Unlocking Hidden Heritage
Leonardo da Vinci European Pilot Project
Grampus Heritage Project. Slovakia
Report by British Participants Richard Henderson and Patrick Robson.
When we arrived in Slovakia, we were greeted by Miroslav, and then taken to a restaurant where we had dinner and talked about the coming weeks. We then went to Bardejov where we stayed at Hotel Saris.
The next morning we went to Hervatov and went to the Shingle workshop and met all the workers - (We spent the next few days here). After a short visit in the workshop the boss showed us around a forest whilst explaining the selection process for shingle wood. He also spoke about the long term conservation issues he had to take into consideration. After seeing his beehives and a quick chat about beekeeping, we had a meal in the village restaurant/bar then went back to the workshop and began the learning process of shingles. The men at the workshop were very knowledgeable and happy to share their knowledge. They also had gnarly hands - years of shingle making! We were using shaving horses and draw knives to make the shingles, and had a go at splitting the wood with axes and mallets. Miroslav also showed us the machine used to carve the notch in the back of the shingle and the "penetrating" process where the shingles are soaked in a preservative. The guys were very happy with our shingle making and some didn't even need adjusting! We went for a meal with the workers, visited the wooden church and had a talk about the history of it, then retired to our hotel.
A few days later, after Thomas from Cyprus arrived, we went to Bardejov Spa and had a look at the traditional buildings and living skills. Miro showed us the sort of shed we would be making for the historic beehives there, then we ate lunch and viewed the grounds. After this, we visited the Museum of Icons at Bardejov. There were some beautiful paintings and amazing models of the wooden churches in eastern Slovak villages. Miro certainly knew a lot about the artefacts, and his passion for it definitely showed. Then we visited the town cathedral and climbed all 180 steps to the top.
The next day there was a folk festival demonstrating traditional living skills from the stone age and bronze age time periods. There was a gypsy band, and we also were coaxed into playing! It was a great day, beautiful weather and gorgeous views. After the demos we were led into the VIP area of the museum and indulged in a exquisite feast we'd never have dreamed of before. We were shown the delights of medovina, then drove home through a massive storm! Quite exciting!
Peter, from germany, arrived the next day, and we returned to Bardejov Spa and collected some hazel for making a fence. Paddy had lots of fun with the ticks, made a friend with one particular character which he found stuck into his ankle at the hotel. After the health spa, we visited Hervatov workshop again and collected some shingles which we delivered to the spa. The next day we used these shingles and made the shed for the aforementioned beehive.
At this point, we were roughly a week through the trip.
We left Bardejov, and moved to Stropkov, where we stayed at a monastery opposite Miroslav's house. At this point, the two brothers from Iceland arrived. They were funny guys. We went to another open air museum and got started on replacing a roof on a public shelter. This museum had lots of traditional style buildings, and Miro did yet another great job of informing us of the rich Slavic culture. We met lots of nice people whilst working on the roof. A man called Rudolph was particularly funny.
We also visited the Tokaj region and sampled the delightful tokajske wine. We had an in depth introduction to the wine making process, and were told all about the storing and the symbiotic relationship with the alcohol and the mould on the walls. We also met an amazing little cat who was (covered in ticks) friendly and loved being stroked.
The day after, we finished the roof at the museum, and went back to Hervatov to give our thanks to the guys down there, and have one last meal at the great little restaurant, which now felt like our local!
All in all, it was an amazing experience. We both learned loads and were well introduced to the Slavic culture, which I formerly knew absolutely nothing about! It was way beyond what we expected, and we had a great time. It's definitely a place we'd love to visit again.
Grampus is a great project, and we can say first hand that its very well thought out, and Miro did an excellent job of sharing his passion for cultural exchange.
Thank you very much from Paddy and Richard.