The Prancing Pony in Thuringia

The one thing we really love at the GTS, the Prancing Pony, and it’s our most recognizable characteristic during the 16 years of our existence, is travelling.  Especially trips and excursions related to Tolkien.

It was with great anticipation and joy that, in the morning of July 19th, we landed at Frankfurt airport: you see, the German Tolkien Society (DTG), honouring our long-standing friendship, had invited us to their annual event, the Thing. Of course, we couldn’t refuse such an invitation, since it was also the celebration of their 20th Jubilee. So, 11 members from our Society were happily loading their luggage in their rental cars at the airport’s parking lot.

Our destination was a medieval Rittergut (manor), at Lützensömmern of Thuringia, where the Thing 2018 would take place. On our way to northwestern Thuringia, we visited Wartburg, one of the most historic castles in Europe.

Later that night, tired but excited, we reached the manor, where the members of the DTG welcomed us cordially. Familiar faces from the past but also members we met for the first time. Throughout our stay in the Rittergut, we felt an unprecedented familiarity with the place and people. One more reason to make our presence special and memorable.

On Saturday afternoon, the Guest of Honour, Jemima Catlin, and the Guest Society, The Prancing Pony, would have the floor. First came Jemima Catlin.

Jemima belongs to the new generation of talented illustrators who have worked on J.R.R Tolkien’s books. Actually, in September 2013, a new edition of the “Hobbit” with her illustrations was published. She told us of her development in sketching and illustrating, about how she fell in love with Tolkien’s writings and how she felt when she was assigned the “Hobbit” illustration.

And then, it was time for us to make an impression. Annika Röttinger, the Commissioner for International Guests, proudly wearing the GTS T-shirt, introduced us to the audience. Then, Angela aka Beorn, as a member of the GTS Board, officially thanked the DTG for their invitation and welcomed Kostas aka Voronwe to the podium.

Kostas, using visual aids and in fluent German, presented the Greek Tolkien Society, focusing on special events and happenings in the 5 years (2013-2018) that had done by since our last visit to the Thing. Listening to all the things our society had done over the past few years, our German friends looked really impressed by the variety of our events and activities.

After that, Angela welcomed Dimitra on “stage”, who as Petunia Brambleberry-Gamgee colourfully recounted some rumours concerning Bilbo, a cave, someone named Gollum, a ring and some riddles. Her inspired performance thrilled the audience.

Then, Spyros aka Glorfindel took over. With Angela’s assistance, the audience were split in two groups and a game of charades began.

Spyros started miming Tolkien characters in a convincing and really funny way. Everyone was cheering and shouting, trying to guess who it was! The atmosphere in the hall was very cheerful and humorous. And since there were no winners in this game, in the end, as typical Greeks, we treated our German friends to tsipouro, mastic liqueur and Greek chocolate – yes, from our experience, Germans really like Greek chocolate!

They congratulated us for our presentation and for our beautiful costumes that gave our appearance a certain otherworldly vibe and aura. Later on, we all took part in the Long Expected Party, as always accompanied by plenty of beer.

The Prancing Pony left its mark also on Sunday, when the traditional auction took place. This auction involved various objects offered by members of the DTG. The proceedings were carefree, full of laughter and teasing.

The Prancing Pony participated by offering two calendars and one of our very first society T-shirts. These items proved to be quite attractive to the bidders, since they were willing to spend a lot in order to acquire them. And they did. Moreover, Konstantinos, aka Smaug, had to struggle to overbid, but eventually became the proud owner of amazing objects and books.

We had some free time during the 4 days of the Thing ’18, so we visited picturesque places and magnificent monuments: majestic Weimar, home of Goethe and Schiller, the splendid city of Leipzig and the imposing Monument of the Battle of the Nations, as well as the small, fairytale city of Erfurt.

Early on Sunday afternoon, the sky above us was gloomy and the feeling of the ending of another special “Tolkien” trip was melancholy. The cars were loaded once again and there was no end to the parting words of remarkable people, who showed us love and respect. As the 11 of us were wandering away leaving friends behind, a phrase Annika had used came to mind, which describes our Society perfectly……

Not all those who wander are lost!

Article by Spyros aka Glorfindel.