Last weekend I went on the latest of my short weekend breaks to Europe. For the second time this year I went to the South West German state of Baden-Württemberg; but this time was to its capital Stuttgart.
My first sights of Stuttgart came after getting off the train at the Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) and wandering, completely by accident, in to the Schlossgarten park. The forecast was good but I don’t think I was really expecting the soaring temperatures.
I spent a good half hour wandering around both the Schlossgarten and the nearby Schlossplatz, both of which are located within the vicinity of the Landtag, the State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg. There is a (small) lake in the Schlossgarten which looked very tempting but swimming was ‘Verboten’ so I didn’t even dip a toe in! In Schlossplatz there are cafés and waterfountains, and the Jubiläumssäule column in the center of the square – the monument put up for the 25th jubilee and 60th birthday for King Wilhelm I of Württemberg.
After a walk around I called in to Tourist Information in order picked up a map and I thought I would enquire about the hop-on-hop-off bus tour which runs in the city.
For €15 you can get a 24 hour ticket to the bus and explore the city at your leisure. There are headphones at each seat, and there’s a dial so you can tune in to the audio guide in your own language. Shortly before lunch time I boarded the big red city tour bus and found a seat on the top deck, where I could sit in the sunshine.
I disembarked the bus at top #4, where the Mercedes-Benz Museum was located. The museum from the outside looked very spectacular and once inside I was very impressed.
The exhibition shows all types of Mercedes cars ranging from the world’s first car (using the Daimler name) right through to the first cars to use the Mercedes names and on to the current Mercedes-Benz models… plus everything in between!
I spent so long in the museum that by the time I emerged, it was the last bus – so I had no time to get off at any further stops, but I did enjoy the trip round the rest of the city back to the point at which I started, opposite the Tourist Information Centre.
It was now after 5pm and I still had not checked in to my hotel. I proceeded down on to the station platform and took the underground/tram to Salzwiesenstraße. My hotel was located in the Zuffenhausen district, one of the Northern suburbs of Stuttgart.
The Hotel Zuffenhausen caters mainly for business guests (it is only a few minutes away from Porsche’s main HQ) but for a one night stay wasn’t too bad. I declined breakfast as it was rather expensive, and it should be noted that the Internet was painfully slow – I got faster Internet on my mobile phone (for a cheaper price too, because with my German mobile phone I don’t pay roaming charges).
After checking in and sorting myself out, I went to Edeka (supermarket) over the road to buy some supplies – including batteries for my camera which had died earlier in the day. With my camera batteries replaced, I headed to the station and took the train to Ruhbank, from where I would go and visit Stuttgart’s Fernsehturm (TV Tower).
On a clear, Sunny day the views from the tower were spectacular. I could see down to the City Centre, and South towards the Airport; the forest scenery surrounding Stuttgart looked fantastic. I went downstairs for a drink at the bar.
As it approached 9, the sky went very red and I returned to the viewpoint to watch the Sunset. I waited for the Sun to disappear completely before getting the lift back down and heading off for dinner.
I had my dinner in a quite little restaurant on a side street away from the main Schlossplatz square (the ones on the square itself looked very busy). I sat outside as I ate my ‘Gyros mit Pommes’ (a Greek dish of course, served in a German way). It wasn’t anything special but it filled me up after a very busy day, before I returned to the hotel and slept.
I rose early on Sunday and checked out of my hotel shortly before 9. My flight wasn’t until the evening, but I did have a lot to squeeze in to Day 2 so an early start was required.
My first port of call was just down the road: The Porsche Museum located on Porscheplatz.
Like the Mercedes-Benz Museum, the Porsche museum has the history of all-things Porsche. It took me a couple of hours to get round the Porsche Museum; but could easily have taken longer. I was ever-conscious of the time.
Before entering the exhibition itself, I enjoyed my breakfast in the museum’s café: A croissant filled with Feta cheese! Very tasty. After leaving the exhibition I took a stroll round the shop, before heading to the railway station opposite the museum.
It was approaching 11:30 by the time I made it back to the Hauptbahnhof in Stuttgart. In three hours I would need to be starting to make my way to the Airport. I chose to fill those three hours with a trip to the Zoo.
The Wilhelma Zoologisch-Botanischer Garten is located in the Bad Cannstatt district of the city, next to the Neckar River. It is second only in Germany to Berlin’s Tiergarten and is the only state-owned zoo in the country.
It is worth remembering that it is a zoo. Don’t expect amazing animal enclosures. Actually, some of them I was quite disappointed in. I was also disappointed not to see the big cats properly. They were all sleeping in the shade – and being camoflage, many were not visible terribly clearly!
But for a day out to enjoy looking at the animals, its not a bad choice. The sealions were entertaining, clearly enjoying the sunshine and swimming around their enclosure. The elephant seemed quite happy eating its lunch, and the gorillas were entertaining.
By the time I was at the zoo temperatures were at the highest so I must have bought a bottle of water at every kiosk within the zoo grounds, and several ice creams were consumed as well!
By 3pm I was well on my way to the Airport, and after getting through security I found somewhere to sit, finally relax and reflect on 2 busy days in Stuttgart, and eat a Schnitzel for lunch.
My next foreign trip will be 2 weeks in Lefkhada in Greece, next Month… Germany, I’ll be back in a couple of months.
I seem to be going abroad a lot these days. Maybe I should be Foreign Secretary!?!