Milena Gerova is one of the great women of Oracle User Groups and has run the Bulgarian BGOUG for many years and is always asking me to come speak at one of their conferences which are held twice a year.
Finally this year I agreed and am currently on the return journey from their fabulous Spring Conference in Sandanski.
When I agreed to go I expected it to be my first visit to Bulgaria but actually I ended up going there twice in 4 weeks as it was also the EOUC Presidents Meeting in Sofia last month.
I had heard many other speakers tell of how well it is organised and how truly hospitable the organisers are and now I have experienced it for myself. I was met Thursday at the airport by Tanya a BGOUG board member who then drove Tim Hall and myself to Sandanski which is in the south west of Bulgaria and about 2 1/2 hours drive from Sofia.
The first thing we did was check out the hotel which was a Spa hotel with two beautiful pools so inviting, however Tim didn't have appropriate clothing so we walked into the town, just across the bridge and managed to find a pair of almost fitting shorts, well worth the effort as the pool was great. Yes this is called their spring conference but a little late this year and it was very hot, but that just gave an excuse to send even more time in the outdoor spa pool.
Later that evening there was a speakers' dinner but I was very tired and went off to bed at about 11 leaving others to party on through. However next and every morning I was in the pool at 8am feeling very healthy even if I didn't do much swimming.
The delegates arrived by bus at 10.30 on Friday morning and sessions went through till gone 7pm, followed by a brilliant dinner with local music and dancing. At the EOUC meeting Milena did tell us Tim was their expert dancer and I was amazed she was telling the truth, he was first up.
I had both of my sessions on Friday, 'How are Fusion Apps put together' and 'Is Cloud right for Fusion Apps'. Interestingly my audiences were mainly developers but it was a great crowd and I loved it. Feedback so far has been great and I felt truly appreciated. Tim attended the 2nd session and said what I was saying was mainly relevant to all Cloud and therefore had even wider appeal.
With no sessions to give Saturday, yes Saturday Bulgarians give up their weekend for this conference, which is child and family friendly, I took to the Spa. Probably not a good idea, I selected an algae wrap which I can only describe as being rubbed down with slurry, and then wrapped in plastic and left for 30 minutes to enjoy the aroma. Yes my skin feels great now but if I close my eyes I can still smell it!!!
What I did learn in Bulgaria is that the usergroup appeals to all ages and sexes, there is definatly no need for a WIT program and no one I spoke to had any issues.
When the sessions finished the speakers took to cars and drove to Melnik a beautiful little wine town about 20km away. we had a walk around the town and visited a wine cellar and museum and of course had to have a little taste. Then it was back to the hotel for a 'reflection' dinner before saying goodbye to those with an early start. There was then a terrific thunderstorm which I watched from my bed lighting up the sky all around, beautiful.
And all too soon it was time to go home, do the laundry and think about Kscope in Seattle. Thank you to Milena for the repeated invites and to the ACE program for facilitating.