“Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” ~JRR Tolkien The Hobbit
Google can really be one’s best friend. Without it I would have never known about The Greisinger Museum, and missed out on experiencing the largest collection of Middle Earth memorabilia in the world.
My adventure started early Saturday morn, on a 7am train from Interlaken to Bern-Zurich-Landquart. I am not a morning person, and that day was no exception. I know I growled at quite a few people who tried to initiate conversation on the first train.
The railway system in Switzerland is absolutely fantastic. So easy to navigate from platform to platform. It also helped that the view on each of my rides was ridiculously beautiful. I can’t even begin to describe it- my phone cannot do Switzerland justice.
Just look at these views, unbelievable.
Because I was already emotional about all of this, I didn’t let myself go look at the smial(hobbit-hole) before my tour. I wanted to wait- really experience it all.
And boy was I not dissapointed. First thing you notice about the museum is the lime green Mercedes van parked out front; the always handsome faces of Legolas and Aragorn greeting you. The founder of the museum, Bernd Greisinger, actually lives in the house connected to the museum. He did this on purpose, buying a plot of land to build both the smial and his home. Not a bad spot…
The tour I had to book was in Italian, the only others available in either French or German. I can read Italian quite well, but speak it? No, I’m horrible. But, the other couple, and guide, were extremely kind, and conducted some of it in english for me. They didn’t have to, I would’ve survived just occasionally understanding. But, they went out of their way to cater to my failings in the language department. I really really appreciated it. Although it was fun listening to them flawlessly switch from Italian, to German, to English and back. Made me feel like an inadequate human being, but in a good way?
Now, in case you didn’t know- I am a hobbit. In both stature and personality. I enjoy the simple things in life; naps, cakes, and a comfortable chair for reading. My distaste for wearing shoes is intense; I am Bilbo Baggins.
The first time I read The Lord of the Rings was in 3rd grade, at about eight years old. The only thing I actually remember grasping from the novels, was the friendship between Legolas and Gimli. Everything else I forgot- until the first movie premiered. To this day, I still get goosebumps from Cate Blanchett’s voice over. “The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air.” There’s just something about Middle Earth that resonates deep within my soul.
The museum itself is separated into about five sections, representing all the different cultures and lands of Middle Earth. The first stop-The Shire.
The tour starts in the entry way of Bag End, just as Bilbo’s adventure, and the effect is magical. Everything in the museum is hand crafted. From the doors, to the walls- everything.
There is all sorts of Tolkien paraphernalia littered throughout. From original artwork to the occasional set piece. Anything and everything is housed here.
Just like in Tolkien’s works, everything is there for a reason. An intense amount of time, love, and dedication, went into creating this glimpse into the world of Middle Earth.
Here we actually enter Moria, and immediately encounter the Balrog. This piece was massive, and terrifying. Then, as if a Balrog wasn’t enough, in the next room there’s a troll! I am blown away by how much planning had to go into each of the different spaces.
The dwarves are actually my second favourite race in Middle Earth. All thanks to the amazing performances by Richard Armitage, Graham McTavish, Steven Hunter, etc etc. There’s a special place in my heart for the sons of Durin, specifically the company of Thorin Oakenshield.
Sadly, I didn’t get to hold Orcrist, but it was great to just be able to stare at it. Quite a few of the weapons were actually signed by the cast of The Hobbit.The one’s I could discern from the mad scribbles, Dean O’Gorman(Fili) and Graham McTavish(Dwalin).
Now, this room is a combination of Rivendell, Lothlorien and Argonath. They actually recreated the The Pillars of the Kings- *swoon*.
I love being able to see others’ interpretations of these beloved characters, beside Peter Jacksons’ image. Don’t get me wrong I loved the films, always have always will, but it’s interesting to see how people perceived dwarves and elves, before the movies came about.
In the drawers are little hidden gems- including signed scripts of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King.
There’s also a small collection of the gold coins used in the Erebor sets. I wanted to steal them to create my own hoard. Just think how great a swimming pool filled with these would look.
Also on this level, all the signed FIRST EDITIONS of The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. I nearly peed myself. The amount of money they had to have spent in acquiring these is staggering. Tolkien didn’t sign a book for just anyone, mainly only friends and family. We weren’t allowed to take pictures- which was fine because I was too busy drooling.
Next, was Gondor. Oh man. This room was spectacular. Mainly because it contained a lot of really great artwork featuring my favourite character, Eowyn. To this day, I still remember sitting at the edge of my seat in theaters, as this tiny blonde woman faced the Witch King. The look of utter determination on her face when she whipped the helmet off, hair billowing in the breeze, is something I’ll never forget. “I am no man,” indeed. It was the first time I had really seen a woman presented as a powerful warrior, without being immortal or given special powers. She was just like me, made of flesh and blood, and still managed to completely destroy a once-perceived invulnerable being.
A massive trophy case stood in the middle of the room, filled to the brim with figurines from all six films. Some of these I didn’t even know existed. Like, wow. wowowowowoow.
This next room is Mordor themed. There were even quite a few Saruman figurines; and plenty of the Witch-King of Angmar. I wanted to take all of them home with me. There was also a recreation of Helms Deep…
Now the last room, Fangorn forest, it had the most brilliant sculpture in the whole museum; Treebeard. Wowee was it detailed. I couldn’t really get a good shot of him, as he covered most of the ceiling. But, believe me when I say it was absolutely brilliant. There were even little Merry and Pippin dolls sitting in his hand.
And last, but definitely not least, was the sculpture of Smaug the Magnificent. They created this before the movies came out, and wow. Really well done. Especially all the gold coating his belly.
All in all, the Greisinger Museum is absolutely fantastic. From the first moment you step over the threshold, you can feel the love and respect for Middle Earth. I cannot say enough how amazing it was to be able to experience it.
Since visiting, all I can think about is building my own hobbit hole. One that has all the tunnels and rooms, just like Bag End- not for commercial purposes. Just for me to live in. That’s all I want.
Hello all, I should have the post about the rest of the weekend, spent in Interlaken, Switzerland, up next Thursday! Then I’m of to Seville, Spain to visit Catherine. Should be a very exciting next few weeks.