|Supplemental to KC's post...
When we arrived, I lingered on the train platform and was struck by the perfect quiet. I heard an occasional bird but otherwise only the sound of the breeze through the tall heather grass. Looking down the tracks in either direction, all you could was beautiful open countryside. It seemed right out of Dr. Zhivago. The town has about 35,000, but that is down from about 43,000 twenty years ago. We were out of the town center, so other areas may have been less quaint. We were shuttled a few blocks to a community center and then upstairs (up elevator ) to a class room with maybe 30 meeting attendees already underway. After a minute or two, the speaker paused to introduce us, and as we walked from the back to the front of the room, we received very a vigorous applause. Steve and two JET instructors (Josh from Boston and Carlos from Long Island) were the featured guests, but Steve's posse (Barb, Kathy, Kathy and Dennis) were similarly afforded near rock star status. Later, when the group broke out into small groups, each of us was assigned to a table and the locals peppered us with friendly questions - some about America and some personal to us. They were incredibly interested in big things and small. I was asked what I eat to keep my skin so soft... HA! After the wonderful castle trip (see KC's post) a delegation shuttled us back to the train station and waited with us through most of the train delay. They brought us candies and just couldn't seem like to enough for us. A very poignant experience.