Memory is really strange. On the one hand, I’m amazed at how fast the last three years of my life has gone by. I remember walking into my hotel room on the day I landed in Stuttgart, a full month before Rebecca would come, and putting down my bags and really wondering what I had gotten myself into. I had decided to take a job in a city I had visited only during my interviews, in a country I had only spent a few days in as a tourist, and here I am sitting down in my hotel room, in need of a shower, exhausted from jet-lag, only then grasping that I had committed myself and Rebecca to living in Stuttgart for at least three years. At that moment I could only hope that we had made the right choice to come. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of our lives. Read more...
Stuttgart has these wonderful little hidden little charms that make it a really great place to live. One of our favorites are the Besenwirtschaften, which are traditional Swabian wine houses. They’re operated by the families that own the numerous vineyards around the Stuttgart area, and by law they are allowed to open 4 months out of the year. They are scattered throughout the city and its surrounding towns, and if you find one you can enjoy very simple (and cheap) Swabian food and fresh wine from that year. One of my favorites is a place in Degerloch that a German woman introduced me to. It is essentially a living room that overflows into a side room, so the atmosphere is wonderfully warm and intimate. At the most, 20-30 people pack into these two small rooms, and the close quarters means that you are forced to meet and talk to your fellow wine drinkers. Two out of the three times we’ve been there, we’ve had Germans who were young kids during WWII come tell us about their first experience eating bananas and oranges given to them by American GIs. It really is quite nice of them to tell us this, and it makes us feel welcomed in Stuttgart, where our social circle mainly revolves around the large community of expats working for the many international companies based in Stuttgart. Anyway, so we went last Saturday, which happened to be the same night as the big lunar eclipse. Between 5 of us, we had about 6 liters of wine, so by the time the U-Bahn got me home, I wasn’t as steady as I needed to be to take some good eclipse photos. I managed to shoot two frames before passing out. My next one is really a drunken picture, and the following night I took a few more frames since my camera was already out.
A few years ago a good friend and I were walking through Munich’s famed Englischer Garten when we came across some guys surfing in a fast-flowing canal. It was really amusing to see these guys surf back and forth for a minute or two before falling or conceding to the next surfer. While it was highly unusual to see people surfing downtown in a city, it was at least summer-time and quite hot. It turns out there are crazies there all year surfing. I was in Munich over the weekend with my wife and her sister Alix, and so I told them about the surfers I saw a few years back. We were close to the area, and so I walked them over there. It was fairly cold out, 2-3 degrees Celcius, but there were 4-5 guys having a blast surfing in the canal. I snapped a few shots. And my favorite: (Surfing and bathing forbidden!) If you’re ever in Munich, take a couple of hours to walk through the English Gardens. It’s huge and quite enjoyable to walk through, and be sure to look for the surfers of Munich. The canal is near the south-west end of the park, or just ask a local to point you in the right direction.
It took 91 minutes, but Germany managed to pull it off in the end, and Stuttgart explodes in celebration. Within moments, thousands of cars all over the city were all honking simultaneously, congratulating each other on a well played victory. It was a Wednesday night, but for Germans it was the night before a Thursday holiday, so everyone must have been up celebrating all night. We heard yelps and woots and honks for hours, especially since we’ve had to keep all of our windows open to keep the apartment cool. But in the end, we had a blast and felt like we were part of the winning team.
Rebecca and I had a great time today in Esslingen at the annual Esslingen Weinwandertag, an annual wine hike through the vineyards surrounding the town of Esslingen. We started off in Esslingen and wandered up a path leading to the vineyards and a few hours (and many wine glasses) later we arrived in Mettingen. At the start in Esslingen, we purchased a wineglass with a leather strap that brilliantly holds the glass upright around your neck, and every few hundred meters along the path we filled up with some delicious local wine and German snacks. We ran into some of my co-workers so we made the rest of the trek with them, which made for never empty glasses. It’s a brilliant festival and loads of fun. These kinds of events are what’s missing from life in America.