Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L. (emo_snal) wrote,
Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L.

Castle Wedding 2015: Germany!

Thursday, May 28th - We rocketed through the German countryside at 280 kilometers an hour on the ICE train from Amsterdam. Tree lined fields flew by on undulating hills, and in the occasional tunnel our ears would pop. Quaint villages shot by with church steeples, and larger towns with walls covered in graffiti that was actually pretty ... in fact some of the graffiti appeared to be sponsored advertisements. This is not LA.

   It was dark out when we finally arrived at the Frankfurt train station, its dingy arched ceailings vaulting high overhead. From there we changed to a commuter train to the little town of Fredrichsdorf, at the end of the line. Here we walked up a narrow cobbled street from the little train station, between fachwerk houses with their exoskeletons of beams to the adorable little Lindenshof Hotel. In the lobby of this hotel, also of the exposed-beam fachwerk style, I found the staff had already gone to bed but had left my room keys and a note on the front desk for me.

   Some of our group who had arrived earlier were sitting in couches in the lobby chatting. I chatted with them a little bit but then decided to venture out looking for food. I was told there was a kebab shop just down the road that was probably still open.

   So I struck out down the moonlit cobbled street, running straight and narrow under the stars. I wasn't entirely sure I was going to right direction for the kebab shop but I was enjoying the walk. Presently I encountered another couple out walking who turned out to be another one of the couples from our group (that is, those of us who knew eachother from California and were there for Mark and Courtney's wedding on Satuday). They were looking for food as well, and as soon as we had discussed this we looked up and saw the sign for Cafe Klatch (sp?), a restaurant Mark had recommended, and it was still open. Had a delicious dish potatoes and cream and lentils and bacon and such served in a cast iron pan.

And random statues of hippopotamii

Friday, May 29th - In the morning I was out in the patio trying to take a good picture of the hotel but couldn't get far enough away to get a good picture in front. The manage came out and asked what I was doing, and then suggested I get up on the roof of the neighboring building to do so, which was relatively easy. I thought that was a kind of funny "would neverrrrrrrr happen in the US" piece of advice.

   When I left to my own devices, I have a tendency to wander into the forest. There being nothing going on on this morning I walked about the cute village and then came to a trail into the neighboring forest and wandered in. The trail flew through the forest straight as an arrow, and was a well maintained track of sod. Joggers and bicyclists came by occasionally. Little birds busied themselves in the underbrush. Presently Mark texted me and told me to come over so I had to find my way back out of the forest, or more to the point, since the trail I'd followed had been straight as a laser, I had to try to find an alternative route to make life a little more interesting. So after a little effort I finally succeeded in the sought-after convoluted side route out of the forest.
   With Mark, his dog Sam (border collie) and another friend we went walking out the other side of the village, which went through some fields and soon into another forest. I was a big fan of all this forest. Also of note, amid the fields there were many small plots apparently owned by people who live in the city and come out to their little plot in the country to have a garden. It's sort of like having a yard disconnected from your house, some were simply lawns with a picnic table and chairs, some were elaborate gardens, some were surrounded by high thick hedges.

   That evening we all went in to Frankfurt to have dinner at a traditional restaurant (an apfelvinhus?). Many fat bratwurts and golden schnitzel's were eaten, the latter accompanied by Frankfurt's specialty green sauce, which we were told was invented by the mother of famous German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Afterwards many of us proceeded to the part of town filled with bars for the drinking of beers by the liter. This warren of pedestrian-only streets was quite filled with joyful revellers on this Friday night. We saw several bachelor parties enjoying much greater success in their antics than we had ourselves in Amsterdam. Little by little people drifted off until I found myself the last to return to Fredrichsdorf, on the last train at 1:04am.

Saturday, May 30th - Woke up for the complimentary breakfast (delicious, sausages and bacon and croissants and scrambled eggs and freshly squeezed orange juice of which I had countless glasses) ... and then went back to bed. Jet lag and the heavy drinking of the night before had caught up to me apparently, and I pretty much stayed in bed from then until 1pm, when I had to get up to get ready for the wedding, which we were meeting for at 2.
   1:50 -- panic sets in when I realize the slacks I had thought I'd packed, and had definitely had in my hand and been about to pack, apparently ended not getting packed. The best I could come up with were black dickies, which I felt a little ashamed of but no one seemed to notice. Fortunately the wedding was a bit casual -- we had been told to wear yellow socks and grey converse.
   A charter bus had been booked to take us all from the Lindenhof to the castle at which the wedding was to take place. It couldn't navigate the quaint little roads of most of the village though so we had to walk down to near the train station to catch it. Half an hour later we were in another little town, walking up more little curving streets the bus couldn't navigate, until we entered the majestic ruins of the castle there. Wedding ceremony itself was in a large roofless room in castle. All the preparations had been done by the bride and groom and friends without professional caterers or wedding planners and I think it turned out quite well.

By no means the best picture but I figure a tying-the-knot picture is kind of obligatory

   From there we reboarded the bus to return to the Lindenhof. We'd booked the entire place for our party for the weekend, so it was only us there, and the staff throughout were so accommodating and friendly.
   Reception was a blast. After the hotel staff prepared and served a delicious dinner (the place is also a restaurant so they were well equipped for this), a long evening of drinking and dancing and partying ensued. One could alternative between the dance floor in the cosy elegant woodlined interior and the beautiful refreshing outside patio.
   Apparently it's a German tradition for the bride and groom to saw through a a piece of linden wood together to symbolize their teamwork or something... Well we had a piece of wood that was essentially green and a rusty saw that the manager later said was really just a prop to hang on the wall.. so needless to say it didn't go well. After making a serious effort at doing it themselves the bride and groom challenged other married couples to have a go at it, then the groom and best man had a go, and finally the bride and maid of honor finished it off.
   Another favorite reception moment of mine was when we finally got the four servers to rock out on the dance floor for a song. Finally some time after 3am I called it a night and stumbled the 100 feet to my room... where I proceeded to lay awake for another hour due no doubt to having slept all day.

Traditional fight-to-the-death between groom (r) and best man (l)

Sunday, May 31st - Was kind of planning on getting up for breakfast and going back to bed again but as it happened I felt alright after (delicious) breakfast). Checked out before the hotel staff left -- it being Sunday there would be no one working there that day (!). Reminds me of how at last year's castle wedding in France I had problems trying to leave on a Sunday when no taxis were operating. As for daily activities, I asked the manager about the nearby Roman fort I had heard about and he wrote down the directions to get there -- a short train ride to the next town over and then get on a certain bus. But I looked at a map and said to myself "it's just eight kilometers straight through the forest to get there!"
   Vacated my room (I had a train to catch just after midnight) and lugged my wheel-less luggage down the street to Mark and Courtney's place. Courtney met me at the door with "shhh everyone's asleep" and I went on my way through the forest over hill and dale.
   Despite having a pair of shoes (converse) I elected to do this eight kilometer forest trek in my flip flops, because my converse were just killing my feet. The flip flops (rainbows) served me well. I had a thoroughly pleasant walk for two hours or so along the maintained trails through the quiet expanses of forest, passed by the very occasional bicyclist. I would like to say finally out of the leafy foliage the ancient castle walls of the fortress emerged... but first it was the road and parking lot.

From inside the fort looking at one of the gate-houses.

   Those clever Romans had surrounded their encampment with stone battlements, a steep moat, and a chain link fence! Okay maybe the latter was modern, but it was no less an obstacle, and I circled around looking for the entrance but apparently went the wrong way around. Outside the main enclosure on one side a number of archeologists were taking measurements of some foundations ... and I took note that a majority of them seemed to be attractive young ladies. Maybe I should have become an archeologist after all! (it was my career aspiration before it changed to "diplomat" in high school)

   Finally I found the gift shop / entrance and just as I was about to go through I heard voiced speaking English. I stopped for a moment to behold this batch of American tourists ... only to see two couples from our group! It's maybe not so much a coincidence that we all ended up at the same location since it was one of the more interesting things in the immediate area, but the timing was quite a coincidence considering completely uncoordinated, after not seeing them in the morning and after I'd walked eight kilometers through the forest, we managed to arrive at the entrance at the same minute! Anyway so we all went in together and toured about the place. Deep in the forest, the fortress had survived into the modern era mainly as mere foundations, but had been recreated in the late 19th century to look significantly as it had in antiquity. I found it very interesting in the museum galleries looking at some of the tools that had been unearthed there, some wrench and plier like pieces of equipment looked almost modern. This fortress guarded the very furthest extent of the Roman Empire into unconquered Germany, and we walked a few hundred yards into the forest beyond it to where the ancient Roman border wall had been. A raised hump snaking away for dozens of kilometers in either direction can still be seen where the wall was, and just outside the fortress there a gap in the hump the width of a road, where the road had passed through it. I'm a big fan of Roman history, and I found being on a distinct point on the very edge of the empire felt more tangible and easy to wrap one's mind around than something in the amorpheous middle. It was easy to stand right there where the road passed through the wall, and visualize the lonely soldiers standing at the very edge of civilization here, this far distant outpost. Because Rome had a habit of recruiting people and dispatching them very far from home so they wouldn't cause trouble, the soldiers at this post probably felt they were at the very edge of the world.

   From there were were all driving back to Fredrichsdorf in the car one of the group had rented when we saw a cathedral spire over a hill and decided to investigae. As we were looking for parking near that cathedral what should we see but ANOTHER couple from the group (I was pretty much the only single one), so we joined them, and then our group of now seven walked about this town ("Bad Hamburg"?) and had dinner there.

   Then we returned to Fredrichsdorf, and I took the train to Frankfurt and hence to Sweden! But that's another entry! (:

See Also: Castle Wedding 2014: France (though unfortunately I didn't upload any of the pictures to flickr and now all the links are broken in the entry ): )

Originally posted 2015/07/01]

Tags: europe, europe trip 2015, germany, travel, travelogues, weddings

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