We hopped on a train from the bitty Wittenberg station about 10:30, and after one very fast change of trains in Leipzig we were on our way to Erfurt, a charming city in the middle of the country. Now it is practically a metropolis--over 200,000 people here--and in medieval times it was a busy crossroads and economic center too. One of the oldest universities in Europe is here, and it is the place where Martin Luther changed his path from studying law to being a monk, and then a priest. We visited the monastery where he joined theAugustinian order, and agreed that none of us want the austerity of an Augustinian monastic life. We went to evening prayer in the church where he prayed 7 times each day. We visited the cathedral where he was ordained a priest (and I confess that my Reformed heart was a little bit pained by it, even this second time). We wandered the old town, crossing a bridge that has shops and homes built right on it (like the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, only more charming) and stopping for ice cream and chocolate at the famous chocolatier of Erfurt. We ate dinner in a restaurant that *may* claim it has existed for 900 years. (the menu and the story/timeine within were all in German, so we're not 100% certain, but the timeline definitely began in the 1100s....)
We are so grateful to Malcolm, our English tour guide at the monastery, for not only giving us Luther's story but also the history of Erfurt from the 700s up through WWII and the Soviet experience, on into today. We learned a lot from him, even as we had some debate along the way (mostly about war...which touched Erfurt and the monastery specifically in really profound ways).
Today, as you all are going to bed, we are waking up and preparing for a day spent visiting Luther's Mighty Fortress (Wartburg Castle) as well as the childhood home of JS Bach. The clouds are clearing and we hope for another beautiful day.