Friday, 1 May 2015

Wait on the brink

With many travels coming up in the next few months I realised I had never spoken about the get-away to Stuttgart at the end of March.

We never wanted to go to Stuttgart. My friend Nina came over one night and we spoke about Germanwings' bling booking option. We were both feeling drowned by this place and in need of different air, so on the spur of the moment we booked a flight to an exotic place. Or so we thought. For an agonising 45 seconds we were giddy with excitement at ending up in Budapest, Manchester, Geneva or Paris. We spoke about acquaintances in those cities that we could stay with, and what adventures we would have. Then the site showed us our destination: Stuttgart. We wouldn't even be leaving the country. Getting to the airport in Hamburg from here would take longer than the actual flight. Disappointment washed over us, and the need to say that we'd make the best of it. Hell, we'd both not been there before. And we'd get away, at least.

So on a Monday morning we boarded a plane to Stuttgart, where we spent the first two days at Andrea's place. Andrea is in his early forties, has an enormous bush of black ringlets streaked with grey that frame his face and speaks a strange German that is tinged with both his native Italian and the local Swabian dialect. He has lived in Stuttgart for 17 years and works at some IT company. The first night he showed us around a bit and made a great supper consisting of pasta with broccoli, raisins, pine nuts, generous helpings of olive oil and even more generous helpings of Parmesan. The raisins complemented the dish fantastically, as did the wine he generously offered us (his entire kitchen is stocked with wine since his friends keep bringing him some and he does not drink).

Tuesday was spent exploring the city. Since I am slightly OCD about seeing things in new places whilst not spending any money, I had trip-advisored myself though the Internet and written down what might be interesting to see. Our Tuesday started off with walking up the inclining hill to the Corbusier house in the Weissenhof neighbourhood. but the trip was rather pointless since the Curbusier museum was closed and we both aren't so interested in his five points of architecture to truly appreciate the areas designated style.

Corbusier House. 
So we went back down the hill and into the city library, which is often featured online for its distinctive design. It was wonderful simply being in a library with a large collection, so we investigated the different sections and then went to the roof terrace. I was expecting benches and maybe a roof garden, but it was just concrete and steel-mesh flooring, with a view of half a dozen cranes.

Books books books. 
Our walk continued through the business district towards the central station and then to the Hans im Glück fountain, which is surrounded by little restaurants. In the hopes of finding something similar to Hamburg's Sternschanze or Joburg's Braamfontein we went to the Bohnenviertel (Bean District), but were sadly disappointed in finding only a handful of interesting stores and quaint restaurants in the entire area. Our quest to find the beating heart of this city led us onwards to the Feuerseeplatz with its lake and then we took the S-Bahn out of the city into the winelands. Thinking we'd go on a drinking tour of different vineyards we started climbing the Rotenberg. Again, we were mistaken: none of the wineries were open yet because spring hadn't really started and there was not a grape in sight, never mind some wine. We soldiered on in what felt like sweltering heat, conquering the mountain in wingtips. At some point we took a short-cut up an endless row of tiny stairs between the vines, and collapsed at the top. The time it took to recover from the vertical incline would've probably amounted to the same time it would have taken had we snaked our way up the hill like normal people.

"No time, I have to live!"
Upon reaching the top we sat down in front of the memorial site of some dead Wüttembergian queen and enjoyed the view. No ocean in sight, just a sea of hills. Late afternoon lead us down the mountain again where we bought a cold beer and relaxed next to the river. When it started raining we took the train back to the city and indulged in a Swabian meal of Spätzle with cheese or Geschnetzeltes (strips of meat in a creamy mushroom sauce). Spätzle is a dish I associate with various parts of my family: when I was younger we'd sometimes visit distant relatives in Wiesenbach (a tiny town in Baden-Württemberg) where they'd often make Spätzle with Geschnetzeltes. My German grandmother also fed us Spätzle with Rouladen the few times we visited her and my grandfather in Paarl. Lastly, my mom would make double the amount of Spätzle and bake one dish with cheese in the oven whilst freezing the other one for the times that she could not be there. Strange how a noodle is more than a noodle at times.

Love never ends.
View from the top. 
Beer time. 
Dinner: Spätzle with Geschnetzeltes. 
Tuesday left us exhaused, so we headed home.
I'm also exhaused, so I'll continue the tall tales of adventure time in Stuttgart tomorrow :)

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