A Very British Castle Bothmer

Schloss Bothmer is a wonderful Baroque Manor House in northern Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. I once wrote an article about Hans Caspar von Bothmer and the English Queen. The most interesting fact in my opinion is, that it was built for him, but he actually was never there. The history of the manor is quite interesting, too. I ‘discovered’ the castle when it was still in recover from the former DDR-times and visited it several times since the re-opening in 2015.

I went again this early summer when I happened to be in the area. It was right at the weekend when the British Fair was held in the wide gardens of the castle.

There is a British society in Hamburg and the members held every year a British fair. Most of the times it was in Hamburg itself. This year it was at Schloss Bothmer, just a hundred kilometers far from Hamburg.

The fair brings the very British flair to the place. Stands with scones and jam, fish&chips or malt whisky, the so British women hats or wonderful English gardens decorations give the taste of British lifestyle. Several classic cars were displayed and gave us the Downtown Abbey- feeling. We saw finally what men wear under their Scottish kilts while they were throwing hammers in a competition and listened to a concert with pipes and drums.

We were very lucky as we had NO British-like weather at all but sunshine and warm weather. It was a lovely afternoon at the castle. We walked the gardens, had a quick little snack and I bought a hat which is wearable also in other places than Ascot. We enjoyed the British feeling very much but went elsewhere to have a coffee at a more relaxing place.

Castle Bothmer, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern/Germany:

For further information:
Schloss Bothmer (in German)
About the British Fair

Posted in Europe, Germany, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, ON TRAVEL | Tagged | Leave a comment

Marksmen Festival – At a Traditional German Festival in Lauenburg

Germany, like all European and worldwide countries, has a lot of traditions. One of these is the Marksmen Festival which features a target shooting competition and a parade. I remember that traditional festival in my childhood when my grandmother was still alive and my mother lived with me in her birth-town of Lauenburg at the Elba. It was a huge festival with carousels, a lot of stands with food and crafts, huge parades and a crowded audience. The shooting I don’t remember of course as that is a marksmen competition only, but the crowning of the marksmen king I remember well.

I still have a wonderful friend in Lauenburg, my longest childhood friend, and her husband is an active member of the marksmen guild. So when I told her this year that I would like to see the festival together with my sweetie (who happened to be in northern Germany those days), her husband offered to let him march within the parade. What a unique experience that would be for my American sweet pie! So we organized everything…

The Schützenfest or Marksmen Festival is a competition in shooting skills essentially. But of course there is much more around like the parade before and after, the beer tents with ‘good German food’, and the many entertaining events around plus many stands with crafts, more food and for children fun places. The biggest one is held in Hanover with more than 5.000 marksmen, 10.000’s of participants and more than a hundred marching bands, from all over the world. The parade is 12 kilometers long.

The origin of the festival lies in the Middle Ages. Towns needed to defend themselves from marauding bands and founded a kind of paramilitary associations. Of course, they had the usual training but also festivities with competitions with ‘next door’ towns. Who has the better shooters/defenders? And there the festivals came in, making the competitions between paramilitary groups to a town’s celebration. Over the centuries there were built country defenses, but the Schützenfest continued to be a patriotic tradition.

The Lauenburg Schützenfest is not anymore what I remember from my childhood. But still was interesting to see. Especially the one very unusual looking man with the long locks trying to get into the marching path of the rest of the group. He started with just walking in the morning, the afternoon he was fully in the marching trot.

The audience was not that big, but it was also cold and cloudy, nothing that would think about a summer day in July.

We, as audience were waiting for the bands and the highly decorated marksmen to parade through the little town of old Lauenburg, which is so beautiful with the old brick-and-timber houses, cobbled streets and beautiful front-yards. High stags with the fluttering flags were carried by strong men, men in uniforms and medals, hats decorated with feathers and oak leaves, young women and men with trombone and xylophone were all marching with the same rhythm. In the market place they stopped and saluted before continuing through the streets.

We all met later in the beer tent in the Schlossgarten, men and women, and not only members. A lot of drinking was going on, eating German sausages and other typical dishes, talking between women and men, while the members (first time also a female group) ‘disappeared’ for the shooting competition in a highly technological underground shooting range (we had a short look in that area). Later in the early evening all came back (who walking, who marching like my sweet half) to the Schlosshof, where the court house is situated. Here the kings and Queens were crowned (young shooters, female and male groups, ‘old’ members) and all closed with a Zapfenstreich (Grand Tattoo)

I was cold the whole day as I didn’t expect that low temperature on a July day, but the ceremony was interesting. For myself I think I enjoyed most that my wonderful half had a unique experience, something that will last for a long time in his mind. He had a lot of good talks he told me later, as many of them spoke English well, he loved the German food and to see all these traditions. I enjoyed additionally being the whole day together with my longtime friend, and I am very thankful she and her husband made this happen.
Thank you so much to both of you!

Lauenburg, Schleswig-Holstein/Germany:

For further information:
Marksmen Guild of Lauenburg (in German)

Posted in Europe, Germany, ON TRAVEL, Schleswig-Holstein | Tagged | Leave a comment

Invitation to a Wedding in Naples

Lately I am dancing from one to another wedding. The children of good friends or younger friends are getting married, and I am so honored to be invited to their weddings.

One of these fabulous events was the wedding of the son of my very best friend who recently died, just a few months ago. It was not sure if the wedding will be held, it was so near to the death of the mother of the groom. But all the preparations were so much nearly concluded and my friend was so immensely happy of her son’s wedding that it would not be right to postpone it. My friend was so much looking forward to seeing the bride to walk down the aisle, to see her son’s so happy smile when seeing her.

So the wedding was taking place at mid June in Naples, Italy.

Super organized my sweetie and I met the sister of my friend at the port of Pozzuoli in the early morning. We were waiting for some more people coming from the island Ischia. An organized bus took us up to the church, right in the middle of the always buzzing city.

The Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista is located in the Marianella zone. It’s the church where she belongs to, as in Italy you get married at ‘her’ church. The church is old, more than 700 years, but was also completely rebuilt after several fires destroyed the structure completely. Yellow and Grey with a high clock-tower the sacred place is nearly hidden in between houses and a little piazza in front.

The church was pretty full, the wonderful bride’s maids all in long dresses of tenuous blue, which was the theme of the wedding, the blue Hydrangea.

The Mass was not too long, the pastor clearly knew her from childhood, he spoke very personal with the young couple. It was a very joyful and solemn moment with a few tears in the eyes of us (my friend’s sister and me).

After church, we took again the bus which brought us up to the Villa Maria, a wonderful place between Posillipo and Vomero. From here the view on Naples is breathtaking! Postcard-wise! Unfortunately because of summer and the heat a little hazy but still exactly what you know from postcard-photos.

The amazing venue is also a hotel, has a nice pool and an incredible terrace. We had refreshments and little snacks while waiting for the groom and bride. Later when the couple arrived they prepared 3 long buffets with antipasti, most of them fish and seafood of course. The fresh mozzarella melted in the mouth, sooo good.

After the antipasti we took our seats inside in a nice dining room, all wonderfully decorated around the Hydrangea. We all had a little gift on out plate, a blue Agate. The food was again very much ‘fishy’, lovely. We had great conversations at our table, the just married couple sat very often with us.

Later there was the wedding cake – which was actually a whole bunch of different typical Neapoltitan cakes – again outside, the glass of Champagne and drinks, who preferred a coffee. Very sweet: it was the bride’s grandmother’s 80th birthday, too!

The bomboniera – the little gift a guest always gets before leaving the wedding and is a reminder to that special day, was very thoughtful: a beautiful box with two little bottles of liqueurs typical for Naples: one Limoncello and one Amaro.

We passed a wonderful day which was surprisingly relaxed and a wonderful wedding. It warmed my heart profoundly to see my friend’s son’s happiness. The bride was so beautiful, no wonder he is so deeply in love with her. I know my friend would have been the happiest mom in the world, and I am so honored to have been invited to their wedding. Thank you to both of you for this wonderful day together!

♥ ♥ ♥ Vi voglio un mondo di bene! ♥ ♥ ♥

Villa Maria, Napoli, Campania/Italy:

For further information:
Villa Maria

Posted in Campania, Italy, ON TRAVEL | Tagged | Leave a comment

In Europe’s fields the poppies blow

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow” is the beginning of a poem of Lt. Colonel John McCrae of the WWI. One of many other war poems with poppies, Poppies are the most beautiful flower beside corn flowers – for me at least. I have seen so many this years that my heart was overwhelmed.

It is pretty clear that this can’t stop here! I have many corn flower photos waiting, too. So for today enjoy the poppies and the brilliant, bright red of their petals!

Posted in reflections | Tagged | Leave a comment

Antique Cars in Travemünde – Küstentrophy 2019

Antique cars are always fascinating, and we happened to arrive in Travemünde right the day the Küstentrophy started. We couldn’t miss it and have a look at the German – or better: European – antique cars which are so different to the ones you can see in the United States.

They were displayed in the Brügmanns Garten where most of the festivities are held in the little Baltic Sea town of Travemünde. Just walking around and observing the people how they are amazed by the shiny cars, old style, is such a big fun.

The Küstentrophy is a kind of antique cars rally. The cars have two days of driving a certain route during the day with some stops for lunch. They start all together and come back at the time they finish the rally day.

There were 120 ‘Oldtimer’, like they say here in Germany. This year was a 10 years celebration. Cars like the Porsche 356, Mercedes-Benz 300 S Cabrio from 1954, a ‘Bulli’ all dedicated to the airplane company Lufthansa or a Rolls-Royce Phantom I Dual Cowl and a Bentley Blue Train from 1930 were displayed.

The cars visited on their routes castles and manor houses in Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

We enjoyed very much to see these old guys. Here are some more impressions. Enjoy!

Travemünde, Schleswig-Holstein/Germany:

For further information:
Travemünde Tourism
For the website of the Küstentrophy in Travemünde 2019 (in German)

Posted in Europe, events, Germany, ON TRAVEL, Schleswig-Holstein | Tagged | Leave a comment