Braving the cold… finally!
As I’m sure many of you can imagine, following all the walking and travelling which Prague involved, I was left pretty exhausted. I had tutoring sessions on both Wednesday and Thursday and spent a lovely day with a friend in Naumburg on Friday.
Come Saturday, I woke up to a glowing white sky. I could barely see out my window for the blizzard outside of it. That was it, I was not leaving the house that day and my potential trip to Weimar was cancelled. I shall never get used to this cold weather! Unfortunately, on Sunday morning, the view outside my window was the same, if not worse and it was Sunday. Enough said. I didn’t leave the flat again.
I lay in bed awake on Sunday night, wondering how much longer I could last without any fresh air and decided that I would go out, whatever the weather, the next day. Shortly after I arrived in Erfurt, I bought a beautiful book called ‘111 Orte in Erfurt die man gesehen haben muss‘ or ’111 places in Erfurt you have to see’. It is an absolutely stunning book and unlike a normal guidebook, it picks out the quirky places that ‘puffbohnes‘ should know about. Each place has a double page spread with a photograph on the right and a page of information or anecdotes on the left.
I got out of bed and picked up the post-its and pens on my bedside table. Always keep stationery close at hand, you never know when you might need it! I then grabbed the book and some stickers and went through it, sticking a sticker next to all the ones I have seen. There were surprisingly fewer than I had thought and I was rather excited about what was left to discover in the city. Considering I think I know the city pretty well, the truth is, I usually travel to and from the same places and haven’t found too many new places in a while. There are some handy (if not always particularly detailed) maps at the back and I quickly was able to go through and plan a route. I had 7 places planned and I went to sleep soundly in the knowledge that I was going to do something productive the next day.
I left the next day with lots and lots of layers and my waterproof over the top as it was snowing a lot outside. This time, I didn’t let the snow and cold phase me and decided that instead of waiting for the warm tram in the cold, walking into town would both keep me warm and make it easier to navigate. I had a map of the whole area of erfurt, (on which I had stick tiny, numbered, post-its :D) and I had the book in hand. I had a planned route. What could go wrong? Well, aside from some perilous steps covered with snow and a few confusions with the maps, nothing did. I found whole new routes right next to where I live and I loved getting lost down streets I hadn’t seen before.
1) Die Treppenstraße – This is a street in Erfurt which is a street of steps. My pictures look rather different to the one in the book as you can’t see the steps so much for all the snow! Still it was pretty cool and was worth the funny looks from the postman :).
2) Bonusort: Die Auenstraße – This is a bonus place because I stumbled upon it. It was not in the well structured plan! I didn’t even recognise it as the sight I had was so different from the picture in my book but the description was nonetheless the same. It was described as a moment of quiet in the middle of a busy city, a traffic-free zone unlike all the crazy streets of the one-way system. This description was perfect. At the time, I was concentrating on not tripping over the piles of snow everywhere and it wasn’t until later when I was looking over the map that I realised!
3) Das Venedig – Or, Venice! Erfurt is blessed with water running through it. Now, I wouldn’t really say that it’s a river, personally. More like a number of shallow streams. Between here and the city, going down towards the Kraemerbruecke, is a little haven where a number of these streams come together among trees and ducks and benches. Its always peaceful and one of the first places I discovered in Erfurt as I ate the best ice cream EVER. It looked a little different yesterday though ;).
After leaving my very own Venice, I stopped for lunch at one of my favourite cafes at Benediktsplatz. I chose a delicious vegetable thai green curry, a peppermint tea and the most luxurious gluten-free chocolate cake which I couldn’t finish! I even got chatting to some speedskaters who were apparently here for the World Championships, cool eh?!
4) Der Keller am Benediktsplatz – Unfortunately, I was told that this is not a public place. The picture in the book is lovely but I am told that it is only opening on special days like Volkstrauertag which is not coming up while I’m still here. Still, the lady at information who I spoke to didn’t really seem to know anything about it so I’m going to do some more digging myself :).
5) Die Kurvensteine – There are lots of these little stones around the city. They remain from former times in Erfurt and make you wonder about the stories that they have seen.
6) Die Magdalenenkapelle – This lovely little chapel proved rather elusive. Even with two maps, I couldn’t be sure I was on the right street. Still, I decided to persist and eventually it came up right in front of me. It seems huge in a tiny little street and I only wish I had been able to go inside.
7) Bonusort: Der Gustav-Adolf Brunnen – This was also not on my list but having looked through the book more over lunch, it would seem that I needed to walk past it on my route so it seemed silly to miss it out! As it turns out, I didn’t walk past it and it took some finding but having got out my proper map and used a bit of common sense, I got there eventually :).
On my way to my next destination I walked past this house. Erfurt is one of the only cities in Germany (or even Europe maybe, but I don’t know!) to retain all of its old house names. Before people could read street names, houses were given names illustrated by pictures. I think they’re wonderful and I’m forever finding new favourites. This is my favourite at the moment!
8) Der Minervabrunnen – This beautiful statue, topped with shining gold, is something I am sure I have walked past a 100 times and I go past it on the tram twice a day, 4 days a week, on my way to school. Why had I not noticed this wonderful structure in the middle of Domplatz before? Even looking at the picture in the book and it’s place on the map, I could not imagine or picture it. Well, now I will notice it every day.
9) Das schmalste Haus – This ended my tour of Erfurt and unfortunately it was a little bit of an anti-climax. At first, I just couldn’t find it. Well, I couldn’t find the picture in the book anyway. This book was published shortly after or shortly before I got here I think. Could the fronts of the houses have changed that much? The book listed the address and this is the house. It does look pretty thin, don’t you think?
The truth is, I really enjoyed myself, despite the cold. I loved going through the city I thought I knew and having a new adventure. In fact, I spent the rest of the day (whilst warming up, of course!) going through the book, adding stickers to the new things I had seen and post-its to the things I wanted to see next. I feel like I’ve gained a whole new wave of energy. I haven’t slept soundly for about 2 weeks so that’s not what I mean. I just want to spend every day doing something. I want to make the most of the time I have left and see all the places I might never have the chance to see again. I’m going to look back on this year as being an overindulgent year of travel but this is my year abroad, so what is wrong with that ;).