Hamburg presented an interesting challenge – one could day-trip very easily to Bremen, Luebeck or Schwerin from here. Bremen and Luebeck, both being Hanseatic towns, were tempting because their town centres are both on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. Hanseatic towns were part of the Hanseatic league, a confederation of merchant guilds that dominated Baltic maritime trade in the middle ages. Schwerin, however, was interesting because it boasted a castle on a peninsula. It was not on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list but had applied to it (which places it on the tentative list), and Krisi and Vladi hadn’t been there, so it won their vote. I couldn’t resist seeing a traditional German castle, so off we went to Schwerin.
Schwerin is the capital, oldest city and second-largest city in the North-Western German province of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Its castle is situated on an island in the city’s main lake, Schwerin Lake. For many centuries, the palace was the home of the dukes and grand-dukes of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. It is known as a great example of Romantic Historicism (an architectural style), and its nickname is Neuschwanstein of the North. Today, it houses the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state parliament, and as such it boasted a feature I had not seen in years – an indoor smoking booth. I had only seen those at the Frankfurt airport before. They’re nice, because you’re not closed off in one of those nasty smoking rooms; but the booth still provides some ventilation so that others nearby are not subjected to second-hand smoke.
The palace was nice. We toured several different rooms, of which my favorite was the Throne room.
In another room, there was a replica of Canova’ depiction of Paolina Borghese as Venus, which I saw last year at Galleria Borghese in Rome. The furniture was very interesting, as well, and the woof floors were very ornate.
The gardens were nice, too, although it was a rainy, gloomy and windy day so we didn’t feel like walking around outside too much. We tried to grab brunch at the cafe at the Orangerie, but it turned out it was reservation only, so we settled for coffee and Kuchen (German for cake). I got the Kaesekuchen – cheesecake – which in Germany is made with quark, a fresh cow milk cheese that is less creamy than cream cheese. The crust is also different – it’s made out of cookies rather than graham crackers. It was less sweet and much lighter than the American cheesecake I am used to.
The town center of Schwerin was also nice. It was well preserved because WWII bombs spared this city, for the most part. There was a festival in the town square where you could grab a beer and some bratwurst.
When we left Schwerin, we decided to detour to another castle in the nearby town of Ludwigslust (German for “Ludwig’s Joy”) but by the time we got there, the rain had returned with force, so we headed back to Hamburg.
For dinner, Vladi cooked this giant fish he had caught in the Elbe channels by the house. We had a delicious meal and we chatted the night away. It was a wonderful way to end my trip, as tomorrow I am flying back to LA early in the morning. I am thankful for another great European trip and for many wonderful memories with friends and family. Prost!