We are finally at Ben and Maria’s apartment in Berlin. More to come on the journey here later, but for now we are about to head out to a much needed and very late dinner…
Corey and I are finally finished repacking our things to exclude our large suitcases for next month. He and Ben and I went to a great dinner at a Thai place within reasonable walking distance of his apartment. On the way there Ben explained the “squats” to us… Basically buildings taken by the government when East and West Germany combined, then lost in such a legal mess that squatters have taken over and lived in them for years, most of them subsiding on welfare from the government. We came back to the apartment to find Ben’s wife Maria. The four of us talked for a little while, then Corey went to packing and I was delighted to see Jeanne on Google Talk, so she and I were able to video chat for a little while. The whole video chatting thing through Google worked surprisingly well, and it just seems to be much less of a headache than Skype. It being almost 1:30 in the morning HERE, I’m really wiped, and I’m ready to go to bed. We have a long train ride ahead of us tomorrow morning. We’ll be waking up at the same time as Ben and Maria at 6:30, then getting out of the house by 7:40 to get to the main train station in Berlin by 8:00. Ben and Maria will head out on a train for work at 8:03, then Corey and I will get on a train bound for Stuttgart at 8:32. The travel time listed is 5h36m, so we should be getting to Stuttgart around 2pm. As much as we’d like to see the old city, we will probably skip this one and head straight to the Porsche Museum. It’s on the outskirts of town, and our hotel is right next door to it.
We managed to get up in time to catch the train on time this morning, so we’re well on our way to Stuttgart at this point. Actually, speaking of the fact that we’re on our way to the Porsche Museum, we just moved on from a stop right outside the VW plant in Wolfsburg. We saw the two towers full of yet-to-be-delivered cars and a couple of pretty sweet VW administration buildings. Now we’re moving along through the countryside with a big rolling field of windmills on the right and a small village that we’re pretty much above and looking down on to the left. We’re probably moving about 60mph now, but we had to have hit 90 or 100mph before we slowed for the stop in Wolfsburg. It’s hard for us to believe that this is a relatively slow train when it’s compared to some others that go over twice that fast. I’m doing a good job cataloging pictures by date, so even though I haven’t put up any yet, they’re all separated by date and all so it’ll go quickly later. Right now we’re being kindof gay and listening to the same iPod with a headphone splitter and matching headphones. Jeanne, we’re listening to the Little Jackie I got from you. It’s 10:16am now. We switch trains in 3 hours and get to Stuttgart at 2:08pm.
Just got out of a much needed shower after a really full day. We got to Stuttgart around 2pm and immediately found our way to the Porsche Museum… It was MUCH easier to get to than either of us had imagined… We just switched from the ICE train to an S-Bahn train, rode down 4 stops and got off to find the museum smack dab in front of us. By the time we finished ogling the outside of the building, it was approaching 2:30, so we went inside with our packs on and asked about lockers. The lockers are actually pretty neat; you put in a 1 euro coin to operate them, and when you unlock the locker the coin comes back out the bottom. Anyway, we decided to leave our packs in lockers and see the museum right away instead of finding our hotel first, since the museum was due to close in a few hours and we didn’t know how long it would take us to find the hotel. The building was incredible both inside and out, and I went crazy over the cars. There was a 550, a 959, a 917, a GT1, the Paris-Dakar 959, and tons of others. I think my favorite part was a heritage sort of line, where all of the 5 generations of 911 Turbos were lined up, equally spaced apart and on perfectly synched rotating displays. It’s pretty cool to see the design evolution step by step as they’re all sitting there. After we left the museum, we set off to find our hotel, which actually ended up being extremely easy, as it is on the same street as- and no more than 100 yards down from- the museum itself. We checked in with no hiccups and came up to the room on the third floor where I am now. Once in the room we took our day packs out, changed shirts and set off to downtown Stuttgart with not much more than our cameras. The S-Bahn took us back to the main station, where we got off in search of a quick bite to eat before hitting the Staatsgalerie (museum of the State I believe). A block or two from the main train station is a huge tree-lined pedestrian-only street lined with shops and places to eat. We bypassed this and the street opened up on the end to a large, open grassy area pretty much surrounded by classical buildings. One of these buildings had a small window serving slices of good-smelling pizza, so we grabbed a slice each and some Pepsi and had a seat out on the lawn to eat. The pizza was great (I had sausage, Corey had Margherita). We sat and admired our surroundings and the masses of people out and enjoying the day, then collected our things and went in search of the museum. After exploring the large park in this area in search of the Staatsgalerie, we found it across a large street on the opposite side of the park from whence we had previously come. Anyway, we found it and were given free passes because we are students. The museum was quite large, or over 50 rooms at least, and we saw galleries full of the works of Picasso, Dali, Warhol, Matisse, and many others. At the end, we were in a special gallery with pop-art (the likes of Warhol) when a group of German tourists came in. There was an exhibit of a wax figure cleaning the floor with a small towel, and shortly after the German group sat down on the folding stools they were carrying, a younger woman came in dressed in costume and proceeded to scrub the floors in an act as well. We started to leave, but decided not to be rude, so we watched this woman go on and on about something or another (acting) for at least 15 minutes. It was weird, but interesting. We explored a little more after that and then the museum closed. A nice guy at the ticket desk told me that, no, there was no water fountain, but was kind enough to take me back to the employee break room and let me use their water cooler to fill up the cup I had saved from the Pepsi with my pizza earlier. We left the museum in search of the Carl Zeiss Planetarium, and though we found it a few blocks away a very short time later, it was long since closed. The planetarium was located on that big park again, so we sat back down and talked about what we wanted to do next… Both of us were really starving at this point, so we decided that, it being close to 8:15pm, it was time to find a place to eat dinner. We walked back up that big tree-lined pedestrian street again, but still didn’t find anything that fit the bill of being within budget and looking particularly appealing. We decided at that point to keep looking in other places. We looked through an open-air (with ceiling) mall type place, and didn’t see anything we liked (we did see posters for the new Brad Pitt movie “Inglorious Bastards” outside a movie theater, which is quite weird since literally the entire movie is about killing Germans… but anyway) so we moved on again. We looked a lot of places where we saw people sitting at tables to find that they were all only drinking, and no food was being served. Eventually, after looking at three or four more menus and turning them down, I heard some rasta-type music coming from down this carport running through an apartment building. I walked through and was asked if I wanted to buy a ticket. Turns out we were at a disco that was hosting a concert of a band from Somalia. The families of people in the band, we were told, had made some excellent African food that was for sale inside, so we paid the 4 euro ticket price and headed up this driveway into the disco. We could smell the food from outside, and it was delicious. Chicken in an orange sauce over rice, and washed down with a REALLY good Stuttgart Pilsner. We ate in the courtyard outside the disco, and as we were finishing up, the band started playing. We went inside and sat in a lounge-couch area listening to them. Contrary to what I might have expected, they were a great band, and it was a lot of fun relaxing and listening to them. We made friends with a member of the Stuttgart Ballet (in her 40s I would guess) and had her suggest a good place for gelato not far from the disco. We both got her suggestion of pistachio flavor, bringing it back to the disco to eat, and it was easily the best gelato that either of us had ever had. At that point it was nearing 11:30pm, and we decided that we had better head out since we had been told that the S-Bahn closes at “12:00 or 12:30” and we didn’t want to be left stranded. We got straight back to the train station and then directly to our stop with no problems whatsoever. At this point we were, again, smack dab in front of the Porsche Museum, so we took our cameras out and used Corey’s mini-tripod to get some great shots of the building (somewhat) illuminated at night. From there we walked the hundred-or-so yards back to the hotel, and here we sit on our computers, trying not to think about the fact that it’s 2:30 in the morning, and we’re waking up at 6:30am to hopefully be on the train to Zurich by 8:00am. I’d say we did pretty well today in terms of what we were able to squeeze out of a half day here. Whew. Off to bed.
Almost to Zurich on the train from Stuttgart. I have been rotating and deleting and organizing photos for the past two hours. This morning we woke up at 6:30am as planned, but just couldn’t handle it and “slept in” until 7:30. At that point I took a shower and packed up and was downstairs with my pack b 8:00. I found the breakfast room while Corey was finishing up packing. The hotel we stayed at, Achat, was great. For $57USD we got separate beds, a private bathroom, a large operable window, and an amazing breakfast. Everything was very clean throughout the hotel. We ate salmon, many different kinds of sausage, and some pastry for breakfast, with orange juice and coffee to drink. After eating we left the hotel and headed to the train station, stopping next door to the hotel to get some bottles of water for the day. These would come handy later. We got to the train station at 9:55am and went to the DB (Deutche-Bahn) desk to ask about getting reservations on the next train to Zurich. Turns out that the first train this morning left for Zurich at 9:55am, so we missed it by literally a minute or two. The next direct train is the one that we’re on, which left at 11:53am. Having two hours to kill and not wanting to sit in the train station for that time, Corey and I made a flash decision to hit the Mercedes Museum for a very quick excursion. We hopped on the S-Bahn 1 and were there in about 15 mins. We arrived at the museum after about a 5 minute walk. Okay, the train is coming into Zurich, I’ll finish this one later.
Woke up a little bit ago, about to head to the farmers’ market here in Zurich. Zurich is BEAUTIFUL. Met some people from Colorado and one from San Francisco last night. More later, gotta run.
We are having such a good time... More later... We have reservations on the 1pm Cisalpino train to Como, Italy.