A Continental B&B on the Eastern Shore Lodging: On vacation in 1993, Theresa and Erwin Kraemer of Switzerland fell in love with a historic house near Princess Anne. Now, their Waterloo Country Inn offers a taste of Europe in Maryland

Short hop

October 11, 1998|By Anne Miller | Anne Miller,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When most people travel abroad, they fall in love with and buy little mementos to bring home - a sweater, a figurine, an "I fell for Niagara" shot glass. But when a Swiss couple visited friends on the Eastern Shore during a three-week American vacation in the fall of 1993, they fell in love with a house.

A big, three-story house listed on the National Register of Historic Places that lay on the empty Mount Vernon road between Princess Anne and the town of Mount Vernon - in other words, a great big renovation project in just about the middle of nowhere. The house was for sale, and Theresa and Erwin Kraemer asked their friends if it was possible to take a look inside. The Realtor was called. And by the next afternoon the couple - she a banker, he in management at a large electrical company, neither with any hotel experience - owned the perfect house in which to open a bed and breakfast they had never dreamed of, some 4,000 miles from home.

About running the inn, Theresa Kraemer says in her accented English, "It took us two years to think if we will do that or not because we never had it in our mind to do that."

Lucky for those seeking peace, quiet, pastoral landscapes and gourmet meals that they got it into their minds. The Waterloo Country Inn, as the Kraemers named it, is a unique touch of Europe on the lower shore.

The house has been by turns farmhouse, poorhouse, doctor's residence and, now, country bed and breakfast. But it's not the usual pastel and carved wood ducks of so many Eastern Shore country retreats. Waterloo is Continental country. Graceful Victorian chairs and sofas fill the downstairs waiting room and dining room, while delicate clocks and candles decorate high mantelpieces lording over antique hardwood floors. The landings each of the three floors boast antiques the Kraemers brought from Switzerland, like the metal-and-wood sleigh bench by a second-story window across from a spinning wheel. Watercolors from the couple's artist friends in Europe decorate the walls; some are for sale.

But furniture and other decorations aren't the only European touches at Waterloo. Mrs. Kraemer cooks for her guests, and she will make the Swiss veal and potato dish Geschnetzettes upon request.

Guests are also a diverse group. The Kraemers advertise in Europe, because there aren't too many native German-speaking bed and breakfast proprietors in the Eastern United States. Usually at least one room is occupied by a German or a Swiss. In a recent week, guests from Tempe, Ariz.; Delray Beach, Fla.; and Heidelberg, Germany, had signed the register.

The house came with 317 acres of land, the bulk of which is leased to a local farmer; the 40 acres the Kraemers keep for their guests are surrounded by corn fields. Bike and canoe rentals are included in the price of a night's stay, and can be taken out to ride along the winding scenic road to Mount Vernon or to explore the creek that runs to the river behind the property. In the spring, Waterloo is one of the overnight stops on an inn-to-inn canoe trip sponsored by the lower shore; visitors paddle along the quiet rivers during the day and stay each night at a different bed and breakfast.

Another amenity - an outdoor pool - is surrounded by patio furniture that doubles as an al fresco dining venue.

"Our European guests eat breakfast outside," Mrs. Kraemer says, laughing, "much more often than our American guests."

The main house and the several smaller cottages around it are encircled by red brick walkways and flower beds, the domain of Mr. Kraemer. On a sweltering July afternoon, he could be found outside for hours, bent over bricks and mortar with a trowel for fixing up another path to the garage. And he still had a smile for a guest as he paused to say hello and wipe sweat from his eyes.

Which is not imply that there aren't some very modern amenities. Each room has television, cable and a private bath. One room has a shower with a whirlpool bath, and another - the honeymoon suite - has an enormous white bathroom with a shower and a separate whirlpool bath that looks large enough to fit five, and certainly two.

Waterloo's dining room and kitchen are leased to chef David Wells, who runs the restaurant David's at the Waterloo for dinner Thursday through Sunday. On those days the dining room is open to the public.

As for leaving her beloved Switzerland, Mrs. Kraemer shrugs, and says she doesn't miss it - too much.

"We go back every year," she says. "We go for skiing." Which is probably just about the only thing they haven't yet figured out how to bring from Switzerland to the Eastern Shore.

When you go ...

Getting there: Take U.S. Route 50 east and turn onto U.S. Route 13 south just past downtown Salisbury. Mount Vernon road is about 20 minutes' drive down Route 13 - make a right at the traffic light next to the Mount Vernon sign at the small shopping center in Princess Anne. Waterloo is about three miles down on the right, at 28822 Mount Vernon Road, Princess Anne.

Rates: From $105 for the Wicomico room in the winter to $225 for the honeymoon suite in the summer. The Manokin room on the first floor is handicapped accessible.

Tip: The Kraemers will arrange transportation from the Salisbury airport if requested.

Reservations: Call 410-651-0883; fax, 410-651-5592; e-mail, waterlohore.intercom.net.

Pub Date: 10/11/98

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