(L-R): Ambassador Bärtl, Mr. Bärtl Sr.; Credit: Barbora Wellens

On Tuesday 11 June 2024, the Czech Embassy in Luxembourg, together with the Czech Tourism Agency, welcomed guests for a special opening of the photography exhibition "Kde domov můj/Where my home is/Wou ass meng Heemecht".

The Czech Ambassador to Luxembourg, Vladimír Bärtl mentioned in his speech that since his arrival in Luxembourg over four years ago he has been working on many areas of promotion of mutual relations between Czechia and Luxembourg; however, he feels that he still owes a bit to one more sector, i.e. the promotion of tourism. At the same time, he realised that he could make an original contribution to this area from his own, family resources.

Together with the Czech Tourism agency, they decided to show the beauty of both countries in a symmetrical way. They chose to do this using aerial photography, taken thanks to a common hobby that both the Ambassador and his father share, flying. All the photographs in the exhibition which are currently on the fence surrounding the Embassy, are from his father's lens; here in Luxembourg from aboard the Piper aircraft of the AeroSport club, of which Ambassador Bärtl is a member, and has been flying his father on several his visits to Luxembourg. The Czech and Moravian photos were taken on flights when the Ambassador's father, Mr. Bärtl Sr., piloted himself.

The Ambassador then presented many of the photographs via a slideshow with the photographs in their original landscape composition, supplemented with more photographs and videos taken during flights of both pilots, the Ambassador and his father. There were also "cockpit selfies" in which many of guests could recognise themselves from being passengers with Ambassador Bärtl.

There were also photographs from flights to Utah Beach in Normandy, France, a flight around Madeira Island, a flight to Spangdahlem Air base and many more.

Ambassador Bärtl then thanked Patrik Bitomsky, the author of the graphic design of the exhibition. The Ambassador also expressed his gratitude to Anne Calteux, Head of Representation of EU Commission to Luxembourg, for proofreading and correcting the Luxembourgish language version of the accompanying texts, and to the Embassy team who arranged for the production and installation of the exhibition.

Mr. Bärtl Sr., the 88-year-old father of the Ambassador, then spoke briefly and thanked everyone for coming, mentioning that when he started to flying many decades ago, he also began taking photographs of the beauty of Czechia so that he could enjoy it again at home in peace. For him, it was a great honour and pleasure to be able to exhibit in Luxembourg (after an exhibition he had at the Velké Březno Chateau in Czechia last autumn). He modestly pointed out that he was not a professional photographer and asked to bear with him. He also mentioned that for him this exhibition is a farewell to his flying career, during which he flew 975 hours and had over 1,200 flights (take-offs).

Wander Book

Ambassador Bärtl then mentioned another Czech project in the context of promoting tourism: Wander Book, founded in Czechia in 2008. He explained that the owner of the company used to be a runner (in orienteering) and also a photographer who always bought a postcard as a souvenir from his travels after races. These were then made into large and heavy albums. During one of his trips he got the idea to create a small diary with the help of stickers. He first focused the project on Czechia and Slovakia, where there are now more than 4,000 stickers and places to buy them.

Step by step, other European countries were added (the last ones were France and Italy). Today they are eleven in total. With the support of the Embassy, stickers for Luxembourg are currently in the process of being completed, also with the involvement of Barbora Wellens, a Czech photographer living in Luxembourg. The Ambassador confirmed that photos of his father will probably be used for some of the stickers, too.

The Ambassador pointed out that the diary and the stickers will be available both in the Wander-book e-shop and also in the souvenir shops in castles and other tourist centres.

After the presentation, the guests, including the ambassadors of Romania, Austria, Belgium and Turkey, as well as CJEU Judges Passer and Prechal, MFA Political Director Véronique Dockendorf, Aide de Camp de Cour Grand-Ducal Robert Kohnen, pilots Marc Rasquen, Jean Ries, Roeland Pels, Christophe Englebert and many others, moved to the public footpath leading past the embassy to view the exhibition. In the late afternoon sun, they compared photographs of castles / chateaux, river meanderings and other subjects in Czechia and Luxembourg.

When the guests returned to the Embassy garden, they continued to admire the beauty of both countries on the accompanying slideshow while enjoying Czech Pilsner, Bohemia Prestige sparkling wine and Prague ham.

The exhibition will be on display at the "Galery Plein Air" (outdoors gallery) outside the Embassy for about a month and then will move to the Luxembourg Embassy residence in Prague.