify the sounds and funnel them into endless echoes.

Wine villages of Burgundy.
Major street through Fixin

But, just before the light broke, I could hear the chirping of the birds in the mulberry tree. The mulberry tree is the only tree that grows between the bricks in the small courtyard in front of the house.

The stone house rises three stories with “lucarnes” or windows in the roof. Sources tell me that the house was a brasserie, before getting divided. After the division, the house lost the right wing, but none of its Burgundian charm or massiveness.

Surprisingly, the house does not have an adjacent vineyard behind it. New or old vineyards in Burgundy are hard to come by, according to my daughter Dr. Emma Palova-Chavent. However, a dream to get a vineyard sometime in the future may become a reality, knowing my daughter.

The journey from the corn and soy bean fields of Michigan, USA to the vineyards of Burgundy is about 4,000 miles long across the Atlantic Ocean. After an endless flight to Paris, we took a reasonable Uber ride for 45 euros to the Gare Percy train station near the famous Lyon Station, one of seven train stations in Paris.

I have a great affinity to train travel that originates in my homeland in Czech Republic.

Typical Burgundy architecture.
Township hall “Marie” in Fixin with school.

The local train took us swiftly into Dijon, the capital city of Burgundy, a principal wine-producing area. Travelling by train in France is a great alternative to the automobile due to the efficiency of the entire transit network.

Fixin sits on the Grands Crus Route which winds from the northernmost Chenove to Remigny in the south for a total of 57.8 kilometers.

You can ride it, bike it or walk it for a unique experience of a lifetime. Whichever you choose to do, there are accommodating facilities along the way like Hotel les Grands Crus in Gevrey-Chambertin sitting directly on the wine trail.

The “Balades en Bourgogne” app offers e-guided tours highlighting off the trail locations with châteaux, churches and wineries.

I’ve experienced the magic of this wine route during my three distinct visits to Burgundy. In 2009 with a base in Nuits-Saint-Georges, then in 2013 in Dijon and now I stay in Fixin in the north part of the Grands Crus Route.

La Perriere XII century mansion
La Perriere mansion of the Dukes of Burgundy in Fixin.

The vineyards in the heat of the day are just as peaceful as they were a century ago when the monks established them. Perfect rows of wines in small plots that hug the slopes, are sometimes divided by stone walls, stone arches or by stone shelters known as “cabottes.” An occasional walnut tree oasis with a bench serves as an observation platform.

The UNESCO has recognized this complex magic in designating the vineyards of Burgundy as the “Climats,” a world heritage site in 2015 to be preserved for all mankind.

This small plot viticulture of vineyards that are terrain based create an impressive mosaic of more than 1,000 Climats lined up from Dijon to the Maranges.

Wine villages in Burgundy.
Hiking between the wine villages of Fixin and Couchey.

“In Burgundy, when we speak about a Climat, we don’t look to the sky, we keep our eyes to the ground,” said Bernard Pivot, writer and president of the support committee for the Climats.

As I walk the winding path through the Climats, in the distance a church steeple in Couchey shimmers with yellow and blue tiles. Only the bell tolls the time. The time has stopped here in the vineyards and the watch seems unnecessary.

I bend down to pick a bluish purple small grape, the Pinot noir grape variety of the region of Burgundy deeply embedded in the red soil. As the sweet juices touch the palate, I realize that thousands of years of hard work have gone into this one grape to bring it to perfection.

And that this second is the same as it was one thousand years ago when the monks established the vineyards.

Church of St. Martin, Fixin
Church of St. Martin, 1172 in Fixin .

The monks, the Valois Dukes of Burgundy, the wine merchants and wine growers, have all carried the wine tradition over the centuries.

On the horizon to the left, I see the magnificent seat of Dijon nestling in a valley with all its museums, archaeological abbey, the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy and the gourmet restaurants.

Walking from one wine village to the next, is like being born again with a new view on the world.

During my different stays in Burgundy, I noticed that some little things have changed, while the most remain the same. It’s that same stability that we constantly seek around us, no matter where we are.

Burgundy wine caves in Fixin
Burgundy wine caves

Among the changes are: more bilingual tourist stations and chambers in the villages, greater use of the wine trails via bike tours, walking and hiking.

However, the steady constant vibrates in the romantic wine villages with stone architecture, in the gastronomy and in the exceptional Crus wines.

The Climats have given us the high quality wines sought after around the world. These include: Montrachet, Romanee-Conti, Clos de Vougeout, Corton, Musigny, Chevalier-Montrachet, Chambertin and more.

Unique and fragile, the Climats, vineyards of Burgundy, are our heritage, one that must be protected and passed on. Their inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a “cultural landscape” is part of this objective. This is a commitment that has been undertaken, and witnessed by the community of nations, to respect and to preserve the “Outstanding Universal Value” of the Climats, as “combined works of nature and man.”

[Article 1, paragraph 3 of the Convention of World Heritage]

 For more information on the Climats go to www.climats-bourgogne.com

For more information on Burgundy go to http://www.burgundy-tourism.com

For “Balades en Bourgogne”: a collection of trails app go to Google Play or Appstore.

To be continued

 

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Czechoslovak Harvest Festival

Harvest Festival celebrates Czech traditions

By Emma Palova

Bannister, MI- No matter how long I’ve lived in North America, I still sometimes miss my home country, the Czech Republic.

It’s hard to pin point what exactly am I missing? My whole family, except for daughter Emma Chavent, lives here in Michigan. Although, we don’t have family reunions, we often visit with each other. We all speak the Czech language including our youngest granddaughter Josephine Marie Palova. She was born in Kalamazoo in 2013 to American mother and to son Jake.

Czechoslovak Harvest Festival.
The Czech & Slovak dance group.

So, it isn’t just the language that I miss. Sometimes, I think it’s the food. But, that can’t be right, both my husband Ludek and I can cook any Czech meal. We usually cook Czech food on Sundays.

The perfect Czech Sunday meal are either schnitzels or pork, cabbage and dumplings.

Every August, we go to the Czechoslovak Harvest Festival held in Bannister, MI.  ZCBJ Lodge #225 in Bannister organizes the annual event.

We do this to remind ourselves, our kids and grandchildren of our Czech origins. French-born Ella Chavent enjoyed the festival for the first time. She has never seen the traditional Czech and Slovak festive costumes or the dances.

Czech festival in Bannister.
Czechoslovak Harvest Festival.

Ella marveled both at the dances and the music. She loved the full Czech fare that consisted of ham, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, dumplings, cabbage, cucumber salad and Czech desserts.

As in most countries, the food and the desserts are the pride of that particular nation. The ZCBJ Bannister lodge volunteers have cooked the delicious spread since 1976. Although somewhat modified, the food carries the Czech staples of dumplings, cabbage and cucumber salad.

The dance troop celebrated 40th anniversary under the leadership of Diane and Tom Bradley. Another group played the accordions, a common instrument for the Polka music.

Every year, I am flabbergasted by the dedication of the organizers to the Czech culture. Although, they are of Czech origin, most of them have never visited Czech or Slovak republics. Their meticulous research has brought them closer to the country located in the heart of Europe, thousands of miles away from the American shore.

Czech & Slovak dancers at the Harvest Festival in Bannister.
Czech & Slovak dances at Harvest Festival.

The dedication also shows in the compiled recipes in the Czech anniversary cookbooks. Most recipes are in memory of loved ones.

A Polka brass band accompanies the mass at the Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church. The dance troop also dances polka and other Czech dances.

What makes the Czechoslovak Harvest Festival even more special is the fact that such events are dying out in the old country as the older generation passes on.

“Lodge Michigan #225 has been fortunate to have members who willingly give of themselves, who live not in the past, but rather use the past to build for the future,” the festival program reads.

“Vitejte holka na Dozinky,” Tom Bradley greeted Ella in Czech.

I used to worry about the future of this Czech event that annually takes place in the middle nowhere, not close to Lansing and not close to Grand Rapids.

Since yesterday, I don’t worry anymore. I saw young blood everywhere; from the dancers to the accordion players. Among the visitors were a lot of young people, who probably have never seen anything like the traditional costumed dances.

The event closes with a dance for the public inside the ZCBJ Lodge. The lodge itself is a feast for the eyes. It has a traditional stage for the Polka band. Paintings from Czech history decorate the walls of the 1916 hall.

Thanks to all the volunteers for keeping the Czech tradition in Midwest alive.

The next Czechoslovak Harvest Festival in Bannister will be held on Aug. 6th, 2017.

For more information visit www.zcbjbannister.org or find them on Facebook.

You can also rent the hall for events. Contact Ann VanDeusen at 1-(989) 534-1862.

To join the Western Fraternal Life go to http://www.wflains.org

Copyright (c) 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

International experiment with my Frenchie

International experiment explores English immersion at St. Patrick’s School

Note: I will incorporate some of the current posts into the memoir “Greenwich Meridian.” The memoir is a living document in which I track the events of the past and present. It is the story of the family immigration saga spanning three generations.

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- Thanks to my French family and a history class, I know that today is a holiday in France celebrating the Fall of Bastille in 1789. The French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille fort followed by a decade of chaos and executions, known as the French Revolution.

So, July 14th is a national holiday in France. The practical implications are that my daughter Emma Palova Chavent who is visiting with us in the USA can’t straighten out “stuff.” That’s what I call glitches in bureaucracy all over the world.

Ella Chavent in front of St. Pat;s School in Parnell, MI.
Ella Chavent in front of St. Pat;s School in Parnell, MI.

And now a few hours later since I’ve written this post, the tragedy in Nice, France  which left so many people dead. This reminds us of the fact that nothing has changed since the French revolution. Dead and more dead. I’ve written about this before that violence breeds more violence.

I consider our family clan to be international. Our daughter Emma, who was born in former Czechoslovakia, married French husband Adrien.

Now, I fear more than ever the international fate as Emma & Adrien Chavent ready to fly out tomorrow to Paris and their daughter Ella is staying here for English immersion.

Our son Jake, also born in former Czechoslovakia, married American Maranda. All of us speak English, most of us speak Czech and some speak French. I think Emma Jr. is the only one who speaks all three languages fluently.

That’s why I put up a sign greeting our international wedding guests in 2014 in three languages: Welcome, bienvenue and vitejte.

The international experiment 2016 involves language immersion for 5-year-old Ella Chavent, our granddaughter for six weeks. In September, when she turns six she will go to first grade in the wine village of Fixin in Burgundy, France.

When Emma mentioned that over the phone, my heart ached. In six years we’ve only seen Ella six times.

“That’s the price you pay for immigration,” I always say when I tell the story.

My husband Ludek came up with the summer vacation/immersion idea.

Ella was born in Dijon, France in 2010. Her first language is French. However, daughter Emma speaks to her only in English.

So, Ella’s English is good. A grammar mistake here and there. The lack of vocabulary at her age is understandable.

When at a loss for an English word, Ella uses French. So, I get to brush up on my French that was fairly good when we lived in Montreal in the 1990s. I took French immersion classes. My son Jake went to a French kindergarten. Montreal is a fully bilingual cosmopolitan city.

We do have a history in language immersion. I teach English as a second language (ESL). There was a time in the 1980s when I knew Russian, although mostly passively.

Ella started her English immersion on Tuesday of this week. We enrolled her in St. Pat’s summer school program in Parnell, MI. If everything goes fine, she will be attending through Aug. 18th. Her parents Emma & Adrien are leaving the country tomorrow July 15th. The plan is that I will fly with Ella back to Paris on Aug. 20th.

As we approach Emma & Adrien’s departure, I have butterflies in my stomach.

“Will she miss them so badly that either I’ll have to fly out with her early or Emma Jr. will have to come and get her?” I ask myself.

So, far she has whined here and there, “Where is my mami?”

Her mami and daddy were gone for four days to Arizona.

However, the whole immersion experiment hinged on St. Pat’s school. “How will Ella take it?”

When I picked her up after the first day, Ella was all excited. She immediately made friends.

“She will do fine,” her teacher assured me. “She’s great.”

That same evening Ella already started packing meticulously her things for the next day.

“We will make a jumbo pie, I want to take it to school to share it with my friends,” she said.

That warmed my heart after her video tirade that I called “Everything is mine.” Ella scripted that all by herself constantly repeating everything is mine: the books, the toys, the food.

Watch for more immersion/immigration posts to get a feel for the “Greenwich Meridian” memoir.

Contact me for your immersion needs in English and Czech. I do have two public facebook groups Immersion Czech and Immersion English.

I have summer immersion online camps available.

emmapalova@yahoo.com

 

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.