Sorry it has taken me so long to get a chance to write this blog! When Sebastien had the day off school last Friday, his parents kindly lent us their car and we took a small weekend trip through Germany. I meant to write about our adventures the moment we got back, but I had my first German exam on Thursday and therefore spent a lot of the week studying! And let’s be honest – when I wasn’t studying or at work, I was knitting. But here’s the blog now!
I’m very lucky to have a strategic planner for a boyfriend. Usually I mention the things I would like to see within a trip, and he makes it all smoothly flow together. His hope for this trip was to take a hike through some hills, and I had said recently that I wanted to return to Wartburg Castle, where Martin Luther had spent some time. I visited the castle once before with my high school band, but that was before I had studied Martin Luther in university and come to appreciate his achievements.
So on Friday morning, we drove the three hours to Weimar and spent some time wandering around. Weimar is a city best known for its historical buildings, and its connection to Goethe who was a famous German writer. There is a “Goethe House” which we walked by, but decided not to go inside since it didn’t look overly impressive. Thanks to my slight obsession with libraries, we walked over to the “Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek” soon after our arrival. Apparently this library is extremely popular during “tourist season” and a maximum of 250 visitors are allowed in per day. However, we got lucky and were able to look around! The library belonged to the Duchess Anna Amalia (go figure) and although it burned down in 2004, everything has since been fully restored (although it took until 2007!) The library exhibit began with a portrait of Anna Amalia, in which she is holding a book – this was a fairly unique characteristic for a portrait back in the day. My audio guide was in German though, so forgive me if my facts are slightly wrong.
To me it looks like she didn’t really know how to properly read a book, but I guess she’s the one with the cool library so I should keep my mouth shut. After that, we went upstairs and saw some video footage of how the library burned down, and the extensive work that was put into restoring everything. There was also a really interesting old clock that kept track of the days of the week, the month, the year, and the time. Maybe the temperature as well, but I’m not sure. Only thing it couldn’t do was take pictures or receive phone calls.
We got to wear big huge slippers over our shoes to keep the floors clean, and then we entered the library itself. It was absolutely amazing, and I can confidently say that it is the coolest library I have seen to date. I am going to admit that a few of the following photos are actually postcards I bought instead of pictures I took within the library, but that’s just because I couldn’t get the full span of the room with my camera. I was told in the audio guide that I could technically request to take a book to the reading room, which would be incredible considering the age of some of those books. There were portraits and sculptures of historical figures, including Goethe himself. As you can see from some of the photos, there were two floors full of books – and then a third floor that was covered all except for a narrow opening, through which you could look up and see a painting. It’s hard to describe, but I was in awe of it all, and could have spent hours there looking around.
After we left the main event, we were able to check out an exhibit detailing the steps involved in using a word press. There were a series of photos detailing how every letter would be strung together in order to make a page, and after that it would go through an elaborate printing process. There were samples of works created through using this process, including “Hamlet” written with a combination of English and German. Each picture would have to be hand carved as well. Hard to believe it used to take such an extreme amount of work to create just one page in an entire book, whereas now we can create huge documents within the space of hours if not minutes!
After we left the library, we spent a fair bit of time wandering through the town. There was a small German “Weihnachstmarkt” going on that I had seen from the window of the library, but it was pretty small and deserted this early in the season. There were different places where we could buy food, as well as a small ice-skating rink. It makes me excited about the bigger Christmas markets I want to check out as the season goes on!
We made sure to eat some bratwurst with mustard, because that’s a specialty in Weimar.
We walked through a park, and saw Goethe’s garden house as well as a mass amount of sheep in an enclosed area. Not really sure how those sheep came to be there, but when we stood still it sounded as though it was raining because the sheep were constantly moving leaves as they munched on the grass.
As we were getting ready to head back to the car, we saw a group of small children and their parents, carrying lanterns and quietly singing as they walked along the path. Apparently in Germany, it is a tradition that happens every year in November alongside Martinstag (November 11th). Children walk with lanterns and sing, and it scares away evil spirits – or something to that effect. Either way, the kids were adorable, and I got to hear all about how Sebastien and his siblings did the same thing when they were kids while their mother played accordion.
After that, we got back in the car and headed for Erfurt. We checked into our hotel and headed to a Chinese restaurant in the area, and had an early night. The next day, we got up bright and early for our hike. We packed up some banana juice and granola bars, put on our best walking shoes (in my case, running shoes) and drove to Tuphüringer Wald, where we proceeded to climb up Schneekopf. Unfortunately I made a knitting mistake while driving there, so I was a bit anxious about that while we were making the climb.
This was actually my first hike in what seems like forever, so I went into it with minimal expectations. I had taken it for granted that I was not a hiking girl, but Seb continually talked it up for me and made me decide to give it a try. I had expected to be toasty because of all the movement, but in the end it was very good that Seb brought a hat and mittens for me to wear. There had been a heavy storm across Europe a few weeks earlier, and it meant that a bunch of trees had been torn from the ground. Unfortunately one of these trees must have had a path-marker on it, because we ended up taking the wrong way at a fork in a road for lack of sign-age. The way we went wasn’t too bad either and still got us to the same place, but there were a lot of fallen trees we had to climb through, and my feet got massively muddy. When we reached the peak, it was extremely windy, but the view was pretty amazing as well. We were lucky to have a clear day, but it was also pretty chilly! On the way back I was a bit irritated by how cold my wet feet were, but Seb said that normally we would be hiking much earlier in the fall. It took us about four hours in total, and I treated myself to a hot chocolate pretty soon afterwards. All in all, I would say I haven’t been turned into a wilderness woman, but I would be up for more hikes in the future.
After our hike, we drove back to Erfurt to act like proper tourists. We checked out the two Cathedrals central to the city, and could see the signs of a Weihnachtsmarkt slowly being put together. We then climbed to a great viewpoint, and got to admire the view as darkness settled in.
While the night was extremely chilly and my poor feet were completely numb, I enjoyed getting to see the city. Being outside when it was chilly made me think of Christmas, and I started getting excited for the holiday season. I also did a bit of shopping at the artsy stores around while Seb patiently waited. Only had one embarrassing moment where my German failed me: the shopkeeper asked me if I was finding everything okay and I answered with no thank you. Wasn’t sure why she looked at me so strangely but I walked out of there quickly and Sebastien explained it later.
The night ended with a hot meal, followed by cozy pajamas and a good sleep. The next day, we headed to Eisenach so that we could see the Wartburg Castle. It was a Sunday so the city was pretty much deserted, but we managed to find a bakery that was open for breakfast. It was exciting to be back in Eisenach after I had travelled there with my grade 11 group, but this time I didn’t check out the church where Bach had been baptized, or his house. Seb and I walked around a little bit, and then drove up to the castle for their English tour. Last time we went there, it had been completely dark and we were only given a sample of the full tour since we were technically there past tourist hours. It had been an impressive view to see all of the city lights, but it was something completely different to see it during a fall day, complete with yellow and red leaves as well as birds in Vs flying south for the winter. The castle itself was interesting to see, although a lot of the artifacts in it were based on speculation instead of exact knowledge. It has an immense amount of history, and Martin Luther’s time in the castle was a very small event in the grand scheme of things. I had a lot of fun thinking back to that trip I took in grade 11. The only flaw about the castle I found was all the construction going on – it made it seem a bit less authentic, and made it obvious how many modern tourist additions have been made. Unfortunately my camera was basically full by the time we reached the castle, so I was unable to take mass amounts of pictures, but I still managed to get “a few”…so feel free to look at all 600 I have posted here.
After that, Seb and I drove back home. I was unable to spend that time knitting, but since then I think I have discovered the mistake I made. It was a fantastic trip all in all, and it was great that we were able to fit so many interesting things into one weekend!
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you’re all having a great weekend yourselves.