Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Monday, 28 October 2013

Grand Hotel Heiligendamm: We had Putin's Suite (I think)

Britta Huegel

"Being determines consciousness" says the popular version of a quote by Karl Marx (the original is: "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness"). 
Well, who am I to question that - but humbly I annotate an observation of mine, where the opposite seemed to have happen - vice versa, so to speak: 
Husband worked so long and intensely on his paper about LUXURY (of all people: him -- he is the most modest man I know...) that the topic might have crept in unnoticed. 
Whatsoever: as compensation for my lovely narrow boat trip that I did on my own, he booked a 4 day-trip to the Grand Hotel in Heiligendamm. Five stars. 
Yes - THE one. Where in 2007 the 33rd G8-summit took place - with Angela Merkel, Sarkozy, Putin, Prodi, Blair and so on.  
As the stuff is absolutely discreet, I could only allure a hint of a nod when asking if we had Mr. Putin's suite - and maybe I even imagined the nod :-) 
It was absolutely gorgeous. Luxury at its best - even the weather! 
Heavenly breakfast in heaven (the same room for dinner). 

Britta Huegel

A terrace, and a vast lawn with silvery teak tables with starched linnen and heavy silver tableware that made me think of a picture in the old film version of Galsworthy's 'Forsyte Saga", and we could look from at the turquoise Baltic Sea

Britta Huegel

On the right a huge foundling with an inscription - 

Britta Huegel

it was Duke Friedrich Franz I of Mecklenburg-Schwerin who bathed in the sea at "Heiligen Damm" for the first time in the year 1793 (his physician, Prof. Dr. Samuel Gottlieb Vogel recommended that). So the first German seaside resort was founded. 
"Between 1793 - 1870, the master builders Johann Christoph Heinrich von Seydewitz, Carl Theodor Severin and Gustv Adolph Demmler created a unique classical complete work of art out of bathing and guesthouses. In 1823, the first racing track on the European continent was officially opened bewtween Heiligendamm and Doberan and with it came the foundation of German horse racing. (...) 
Since its foundation, Heiligendamm has been the most elegant seaside health resort in Germany. The highest ranks of the European nobility, including the Tsar's family, spent their summer holidays here.  (...). In society of that time it was a must to have been there at least once in one's life." (Hotel brochure) 
Beautiful, beautiful - and now we have been there :-) 

Britta Huegel

Britta Huegel

Britta Huegel

But I have to confess: though I really, really enjoyed being pampered: this is not the way I would want to live forever. After a very short time I would feel -- immobilized - aimless - childlike. And that's definitely not the way I want to live. 
With 17 I won a Highschool poetry contest with my recitation of Charles Baudelaire's poem 'L'Invitation au Voyage' - and the refrain was: 
"Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté 
 Luxe, calme et volupté.
(There all is order and beauty/ Luxury, silence and voluptuousness). Well, except the last point that would get on my nerves after a while, I think. 
To quote my friend Stephen (Russel): "... it is the mess of it that makes it glorious - and so are you: glorious." 
Nothing to add. 


  1. You must have been up early to capture an empty breakfast room. I adore that place! I'm sure that if Putin did stay there, he didn't appreciate it nearly as much as you did. And you know he didn't add any class to the setting. I'll bet the resort staff were more pleased with your visit and presence than his. Your attire is gorgeous!

  2. Dear Walk2write,
    thank you! Yes - I am an early riser. I love the quietude of the early morning, the fresh air, the 'newness'. Thank you for the compliment - I love that jacket very much because the colour is so vibrant.

  3. You always make me cry! In a good way. :)

    I don't think you imagined the nod. But I love that this is how you communicated it because the idea of *possibly* imagining a nod that actually happened makes me understand the discretion immaculately!

    So, I was thinking 'beautiful!' 'gorgeous' as I was scrolling through the images of the building and then I got to your lovely face and person at the end and thought, 'perfect!'

    The bit that choked me up was Stephen's words. :)

    1. Dear Suze,
      thank you so much - your words came at the right moment.
      I bathe in them, sip them unashamed like a glass of sparkling champagne. Thank you!

    2. PS: Though still writing stubbornly with beautiful fountain pens, I really love the internet for letting us share our ideas in such a short time: image how long an uplifting letter of yours would have taken. (And, without blogland, we wouldn't know each other in the first place - what a loss, Suze!)

  4. Putin, these days, is a personage of some concern, to say the least (witness Alex Ross's article in the 11/4 New Yorker), which I think goes right to your point, in a way. And once again, what you write here reminds me of the Wallace Stevens poem that I've carried by my side for decades, The Poems of Our Climate:

    Clear water in a brilliant bowl,
    Pink and white carnations. The light
    In the room more like a snowy air,
    Reflecting snow. A newly-fallen snow
    At the end of winter when afternoons return.
    Pink and white carnations – one desires
    So much more than that. The day itself
    Is simplified: a bowl of white,
    Cold, a cold porcelain, low and round,
    With nothing more than the carnations there.

    Say even that this complete simplicity
    Stripped one of all one’s torments, concealed
    The evilly compounded, vital I
    And made it fresh in a world of white,
    A world of clear water, brilliant-edged,
    Still one would want more, one would need more,
    More than a world of white and snowy scents.

    There would still remain the never-resting mind,
    So that one would want to escape, come back
    To what had been so long composed.
    The imperfect is our paradise.
    Note that, in this bitterness, delight,
    Since the imperfect is so hot in us,
    Lies in flawed words and stubborn sounds.

    1. Dear Sue,
      thank you so much - for your comment and for the wonderful poem. Now I know which poet I will read intensely this autumn - Wallace Stevens touches me as only a few poets can. It is more than the mixture of reason and utter sensibility that is fascinating me - have to find out why he instantly reaches my heart, brain and gut.

    2. PS: The poem succeeds so marvelously in getting to the gist of luxury - I will translate it for husband (and of course - as I always mix poets in Happiness - offer it - with dedication to you - a few poems later to the audience of Happiness (which is surprisingly huge - though one wouldn't imagine it when one sees the number of followers :-)