We made it downstairs for breakfast by about 8:15 AM. We had to eat quickly because the check-out and leave time was 8:45 AM. Unlike the rest of the group, we left our bags up in the room, so we had to get to the top of the fun-house hotel to drag our stuff down.

We made it downstairs by 8:43, and everyone else was already loaded, but our bags still fit, and we were in our seats at 8:45, so no harm done.

Sergei started us towards Erfurt, we had our brief devotion, and Thomas talked a bit about the city and its history. I was very tired and could not stay awake on the bus, so I did not see much of Thuringia after we entered. Sergei pulled us off the highway to a former GDR border checkpoint that is one of the few that was left in tact after the reunifiation of Germany. The guard tower was 3 stories high, and there were also some portions of the Berlin Wall present on site. We were now in the former East Germany.

The bus pulled up next to a large plaza below an 18th century citadel, and we walked across the plaza towards the Dom cathedral and its adjoining secondary church. The two buildings were built on and into a high hill. The Dom is St. Mary’s where Martin Luther was ordained as a priest. Below it is a very extensive crypt church. The church next door was St. Severus, and a funeral service was in progress there, so we could not tour it.

After viewing the cathedral, we went back down the 70 stairs carved into the hill, and back through the plaza. A festival of some sort was being set up, but we did not get to visit any of the vendors. We headed into the old city, and then encountered a bridge with buildings built on top of it. Not the most impressive bridge with buildings built on top of it, but certainly a neat thing. On the other side was a smaller market plaza, which was to be the group’s rally point later in the afternoon.

The next 2.5 hours were leisure time. Shannon and I went to a pizza place. I had a pizza with ham and artichoke. Shannon had spaghetti Bolognese. Both meals were very good. We then walked around the city a bit and Shannon did some shopping. We returned to the plaza a bit ahead of schedule and the rest of the group slowly appeared as well. Shannon got us a couple iced coffees to enjoy before our next event.

At 2:30 we walked over to the former Augustinian Monastery where Luther spent a number of years as a monk. As of 1529, the edifice no longer functions as a monastery. We toured the church, the cloister, a room where the monks would hold church and other functions in the winter, then an upper floor where the monks cells were located, and where they slept as a group. There was a reconstruction of the cell Luther would have used, as well as a number of other cells. There was also a very cool library/lecture/debate hall that could only be seen through a glass window.

The stained glass windows below were removed during WW2 and preserved safely elsewhere. They are 700 years old. Erfurt did suffer damage during the war, including at the monastery. Several of the pictures below may look familiar to anyone who saw the 2003 Luther movie.

Martin Luther’s monk cell below.

When the tour concluded, we took another of Thomas’s famous “short walks” over to our hotel, which appears to be in a Turkish section of the town. We got checked in, decompressed for a few minutes, then went down the road, back to the market area our group had met earlier at the end of that bridge. We had dinner next to the Italian place we had eaten earlier. I got a Thuringer Bratwurst, which was supposed to come with sauerkraut, and I asked them not to give me that, so they instead substituted some hot kohlsalat, or coleslaw. There were little bits of ham in it. I ate a few bites, just to be sure, but did not much care for it. I also ended up with a small salad and mashed potatoes. Shannon had linguini with salmon. Both meals were enjoyable. We walked over to the bridge hoping to get an ice cream, but the store was closed, so we went around the corner to a different ice cream store. There are Eiscafe locations all over every German city we have been to, the Germans really love their ice cream. I got one scoop of Heidelbeer which turned out to be blueberry, and Shannon got a scoop of Dunkel, which was Dutch chocolate.

We walked back towards our hotel and stopped out front to finish the ice cream. I think it is actually gelato, not actual ice cream. I realized that nearby the hotel was a Martin Luther monument, so we walked over to view it, then returned to the hotel.

Tomorrow at 8:45 we’re heading to the Wartburg castle, then some sort of Bach thing. We don’t care to go to the Bach thing, but we’re probably going to be stuck doing so, or we’ll miss the Wartburg.