Wednesday, April 16, 2008

14 December: Sweet Memories of Stuttgart

This morning I enjoyed one final, solitary breakfast at the SI-Suites buffet and then headed over to Botnang to take a few pictures of the neighborhood and give the car a bath. I even said goodbye to the nice young man who works at the gas station – the one who helped me out when my smart got stuck in the carwash. He seemed genuinely sorry to hear that we were moving back to the States and asked if we would ever be coming back.

I spent the rest of the day in downtown Stuttgart, wandering around the Weihnachtsmarkt and doing a little shopping. I snacked on a crêpe slathered with Nutella, bought some wooden Christmas ornaments, and searched several of the big department stores for sheets. We are bringing our European bedding (comforters and pillows) back to the States with us, and I wanted to buy a nice new set of sheets to fit them. Unfortunately I couldn’t seem to find a pattern that I thought John and I would both like, so I’ll have to drag him around tomorrow to pick something out. I did have success in the form of a cool pair of winter boots. I had admired the boots in question several times at a shop near the Rathaus and saw that they were on sale for a good price, so I went in to try them on. I had an extremely successful transaction all in German with the nice saleswoman. I told her my feet were always cold in the winter and she assured me that my toes would stay nice and warm in these Gore-Tex boots. When I came up to pay for them, she asked me if I wanted them in the box and I said no, explaining that they would be going in my suitcase back to America on Sunday. All in all, it was a triumphant day for my German skills on my second-to-last day in Stuttgart!

As I drove up Schlossstraße on the way out of the city, I involuntarily began to cry. I think this is the first time I’ve gotten truly emotional about leaving Germany. It just seemed to hit me all at once: no more lovely strolls along the Königstraße, no more people-watching in the Schlossplatz, no more convenient U-Bahn rides or trips to the Markthalle or shopping for flowers and asparagus at the spring market in Schillerplatz…and that’s just what I will miss about the city itself. In my miserable state, I decided to drive over the hill to Schloss Solitude and take a walk around. It was dusk, and the palace was all lit up and glowing golden against a pale gray sky. I walked in a big loop around the palace and stopped to take some pictures. Through the arched portico I could see the long line of lights stretching away into the distance, a straight shot all the way to Ludwigsburg. John called during my wandering and said he was ready to be picked up, so I made my way slowly back to the car and headed off to Sindelfingen and the Mercedes complex for the last time. We had dinner at the Biergarten again and got most of our packing done this evening so that we could enjoy our last day in Stuttgart tomorrow. This included stuffing two large cardboard boxes full of alcohol (a couple of bottles of wine from our 2006 trip to France, several Rieslings and Eiswein from the Mosel, and a bottle of whisky from Scotland), pet paraphernalia, and miscellaneous gifts, books and other items that had not made it into our shipment.

I’ve put a few pictures of Botnang and Schloss Solitude on Flickr:

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