April 2008


Weimar Love

Goethe, FramedOne of my colleagues recently announced that he and his family are going to move to Weimar.

Curiously this announcement caused somebody to tell him that Weimar was the worst place one could possibly chose to live because, get this, there aren’t very many bars in Weimar. He should know: he’s been to all of them and they all suck. On the other hand, in my nearly four years in Weimar, I have visited a grand total of four different bars, plus three restaurants that could be, occasionally, confused with bars.

This pattern is pretty consistent in my life: In Bloomington, Indiana, I’ve been to eight or nine bars over the last decade, whilst my six years in Laramie, Wyoming, yielded visits to a grand total of two—although for half of the time I was underaged. (For Non-Americans: I was under the age of 21, the age at which one can go into bars and drink; under 21 and you are not, in most states, even allowed to enter a bar.)

The comments made me ponder why I like the places that I like—obviously it’s not driven by the number of, and types of, bars. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy city-breaks, where I go to a nearby major city and go dancing. Based in Weimar, I’ve been to Leipzig, Prague, and Berlin for these kinds of vacations. However after a weekend in these places, I look forward to returning to Weimar; and after a single evening in Indianapolis I crave the sanity that is Bloomington.

The main thing I like about Weimar is that it is quiet: after the tourists go home, the city is virtually dead. Tuesday night, when I met a friend for dinner, I was walking the streets of the city at 7pm and it was already fairly quiet; by the time we left the restaurant at 9:30, there were only a handful of people on the streets. The few times I have been out wandering the streets after 11, there are even fewer people. I can rest assured that only once or twice a year will somebody make noise as they pass my flat at 2 am.

Café LadenAnother thing that makes Weimar really great is that once you figure out how to escape the tourists, one can find great cafés that do not charge tourist prices. If you want coffee in Theatreplatz, you’re going to pay for sitting in the shadow of Goethe and Schiller. Meanwhile, two minutes further away is the Weimar Office, a lovely café with reasonable prices, and (for the most part) competent service. It’s the place where I am a familiar sight, and the most of the staff knows me, immediately remembering that I can’t drink milk (constantly promising me Soy Milk will soon be on the menu), I can’t eat tomatoes, and that I can only have one cup of coffee with caffeine on any given day.

Sledding in the parkWeimar is also blessed with a lovely park that splits the city. The Park an der Ilm is a huge wonderful park with lots of green grass, paths to wander, and a river to watch. In the winter, when there is enough snow, the park has what I can only describe as the best sledding hill I have ever seen. It’s huge, it’s long, and it’s steep. Every time I see people sledding on it, I want to relive my childhood.

Given all of that, Weimar is still a small city, with small city attributes that can be annoying. For example the bus system isn’t so great in the evenings, something that’s not an issue in the summer when walking from the main train station to my home is a plesant diversion, but annoying in the cold and dark nights of winter. It’s also small enough that people start to recognize each other and know each other’s business. I’m probably more noticeable than most because of my jackets, something I need write about.

Park an der IlmUltimately though I like Weimar a lot—the positives of Weimar far outweigh the negatives. I like living quietly most of the time, and then when I am in need of excitement, taking trips to large cities.

Each time, I return home feeling fulfilled and exhausted, ready for the quiet, down home, lifestyle that characterizes Weimar—something I am especially enjoying this week.

3 comments to Weimar Love

  • shu

    your description really reminds me the nice time in weimar.

  • Curiously this announcement caused somebody to tell him that Weimar was the worst place one could possibly chose to live…

    I don’t understand why someone would say this in response to “I’m moving to” whereever. What a passive-aggressive downer.

  • @shu: thanks!

    @Sarah: I could see it if there was a legitimate concern, like, say, drinking the water caused cancer, but those kinds of concerns are few and far between. Substantially trivial are the concerns he raised…