Adventures make one late for dinner among other things, but I trust that I am not too late in writing this report, for many aspects of this particular adventure had to end before I could begin. Originally I was going to live broadcast video from the opening. Alas; amid the bustle of party planning, we had a hard time getting the wireless signal strong enough for a video feed – but hey, without confusticating this matter further, it is with great honor that I am now able to relate to you a journey from New York to a far green country. It was among the mountains of Switzerland that I found a round green door which opened unto a familiar home.
I often tell folks the best way to have ‘chance-meetings in Middle-earth’ is by joining one of the many Tolkien related groups like the Tolkien Society, Legendarium Media, or any combination thereof. It was at the Tolkien Society’s Return of the Ring 2012 that I met Bernd Greisinger, and first interviewed him about his museum in development. Bernd extended a gracious invitation to the grand opening ceremony & party, and thankfully I was able to attend.
After arriving in Zurich, I took the train to Landquart. The one-hour train travel feels much shorter as you are immediately engrossed by scenery like this:
After arriving in Landquart, there is a bus that gives you a short ride to Jenins (Yen-neens), the town where the GMEC is. I stayed in one of the inns closest to GMEC called Gasthaus Zur Traube. (http://www.traube-jenins.ch/)
Sibylle Steinkeller was a gracious host and gave a warm welcome to everyone. The gasthaus was booked with all guests of the GMEC party and they offer an amazingly reasonable daily rate that includes breakfast. The museum is a walking distance of only about 5 minutes from Gasthaus Zur Traube. Views from the rooms are wonderful and this picture below is the view from directly in front of the gasthaus. (as in all the pics in this article, you may click for a larger view)
After settling into my room, I strolled down to the Greisinger residence. The museum itself is built behind the family residence, both above and below ground! Once you arrive you can see the loving care Bernd and the whole Greisinger family have put into the property and the museum.
I was met with the bustling activity that you would expect when arriving a few short hours before a party of special magnificence begins. Bernd, with his eye-glasses broken, leaving a monocle like glass over one eye greeted me with a warm welcome despite the fact he had been working tirelessly on party business for so many weeks-on-end. Bernd jokingly told me he had broken his glasses when moving items around the museum and just kept on wearing them anyway. This grand opening was a special sneak preview into the museum as it was still being completed before being opened to the general public in October. All the guests really felt they were being allowed an inside view into the creation of something historic and unprecedented in the Tolkien community. As the museum staff and artists like Ivan Cavini bustled around moving art, and tables, food and beer, I wandered off to “Bag-end” alone.
As I was one of the very few guests to arrive early, I had the amazing opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the Baggins home by myself for a while. The sun was shining bright and warmly as I turned the corner to see my very first view in person of this Middle-earth miracle in Switzerland! Bilbo’s green door was open and inviting.
You can imagine my excitement as I was able to snap pictures and enjoy a few pints of the local beer, feeling like Bilbo himself all alone in Bag-end.
Bilbo’s house already feeling strangely familiar; I felt like I walked into a close friend’s home as the first sight my eyes met upon stepping over the threshold were Jef Murray’s paintings!
I cannot do justice to describe the loving care that emanates from every corner of the home. This truly is the Hobbit’s home.
As many would agree, the front door is one of the most, if not the most striking feature of the house.
Everything is functional including the great key that unlocks this doorway to our imagination!
And I’m not exaggerating that I saw probably witnessed a dozen folks over the course of the weekend “do a Gandalf” by hitting their head on the chandelier or a wooden beam. I admit to causing one loud thud against a beam once, but you can only smile when you do it.
Here are a few more pictures displaying the absolute wonder of the place, as well as my pride and honor of being able to spend some time here.
As I sat at Bilbo’s desk, I really felt as though this was a home for all Tolkien fans, and how Bernd’s creation in the mountains of Switzerland was continuation of the tale.
My adventures at the Greisinger Museum Opening Ceremony are too many for one article, so I decided to split this report up into several features here on Legendarium News. Join me in the coming days as I continue to tell you my tales of wonder and joy that I experienced in Greisinger’s Mitterlande! The final post will be a video montage and slideshow of the entire visit. Tomorrow I will tell you where Bilbo’s back door leads to!
Part 2 is now available here: Part 2