Germany: Arrival and Stuttgart

8 09 2008

I am back in the US after three weeks in Germany (and a little bit of France).  Although I am glad to be sleeping in my own bed, I miss Europe already.  Not only do I dearly miss my sister L and my brother-in-law M, but also I miss the leisurely breakfasts, the clean and tidy streets with quaint houses, the fast cars on the Autobahn, and of course the medieval cobblestone streets that greeted us in almost every city and town we visited.  My wallet is lean from the exchange rate but my mind has been filled to the brim with new fantastic experiences.  And so begin my travels in Germany…

This beautiful sunset in Chicago marked the beginning of my journey. I flew on a direct flight from Chicago O’Hare to Frankfurt.  If you look closely, you can see Wrigley Field all lit up in the lower right hand corner of the photo.


Goodbye Chicago!


Hallo Deutschland!

This was one of my first views of Germany. Although it’s not as obvious from this photo, you could see from the air how boundaries of cities and towns are clearly defined in Germany.  Also notice the river Main flowing through Frankfurt (above).

The famous skyline of Frankfurt, the financial capital of Germany. We didn’t spend much time in Frankfurt outside of the airport. Frankfurt was one of the only cities in Germany that was almost entirely rebuilt in the modern style after WWII.

Did I mention how Germany is full of forests? Large, thick, and tall trees are everywhere in western Germany.

The flight itself was pretty uneventful but I was exhausted on arrival. Because it was an overnight flight and Germany is seven hours ahead of Chicago (Central) time, I got almost no sleep on the flight (not to mention how uncomfortable Economy class is in general). Arrival at Frankfurt airport went without a hitch. In fact, my flight arrived early. M tells me that this is quite normal for this particular flight. Immigration and Customs were a breeze. My flight landed at around 11 AM (11:10 scheduled arrival time) and I was outside hugging my sister by 11:30 AM.

Charles’ experience a week later was the opposite, although it was the fault of the airline and not the airport. His flight was delayed twice and 3 hours in total. On an overnight flight this was especially horrible. But I digress.

After the 8 hour 40 minute flight, we had to drive about 2 hours to get to L and M’s home in Stuttgart. Thus, while I was excited to try a German restaurant, I was overjoyed to eat at this fast food chain:


KFC in Stuttgart

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I love to take pictures of KFCs around the world. Well, we did more than that and ate here for a very late lunch.   Actually, I was quite impressed with American fast food chains in Germany. They were clean, even chic in appearance. The employees were very polite and nice, although they mess up your order more often than not, just like in the US. And, they have some of the cleanest, best bathrooms in Europe. They even have designer faucets.

Best of all, we ate the Colonel’s chicken on china!   That’s right, that is china and NOT plastic or paper in the picture.  And it was delicious. They do not have franken-chicken in Germany.

STUTTGART

Throughout most of this trip, L and M’s apartment in Stuttgart was our home away from home. L and M live in a residential neighborhood situated on a hill in Stuttgart proper. This neighborhood is a great example of how neat and tidy everything is in Germany.

L and M have a large, sunny home that looks like it is straight out of the pages of the latest IKEA catalog. While we Americans are all familiar with IKEA, it doesn’t completely click until you have seen the furniture in its home environs in Europe. The Ektorp sofa and matching ottoman and the TOBO media storage combination have never looked so good – it is chic and functional at its best!


L and M have a great relaxing balcony where you can enjoy some greenery.

We even had a gorgeous view of the Stuttgart environs from the guest room. As you can see, even an industrial city such as Stuttgart has beautiful countryside views.  One of the most surprising things about Stuttgart is that it is also situated in a fertile valley surrounded by vineyards and forest. In fact, Stuttgart is Germany’s largest wine growing city.

Stuttgart is the capital of the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg. It is one of the wealthiest areas in Germany and has some of the lowest crime rates in the country.  Considered the “cradle of the automobile” because Mercedes, Porsche, and Maybach are all produced in Stuttgart, the city is also home to Daimler AG and Bosch, among other major corporations.

Parts of downtown Stuttgart are very modern and corporate. Mercedes is king in this town, and most tourists come here for the Mercedes Benz Museum.

Downtown Stuttgart

The center of Stuttgart is the Schlossplatz (Castle Square), which is surrounded by the two main castles and the major museums. Below is a picture of the “old” castle, which dates back to the founding of the city in 950 AD.


The Old Castle

The “new” castle, which was built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, was behind me when I took the picture of the old castle. However, there was an REM concert that night right in front of the new castle and it was entirely covered by a huge bandstand, lights, and seating so unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the new castle. It is a very grand palace, though.


Another view from the Schlossplatz.

Besides the Schlossplatz and the Mercedes Benz museum, most visitors come to Stuttgart for the grand Wilhelma Zoo and Botanical Gardens.  Built around 1850, this former summer palace has beautiful pavilions, greenhouses and gardens, in addition to the zoo.  Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to go there, but I am sure it is as divine as it sounds.  Stuttgart is also home to several historic churches, museums, galleries, and parks.

Parts of downtown Stuttgart are at once urban and cozy. Just a few blocks from the Schlossplatz are some pedestrian only cobblestone streets filled with shops, cafes, and trendy restaurants.  I saw one street that was reserved just for outdoor seating for cafes and restaurants.

We went to this Italian place for lunch one day. It is right off a small mall:

We also visited the famous Markthalle, an indoor market hall.  The stands are filled with fresh produce, meat, and other products from all over the world.  Although it certainly has local foods, this market is world class.  The Washington Post did a great article in 2006 on the Markthalle in Stuttgart, which you can read here.

I spent a relaxing couple of days recovering from jet lag and spending time with L and M in Stuttgart.  It was a wonderful introduction to German life.

NEXT: Freiburg Esslingen, Ludwigsburg

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6 responses

9 09 2008
Frostfox

Looks like I fantastic place to visit. Thanks for the early shots of Chicago, it makes me miss my home even more.

12 09 2008
travelswithsandy

Thanks for your comment Frostfox. Germany is really a great place to visit.

10 09 2009
sandrar

Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

18 01 2010
A.Harridance

Sandy, thank you so much for an very interestin set of photographs and good descriptions…
I missed out seeing anything but autobahns in 1962 when i was too afraid of all the soldiers on roads and rail for days – it turned out to be exactly when the Berlin wall was going up. I had gone to the trouble of learning to speak some German too.. YOu are giving me a good idea of how much i missed and now too old to make it back.. cheers
from Melbourne Australia 🙂

25 06 2010
Meredith C.

I found your blog while searching for information about Stuttgart and Ludwigsburg. This was a wealth of information and it has me super excited to be studying abroad there in the Spring! Thank you for the wonderful pictures. 🙂

29 06 2010
Gary Dodson

Thank you for the great pics i spent 3 years in Stuttgart i really miss alot of things Thanks for sharing i was at Kelley barracks in 527th trans co I got to travel alot but did no take alot of pics I’m kicking myself now Thanks again for sharing Gary Dodson in Missouri

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