Howling wind and cracking branches, ice on the tarmac. Complete darkness, only shades of huge surrounding rocks – and small lights. From dozens of deer eyes, observing the lonesome car. End of the road. Rynartice, sparsely lit venue called Zámeček (former hunting lodge).
Empty reception. Luckily, there is someone in the house. The cook, waiter and receptionist are hiding in the kitchen. And in the dining room – three Czech-German Young Professionals. Two of them, the girls, I know already. We have seen each other in Berlin, Prague, Regensburg and Pilsen. In decent seminar rooms, fancy restaurants and clubs. We have never met in the middle of nowhere, in a house which makes you think about Agatha Christie’s horror And Then There Were None the second you enter it. The others are still on their way. Some are driving hundreds of kilometres through the winter darkness; some are waiting for a shuttle at nearby railway stations. Some landed by accident in a nearby hotel with the same name as ours. Finally, everybody is there, sound and safe. Stories from the adventurous journey serve as great icebreakers – not to say, they are needed. Everyone seems to be relaxed and opened.
There are nine (!) of 12 last year’s Czech-German Young Professionals Program (CGYPP) participants and about the same number of alumnis from previous years. Dinner is served and after a while you can’t tell who belongs to which group. Later on, we discover a nice attic with billiard table, a great place to chill out and enjoy the rest of the evening. We wake up to a sunny morning. The terrifying enchantment is gone. We have breakfast and start a workshop with a big “official” introduction round. There are people from business, media, universities and administration, a colourful mixture. We discuss the 2014’s topic managing diversities and later on the upcoming “great energy challenge: in search for sustainability on personal, regional and global level”.
In between, we see a few Pecha Kucha presentations. People are free to talk about whatever they like or are interested in. About coffee and architecture, photography and tolerance. About sunny sides and challenges of their private and professional life. In the afternoon, we manage a short hiking trip to the surrounding area, which is called Bohemian Switzerland. For a reason – the national park is both unique and beautiful. And it is deserted. We have it only for ourselves. I have to admit, I am impressed.
Not only by stunning views, great cliffs and charming meadows and woods. Yet more by the variety of ideas, observations and experiences we exchange. By the intellectual and cheerful atmosphere, which makes some to jump into the pool or dance through the night. Next day it is clear, it was worth coming. Only one last thought is bothering me. If this hunting lodge is not a haunted house, what is it? I am sure it is not just a normal building. It takes me several weeks to get it. It is a weird power plant. People come in Friday evening, a bit tired and annoyed from their daily work. They meet a few similar fellows from different cities and regions. They have a chat, something to eat and drink, share opinions and hike. On Sunday, everyone is recharged. Don’t ask me, how it works. I am not a big fan of physics. But believe me, it does.