After the past few months of quarantine and lockdown etc., and having vacation days to use up, I decided I needed a break, and eventually settled on Weimar. Actually I decided on Weimar as it was the featured city on Tatort a couple of weeks ago while I was trying to decide and it looked reasonably pleasant on TV at least.
I went to Goerlitz for a few days at the start of the year and I kind of meant to write a review about it on here, and but never got round to it, so now I'm doing it for Weimar but may also include some of my thoughts on Goerlitz.
First thing that surprised me was that Weimar was smaller than I expected. Because it was namechecked in the Weimar Republic and with its cultural history, I had expected a bigger city, but it has a population of only around 60,000, which has been relatively static since before WWII.
However, because of tourism, the city centre feels like that of a bigger city and it was pleasantly buzzing during the daytime with plenty of restaurants, ice cafes, etc.. There are also plenty of shops reflecting Weimar's historical cultural heritage selling sheet music, antiques, and concrete furniture (yeah, wtf??).
So I went to the Bauhaus museum which seemed to contain a little bit of everything: pottery, film, architecture, industrial design, furniture etc. Some multimedia thingies were switched off because of corona, so I don't know what they contain. I didn't see much about the institutional history of Bauhaus, which is probably just as well as if I recall correctly it's just a long litany of internecine political infighting, and external political interference. Also I didn't see much of anything about the individual teachers and graduates, or what they went on to do after Bauhaus, or the longer term influence of Bauhaus - but maybe some of this was in the closed multimedia exhibits.
I also went to the Neues Weimar museum, which was billed as a modern art museum but there was nary a piece later than 1897. There were some nice pastoral landscapes, and lots of Nietzsche busts, which I didn't know was a thing.
There are lots of other museums and exhibits, most of which are to do with Goethe, his house, his garden house, his outdoor toilet etc. etc. that I didn't go to, but may be interesting if you're German and have grey hair.
So that was the centre of Weimar; outside of the city centre, there is basically nothing aside from Plattenbau, a few kebab shops and supermarkets. The locals were mostly hostile. According to Google maps there were about ten pubs in the whole place, which would be expected in an Irish village of 600, never mind a city of 60,000.
These aspects reminded me also of Goerlitz i.e. lack of pubs and unfriendly locals, but I guess it's a general east German thing. Outside the big cities, the towns and villages of the former DDR are populated by the stinksauer losers of reunification, and when they see tourists coming in and eating in restaurants they can't afford to go to, it probably accentuates their resentment.
Moving out from Weimar, I had my bike and cycled around a bit. I went to Buchenwald, which was moving.
I cycled to Jena along the Thuringische Stadtkette cycling route. It took a while to get out of Weimar as it is fairly built up, then it was countryside for probably less than 10k, then there was a nice descent into Jena, but it was a wooded area so there were no nice views.
I also cycled to Erfurt, but took a different route from the Stadtkette (deliberately of course ) for the first half, and that was really nice as it was up above the town with nice views across the country, then I got onto the Stadtkette route again, but it wasn't particularly well marked or scenic, unless you consider electrical substations and Ikea distribution centres as scenic. However, I could see over Erfurt on the way in and the descent into the city was nice.
Erfurt city centre was compact but its labyrinthine mediaeval street layout baffled me so I spent half the time looking at the map screen. Erfurt was pretty cool, I'd definitely go back there to explore it a bit more. And when I'm a 75 year old Goethe fanboy maybe I'll return to Weimar.