The Moravian Way of Life
I went to the Czech Republic to learn about their wines, wineries and wine making. I came home with a love and appreciation for the region and its people... as well as a little bit of wine.
We were in the Moravia region of the Czech Republic, which is about an hour and a half north of Vienna and about three and half hours southeast of Prague. The second largest city in the Czech Republic, Brno, is in the northernmost part of the area. I mentally bisected the area into the two parts that we visited by the main highway leading south from Brno. On the west is the Valtice-Lednice area that is marked with history, once part of Austria, and sprinkled with castles and amazing estates. The west, while not without it's own historical significance, embodied more of what I expected of the region. Practical towns strewn over the rolling landscape that supported the working people of the area as well as a healthy tourist population of cyclists and wine tasters.
Other than the massive estates of yesteryear, the homes were modest and practical. Smaller villages centered around the church and town square were defined by row houses and small single family homes, or apartments above storefronts. Tight, both physically and neighborly, communities that were surrounded by vineyards once overtaken by the communists, now redistributed to families and often times shared by many wine makers. Each row of vines carefully marked for it's caretaker.
For many, they travel to Brno during the day to work, and return in the evenings to work at the wineries. It's a labor of love and family for many of the smaller operations.
While I feel like I live in the country, a good 20 miles or so outside of Boston, I also know that I'm a stone's throw from anything I could possibly need, pretty much any time of the day or night (with little exception). But that convenience is also someone else's inconvenience (some poor soul has to be there to accommodate my lack of forethought). Having lived in Switzerland for a stint in high school, I'm reasonably familiar with the fact that Europeans don't necessarily subscribe to that. This is still very true in Moravia, and while it would have once annoyed me, I now appreciate that it's about quality of life for them, not about an inconvenience to me.
Might there be a connection between between happy people and good work-life balance?
Everyone was supremely nice, extremely patient with our language challenges and our dependence on Google translate. And I would happily trade great people for being able to buy a stamp at noon, any day of the week.
These hardworking people are warm, genuine and welcoming. We spent time meeting with wineries, talking to wine makers, and we also spent time enjoying these wines with the locals at open cellars. Those who spoke English happily helped us navigate and learn, welcomed us to their community and shared their warmth and hospitality.
The folks here work hard, but also take time to enjoy life. Its pervasive in their culture and it didn't go unnoticed.