European Regional Forum Officers and Council Members Annual Retreat – Zurich, March 2023

Sunday 11 June 2023

Fernando Gragera Contador

It was my first European Regional Forum Annual Retreat, and I had a very vague idea of what to expect. It definitely exceeded my expectations.

The organisation was excellent at all times. Thank you again to the organising team for your dedication, generosity and hospitality.

The working session was a great opportunity to review the current structure of the ERF, what every sub-regional groups and working parties were doing, and their future plans. I really valued that as a newcomer.

And what to say about the other activities of the agenda… I didn’t miss (almost) any! The dinner on Friday was fabulous  and I had the pleasure of sharing the table with 'the Queen' (ie, Committee Co-Chair Christine Blaise-Engel) and some of the best companions I could ever have had.

After such a lavish meal, the plan to visit downtown Zurich bars was abandoned! The next day we went to the city outskirts for our famous ‘two-hour easy walk’. Seeing some of our colleagues wallowing in the mud was very amusing – pictures are there for the memory! Even more impressive was seeing how one of the Senior Officers – the only one without ‘comfortable shoes’ – overcame all the obstacles (some say by levitating) and yet remained absolutely mud-free!

It was also great to get to know Zurich, its beauty, its cheap chocolate, its light cheese fondue, its schnitzels, Zeughauskeller, and its ‘no music on the street’ rules – much to the dismay one of our Turkish friends.

Most important, however, was meeting each and every Officer and Council Member. It was lovely to meet you all – you made this great experience possible.

Viktoria Szilagyi

After meeting in November 2022 at the IBA Annual Conference in Miami, the European Regional Forum officers and council members finally gathered again in early March, to spend a few days together. Our annual retreat was hosted by our Co-Chair, Massimo Calderan, in the wonderful city of Zurich. The programme covered our visit to the Kunsthaus, we shared the best of Swiss and Italian food, and managed to talk through what the European Regional Forum is engaged in, what are our main activities and our plans for the future.

I love to spend time with this energetic group of amazing people and to see how they are committed to meet, spend time together, work on projects and, of course, have fun. It is always a great pleasure to meet the new council members and see how readily they settle into the group thanks to the welcoming environment. Those who stayed for our traditional Saturday walking tour were lucky enough to participate in an amazing walk in the green hills around Zurich, followed with the most delicious Swiss fondue. An unexpected and funny twist at the end involved a slightly muddy walk and a closing boat trip on Zurich Lake, a truly memorable experience for a lifetime.