Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day 8--Himmelfahrt Im Weimar

Today is a day off the bikes. It's a good thing because es ist regen und kalte (raining and cold). We slept until 8:00!

Before I go on, here are a couple of photos from last night's dinner.
My dinner. A kind of casserole of Schweine und Käse (pork and cheese)

Bernt, Christian, und Uta

Okay, on with the show. What is Himmelfahrt? It is a holiday that is like Father's Day, but it is more religious in nature. However, there are some interesting customs such as the men wearing strange hats, and a lot of drinking and general revelry. We experienced this while walking around the town. Because of the rain, there were not many people. We saw the statues of Goethe and Schiller. Weimar is, in part, famous because of these two men.

We saw their houses too. Bernt is very passionate about both Goethe and Schiller. I learned a lot. Here are a few more photos of our walk around the old town.
The parliament building
Part of the Schloß 

The restaurant we ate at last night.

The oldest building in Weimar.

The famous painting by Cranach in the church of St. Peter and Paul.

My new friend.

Going through a rock tunnel stairway back to the upper part of the park.

The remains of a church in the park.

We met some friends of Christian's, Matthias and Ulreke, for lunch at an Asian restaurant (yes, I come to Germany and have Asian food). It was interesting to read the menu in German. I had pork in fried rice. It was good. An observation of restaurants in Germany: not everyone at the table gets their food at the same time. Some get their food well before others, and can be almost finished before the others get their food. But, it doesn't matter, because there is no rush, like in American restaurants, to finish your food and leave. Just like at the restaurant last night, I asked Uta if it is okay that people come to the restaurant and stay for several hours. The restaurant last night was full (albeit small to start with) with the same people most of the evening. You would not want to come and wait, expecting to get a table. Anyway, I digress...After lunch, Christian asked if I was bored listening to 5 people speaking German. I said, "Nein, es ist lernen für mich." I can only understand a word here and there, but it's not boring. After lunch we went for Eis (ice cream). I saw one flavor that was called "Schwarzwald". I said to Christian, "Black wood?" Then I remembered that Wald is also Forest. So, "Black Forest". Ah, ja! Black Forest! Like the cake! Okay, I'm a little langsam sometimes!

We said goodbye to Ulreke and Matthias, and continued our walk around the town, this time to the park (see photos above). Uta had a little fall and her ankle was hurting. We walked back to the car (it was still a good distance). 


From the town, Bernt drove us to Buchenwald. I wanted to see it, even though I know it is such a place of sadness and anger. The weather was still quite dreary--a fitting weather for visiting a former concentration camp. It is about 15 minutes from Weimar.

First we went to the information building. Inside there was a map of the camp and what is still standing, and what is not. Since Uta's ankle was hurting, her and Christian stayed in the car while Bernt and I went into the camp. I don't know if I had a prior concept of the size of this, or any of the other camps, but it was very large. The barracks where the people were kept are gone. The gate, barbed wire fence and towers, and crematorium are still standing as a reminder of that horrific time. The impact is hard to put into words. I will let the photos speak.

After leaving the camp, we drove to the Memorial erected by the Soviets. It is immense.

Above and below, these are graves--many many graves.

It was good to have this experience--to see it firsthand. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed our stay with Bernt in Thimmendorf, and Bernt and Uta in Weimar. It's great to have some time to really experience German life, and learn some German history (from the German point of view). Viele Danke Bernt and Uta!

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