The castle of Malbork, located in modern day Poland
, was built by the knights of the Teutonic order in the 1380’s. It was completed in under 30 years, which is astonishing since it is Europe’s 2nd largest remaining castle
In the XIVth century Teutonic Knights ruled a large Baltic region from the Gulf of Finland to Pomerania in Poland. In 1410 the Polish army defeated the Teutonic Knights in a battle near Grunwald. This started the rapid decline of the order's power and its lands were divided between Poland, Russia and Sweden after 1558. The order was dissolved by Napoleon in 1809. It was revived in 1834 and still exists today as a charitable organisation.
I had the chance to visit Malbork many years ago. There is a large museum of weapons inside one of the buildings and an impressive collection of medieval dresses and tools. The tour guides claim that there are more bricks in this structure than in any other building in the world. They also tell visitors that to make the mortar stronger, it was mixed not with water but with egg yolks. Believe what you want.
The title of this node, a former nodeshell, however, is outside the town of Malbork. This is the title of a chapter in Italo Calvino’s novel, If on a winter’s night a traveller, an incredible book.
So did anything happen to me outside the town of Malbork, that sunny day during my sunny teens? Well, actually, yes. It was there that I stood and I held young Nikos close to me and where he kissed me countless times. We held hands and giggled and stared into one another’s eyes. (gag!) Neither of us had done any of these delightful things before. Yes, Nikos was, gulp, my first boyfriend, but it was outside the town of Malbork that I learned his age, to my embarrassment.
He was a full 3 years younger. At my age now, such a difference is irrelevant and, in fact, common. During those delicate years of hormonal turbulence and peer pressure, it was devastating.
Outside the town of Malbork, I enjoyed my first tender kisses and I broke with the one who lavished them on me. All in the same sentence.