We left Brussels on an early train we just barely caught going out to Stuttgart, Germany. In the train station, I saw a poster for the Bastogne museum, something I’d like to see some day, and which featured a picture from the HBO series Band of Brothers. Starting on the trains we passed the First World War historic city of Liege, Belgium, where the Belgians held up the German advance for a crucial week in the early stages of the war. On this train we met some girls from North Carolina traveling in Europe before they went down to Africa to do a medical internship. As we got closer into the valleys of the Rhine river, There were a lot of scenic rural areas and river settlements. The Rhine has a very distinct blueish color to it, and given its huge importance throughout European history, it was something I was fascinated with. We had stops in Aachen, Cologne (Koln) and Frankfurt, Germany, seeing the occasional glimpse of impressive gothic architecture in cities like Frankfurt, before reaching our final destination of Stuttgart. This was a really long day of transfers and sitting on trains. And by the end of this I felt we had mastered the international rail system.
We walked a decent distance to our hostel to save on cab fair from the train station, The Alexander I believe it was called, which had barely anyone there. We got a decent room with 3 beds and some solid wifi, and then hit the main area of the city since we had planned this stop to be our shortest aside from London. Luckily for us, The best sights of Stuttgart are all concentrated around a strip of parks around the center of the city. We walked around several large park areas with monuments and cool medieval looking buildings. The city kind of sits in a valley, so on either side of the city you could see residential buildings on the hills. Impressive palace style buildings and gardens lined the center of Stuttgart, and the area was fairly busy with people enjoying the park areas. A jazz band was playing, and the song we heard them play was ‘Everybody Wants to Be a Cat’, which I found particularly amusing. They sang the lyrics in english. A lot of the shops down the main commercial boulevard were closed because this was a Sunday. But we found a nice German restaraunt and had gourmet brats, potato salad, salad, and of course a nice German beer. I also had a small milkshake desert. We then went to a Gelatto place where I got another milkshake, which for the price of 5 euro was an absolute rip offs. They were still delicious, if overpriced. I saw an artist doing some fantastic street art on our way back to the hostel.
Germany had a distinct flavor to it. Even though Wisconsin is full of German americans, the building styles and age of the city made it a very authentic German experience even in its more modernized areas. I wish I could name off some of the buildings or monuments we had seen or have learned more history about them, but like London, Stuttgart was too brief to get more than a fun and quick touristy taste of. It was our necessary and wanted stop in Germany going south. I wanted to spend another day in the city, maybe check out the Mercedes Benz museum and relax some more in the areas we had seen, but Jacob had his mind set on going to some obscure mountain town in Switzerland called Gimmelwald. It turned out to be the best decision of the trip to only stay a night in Stuttgart, as nice as it was.