This year we went to Castle Gadow in the Prignitz. In a nutshell, the weekend was a great time for all with many different outdoor activities, delicious food and great conversation. After the cancellation in 2020 (for well-known reasons), and after more than a year of mainly working from home, it was even more fun to see all colleagues in real life again.
Friday, September 10
We come from many countries and take many roads to arrive in the Prignitz; and we’ve all had own challenges along the way: lightning strikes overhead electrical wires, the Berliners leave the city like lemmings and get caught in long traffic jams, extensive detours to the south of the city, the Spree River has to be crossed by boat, and so on…
The main wave of arrivals finally crashes in on our castle at about 8 pm. The first ones were already there at five. A Corona test station has been set up at the entrance, and everyone, without exception, must be tested so that we can celebrate safely.
Immediately afterwards there is a Sekt reception with coffee and cake. A small kreuzwerker SWAT team supports the Orga team Lea and Hannah; Manu provides a short sports program for us to regain mobility after the long journey. That is, for those of us who are into something as wacky as sports.
We have the whole castle to ourselves: typical for East Germany, it’s an old, charming box with “character”. Typically, in East Germany, buildings were simply left to stand during the GDR years, and not replaced with something grotesquely ugly in the West German style of the 60s or 70s. After reunification, a “careful and authentic” renovation by hard-working local people was carried out. Now it is a youth hostel. The 9th kreuzwerker Landpartie is certainly one of the more “robust” ones in terms of location - but the whole setting is just fabulous: beautiful park, enchanting nature, leisure facilities on the premises (we have never had so many to such a extent), incredibly nice and surprisingly young, cosmopolitan staff with excellent English skills.
Our physical well-being is taken care of for the weekend, for example, there is a refrigerated truck filled with drinks. And as a practical welcome gift in the tradition of the castle: cozy, felt slippers with our kreuzwerker logo. It’s time to settle into our rooms and get to know colleagues we’ve been working with for months, but have only met online so far. “But you look much smaller/bigger on the monitor,” and similar can be heard throughout the halls.
We end the evening with a buffet, and the weather is such that we can meet outside behind the castle. That it really was time to experience each other in real life again is evident from the fact that the last kreuzwerkers do not find their way to their rooms until around three in the morning.
Saturday, September 11
Saturday is a whole week in a day! We start it off with a breakfast buffet. It’s a “a whole week” because of all the available activities we can freely choose from.
We can climb on the climbing wall, where there is a high-rope course with trees you can fall out of. There is a place for archery in the back of the garden. Here we learn how to use a bow and arrow, and then we play a (loud) team game where we have to hit the target and then guess the title and artist of the song that’s playing. Very loud, and lots of fun. Some set off on a bike tour, while others go canoeing, take extended walks or photography tours. But there’s always the opportunity to casually sit together with colleagues to have nice conversations. The day’s activities are a complete success and certainly pave the way for our future Landpartie excursions.
In addition to the official activities, some of us decide to organize our own leisure time. A expedition team sets off, but after 100 meters in the boat, decide they will follow the river on foot.
Or that magical tree full of starlings that you couldn’t see, but brought the sound of the jungle to the Prignitz.
In the late afternoon, the grill is fired up and there are oodles of delicious food. Yes, the buffet and the BBQ are excellent; no complaints whatsoever. And an extra big thank you to the grill masters!
Then we light a campfire. The kids romp around, we grill marshmallows, play table soccer or table tennis, and on and on. It’s a wonderful end to a great day. This time it’s not quite as late as Friday.
Sunday, September 12
Today, unfortunately, it’s only breakfast and departure - and then already over again. Years ago Tilmann pondered whether we couldn’t just go for a whole week…with work embedded. At that the time it would have been groundbreaking. Now everyone would probably just say: “That’s my kind of home office!” Well, let’s see.
After breakfast, we all meet behind the castle for the group photo – taken by human and by drone. The drone pilot is a little deranged (but ultimately ready for action), as nightly fire escapades have left little souvenirs on pretty much every finger on one hand.
After every “trace” of us has been removed, we all, with some taking a detour to the Elbe, drive (or are driven) home.
We were lucky with the weather in the end. Germany can do much worse. Contrary to the bad forecast, the rain kept its distance, and the sun shined through again and again.
Many thanks to all who made this weekend so fabulous. We’re already looking forward to the Landpartie 2022 😊. And a very special thank you goes to Ulrike König who found this beautiful spot for us, and to Lea Daiker and Hannah Zachrich for the wonderful on-site organization!
© Copyright der Fotos: Hannah Zachrich und Lo Voelsen