Day Eleven - Lutherstadt Wittenberg

Wittenberg Travel Blog

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Arvie in the morning mist.

After we got around in the morning, I decided I should document Arvie - so I’ll share a bit more here.  Arvie has been a great little home for the days we’ve lived there.  The tight space requires constant structure and organization in order to be hassle-free, but then life is better that way anyway - or so I’ve heard.

The whole design is incredibly well thought out, as I’m sure it is in most RV’s.  This being my first experience however, I am duly impressed.  Two captain’s chairs in the front swivel around for extra seating when stopped.  The driver’s seat serves as seating for one side of the table.

Derik plotting for the day ahead.
  The table can somehow fold into a bed, if you like.  But I can’t see how it would be any more than about 3 feet long, so that rules any normal-sized adult out from sleeping there!

The kitchen area has covers that form countertops over the stove and sink when they aren’t being used.  And there really is quite a bit of storage for such a small space.  We have kettles and place settings stored under the sink.  Food items are in two cupboards above the work area.  A window can be opened to let in fresh air while you cook.

The bathroom also multi-tasks in a user-friendly way.

Our bags were unmade!
  The wall the sink is attached to pulls open to reveal a decent sized shower.  I haven’t used it yet, but Derik has and I hear it works well and has good pressure, always the bottom line factor for any shower.

The bathroom is opposite the kitchen and that is probably the most pronounced downside to Arvie.  It’s easy for traffic to get congested at this point.  If one of us is trying to get in/out of the bathroom while the other is cooking or making “bags” (as we called making up our sleeping bags!) it can become cramped quite quickly.

Probably the other difficulty has been finding available parking and driving around cities time and again trying to find some place to stop while we visit someplace.

Our kitchen...
  But in the end it’s always worked out.

These small annoyances aside, this has been a tremendous way to travel.  We’ve had “free” lodging each night and wheels to go wherever we wanted.  And we always have a restroom if one isn’t handy.

This morning we found our way into Wittenberg easily enough, directly into a parking lot.  And the best part was we had 8 hours for free!  So we left Arvie and headed into the old town.  It was somewhat unreal to me to be back in the same spot less than a year later.  And yet it was so neat to see it at a different time of year.

and bathroom.
  I had a wonderful trip in January, but let’s face it - it was cold.  Now it was only cool, and the sun was shining bright.

The Castle Church was our first stop.  Built by Friedrich the Wise, friend and protector of Martin Luther, it hadn’t been open when I was here in January because of storm damage.  Repairs to the roof were being completed and we were not allowed to go in.  Now the repairs were done and it was the first stop I made on this re-visit.  This church is where Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door, challenging the Catholic Church to a veritable duel of spiritual proportions.  While nearly everything about the church is different inside now than it was then, it was still insightful to be in the same space and imagine what the people of that day must’ve thought when this rebel started making charges against the Holy See.

Tower at Castle Church.

There isn’t a lot to see in the church really.  It’s a church, but Derik and I have commented that none of the churches we’ve seen are really as gothic and overdone as those in other parts of the world.  In some ways they seem drab, but in other ways that’s refreshing.  Castle church is no different.  The most memorable things to either of us are the gravesite of Luther and the brass doors outside, which have been replaced and memorialize the originals doors Luther nailed his theses to.  There was an English service planned for the evening, but as that was too long to wait for, we moved on through town.

Derik could’ve likely gotten annoyed with me reciting memories from 10 months ago, since it’s my history and not his.  But he ambled along with me, gamely indulging my ramblings.

Brass doors at Castle Church in Wittenberg.
On our way to the town church we window shopped and then stopped in front of the Potato House so I would have a picture.  More on this PHENOMENAL restaurant later.

Coming into the town square, the morning sun had finally broken through and the buildings shimmered underneath the bright glow.  Standing tall, in front of the town hall are two statues of Melanchton and Luther.  Their images blackened with time, they remain astutely observant several centuries after the first took their perch.  We joined the swell of tourists taking their pictures and then moved on towards the Town Church, just a short distance away.

The Town Church is entirely different from the Castle Church.

Interior of Castle Church in Wittenberg.
  Its two steeples stand proud above the rooftops and their bells ring out the time every quarter hour.  Luther and his wife, Katharina made this their home church while living in Wittenberg.  Luther frequently preached here and three of their children were baptized here.  The baptism font is rather ornate and features all 12 of the apostles in two tiers immediately below the basin.  They are guarding the children being baptized from all manner of beasts and demons trying to claw their way up the font.  These imaginative medieval engravings seem somewhat naïve now, but the intent is visibly sincere.

After moving around the church and documenting as much as possible photographically, we moved on across the town towards the Lutherhaus which translates to Luther’s House.

The main entrance from the street was closed, so we walked around back and found the side entrance being used during the remodeling.

Martin Luthers grave marker at Castle Church.
  The Luther’s actually lived at the Wittenberg University, so while a tour there affords you a firsthand look at their living conditions, it also winds you through the halls of ancient schooling.  After we’d walked in though we decided it wasn’t absolutely crucial to our experience to visit.  So we began walking back down the city.  Rather than walk back down the main street we walked down an adjacent street just off the main beat.  We came across several elegant homes that seemed more suited for North America but before we could forget where we were, we came across what appeared to be a friendly game of soccer and some track and field sports.

I asked Derik then if we were just going back to Arvie or if he was thinking to stay to eat.  I REALLY wanted to have a late lunch at the potato house, but I didn’t know what it would cost.

The Potato House restaurant in Wittenberg!
  So that necessitated a side trip back to look at a menu.

Once I opened the door with Derik trailing me, I took one whiff and was pretty sure we’d be staying.  It smelled SO good and SO inviting and we hadn’t eaten out the entire trip - so we deserved it, right?  Derik looked at the menu for a few minutes and saw there were multiple things he could eat and be a happy guy, so we decided to find a place to sit.

We started with an appetizer of potato pancakes with tomato and fresh mozzarella.  THEY WERE DIVINE!  Then we chased that with a baked potato each.  I had one with creamed mushrooms.  Derik had his “American style” with roast beef, tomatoes, onions and butter - LOTS of butter, I’m told. J

I think I can speak for both of us that if we’d suddenly died at that moment, we’d have died happy.

Main square in old town Wittenberg
  At the moment at least, as I’m sure neither of us would actually wish to be dead.  But man alive those were some incredible potatoes.  I don’t know what was so different about them.  First, they were huge and that does not always a good potato make.  But there’s something about the way they bake them and then the sauce they put with these HUGE mushrooms on my potato - they’re just incredible.  And Derik’s had tons of roast beef which he generously shared with me and I can tell you it was very good as well.  I’m really grateful Derik agreed to stop in for lunch.  I have another close friend who is well-traveled, and he claims this is the best restaurant in the world.  While I can’t necessarily go quite that far (after all - I need to leave my options open - there are a lot more restaurants in the world left to try), I will say it’s really, really good and I wish we had something like it in the states somewhere.

About an hour after we arrived, we waddled out and headed once more towards Arvie.

Detail of statue of Martin Luther in Wittenberg
  During lunch we had talked about heading back towards Frankfurt and stopping at Wartburg along the way to see the castle there.  So, we headed in that general direction.  It required several back roads, and along the way Derik spied a windmill that looked intriguing.  Actually there’s been windmills all along the way here, generating electricity I presume.  But this was an “old-world Dutch style” windmill (whatever that means!).  So, we pulled off the road and bounced along a dirt path to get over by it so we could take pictures in the waning sunlight.  It was quite historic, I think, but I couldn’t make much out of the sign.  There were pictures though, and apparently in 2004 it was in a bad storm of some sort, brought the whole whirligig thing down.  So, they have replaced it since then, and kept it in its original-looking state.

We kept driving to get to Wartburg and a little ways out of town started looking for places we could just pull over.

Towers from Town Church in Wittenberg
  There was a path that went back behind some trees, but it looked to me like it led straight into a field and I didn’t want some farmer to come along in the morning and get upset that we were there.  So I suggested we keep driving just a little bit and if we didn’t see anything better, we could come back.  So we drove on and pulled into a gas station that Derik noted had a bunch of abandoned space in the back.  He slowed down long enough for me to hop out and ask the proprietor if it would be ok for us to stay back there for the night.  He said, “Yah, Yah” so we said YEAH YEAH.  With that we parked and called it a night.  Neither of us were hungry as we’d had our fill at Wittenberg.  It had been a great day.

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Arvie in the morning mist.
Arvie in the morning mist.
Derik plotting for the day ahead.
Derik plotting for the day ahead.
Our bags were unmade!
Our bags were unmade!
Our kitchen...
Our kitchen...
and bathroom.
and bathroom.
Tower at Castle Church.
Tower at Castle Church.
Brass doors at Castle Church in Wi…
Brass doors at Castle Church in W…
Interior of Castle Church in Witte…
Interior of Castle Church in Witt…
Martin Luthers grave marker at Cas…
Martin Luthers grave marker at Ca…
The Potato House restaurant in Wit…
The Potato House restaurant in Wi…
Main square in old town Wittenberg
Main square in old town Wittenberg
Detail of statue of Martin Luther …
Detail of statue of Martin Luther…
Towers from Town Church in Wittenb…
Towers from Town Church in Witten…
Interior of Town Church.
Interior of Town Church.
Baptistry at Town Church.
Baptistry at Town Church.
A look of complete and utter satis…
A look of complete and utter sati…
Old countryside windmill
Old countryside windmill
Wittenberg
photo by: aloneinthecrowd