Saturday, September 24, 2011

Vaihingen und Stuttgart

After our failed attempt to make it to Mass in the morning, we spent our first full day in Germany wandering about. We explored more of Vaihingen and after nap time headed into Stuttgart proper to get the lay of the land.

We strolled through the market in Vaihingen which was just opening. We saw some statues and fountains that caught the children's fancy.

We weren't sure what this couple's story was.

Is this the Pied Piper?

Lots of little booths sold the sort of trinkets I'm generally not interested in: jewelry, clothes, eclectic art, etc. Some were of interest, all selling food and drink. We bought some lovely sausage sandwiches for lunch. I chose a curled up sausage. The lady behind the counter said in English, "It's pig, is okay?" I said yes, though I realize I could have tried, "Schwein ist gut." That will be my reply in the movie version of our story. The sound of live music was in the air. Following our ears, we eventually found the stage where a jazz band was playing.

Jacob loves any band--video to come later!

Jacob loved the band and Angie and I regretted that we couldn't swing to their tunes. There was no proper floor or place to put the kids. Maybe next time. We looked at some other food options. One wooden booth was selling some sort of cakes. We weren't confident enough in the language or in what they were serving to make the plunge.

Returning to the hotel, we had our lunch then a swim in the hotel pool. Back in the room we all took an afternoon nap. Waking up, we went back to the front desk of the hotel and asked about taking the train in to Stuttgart. With their advice, we headed out again.

The self-service kiosk at the station was not too helpful. A British flag button on the touch screen yielding English, but it wasn't clear how we were supposed to order a two zone return trip ticket. We made what we thought was the right order and got on the S3 train. After six stops, we were in the heart of Stuttgart.

Jacob tells Mommy where we are going...Lucy could care less.

We wandered through the expansive train station until we found the exit for Konnigstrasse, where the tourist information center is located. Many shops filled the underground. We must have walked three or four blocks before we made our exit. But it payed off, because as we rode the escalator up, the Info Center was on our left.

The information center staff was fairly helpful. They showed us where to go to see the best sights of the city (the Schlossplatz with the old and new castles) featuring a market and flea market today. They also made a great restaurant recommendation. We headed off down Konigstrasse to see the good stuff.

We found many fountains and rides along the way that delighted Jacob and Lucy.

Lucy did care about the horses

Lucy wanted to throw coins in but that seems verboten

 Eventually we came to the Schlossplatz (which I think is the combination of "castle" or "schools" and "plaza" or "plats") with magnificent views of the wonderful architecture. We found some more fountains and some statues.

Wilhelm with bird on top

Facing the Neues Schloss

The new castle, or Neues Schloss, was first built as Duke Karl von Wurttemberg's own Versailles and now used as state government administrative offices. This also has nice statues and a fountain, as well as a serious chain rope to keep the kids from playing where they shouldn't.

Yet another fountain!

That's German for "security"

We continued to wander through side streets where the flea market was going on. We found another interesting church that turned out to be another staatskirche like we went to in the morning. They had a nice statuary of Jesus and the apostles, with a rather awkward looking balcony from which someone might speak, if they felt worthy of the company surrounding them.

Also, every church seems to have a clock in its tower; civic requirement?

Noticing our hunger, we headed back to the Ochs'n Willis restaurant. The menus feature English, except for the children's menu, but at least they had a children's menu. We ordered some local dishes for the adults and chicken fingers shaped like dinosaurs for Jacob and Lucy. Everyone enjoyed the meal. I enjoyed an Octoberfest beer that was only available this month. Jacob even liked the potty, which we had to try. At one point the waiter came by and out of the blue told Lucy not to put her feet on the table! We had a good laugh, except for Lucy, who was probably planning to do that very thing soon. We paid the check (adding a generous 10% tip since the waiter was so good to us; 5-10% is normal for restaurant servers).

We slowly wound our way back to the train station, heading back to the hotel for another night of sleep. Jacob asked to go in the pool again, but we insisted that it was a once a day enterprise. He accepted that. We went to bed and looked forward to another day of adventures.

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