After running round Prague for four days (which you can read about here), me and Maddie (see the Prague post for an introduction to Maddie) returned to Ilmenau. Our train from Prague to Erfurt was late, but they held the train to Ilmenau for us, which was lucky as it was the last train of the night. Thankyou Deutsche Bahn for not making us sleep in a railway station.
The weekend was spent catching up on sleep that we’d missed out on in Prague and eating our body weight in chocolate and lebkuchen. This does pretty much set the tone for the rest of Maddie’s time in Ilmenau. But after the hecticness of Prague, a chilled out week was awesome. We did climb the hill out back of my accommodation so I could show off about the view.
While England had severe weather warnings (and I hope you’re all okay), we just had an awful lot of wind.
On Monday 28th Oct., we headed into Erfurt so I could show Maddie just how little there is there. We had a wander, and went into every pretty looking shop we could find. We did also go into the cathedral, which for me is the third time in two months but it’s still impressive. Though Maddie’s the first person to say it looks like something out of Lord of the Rings.
On Tuesday we went to die Wartburg in Eisenach. It’s a super important castle for many reasons, including the fact that St Elizabeth (the patron saint of Thüringen) lived there, Martin Luther translated the New Testament there and about a billion and one other reasons that I’ve sadly forgotten. It’s definitely worth a visit, and the guided tour is really informative. The only downside is that because it’s a castle, it is up a hill. And even if you go by car or bus, you still have to walk up enough of it to make you question your life choices. Especially when German grandparents are overtaking you.
Terrible photo but I hope it illustrates how high up die Wartburg is.
Wednesday was a designated chill out day. I took Maddie into Ilmenau so she could discover that it’s bigger than it looks. I showed her the important places, like the library, the post office and, of course, the café that has wifi. Where we got stared at by old people until they realised that we (or at least one of us) could speak German.
Weimar was where we went on Thursday, with Maddie wearing a bat headband and me wearing spider hair bobbles. What? It was Halloween. Apparently Weimar’s not as big as Erfurt, but it definitely feels it. It’s also prettier. We headed to the Weimar Haus, which is billed as a history museum for people who don’t like history. If you ever go there, take a history student with you. It’s hysterical. Maddie had an issue with the way much of the historical information was presented, and kept pointing out inaccuracies. But because it was the English presentation, there was only me there to hear her grouching. The Weimar Haus only covers from the earliest settlers in Weimar to Goethe’s residency as theatre master, which is weird because the Weimar Republic is an important part of Germany history, and surprise surprise, has a lot to do with Weimar. Strange. But I did learn that Thüringen is named after the Thuringii tribe who lived here, so called because they worshipped Thor. (I want to make an Avengers related pun, but my brain’s refusing to cooperate. So insert your own pun here.)
We also went to the graveyard where Schiller and Goethe are buried, though we were too late to go and see their graves. Instead we wandered through the modern part of the graveyard. I think it’s the first time I’ve been to a German graveyard that wasn’t WW1 or WW2 related. Shock horror, it wasn’t that different to an English graveyard. Old people, young people, families buried close together. Peaceful.
The walk up to the modern area has very few graves in it.
Heading back into the city, we ended up sitting outside a café in the cold due to the fact that they had no inside seats left. And when I say it was cold, I mean I had coat, scarf, gloves on. Winter is coming, my friends. In fact, I think it’s already here. Seeing as it was Halloween we had pumpkin soup and Spezi, which looks like polyjuice potion, but is actually Fanta and Coca cola mixed together. The Germans love them some weird fizzy combinations. Continuing the Halloween theme, we then went home and watched Hocus Pocus. And also drank Glühwein, which is technically a Christmas thing, but it’s delicious so shush.
Pumpkin, honey and ginger soup.
Then on Friday we chilled in Ilmenau again. Watched some terrible yet fantastic films. Mentally prepared for getting up early so Maddie could catch a train to Munich. Saturday meant saying goodbye to Maddie, which was sad, because having a friend around has been all kinds of awesome. However, I’m back at work on Tuesday, and this means preparations. Mainly drawings that are appropriate to teaching small children about Bonfire Night and Diwali. And speaking of Diwali, while there are no fireworks, Ilmenau did have a Lichterfest today, which meant the streets were lined with lanterns and shops were open on a Sunday. I don’t think it actually had anything to do with Diwali, but it kind of felt like home.