Sunday, February 24, 2013

Stuttgart: Mishaps and Memories


Night skyline of Stuttgart
     The trip to Stuttgart starts in the morning while still in Heidelberg. I just had gone to bed at 6am because we were up late drinking wine, playing cards, and having good conversations. I had planned to sleep until 9am, not take a shower, and catch my 10am train to Stuttgart. Well, as it turns out some new neighbors were moving in and decided that it would be a great start to the day to hammer shelves and hooks into the walls at 8am. After 10 minutes of the hammering, coming to the conclusion that it would not stop any time soon, I finally just got out of bed, took a shower, took my time getting ready, and even cleaning up after the party a bit.

     Finally I made my way to the station, hopped on the train, and began my journey to Stuttgart. However, halfway through the train ride the train stops and the person on the loud speakers announced that there would be a delay and we would go back to the previous station and wait for about an hour. Alright, I can handle this- a bit inconvenient, but what could I do?? While on the train I contacted my host for the night, Saskia, that I would be late because of the train. She responded that she was sick and had a lot of  homework for an upcoming exam but I was still welcome to stay with her. I told her that if she was 100% OK with it then we would cancel my stay there and I would find a different place to stay. We both agreed and so once I did make it to Stuttgart my first mission was to find a place to stay. I was thinking it would be alright to stay in a hostel until I looked at the prices! HOOOO WOW!! I then thought “Well, maybe if I find the hostel and ask at the front desk I could get a sort of discount for whatever”. I wrote down a few of the addresses and walked around for 2 hours trying to find 3 different ones but having no luck whatsoever. So, I found myself a Starbucks and posted an emergency couch surfing request for the night. (I had a different host still planned for the next night but I did not want to bother her so much because I knew that she was in the process of writing her master’s thesis). Within about 10 minutes I get a reply from a guy named Brandon. He said I was welcome to stay with him for the night, but then asked me if I was wanted by the police… to which I responded “I do not think I am, should I ask?” He said that as long as I am not illegal nor wanted by the police I am welcome to stay there. So I’m thinking “Alright, ok. Should I really ask a police man about me being wanted? Why? Does he not  harbor fugitives or illegals?” I then check out his profile for the second time and see that he had been in the US Military for 7 years and then it all clicked from there. Turns out he lives on a nearby base and I had to be checked in and out every time I go on/off base.

The Stuttgart Castle

Before we met up I first needed to buy a new sweater. Somehow during my travels I managed to get a big blue stain on one of the two sweaters that I had. So I went shopping on the large, main shopping street in Stuttgart where I found a cute and warm sweater on sale for only 10 Euros. Yay!!! Afterwards I headed back to the HBF (Main Train Station) to meet up with my new host, Brandon. He picked me up in a Pick-Up Truck!!! Yay! It had been over 7 months since I had ridden in one and was so excited! While we drove to the base we had a great getting-to-each other conversation. He was turning out to be so funny and a great person for random conversation (I let slip my inner-star trekkie). After arriving, eating, and talking on base we decided to walk down to the nearest town to go to a local brewery and try some local beer. He warned me it was a long walk but addictive beer…. No problems. J When we got to the brewery (Shoen Brau) he was shocked that I automatically asked the waiter to seat for 2 and for us to be served Hefeweizens in German. He had never been around someone that spoke German around him at a restaurant and he was very impressed. After we downed the delicious Hefeweizens I ordered us some Banana-weizens (Hefeweizen with Banana juice in it, the Germans love it and so do I). Brandon had never tried one before and he had been living in Germany for 2 years and he liked it! But afterwards we stuck to the normal Hefeweizens before stumbling our way back while having a snow ball fight the entire way. J

     The next morning we woke up at 11am and I was informed of my sleep-habits. Apparently when I am sleep deprived and drunk I try to plug in my phone to peoples Aquariums. Brandon had a big laugh with it and said that in the night I had woken him up by reaching over my head and trying to plug in my phone to his turtle aquarium glass. He had asked me what I was doing and I responded “Plugging in my phone, I almost have it”. He then told me to forget about it and go back to bed, in which case I did (or so I am told). So now we know there is a new rule of thumb with me: Do not sleep deprive me AND get me drunk, or I will do weird stuff in my sleep.

     Once we had woken up fully, showered, and ate breakfast he took me around to get some coffee at the food court and to show me what a Px looked like. When we got our coffee I was so shocked to get it in a to-go cup. I have been so used to getting real cups with my coffee and sitting down to enjoy them I had forgotten that America does not do that. I asked if he had real cups and he gave me the weirdest look and said no. Okay, I guess I could deal with it. Then Brandon says to me that we would walk around with our Coffee in the store. I demanded that we sit down and enjoy the coffee, he obliged, and I then realized how Germany had affected me so much. (Also: They do not recycle on base and I was offended by it: Thank you Germany). Once in the Px store I was like a little child: “OH WOW! DORITOS!!! OH WOW!! CHEEZEITS!!!” Brandon had a good laugh and I also taught him about a few products and appliances of the Germans. He seemed a bit less interested but another soldier who had overheard me talking about life in Northern Germany was interested and followed us around a bit as I was explaining some things. We left the store after about 20 minutes of me Oooh-ing and Ahh-ing and headed back to his place.

Stuttgart is the birthplace of Mercedes-Benz

     After another meal (Brandon eats 8 small meals a day) we decided to go see a Windmill and the Zoo/Botanical Gardens. Well, we got lost and ended up 20 minutes out of the way. By the time we made it to the Windmill it was too dark to venture to it and see it and the Zoo/Botanical Gardens would close in a few hours so it would not have been worth it. So we decided to find a local restaurant near to where we would meet more Couch Surfers later in the evening. We found a restaurant that served “maultasch”. Maultasch is a Schwabelian dish (typical Stuttgart-ian) which is different veggies (and maybe some meat) wrapped in a pasta dumpling and boiled. I chose their “Oma’s (Grandma’s) Special” which was the traditional of the traditional. They served it in a French Onion Soup with carmelized onions on top of it. It was sooooooo good! We wanted to eat more but we were so full already! Oh well, maybe I will have to learn how to make it. :-p

     Afore mentioned there was a Couch Surfing meet and greet that night at a local lounge. We found it with a bit of difficulty and began to meet other Couch Surfers, some hosts and some surfers. It was a lot of fun and we learned about the various immigrants, nationalities, etc. of the people living in Stuttgart and a part  of the Couch Surfing community.

Where I spent the majority of my time :(

     After a few hours of meeting some pretty awesome people I left around 9pm for my next hosts place. Well, go figure, I got lost and I made it to her house around 11pm. When I got there she was getting ready for bed because she had to wake up at 5am. She said I could sleep in and do things on my own, just do not steal anything. She was very nice and while we were awake we had great conversation.

     So, Stuttgart definitely was a challenge and something different. As I talked to different people I do not really remember why I came to Stuttgart, I really knew nothing about it or what it had to offer. Turns out Stuttgart is the home-city for Mercedes Benz and was mostly a car city. It was fairly modern and so there was not a lot of Cathedrals, Old Museums, etc so see. But, the people I met and the memories I gathered definitely made the city worthwhile. 

XOXO Emily 

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