Right off the bat I can be honest and tell you the difference between Switzerland and Germany is already showing.
The ankle was feeling much better today so I headed out after breakfast to get started on my sightseeing tour of Stuttgart. Decided today I’d walk to the S-bahn stop to see how I’d go getting there with the suitcase. Pretty fair to say I think I’ll be getting the U-bahn back to Stuttgart Main Station to head to Hamburg on Sunday. The path is quite narrow, somewhat overgrown and uneven at points. Also the access to Stuttgart-Nord, the local S-bahn station is only via stairs and I ain’t carrying that case up that many stairs (it’s about three flights height up to the platform). There’s no lift and no escalator.
This was the first notable difference and things continue to show from there. On the S-bahn throughout today there were no ticket inspectors. Which I was actually hoping there would be one at some point so I could get clarity on the S-bahn German Rail Pass access eligibility. Caught four trains today and only saw a ticket inspector on a platform for a train going in the opposite direction.
First one was to get me into Stuttgart so I could visit the city’s information centre. Getting off the train and heading upstairs I was approached by two people asking for coin, and I’m pretty sure one of them lifted the empty bottle from yesterday from the side of my bag (there’s a container deposit scheme here that can be profitable if you turn in more than you purchase). So, I mean that’s cool but perhaps ask before you just lift it from my bag? The second of the two just did not leave me alone. After repeatedly saying “Es tut mir leid, mein Deutsch ist nicht gut” (I’m sorry, my German is not good) they continued speaking and making money related gestures hoping their game of charades would achieve their goal. Eventually I just had to apologise and walk away quickly with a crowd.
The information centre was busy, I didn’t get a chance to buy anything there today except the tour bus ticket, but I think I’ll head there earlier tomorrow and try my luck again. Not nearly the same level of souvenir shopping here as there was in Switzerland where you could throw a snowball in any direction and hit a gift shop.
The city tour was pretty average to be honest, frustrating that so many photo spots spoken of during the tour were blocked by trees or restricted due to construction. The only exception was the closure of the zoo bus stop due to a running race that is being held in town on the weekend. The rest of it was pretty underwhelming to get only fleeting glances where you could barely see, let alone get time for the camera to see it too.
After the tour I decided to walk up the main shopping strip, the Koningstrase. I witnessed a bin get set on fire (though unclear if the person accidentally threw their cigarette butt into the wrong part of the bin or purposefully did so) and got approached by two Mormons wanting to spread the good word. Eventually got to the Schlossplatz garden, where I was approached by a third Mormon. The pillar with the statue of Concordia to celebrate King Wilhelm’s reign was wrapped with scaffolding so that was a bit of a bust. Lunch was a crispy chicken burger from one of the cafes. It was nice, tasted like it had some zing to it but not a lot. Unless I was still recovering from the amount of chili I put on my pho last night.
After lunch I jumped back on the S-bahn to make my way to the Porsche Museum. This was the main reason I stopped in Stuttgart over Frankfurt as I needed somewhere between Zurich and Hamburg to avoid a 10 hour train ride. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good train ride but even I have my limits.
The Museum was awesome though, a real treat for anyone with a hint of interest in car and motorsport history. I suppose if you also combined it with the Mercedes Benz museum across town you’d get a good dose of motoring history. I won’t bore you with all the details because there is a lot of history but Ferdinand Porsche Snr was the lead engineer behind Hitler’s ambition to create a “people’s car” that was affordable and reliable. “People’s car” in German translates too… any guesses? Volkswagen (pronunciation: “Folks va gen” as the V’s sound like F’s and the W’s sound like V’s… you get used to it). The original Volkswagen went on to become the Volkswagen Beetle and after World War II Ferdinand Porsche Jnr picked up the mantle and formed Porsche AG. After the success of their first model, the 956, Porsche went on to create the first version of the Porsche 911. And the rest, as they say, is history. But if you were ever wondering why the 911 and Beetle look so similar? It’s because they were both designed by Porsche!
I got the chance to stand next to the Le Mans winning 919. Mark Webber drove the early version of the 919. This one still had grit, grime, and battle scars from the 24 hour race. Forever immortalised. It was a shame not to see the 919 Evo (they basically took all the category specific restrictions off the 919 and went wild with the unrestricted model beating lap records) but that’s probably somewhere getting ready for the 75th anniversary event that is coming up. For 10 Euro entry it was really good. The building is a design masterpiece on its own both externally and internally. The price of entry made it not feel so bad pay $55 for a baseball cap. But that’s pretty standard for motorsport merch (I remember a Red Bull jacket costing me $150 and I only wore it three or four times before Daniel Ricciardo left Red Bull).
Left the museum and made my way back towards the hotel. Found a burger joint on the way and had a hamburger and chips.
Let’s see what tomorrow brings. More Mormons? More beggars? More photos? One of those is guaranteed. Perhaps we can avoid the bin fires tomorrow though.