"My soul is elsewhere, I'm sure of that. And I intend to end up there." -- Rumi

Monday, May 12, 2014

Erfurt: The Traveler takes a new Companion

In what seems to be the beginnings of an emerging pattern, once again I've just come off of a rainy weekend in which I've completed a series of quiet little life tasks, none of them worth blogging about.  As predicted, my April invoice was pretty much the most depressing thing I've seen since I handed in my first invoice back at the end of October.  I truly love being here, I do, but I've been singing the same song for the past seven months and once again -- I'm just not sure how long I can keep hanging out here if something significant doesn't change.  I have an intro meeting with a tax advisor on Tuesday, so am hoping to finally be able to get a clear picture of what I'm looking at in terms of income taxes and who knows what else.  (Said tax advisor is hardly free, btw, however German tax law is so unbelievably complicated that I've been told by no fewer than 20 people that this is an absolute necessity.  It's a good thing Germany keeps ponying up with the castles and bratwurst, because I sure wouldn't put up with this nonstop bureaucratic shenanigan-fest to live just any old place.)

Not much else going on.  Ate some good Turkish food on Friday, at Tat Urfa near Am Stern.  Best Turkish I've had so far in Kassel.  Conversely, Lisa and I recently tried out a new restaurant near my house, Eigenart, and it's safe to say that I don't think we'll be back.  Food was okay but expensive, but the drinks were astronomically priced for their size and skimpy on the pours.  Service was a train wreck from the moment we walked in the door -- and I mean a train wreck from European standards.  Hey, I should do a Kassel restaurant review post sometime. :)

No plans to travel, although Berlin is starting to seriously call me.  I might put off day and weekend trips for a bit in favor of saving for a longer stint in Berlin at some point.  We will see how realistic any potential savings plans are come Tuesday afternoon.  And then there's actually venturing beyond Germany's borders, which hopefully will happen eventually.

But for now, let's talk about some travel I have done.  It's Friday, April 18th, and we're back in Erfurt, Thuringia.  (Cue TARDIS noise.  And... a Companion.)

Day Three:  Erfurt

The morning before Lisa arrived, I decided to indulge in a quiet little luxury not often so-much present on most of my trips.  I did nothing.

Well, that is to say -- I slept late, showered, enjoyed breakfast coffee in the kitchen, and read.  I was supposed to be on vacation, after all, and at this point I was not yet aware of the extent that the week following would pretty much be an (unpaid) vacation as well.  At around 2PM, Lisa arrived, checked in, and we headed out for two of our mutual favorite passtimes -- selecting a restaurant, and then eating there.

We selected an Italian place that had been recommended by a couple fellow hostellers, rather incongruously named Charleston's.  Food and service were above average.  It started raining, so we lingered extra-long as Lisa tried their tiramisu and I opted for a dessert of limoncello (not homemade).  And then the rain stopped and we headed out.

The bottom picture is the Krämerbrücke, or Merchants' Bridge.  It's like a little German Ponte Vecchio, and is full of craftsman and artisan shops selling everything from jewelry to art, fresh dried herbs, handmade wooden toys, and chocolate.

Lisa at Goldhelm Schokoladen.  The pralines were to die for.
This tiny place was packed, but right then a couple vacated one of the shop's few tables and we were able to score a seat!  Rick had recommended trying their hot chocolate, which we did.  And Oh.  My.  Goodness.

As I've probably mentioned, I'm not usually one for sweet things (and actually couldn't even finish this incredibly rich cup of pure liquid milk chocolate), but this was delectable.  (I also really loved how they had a bowl of raw sugar on the table... in case it wasn't sweet enough??)

After our very sweet break, we ended up just walking around some more.  Saw a church or two, and found Erfurt's famous Old Synagogue, but didn't go in due to impressive ticket price.

Lisa in front of the Stadtmuseum.  The outside is more interesting than the inside.

Old Synagogue
The Old Synagogue is interesting because it dates from the 12th century, but after the Middle Ages, pretty much everyone forgot it was a synagogue and it was used for a variety of purposes over the years, including a Nazi dance hall.  It wasn't until the 1980s that people realized what it truly was, and began to restore it.

Come 6:00, I was really excited to take Lisa to Modern Masters for happy hour.  We ended up having a pretty excellent time, and staying a touch longer than a mere hour!

With my "Blood, Sweat, and Tears."  The green leaves are salbei, which Google Translate just told me is sage.
After Modern Masters, we stopped at a random Czech place for a late dinner, and headed home.

Day Four:  Erfurt and into Weimar

For Lisa's and my final day in Erfurt, surprise surprise -- we walked around and took pictures of cute history.  Visited the cathedral since Lisa hadn't seen it, and then checked out the nearby Petersberg Citadel.  Ended up not visiting the military museum here, so it was just a quick stop.

Then, it was just a pleasant stroll through the town, with our ultimate goal being the Augustinian Monastery where Luther signed on to be a monk.  Walked through the Krämerbrücke again, did a winetasting of some local Thuringian vintages, and even did a little shopping (!!!).  Climbed up the tower at Ägidienkirche, on the east end of the bridge.

At the far end of the city is St. Augustine's, the monastic home of Martin Luther.  Unfortunately, even though Rick promised we should be able to pay to tour the site on our own, only guided tours were offered, at nine euros, in German, with the next one beginning in over an hour.  We did not end up seeing the inside of the monastery.

And finally, we just sort of ended up on the Krämerbrücke yet again.  Had a glass of sekt at the wine shop from earlier, and bought a bottle of Thuringian red to enjoy together on the last night of our trip.  At around 3:00, we headed back to the hostel for our backpacks and then humped it to the train, for one of the shortest train rides of my life at 15 minutes.

We were trading Martin Luther for Goethe.

But first, one of the saddest posts I hope I ever have to write is coming up.  The following day, Lisa and I would visit Buchenwald Concentration Camp.


  1. Oh my. That hot chocolate. Gimmie. What an incredible time!

  2. Replies
    1. Hey there! I miss you too -- would give a lot to be able to meet you at the Penta for cheeseburgers and cocktails right about now. :)