Hallo from Stuttgart
Last Wednesday we caught the train from Florence, first stop Milan, half hour changeover, the train was ten minutes late, but we made it….Milan to Zurich, through the Alps…wonderful scenery, we watched from our window, all the problems were happening on the road below us, major hold ups, kilometres and kilometres of trucks, cars and buses. We had a 20 minute changeover in Zurich and we were getting later and later. Apparently another train had broken down causing our train to stop at nearly all the stations along the route, arriving in Zurich an hour late; consequently we missed the connection to Stuttgart. So much for Swiss efficiency!! We updated our tickets and caught the next train to Stuttgart, arriving about 2 hours later than planned.
Stuttgart is a wonderful city; the people are extremely friendly and are quite happy to practise their English on tourists, which was somewhat more effectively than us practicing our German on them. We soon found a row of café/restaurants near our hotel; we spent a bit of time at ‘Einstein’s’, (keeping up the fluids) before heading off to discover what the city had to offer. We walked a fair way down the main pedestrian street before we decided to head back to Einstein’s (more fluids). Somehow we crossed the main drag ended up in unfamiliar surroundings. It was a bit dodgy; the ladies of the night were out looking for business. We finally took a turn, not knowing which way to go, walked to the end of the street and found….’Einstein’s’…celebration drink!
The next morning we caught the local train out to the Mercedes Benz Museum. A fantastic museum with so much information about the development of cars all delivered with a historical perspective. There are about 160 vehicles from all parts of the world displayed in the museum.
As the day got hotter many people gathered in the main square of the city, sitting in the shade or the grass, many of them cooled down in the two fountains that feature in the park. Barbara went to the art gallery and spent the afternoon looking at works from 1900 onwards, while I walked around taking photos.
On Friday morning we picked up our hire car, and our new friend Hilda, who travelled with us for the next week. Thankfully she spoke great English, knew her way around, but was fairly inflexible about the route to be taken, and was ‘not happy’ if we did our thing. I did all the driving, and managed to stay on the correct side of the road making it to Nuremburg unscathed and without embarrassment. That was still to come!
The city was very busy. There were stages set up all over town and performers were everywhere. The stages were being used for world music performances, but within the city walls there were buskers everywhere.
We were having dinner at an outdoor restaurant with great a view of one of the stages, and above the masses in the square. This was a very popular with more patrons than tables and chairs. Before we knew it we were sharing our tiny table with two other people. It must have looked a bit strange, four people, one table, two conversations, one in German and the other in English and lots of smiling at each other. After dinner we walked through the town catching some of the buskers. We stood watching one guitarist/singer for a while. He was very good, had a great voice and was very popular with the huge gathering of people. He had just started another song when from behind us came a rumbling sound that was getting increasingly louder. About 200 bike riders in costumes, blowing whistles, tooting horns, ringing bells and generally causing havoc, emerged from the thin street behind us…the guitarist stopped!…the audience turned around to watch the approaching bike riders, it got louder, towards the end of the procession, a bike appeared with a PA on a bike trailer, blasting out rap! The riders passed, the guitarist just carried on from where he had stopped. All part of the fun and celebrations we found all over the city.
The next day we drove, with the assistance of Hilda, to the museum at the Nazi Party rally grounds. The museum is housed in the Congress Hall, which is one of the last remaining parts of Hitler’s vision for the site. Albert Speer designed all of the buildings with the exception of the Congress Hall. The Congress Hall was designed to out-do Rome’s Colosseum in size and scale. Even though the building was only ever half built, it is the largest remaining building from the Nazi era. Allied bombing raids destroyed many of the original buildings in 1945. Everything on this sight was done on a ridiculously large scale, the 60 metre wide, 2 kilometre long Grosse Strasse (Great Road) is a reminder of the grand scale of this complex. The museum is a great place to visit and contains huge amounts of information, photos and film of the madness of this period of history. It really is worth a visit, and gives you a lot to think about.
Lance and Barbara