Thursday, April 17, 2008

15 December: A Long Day Downtown

After yet another relaxing breakfast from the buffet, we turned in our E-Class wagon at the Führpark just around the corner from SI-Suites. John had filled out an accident report explaining my little foul-up last weekend, but since the office was closed, we just left the paperwork in the car. As we walked back to the hotel, I commented, “That’s probably the last Mercedes we’ll ever drive.”

We had plans to spend the rest of the day in downtown Stuttgart. I had a couple of goals in mind: to visit the Staatsgalerie (the state art museum) and see the Schellenturm, the oldest building in Stuttgart. We took the U-Bahn downtown (there is a station conveniently located right behind SI-Suites) to Charlottenplatz and went to the museum first – a bold, contemporary building that is one of Stuttgart’s better-known architectural landmarks (see photo, right). Unfortunately a large portion of the museum is currently closed for renovations, so we just got to see the temporary exhibition, which provides a snapshot of their collection. It was a nice way to seem some excellent artwork in an hour’s time, which is about as long as we can stand to be in an art museum anyway. Then we strolled over to the old neighborhood called the Bohnenviertel (literally “Bean Quarter”) where I finally got to see the Schellenturm, the last surviving remnant of Stuttgart’s medieval town wall (see photo, right). It is tucked between other buildings and now houses a restaurant; you’d never know it was there if you didn’t know where to look.

We headed back towards the Rathaus and spent an enormous amount of time trying to find the perfect sheets at Breuninger, the biggest department store in the city. Finally a saleswoman came to our rescue and suggested some Italian cotton sheets in a classy subdued stripe. (When she saw the style that I had originally picked out – but couldn’t buy because there was only one set – she frowned and told me in no uncertain terms that they were tacky!) What was even funnier was that we told her we were flying to America tomorrow and she said, “But…you’re German?” I’m pretty sure she was not a native German speaker but it was still pretty funny to be taken for Germans on our last day.

After trying to lose my purse by leaving it at the cash register (could baby brain be settling in already??), we tried to get into Café Planie for kaffee und kuchen but it was packed to the rafters, so we settled for crêpes from the Weihnachtsmarkt instead. We strolled up and down the Königstraße, took pictures around the Schlossplatz (photo, right), bought a book about Baden-Württemberg at Witwer, and then made our way over to Calwerstraße to find someplace to eat an early dinner. We scoped out several restaurants and decided to try a trendy-looking place called Weber that had a rather innovative “Schwäbisch fusion” menu. We managed to snag a table in the rear as long as we promised to free it up for an 8:00 reservation. We both ordered drinks (they had a virgin caipirinha on the menu for me) and waited for our pasta dishes to arrive. And waited. And waited. Finally I flagged down another waitress and inquired as to the whereabouts of our food. She looked a bit startled, disappeared for a moment, then returned and told us that our waitress never put in our order and had gone off her shift! We finally got our meals about an hour after we ordered. We were offered a complimentary dessert or coffee afterwards but we had pretty much had our fill of the place by then. The food was good, but it was a bit of a disappointing experience for our last dinner in Stuttgart.

Back at the hotel, I got into a bit of a panic because our Air Animal rep (the company that is handling Cody’s shipping arrangements) had sent me an email earlier today saying that we should have a complete copy of Cody’s E.U. pet passport for identification purposes when we pick him up in Detroit. His passport was of course with him at the Tierhotel, so I called this morning and left a message for Herr Ratibor asking him to fax a copy of the passport to the hotel. When we got back to the hotel this evening, we picked up the fax but discovered that we were missing the page containing Cody’s health certificate. We composed an anxious e-mail to Herr Ratibor asking him to resend the page in question, plus instructions to fax it to a Kinko’s in Michigan in case he didn’t get our message before we left on Sunday. That was all we could do, so we tried to settle down and get a good night’s sleep before our big day of traveling.

A few more pictures from our last day in Stuttgart:

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