Day Twelve - Wartburg Castle and countryside

Eisenach Travel Blog

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Forest surrounding Wartburg castle in fall colors.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Waking up this morning, we were greeted by rather thick layers of fog.  Our free night’s rest felt very similar to any of the others, with the exception that it cost less.  Oh - we didn’t’ have electricity and there is no WC or showers accessible.  But that’s why we’re in Arvie in the first place.

Since I was the one who had insisted that I had to have a shower every day and then didn’t after we got here, I decided I needed to experience the rest of Arvie’s capabilities.  So, after a bit of fussing, I figured out how to make Arive’s shower work all on my own.

Wartburg Castle.
  And I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome.  In some ways it was easier than the showers in the camps.  And the water was certainly hot enough.  If you weren’t careful you’d burn yourself.  There’s no reason for water to be that hot!

So after a breakfast of leftover Linguini from Friday night’s dinner, we headed on towards Eisenbach and Wartburg castle.  We were only about 20 minutes later than we’d wanted to be - not bad!

The drive to Eisenbach was relatively uneventful, except that once we arrived Betty wanted us to turn at a particular exit which was closed to exiting.  So that meant rerouting ourselves.

Wartburg Castle tower
  But we figured it out quite easily.

Fortunately you can drive most of the way up to the castle.  I had forewarned Derik that it was a bit of a hike as I recalled, and it was.  Although this time Derik’s eagle eyes spotted a better route so we climbed stairs up the mountainside to the castle.  As we climed, I was again in awe of the gorgeous fall colors which surrounded the castle.  They've been beautiful the entire trip and have really made it all the more memroable.

The castle sits at the top of a hill overlooking the town of Eisenbach and is really quite impressive.  Added on to a number of times through the centuries, it's look is quite distinctive with the different colors and architectural styles.  Entering the castle grounds we saw the famous fan-tailed birds which are resident there.

Entrance to Wartburg Castle.
  They are really unique, but messy things too.  There were tons of feathers mixed with bird droppings which I'm sure they must clean up regularly or it would become overrun.

When we got to the ticket counter we learned there was an exhibit through the end of the month on the life of Saint Elizabeth.  Having no clue who she was, I couldn’t quite imagine how that would fit in with what I thought I remembered about the castle.  But as it turns out I apparently have forgotten anything I thought I knew about the castle, because nearly every time I would tell Derik - oh, this and this, or OH, this and that - I’d be wrong.  It was rather disappointing to be reminded how short-term my memory is.  And by the time I read this again, I’ll probably have forgotten this!

We both got audio guides for the tour and I’m glad we did.

Square staircase at Wartburg
  There was actually a lot of information about this Elizabeth woman.  She was quite the lady.  And it was actually much more interesting that I would have expected.  But about two-thirds of the way through I told Derik that I got it already - she was a really good lady.  Apparently she was like the Princess Di of her day.

In addition to all the history on her life, we saw the main rooms of the castle that everyone sees pictures of including the music hall and Luther’s room.  This is the castle where Martin Luther hid for 10 months while translating the New Testament into the common German language of the day so it would be accessible to everyone.  He lived in rather Spartan conditions compared to the rest of the place.

Fna-tailed doves? Pigeons? Wartburg Castle.
  But the most amusing anecdote from his area of the castle concerned an ink blot on the wall.  He supposedly threw an ink bottle at the devil and it stained the wall.  Well, for years tourists have scraped fragments of the ink off the wall to take with them and where it was, there’s just huge chunks of the wall kind of missing.  Then the narrator said that it’s been more than 100 years since castle management has quit replacing the ink on the wall.  I thought that was pretty funny and Derik mentioned it later as well.

Surprisingly, we spent several hours there and ate lunch when we came back to Arvie.  So by the time we left Eisenbach and headed for Frankfurt, it was at least 2pm or maybe even 2:30.  We decided that rather than get on the Autobahns, we’d try and force Betty to take us the back routes.  So, Derik worked his magic and we were off for a day of driving off the beaten paths.

Silo Church

The drive was glorious with more fall colors sprayed across the rolling hills like nature’s graffiti.  We wove our way through little town after little town, occasionally stopping for a picture or because Betty was acting up, but largely moving forward just exploring what was around each new bend in the road.  In one town I spied what I thought might be a church, but it looked like a large round silo.  We made our way there and indeed it was another church.  Derik stayed with Arvie while I explored.  There wasn't that much to see, really, but it's unique in-the-round style made it interesting.

As we drove it began to sink in that this was our last full day here.  It’s been an incredible trip - and maybe Derik’s right, maybe it is a once in a lifetime experience.

Church-in-the-round!
  But as we wound our way through the back roads, I relearned something important.  The autobahns might be the quickest route, but they’re definitely not the most beautiful.  Seeing the countryside - the real Germany - is a fabulous way to end our time here.  It feels like we’ve seen all aspects, even though I know we’ve barely scratched the surface.  But maybe that’s a good thing.  You should always leave a place wishing you’d done and seen more.  It gives you the impetus to return.

And speaking for myself, I know there’s more here I’d like to see and do.  And I know that I’ll be back.

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Forest surrounding Wartburg castle…
Forest surrounding Wartburg castl…
Wartburg Castle.
Wartburg Castle.
Wartburg Castle tower
Wartburg Castle tower
Entrance to Wartburg Castle.
Entrance to Wartburg Castle.
Square staircase at Wartburg
Square staircase at Wartburg
Fna-tailed doves?  Pigeons?  Wartb…
Fna-tailed doves? Pigeons? Wart…
Silo Church
Silo Church
Church-in-the-round!
Church-in-the-round!
Eisenach
photo by: missandrea81