Another reconstruction from notes and pictures. Sarah, who has just turned 16, accompanies us on this trip.
April 6 and 7, 1996
We leave for the airport very early, 5 AM! John’s dad is with us. At least we know that he has a place to wait until his plane leaves around noon. Our first flight is from SFO to JFK. It is uneventful although John is angry about being seated on the bulkhead. Luckily Sarah has a new seat much closer to us. (This is in the days before she traveled business class with us. We stowed her away in coach.) After the layover at JFK we are delayed on the ground due to someone checking baggage but not on the plane. The flight is long but smooth. There is a good crab cake dinner. I watch the movie, American President, which is not bad.
April 7, 1996
We arrive in Frankfurt around 9 AM. We get the rental car which John upgrades because Anita has gotten the wrong car. (This is one of many booking problems by Anita) The upgraded car is a BMW500 series. John has visions of driving very fast. He does at least 150km on the Autobahn. We arrive in Stuttgart and are very tired. It is Easter Sunday and families are arriving at the Hotel Movenpick for a fancy dinner. We are crashed in the lobby looking worse for the wear while we try to straighten out the booking problem at the hotel.
Anita has booked us 2 rooms in error. (This in the days when we were trying to save money by all staying in the same room.) We get that straightened out. We are happy with the room. We take a long nap and then have dinner in the hotel. Sarah and I order fettuccini with salmon. John has sauteed sole with French fries. The meal is fine. We are avoiding eating beef due to mad cow disease.
Today we fly to Paris. It is my first time going there. We fly Air France business class. Business class within Europe is much worse than flying transcontinentally. And Air France’s business class is worse than Lufthansa’s. The flight is short and uneventful with a bad breakfast.
We catch a taxi to the hotel in Nanterre which is close to John’s work site. We get to Nanterre in about 210 francs and then spend another 50 because the driver can find the hotel. We are annoyed.
The Hotel Adagio is kind of basic though expensive. It has a terrible shower and only gets Sky News from Great Britain, not CNN. We watch TV and find out all about the sleaze debate in Parliament and cricket.
We take the Metro to Auber to look for tours. The information person does not want to be helpful since we do not speak French but we manage to book 2 tours, one for Paris and one for Versailles.
We walk down the Rue d’Opera to the Louvre and go in the I.M.Pei pyramid. The pyramid looks a little incongruous next to the architecture of the rest of the Louvre. We find out that they have audio tours. You can kind of figure out what the paintings are named by the French tags but if is always nice to have interpretations.
Then we stop for lunch because my feet are killing me! I have salad and a pizza (with pig!) and wine. Lunch is very nice and not too expensive. We walk across the Seine to Ile de Cite and see the Norte Dame Cathedral. I light a candle for my Dad who is in bad health and walk around the interior of the cathedral. The stained glass is from the 13th century and the rose windows are incredible! We go into the Treasury and see altar pieces in gold and reliquaries. It bothers me that with people so poor that the church spends all this money on these gold items and jewels. Certainly the best way to honor God is through charity and good works.
Here are some other pictures from our day.
We return to the hotel and have dinner there. It…Here is where my commentary abruptly stops. I know we have at least one more day in Paris because I take the tours or at least the one around Paris by myself. I end up getting on a train that does not stop in Nanterre on the way back to the hotel and then get on a second one going back that also does not stop in Nanterre. I spend a lot of time on the Metro that day. After that we probably head home. We have a babysitter for the kids and I cannot imagine spending more than a week away. I have found the pictures from this trip and there are no more after Paris.
John has another day of work here in Stuttgart and I need to find something to do. I decide to go to the Wilhelmina Zoo on the eastern outskirts of Stuttgart. I carefully prepare a card in German asking for a day pass for the U-bahn/S-bahn, a tageskarte. I need to cover both lines in case I get messed up transferring. I hand my German printed request to the ticket seller and he says, “Oh, I see you want a day pass” in English. I nod. There is nothing else I can say other than hello, goodbye, please, and thank you.
I make it to the zoo which looks kind of old-fashioned from the entry. I am afraid it will be animals cooped up in small cages.
But it turns out to be modern. I see some very active outdoor penguins, an insectarium with an interesting ant farm, and excellent aquarium with outstanding coral, active tigers, great elephants in different stages of eating trees, and sea lions who are playing king of the hill.
I spend several hours at the zoo. I buy a shot glass. I take the train back to the Flughafen stop and treat myself to a late lunch in the hotel restaurant. I have spring rolls, a salad, and a glass of Chardonnay.
Later John and I go out to dinner at Wolfie’s in Sindelfingen. I order the best “pig” I have had so far. It is grilled with mushrooms and cranberries in a brown sauce. It comes with spaetzle. (This is before I started taking pictures of everything I eat) We have a very nice time.
Finally a night when we sleep like normal people! After breakfast John leaves for Oracle, Munich. Our plan is for me to take the S-bahn out of downtown Munich and meet him at the Moosach stop at 4 PM. Since I do not know how long this will take, I am nervous about making the rendezvous on time.
I stay at the hotel and finish a book I am reading and leave around noon. I walk down Leopoldstrasse and look in the shop windows until the Giselastrasse U-bahn stop. I take the train into Marienplatz. I decide to be brave and have lunch. But not too brave since I only manage to go to McDonald’s where I have a hamburger royal, pomme frites, and a coke. Then I saunter down to the Hauptbahnhof and look in the shops there. I buy a magnet. I sit in the waiting room and finally take the S1 to Moosach, the end of the line.
I am way too early. I walk around Moosach hoping to find a cafe but it is Monday and nothing is open. I people watch for a while. There is an obnoxious drunk. Finally John picks me up just before 4PM.
We drive through the beautiful countryside on our way back to Stuttgart. We had missed much of the scenery on the way to Munich due to the fog. We check back into the Hotel Movenpick and eat dinner at the hotel. After watching CNN for a while we fall asleep.
Last night we fall asleep at 7 PM and wake up at 11:30 PM with only maybe 1/2 hour of sleep after that. It is a rainy day. We have a tour of the city at 10AM. Breakfast is the usual, cold cuts and such. We pass up the head cheese (as usual.)
We catch the U-bahn and take the tour. It is raining quite hard while we watch the glockenspiel at the Rathaus. The tour is interesting from the point of view that although Munich was 90% destroyed in WW2, the guide dates the reconstructed buildings from their original dates as if nothing has happened. “This church was built in the 13th century” when really mostly everything was built in the last 50 years. Their famous landmarks are rebuilt to look like the original old buildings but lots of buildings are ugly post-war 1950-60s architecture. I like Stuttgart better.
John falls asleep on the bus. We catch a cab back to the hotel. The cab driver is nice enough to come running after me with the umbrella I left.
We share a sandwich at the lobby lounge and a beer. I am totally exhausted but afraid if I go to sleep I will end up awake in the middle of the night again.
We call John’s father but there is no answer. Next we call the kids who sound OK. Sarah is angry because I do not want her to go out on Halloween with her friends. I think she is too old and the possibility of being involved in some mischief is too great.
We go to sleep around 10PM. Tomorrow we should be starting to recover from the jetlag.
Morning comes too soon today. I guess we did not get to sleep until well after 2AM and the alarm goes off at 6:45AM. After breakfast we leave for Munich around 10:20. Some of the countryside along the A8 is beautiful—hills and valleys with multi-colored leaves. It is kind of New England-like.We run into some dense fog which slows us down but arrive without getting lost around 12:45PM.
Our room at the new hotel is quite small and very noisy from all the traffic on Leopoldstrasse. We walk to the U-bahn and take it to Marienplatz.
We see the Rathaus with the Glockenspiel clock and the church with the two onion tops (Frauenkirche) and St. Peter’s. We buy a shot glass for Sarah. Munich is not as clean and tidy as Stuttgart. There are many more people.
We go to Weiss Brauhaus for an early dinner and order wurst, kraut, kartoffel, and bier. It is good.
On the way back we decide to try a different stop on the U-bahn and end up walking a long way. Exhaustion hits and we fall asleep around 7 PM.
John and I sleep well. We wake up a few times but go right back to sleep. I am hoping we have adjusted to the time but it usually takes more than a day to make up 8 hours. (Germany is on Standard Time already) We slept well the first night in Maastricht too but not after that for the next few days.
We have breakfast in the hotel. It is the usual German buffet with cold cuts, cheese, eggs, etc. We each have rolls and coffee or tea. Tea is always an adventure. Hot water and a tea bag would be too simple. Today it is a china tea ball with a top. I manage to practically burn myself and spill half the tea figuring out what to do with it. John has coffee which I find so strong as to be undrinkable.
John is off to work – Waldemar has him booked so tightly that I doubt he will have time to go to the bathroom today. I speak with a man at the front desk about the train. He is very helpful and it does not sound too tricky. We will see. Not being able to speak, read or understand German makes life very difficult. (It also makes you feel like a dunce since most people can speak at least some English, thank god!)
I walk to the airport across the street and buy a zone 3 ticket for 4.10DM which is about $2.50. It goes from the Flughafen to Hauptbahnhof in the center of Stuttgart. A lady across from me on the train sees me looking at the S-bahn system map and asks me where I need to get off. At least I think that is what she said. Somehow with neither of us speaking the language of the other, it is communicated that I am getting off at the main station and so is she. She will let me know when it is time to get off. So no problem.
I walk out the back door of the station and take the scenic tour around to the front and find a tourist information place. I Buy a map and get some brochures and advice about what to see. I walk down a long pedestrian mall, the Konigstrasse. There are many stores and lots of people. It is a beautiful day with the temperature around 60F mid-day.
I go down to the Schlossplatz (castle plaza). I see the Jubilaumscaule fountain and take some pictures. I continue on to Schillerplatz where there is a statue of Schiller and lots of old buildings. The old castle was built around 13th century and remodeled in the 16th century. There is also the Stiftskirche (Collegiate Church.) There are a whole bunch of school kids there, maybe in the 5th grade doing some sort of project. They are a very homogeneous looking group but running and yelling like kids anywhere.
After that I walk to the Markthalle which is full of great looking and high cholesterol food. I step on some guys foot and remind myself to learn how to say I’m sorry and excuse me in German. I find an interesting street, Calwer Strasse. There are many restaurants in the ground floor of the old houses. Very German looking. I walk back towards the station through the Oberer Schlossgarten. It is very lovely with a big pond with swans. There are a lot of parks all over Stuttgart.
Next I cross K. AdenauerStrasse and go to the Staatsgalerie art museum.I see a very fine modern collection including works by Klee, Kandinsky, Picasso, Brach, Mondrian, and Warhol. There is some weird stuff here, a kind of modern representational sculpture and a bunch of TV monitors and some broken stuff. Then I try to look at some other art but get talked at in German. Apparently I need a ticket.
I have been walking for 4 hours and am tired out so I decide to go back to the station and return to the hotel. I get panhandled by some old bum at the ticket machine. I use my German sentence. “Ich night sprechen Deutsch.” He seems disappointed but moves on to some other mark.
The ride back is uneventful. I take a nice nap. I will probably be awake all night. I do not eat lunch. It is too stressful. I am starving. We are having dinner with Waldemar’s family tonight.
Waldemar picks us up at 7:15 and takes us to his home in Althengstett (the old hanging place.) We meet his wife Mariam and daughter Lena who is 4 years old. Their other daughter, Isabel, 6 months old, is asleep.
For dinner Mariam makes smoked pork with spinach en croute. It is very salty. We have smoked salmon to start and a pie in component pieces which is good. We sit and talk until 1:30 AM. It is a very enjoyable evening.
A new project of mine is to transfer my hand written notes from previous trips into my blog. After I finish a trip I will try to find the pictures that go with it.
Arrived in Frankfurt around 10:30 AM. I was still very worried about Sarah who had fainted yesterday morning. The doctor said she was OK just a case of low blood pressure, cramps, and rising too fast.
We were much more confident around Frankfurt airport having been there twice before. Got the luggage, rented a Ford Mondeo from Hertz, exchanged money (bad rate 1.44DM=$1US) and fumbled our way out of the airport. Started by going the wrong way on the A5. The trip down to Stuttgart was uneventful except for one large traffic jam. We have a manual shift and it is hard to keep starting and stopping especially on the big hills between Karlsruhe and Stuttgart. John seems more comfortable with driving fast and we managed 130km when traffic permitted.
Arrived at the Hotel Movenpick (near the Stuttgart airport) around 2 PM. I was hoping for a hotel in the city where I could walk to different sights but this is close to the train station and the airport. I will try to figure out the S-bahn tomorrow.
After speaking with kids (Sarah is fine!) we took naps until 5 PM. I think we could have slept forever. I managed some on the plane, John very little, and we are both jet lagged. Waldemar Hartmann picked us up at 7pm for dinner at Gesthaus Hirsch (Swabian food) in Sindelfingen. We got to see quite a bit of Sindelfingen as Waldemar did not quite know where he was going. This was supposed to be a dinner hosted by John for members of the CTC and their wives, husbands, or guests. I was the only guest. Oh, well. Dinner was good. John had a wild boar schnitzel with pomme frite and I had a salmon roulade with rice and braised cucumber. Also had griebenschmalz to spread on bread which I originally thought was mashed potatoes with bacon bits but turned out to be rendered pork fat with cracklings. We had a little as a cultural experience.
Got back to the hotel around 10:45. (Europeans take forever to eat!) Beds are comfortable. Topped with a duvet.