Last weekend, I took a trip with my pals Marius and Manuel to Stuttgart! Marius’s friend Thomas hosted us for Saturday night. When we arrived, I was blown away by the apartment that Thomas has. For a student’s place, it was quite luxurious and there was even a great view of the city from his windows. Because of Stuttgart’s “bowl” conformation, we could see the other sides of the “bowl” encircling from where we were and the city center down on the bottom. I was lucky enough to be able to experience some of Stuttgart’s nightlife before we all went to sleep, so I am grateful to the numerous Stuttgart natives that showed me a good time.
On Sunday, Marius led us all on a grand tour of his hometown. We parked for free near the university and then trekked over to Schlossplatz
(castle square), which is in the center of town. On the way, we passed by a bar called Palast der Republik
(Palace of the Republic), whose owners had some wisdom for choosing to operate out of essentially a tiny shack. On a nice summer evening, most of the patrons will crowd the square surrounding the bar, while the owners save big on rent. When we arrived in Schlossplatz,
named for the Old Castle and New Castle that are adjacent to the square, Marius recounted how he was here in 2007 with 300,000 other soccer fans celebrating VFB Stuttgart’s first place finish in the Bundesliga. Next, we walked by the Stiftskirche
(Collegiate Church) and the Rathaus
(city hall). Even though the former looks quite old and the latter quite new, both were constructed around the same time since the church was destroyed in WWII and the city hall is simply an example of modern architecture gone horribly wrong. At least there are plenty of other nice city halls in Germany.
Next, at the Marktplatz
(market square), Marius pointed out his favorite toy store. He told us how as a child he’d go there all the time and it was amusing to picture a younger version of our tour guide running around looking at all the toys. After lunch (I had some tasty white sausages served with a pretzel), Thomas bid us adieu and Marius, Manuel, and I climbed (as in took the elevator) up to the top of the Hauptbahnhof
(main train station) tower where we were rewarded for our strenuous climb with a nice (and free!) view of the city. Most of the Hauptbahnhof
will actually be torn down over the next several years because of the Stuttgart 21 project that many of you have probably heard about. For those of you who haven’t, it’s a construction project that will establish several new high speed railway lines under a brand new train station. Many of the locals, however, have been organizing huge protests over the past couple of months, since the project will likely separate the Schlossgarten
(Castle Garden, the city’s green space) for ten years and may cost billions more than planned. Remind anyone of the Big Dig? Danke Marius und Manuel für eine tolle Zeit!
“Mainz, I thought you left Mainz Jonathan?” “Yes, I did leave Mainz Jonathan, but I had to return today to close my German bank account.” I was a little annoyed when the Sparkasse Heidelberg people told me I would have to go all the way to the Mainz branch to accomplish this task, but the day-off from work made it worthwhile. (Danke Anna-Laura!)
As it turned out, I was in and out of the bank in Mainz in about 15 minutes, so with some extra time, I decided to take one last trip to the university where I learned so much about German culture, plants, and life in general. What I really wanted to do was revisit the botanical garden that I knew would look much more impressive now that it was summer. Once I arrived, I knew I had made the right decision to stay in Mainz for an extra hour before returning to Heidelberg. With all the flowers blooming, more green everywhere, and plenty of people walking around, the place really felt alive. I made sure to visit my American friend Sequoiadendron giganteum
, which some brilliant botanist way back when must have known I would need for inspiration to get through studying for my botany final back in February. I was also reminded of how friendly the people of Mainz are. First, the nice girl who handed me a campus magazine upon entering the campus smiled at me as I was leaving and said, “Oh, du hast eins schon”
(oh, you have one already). Then, the ******* ticket machines at the Hauptbahnhof
refused to accept anything but exact change and I didn’t have exact change. Luckily, a nice lady gave me the last 50 cents I needed for free. I thanked her before running off to make my train.
For the first time in a long time, I will be traveling next week to a country that lies outside of Europe! Tune in next week for the final post of “Jonathan brach durch!” Danke fürs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!