Keeping with my own version of "Favorite Things" with our trip to Europe, I had to share this chess set in Marksburg Castle in Germany. There's a beautiful stillness to a chessboard, especially these gorgeous, Medieval-themed pieces. A friend rightly said they reminded her of Harry Potter's "Wizard's Chess." While they never sprung up and started bashing one another up, there was a bit of magic in this moment.

When you have the opportunity to tour an incredibly well-preserved Medieval European castle, you of course jump at the chance. It's an education in the realism of what this time period meant -- as Americans we have a much more romanticized idea of what life in a castle is like, but when you see one in-person, it's a stark reality. Marksburg is impressive, even moreso in that its mountaintop location gave it ample protection over the years, avoiding marauders and the many wars of Europe. It's literally built into the mountain; you walk up an uneven path literally cut into stone that knights on horseback would use to make their way into the castle. 

It literally was a fortress; there were sections where soldiers would stand guard, where canons were positioned. The castle was built to be its own little world, protection from the outside, with not a lot of comforts. The stone walls weren't airtight, rooms were drafty, being able to stay warm often meant several people crowding into a room to sleep. 

And while I'm sure this beautiful chess set was meant more as a decorative setup, for a moment you could picture someone taking a spot in one of these treasured sunny alcoves, where outside light poured in. You could see the Rhine River threading its way through a valley covered with trees. A rare moment of quiet, with little disturbance from the outside world. It was a reminder to seek out peaceful places, even in our own humble, non-castle abodes, to keep out the noise of the world.  

Jaunty Fine Print: Photography by Denise Sakaki

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