The following day, another castle is on our itinerary: the Wartburg in Eisenach. Arriving at the humble city early in the morning, which is a Saturday, we witness a small parade punctuating a leisure walk at a narrow, cobbled street. Flower stalls line the plaza as locals perform various traditional German tunes.
We have our self-made breakfast at one of the benches near the square, then quickly imbibing on a bit of Protestant history at the Lutherhaus. We share the place with dozens of schoolchildren on a field trip. One pudgy boy, either mistaking all Asians are Japanese or because it was the only Asian word he knows, greets us, “Konnichiwa!”
“Ohayo gozaimasu!” I greet back.
We take in more history at the Bachhaus, once the home of the genius composer that has been turned into a remarkable museum. Again, some of the group choose not to go inside so they miss on this bit. Bubble chairs and iPods provide futuristic contrasts to the traditional architecture of the place. The tour around the museum is then capped with a 20-minute performance of the musical instruments found at the house.
A few hours past noon we settle ourselves for some lunch at an Asian restaurant near the plaza. Apparently almost everyone misses the rice. Potatoes and breads are nice, but Asians that we are, a meal ain’t a meal without rice. It’s a bit of a hassle ordering, as the waiting staff are either Thai or Vietnamese who barely speaks English. In a foreign land, the language barrier is all the more pronounced. Our meals are served after struggling to communicate with hand signs and a sprinkling of Vietnamese words.
An hour and a bus ride later, we are at the entrance of the Wartburg, an ancient fortress that has provided a refuge for Martin Luther from 1521 to 1522. But it’s already past four in the afternoon and the last bus to the train station will leave by 5pm, so we don’t have enough time to enter the castle itself. Instead we try to soak up the medieval atmosphere despite the crowds at the castle grounds (hard, I know) before we descend to the bus stop