7 August 2012

Olympic Reception at the Slovak Embassy

This event was as unmissable as they come.

The invitation read, "The Ambassador of the Slovak Republic H.E. Mr. Miroslav Wlachovský requests the pleasure of your company at the reception on the occasion of the XXX. Olympic Games London 2012 and the visit of the President of the Slovak Republic,H.E. Mr. Ivan Gašparovič."

Unmissable.

Then it went on to say, "Together with the opening of the exhibition „Čičmany“ – village known as the first folk architecture reserve in the world. National motive of Čičmany is designed at the Slovak Olympic uniform."

Even more unmissable as I had visited Čičmany the last time that I went to Slovakia.

I like the Slovak Embassy a lot and it is well suited to receptions like this. I took advantage of the mezzanine floor to take a few photos during the introductory speeches and here you can see L-R the President and the Ambassador.

After the talks I grabbed a glass of sparkling wine and had a close look at the exhibition.

This took the form of approximately 1m square photographs of the wooden houses in Čičmany arranged artistically on the high walls.

There is a common style to the decorations but the markings are all unique.

The photos were arranged in around a dozen clusters around the room so there was plenty to look at. And plenty of sparkling wine to drink while doing so.

There was an excellent buffet too but the Slovaks do not really understand vegetarians but that was all-right as there was plenty of bread and cheese too. And did I mention the sparkling wine?

While mixing among the pictures the President circling intercepted mine and he shook my hand and we exchanged the briefest of pleasantries.

This closer encounter confirmed the impression that I had made earlier that I really want a shirt like that. It has the Čičmany pattern on the Mandarin collar and down the front and is rather special.

Slovakia does not seem to have fully embraced e-commerce yet and I've failed to find a web site that sells it.

Alpine pro boast that they are an official partner to the Slovakia Olympic team but they only seem to have sports and casual clothes, nothing smart like this.

I might have to buy one of their t-shirts anyway, just as soon as I can find somebody to help me to navigate the website that is only in Slovak (one of the many languages that I should have a reasonable working knowledge of but do not).

The invitation that I was so pleased to receive when to many of the usual suspects from the British Czech and Slovak Association so I was not short of people to talk to while sipping sparking wine.

Most (but not all) of them had read the presence of the President as a suggestion to dress very smartly but I was working from home that day and so was suit-less. I did dig out what is possibly my best shirt, it is certainly the most expensive even though it was reduced by two thirds in a Liberty Sale twenty years ago, which wins its class and earns its price through the embroidered roses on the front. Everybody else was taking lots of photos so perhaps one of me will turn up one day.

Until then you'll just have to settle for another photo of Čičmany designs, this time with a chicken.

The swirls here remind me of the pattern in the Russian Olympic outfits so they may have had the same idea of going back to their folk routes.

To reinforce the Slovak folk roots we also had a couple of people in traditional dress and a couple of them sang a folk song that was, frankly, a little weird.

It had far more whoops and claps than the average English folk song.

The last touch of authentic Slovakia came from the beer that I moved on to once the sparking wine ran out. It was one I had not had before.

I was a little uncertain about dragging myself in to Central London for an event with and uncertain agenda, it was billed as just a "reception", but the reputation that the Slovak Embassy has for these sort of events convinced me, and how right I was.

Now all that I have to do is work out how to buy that shirt and the experience is complete.

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