Picking up where I left off (although a week has now passed as I write and back-date this post) – my arrival at Villa Grébovka.
Sleep-deprived, disheveled, and only porting my carry-ons, I arrived by car to the park that houses both the CEELI Institute (Villa Grébovka) and my apartment for the month of July (the Landhaus). While I will be inserting pictures highlighting a few things from my point of view, why not see a professional rendition of my home for the next month:
Modern Look – https://ceeliinstitute.org/villa-grebovka-2/
The villa is housed inside Havlíčkovy sady park, and it just celebrated its 150th anniversary a few weeks ago. Pictured below is the cornerstone from the building… currently displayed in the dining area of this massive structure.
The villa itself is six (maybe five – hard to tell to be honest) stories – which you would not think to look at, since the bottom two are seemingly underground… with windows poking out amongst vines and leaves of the vineyard. And yes, I said VINEYARD.
While it is not operated by CEELI (the city of Prague leases it to private individuals), the Institute does have its own access to the grape-filled hillside that lays right alongside it...with the vineyard producing enough wine to at least run a small tasting room on the premises, open on Fridays.
The size of the villa is perfect for what is typically a revolving door of programs and conferences, requiring participants to be housed in the 44 (?) guest rooms on the “below-ground” floors and faculty members in the larger accommodations throughout the building. My office is on the second floor (third by American standards), while the ground and first floor house conference rooms, offices, and the library. The top floor operates another program, but it is closed for the time being.
Given COVID and the reduced on-site presence, the villa is typically a quiet place these days since most of the staff operates from home a large portion of the week. My arrival day, however, happened to be a moment when the office was jam-packed...relatively-speaking, given the small size of the entire CEELI crew. So while I went in to just get my technology squared away (after getting the keys to Landhaus and showering off travel), I instead ended up eating cake and chatting with my co-workers …Although that is the last time I have seen most of them since – because the weekend ahead contained an extended two vacation days for July 5th and 6th, which combined with either extra days taken off by people for personal reasons or their typical work-from-home arrangement.
Continuing the tour of the park, there is the grotto. You’ll have to read the webpage to see if you get any additional history on it because I know nothing – except salsa dancing happens there from time to time!
And speaking of salsa, this amazing wooden gazebo – the Altan – features Latin dancing two times a week…Wednesdays and Sundays. (For those readers who don't know, dance is a hobby of mine I brought with me to Prague – taking special care to pack my shoes.) I stopped to observe my first night in town, but it wasn’t until the next Wednesday that I finally joined in myself.
The Altan is directly in between the villa and my apartment, depending on the path of steps and slopes you take. So the last stop on this mini-tour is the Landhaus…pictured here from above and circled for convenience.
Perfect size for me, the only hiccups being the dilemma of how to turn on the stove (which a call to my brother solved) and the waterworks that recent deluges in Prague have caused for the first time ever ... apparently flooding the lobby a few days before my arrival and then tonight (July 8, actually) – a situation where the bath, toilet, and kitchen sink were bubbling up from the force of water pushing into the system!
The first few nights I took long, multi-hour walks around town – to the main historic area and then weaving along the river. I also managed to get out of town for a few days to see Olomouc and Brno...stories for a different post or perhaps a visual re-cap at the end of my stay in the Czech Republic. Next post I will tell you about the projects I have been working on during my transition to Prague.