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Part II : Germany – Thursday February 20, 2007

Posted by thebigswede in Uncategorized.

I’m feeling a bit sentimental this morning. Does this ever happen to anyone else? I’ll pick up straight up were I left off. I knew that Thursday was reserved for traveling around Stuttgart, seeing sites and museums and Wednesday night Sarah was kind enough to not only recommend her favorite places but also write down all the connections, etc. Being me (a headstrong Swede), I thought I could remember everything no problem and told Sarah the notes weren’t necessary, at which point completely ignored me and made a list, time-line, even drew a few pictures. She was right, I was wrong; without that list I would still be wandering Stuttgart. I first took the S-Bahn train to the Mercedes-Benz museum, a short 10 min trip from the city center. The building that you see was completed a few years back and is the epitome of classy design and refinement – not unlike the cars they make. Starting at the top of the complex you work your way down and the museum carefully unfolds every chapter in Mercedes-Benz history. I was truly blown away by how much the company impacted the world of transportation: the first car, the first motorcycle, the first fuel injected engine and the first airbag among a host of other firsts. Karl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler and his partner William Maybach all grew up in Swabia and founded the companies which would eventually make up Mercedes-Benz. I had to restrain myself from attempting to take a few experimental cars for a try on the autobahn..but who can blame me? This museum should not be missed.

The day was just gorgeous: sun shining, mild temperature and no snow or ice (unlike Uppsala!). Stuttgart isn’t host to only one massive brand of cars, oh no, it is also the home of Porsche. Not doing too bad for yourself Stuttgart! I’m not such a big fan of Porsche and decided to skip their museum and because it was a beautiful day I made a beeline to the haupenhaf (central station) after lunch. Here at the very top they have an open air observatory where you can see the entire city, for miles around. Its spectacular.

After taking some time to just stare off into the vast reaches of the area I remembered that Sarah recommended seeing the city graveyard. Personally I love graveyards, and no I’m not some creepy goth punk. They remind me first of all that I’m very mortal and that life could be taken at any second. Graves speak to me, tell me that life is short, that life has meaning and that ultimately all that is left is what we’ve stored in heaven. In the old days Germans cruised Stuttgart in these old, completely wood street/rail cars and the way up to graveyard hill was via one such perserved car.

The ride up provided more amazing views of the city. At the top the graveyard opens up and sprawls out in virtually all directions. Off to one side is a large area dedicated to those living in Stuttgart who died in WWI and WWII. I personally had relatives who fought against Germany and it was just extremely moving to see the graves of “the other side”. Needless to say the loss of life was tremendous and the sea of crosses reminded me of just how terrible war is, for everyone involved.

It was getting to be later in the afternoon and I started to take the rail back home but, in a moment of total spontaneity got off the train at a spot that looked cool. I just sort of wandered, checking out the kids at play, the locals going about their afternoon chores and somehow found my way to a sizable church.

Very near to this church, down an alley was a store selling every kind of drink you can think of. It was like a mini-sized Costco, with cases and cases of beer, wine, water, soft-drinks, really anything that is drinkable. Sarah later explained that this is how Germans most often buy their beverages, in bulk. Germany is world famous for beer (Sweden is not) and so I felt compelled to pick up a half dozen bottles of local beer on the go. I finally got back to the apartment and decided that we should have a beer taste test, so without further adieu I give you the Larson/Sembdner review:

Postwirts Dunkel Sarah: “Smells great, like a brewery, nice light flavor and bubbles give the tounge a minerally feeling.” Mike: “Nutty, no bitterness, super smooth with carmel notes in the aftertaste.”

Das Schwarze Schwabenbraeu Sarah: “Spicy taste but the flavor stays in the background, unobtrusive smell.” Mike: “Coffee flavor hints with some bitterness, firm alcohol kick”

Schussenrieser Sarah: “Aromatic taste fills your whole mouth, strong smell.” Mike: “Exactly what you think German beer should taste like, poininet flavor with no bitterness and a great finish.”

Sanwald Sarah: “Tastes like a whole selection of bacteria, but in a good way, bad and bitter aftertaste.” Mike: “Very different then the rest, tastes like Belgian beer and thats a compliment.”

Bolzer Sarah: “The only description I can think of here is asparagus, mild and good.” Mike: “I’ve had better, pass me more of beer #3.”

After this little testing we went over to Sarah’s parents home a short walk away from the apartment and I got a chance to meet her entire family which was truly a pleasure. All in all it was one amazing day. And now, continuing the tradition, I give you a random picture of a super cool, very small euro car that I found while exploring the city.

I really wish these things were street legal in the states, I would totally hook myself up with one. Of course if I got smashed by a soccer mom in a Ford Explorer there wouldn’t be much left of me to bury…so perhaps its for the best. Wow that was a loooooong update, and yet I only covered one day! Stay tuned for part III (and maybe part IV?!) in the near future along with all the good photos that you have come to expect from thebigswede. Thanks for reading, God bless and stay in touch.



1. Mark - February 20, 2007

Okay so if I made a comment on Part I than of course I feel compelled to comment on Part II. I think first and foremost that you and Sarah’s beer tasting thing is the best! What a great idea, and I love the detail of the descriptions. So I take it that number 3 was your favorite?

I also feel somewhat sheepish that you have now seen and experienced more of Stuttgart than I! (for instance, Mercedes-Benz–I’ll have to hit that the next time I’m in town) but you’ve enabled your readers to experience it with you here, so for that I commend you. I also really appreciate your comments and observations about the cemetary; no doubt that must have been a memorable experience.

I can’t wait to see more pics of the trip too–bis Spater. 😉

2. The infamous Sarah M. - February 22, 2007

Hey all this sounds as if it comes straight out of a ‘tour the amazing Stuttgart’-book, but with a lost more emotion 🙂 The entire last week I was actually wondering whether you or I was the tourist in my hometown. I will definitely take your blog entry with me the next time I get to just spend time here. You give great descriptions and after all it sounds as if it’s a really nice place to explore. I really should start that myself…:-)

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