Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Tourist attractions and castles around Eisenach


The biggest tourist attraction in Eisenach is the Wartburg, a medieval castle that sits above the town. Well, basically, it’s the main reason visitors from overseas come to Eisenach at all. The Wartburg is one of the best-preserved castles in Germany. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site partially for this reason, but mainly because it’s got enormous historical significance.

The castle is most famous for being where Martin Luther hid after being excommunicated from the Catholic church (his reformation being a bit unpopular with church leadership...). During this time, he translated the Bible into German, which not only made the Bible available to the common people for the first time ever, but also created the German language as it exists today.

This castle is considered the birthplace of German unification in the 19th century (prior to this time, Germany consisted of multiple smaller kingdoms). The first big meeting of the unification movement  - a student group/movement calling themselves the Burschenschaftler – was held at this castle.

On top of everything else, it is the setting of the legendary Sängerkrieg (which Wagner worked into his opera Tannhäuser, for those of you who are familiar with it), and the birthplace of Saint Elizabeth. The castle has certainly had a history!

Here’s a closeup of the drawbridge, which we thought was super cool. The “moat” (no water in it) goes quite deep into solid rock…I for one would not have wanted to risk falling down there, so I imagine it was still a good defense.
The drawbridge is now attached on both sides and stays open permanently, but the opening and closing mechanism is still present.
Drawbridge mechanism! Very cool
Here’s a look at the outside wall (the white section you see in the first picture), with arrow slits and a cannon. The arrow slits (and cannon spots) get narrower towards the outside of the wall - this would allow an archer to shoot at attackers from any number of angles while making it extremely difficult to fire in.

And, here's the dragon I promised in my last post! He hangs over a well in the first courtyard, near the gift shop.
The promised dragon
The second castle courtyard is much bigger and well worth seeing. Highlight is the Medieval garden, shown below; you can't go in, but it's small enough that you can see the entirety from the outside.
Medieval garden in the castle courtyard. Pretty, isn't it?
The weather wasn't at all cooperative the day we went there
This is the newest castle building, dating from the 19th century. The architectural style is quite different, and there’s an actual bath in there!

The aforementioned bath (best picture we got, unfortunately).
An actual bath! Such luxury.
This courtyard also has a really cool square tower. It costs a bit to climb, but gives you nice views (and lets you feel cool because you're in a castle tower...or maybe that's just me?).
Excuse the crookedness
We decided to take a tour of the castle (you can’t see most of the interior without one). The tour talked about the history, of course, but also generally about what life would have been like in the castle in various eras. Tristan and I, being fantasy nerds, really liked that aspect :D.
Inside the defensive walkway, the only spot you're allowed pictures during the tour.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Winter pictures part 2

I've been really busy the last few days with housecleaning and finishing crochet projects and this and that, so I didn't have the chance to write up the next part of our trip. Instead, I'm going to continue my series of photography from the winter. I'll try and get the next part of the trip written up in the next two or three days.

These pictures were taken at King's Park (in the south of the city, near the U of M) while snowshoeing. I believe this was in early January. These were taken with the DSLR that was at the time borrowed but that I've since purchased. I hope you enjoy!

I'd say there's been some improvement since my last post on photography, would you agree?

What did you think? I welcome any feedback on my photography! (Just don't be a jerk, obviously)

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

First few days: exploring cute little Eisenach

To me, going to Eisenach is coming home. To Tristan, it was his first time going anywhere he (mostly) didn’t speak the language. I was, at the time, so focused on seeing my grandparents (and a bed) again that I didn’t think much of it, but in hindsight I imagine the poor guy was feeling pretty culture-shocked and overwhelmed. Of course, we were both exhausted from our nearly-30-hour flight as well.

Our time in Eisenach started off with a bit of a hitch: my bag didn’t make it onto our last flight. This wasn’t too big of an issue, as it arrived the next day – except for the fact that it was now the weekend, and so the courier service wasn’t running (Germans take their weekend VERY seriously, believe me!). Since I was at my grandparents’ and they provided me with PJs, toiletries, and the like, it wasn’t too big of an issue (I wasn’t too happy about wearing the clothes I’d worn on the plane for 4 days straight, but oh well). The only real problem was that when we arrived the country was just coming off a weird cold spell (it was single digit temperatures – Celsius that is – for our first few days there! In Germany, in May!) and my jacket was in my checked luggage. This necessitated some fashionable improvising:

I'd say it turned out quite nicely, wouldn't you agree?

We started our time in Eisenach off by taking it easy. The intent of our time in Eisenach was largely to do that and spend time with my grandparents. As I mentioned in my previous post, I don't see them often (it had been over 3 years since the last time at this point). Plus, with my grandmother’s amazing home cooking, this wasn’t exactly a hardship for either of us.

Once we'd recovered a bit, the next step was to begin exploring the town. Eisenach is a curious mix of really photogenic and fairly...non-photogenic. It was bombed during WWII, so a bunch of the old buildings are missing, and it has a lot of new, not-so-lovely buildings especially at the edge of town. However, much of the old town centre as well as the Villenviertel (villa quarter) remain intact, so there's plenty to admire and photograph.

This is the Lutherhaus, where Martin Luther was born. Unfortunately, it was closed for extensive renovations and will remain so until 2017.

This house if my favourite - it's the narrowest house in the town!
Have I convinced you yet? No?

This beauty is in the Villenviertel.

I can't remember where this one was - I think the market square? #oops
This is a historic garden (now a public park). We were lucky enough to catch the monthly flea market there on our second day. We had lots of fun going through the sale items, and picked up some gifts there too :).



Obviously, no visit to a European city would be complete without visiting some churches, and Eisenach delivers on that count.

This one is the Georgenkirche (St. George’s church), as in the guy who killed the dragon.

He's the patron saint of the town so there are dragon statues all over. I didn't get one of the statue by this church, but there will be one in my next post, promise!

It’s actually fairly plain on the inside for European standards.

But, well, for European standards…

The church is partially famous for being the church that Bach was baptized in. A statue of him stands in the entranceway.

 You know who else was baptized in this church? Me! I was super excited to find out I’d been baptized in the same church as Bach! Later on in our stay here, we were lucky enough to come back to this church for an organ concert - not something you'd normally get to do in Canada, so that was a treat.


This is the Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas’s church). It was built in the 1180, and is attached to an old city gate and the last remaining piece of the medieval city wall. (those little arches you can see in the centre of the picture, next to the church tower). Unfortunately it was being renovated when we visited and we couldn’t go in, but still really cool to see.


We also found this little chapel (unfortunately also closed). When it was built, this chapel was located outside of the city walls. It was meant to serve and care for those people who were not desired in the city walls. At the time, this meant especially plague victims. We found the chapel really cute and thought its history was really neat.

I'll be writing up the remainder of our time in Eisenach in the next several posts. Expect lots of castles!

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Europe Trip 2015: An Introduction

Sometime around the middle of 2014, Tristan (my boyfriend) and I started tossing around the idea of travelling to Europe together the following summer.

I’ve long been fascinated by Ireland, in particular by its history, mythology, and music (and more recently beer...), and visiting that country has been a long-held dream. Even before Tristan and I started planning our trip, I was determined to go in 2015 – whether with someone else or alone.

Well, it turned out that Tristan was interested in Ireland too! (He also just really wanted to travel, hehe. Who can blame him?)

However, Tristan’s dream destination was Germany. I’d been thinking of swinging by my grandparents’ anyways (I don’t get to see them often, so I use the chances I get), so that deal was sealed.

And so, from the end of May, until early July, we found ourselves in Europe. We split our time more-or-less evenly between Germany and Ireland, with a few days in Prague (another long-held dream destination of mine) added on for good measure.

May 29-June 8: Eisenach, Erfurt, and Saxony Switzerland, Germany
June 9-10: Prague
June 11-18: Dresden and Schwerin, Germany
June 18: Berlin (a half day before catching our flight)
June 18-20: Dublin
June 20-22: Killarney, Ireland
June 23-28: Bike tour of the Ring of Kerry
June 30-July 8: Galway, Cliffs of Moher, Kilkenny, and back to Dublin

That was the brief intro to our trip! I’ll start posting about it in the next few days, and (I hope) continue that regularly for the next while. Stay tuned :).

Have you been to Europe? Any favourite spots or dream destinations?
Are there any parts of our trip you particularly want to hear about? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, 14 April 2016

An apology, and what's next

For anyone that's swung by here and been disappointed by the lack of posts, I'm sorry! I've been completely swamped with exams and general end-of-term madness and haven't had the chance to write anything.

However: once this is done (tomorrow, hopefully!) I will start writing up my Europe trip from last summer. I will also be posting more photography and - I hope - showing some improvement on that count, and I'll start posting some crocheting as well! Stay tuned, there's lots coming up here :).

Enjoy your spring!

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Early Winter Photos

Here are some pictures I took near the beginning of the winter (mid- to late November, as you can see by the poppy). Since part of the intent of this blog is to track my improvements in photography, I thought I'd start with these!

 Looking back at these, I can definitely say I've improved, even over the course of the winter (which is a nice thing to see!). I have to admit, going to a proper DSLR also helped, so I can't credit all of the improvement to my becoming more skillful (all of these were, obviously, taken pre-DSLR).

 The one above (with the poppy) is my favourite of the bunch. Someone had left it on the tree after Remembrance Day, and it was such a lovely pop of colour in the bleak winter-y forest.

  I'll be posting more, newer pictures at some point in the future, so you can see my improvement!