This weekend, I went to Germany to visit with my friend Fraser, and his family. Fraser and I went to high school together, back in Orangeville. We’ve kept in touch over the years, mostly through e-mail and our respective blogs, and I’ve been promising him for ages that I’d come to visit. So this weekend, I finally had a chance.
Fraser lived close to Stuttgart, in the southwest of Germany. Friday night I caught a plane, and after a very easy hour and a half landed in Stuttgart. After clearing customs and hopping on a train, Fraser picked me up at the train station near his house about three quarters of an hour after I arrived in Germany. As expected, the trains were efficient and on time. It was probably close to 22:00 by the time we got back to his place. So there wasn’t a lot to say about Friday night, other that the fact that I finally got to meet his lovely wife Claudia, and seen his nice new home. While being a bit remote/small town for me, it is a very nice place. We spent a couple of hours chatting, and catching up, then we headed off to bed.
Saturday, I had the fun of meeting Liam, Fraser’s two-year old son. He’s a bit of a character, and we have a lot of fun playing with various puzzles, train sets and cars over the course of the weekend. I like kids that age – while they can be a bit temperamental, they’re a lot of fun, and we have some good times.
Late morning, Fraser and I hopped back on a train and headed into downtown Stuttgart, and went to the Mercedes-Benz Museum. While I’m nit normally a huge Mercedes fan (I’m more a BMW guy…), the museum was pretty amazing.
The Stuttgart area was where the automobile was invented, and Mercedes have done a great job with the museum, doing honor to their legacy. The building is eight, very large stories, and after an elevator ride to the top you start in 1889, and work your way to the present, through the history of Mercedes-Benz.
It’s a very impressive display, and there are a lot of really cool vehicles – both the standard, factory cars built over the years, as well as the specialty vehicles built for famous people and all the different types of service vehicles they build. Fraser was particularly taken with the “Pope Mobile” and the mobile Austrian post office. For me, the ’55 gull wing 300SL was a highlight.
All in all, it was a really good exhibit, and worth the morning spent wandering around it. Mid afternoon, we headed back to the city center. We headed for the main central park, and spent a bit of time in the beer garden. Come on, I had to experience authentic German culture… It was a beautiful afternoon, and the dark wheat beer went down nicely. We walked back to the train station, through the park. Along the way I had an opportunity to check out the highlights of Stuttgart, including the Opera House, the city hall and the main shopping district. As it was such a nice day, the central areas were pretty busy with people, and there was a good crowd in the town square.
After wandering for a while, we hopped on the train and headed back. On the way home we stopper at a monstrous grocery store to pick up a few things. I love Germany – there was a whole separate “beverage store”, and the beer is cheaper than water. Fraser picked up a case of beer, and for 2o half liter bottles, each cost about .70 Euro. Fraser and Claudia made me a very nice dinner, we watched some bizarre German TV, and called it a night. I was a good day!
Sunday was even nicer than Saturday. I woke up to bright sunshine, and what turned out to be +20 degree weather. Liam and I spent some time playing with trains in the morning, they Fraser, Liam and I went to the local park for the morning to enjoy the brilliant weather. The area where Fraser lives backs onto this huge park, and in this one area near his place they have built a very family-oriented area, with nice play areas for the kids, and a wildlife park. They have three separate, fenced off areas, one with wild boar, one with deer and one with bighorn sheep.
Pretty cool stuff – although the boar weren’t anywhere that you could see them. The bighorn sheep were right near the fence, and that was pretty cool. We spent most of the morning entertaining Liam in the park. Around lunch time, we headed back and Claudia made us an excellent lunch.
After lunch, we packed up the car and went into Tubingen. This is one of the larger towns in the area, and according to Fraser has the second oldest university in Germany. It’s got a very cool old town, and we spent most of the afternoon wandering around.
Tubingen town hall; the castle, two views
It started with ice cream, which is always good, and then we headed up to the old castle, which is now part of the university. It was a beautiful afternoon, and the views from the castle were amazing. After checking out that attraction, we wandered back through the streets, and down to the river. As the trees and flowers were just starting to bloom, it was beautiful. All along the river are stately homes, and back near the center of town there is a row of original half timber houses that are painted up in various bright colors. It is a very pretty little town, and I very much enjoyed the afternoon strolling around.
Houses along the river in Tubingen.
After that, it was a quick trip back to the airport, and then home. All in all, an excellent and relaxing weekend!