Though it’s the birthplace of Germany’s automobile industry, Stuttgart is far from being the staid, efficiency-obsessed place that this might suggest. Half the fun of coming here is discovering just how eccentric, creative and delightfully contradictory the city can be.
Author Hannah Stuart-Leach Photography Andrea Wyner
DAY TWO | Still feeling the effects of yesterday’s culinary adventures, you start your day with a bowl of fruit from the hotel’s breakfast buffet. Then you hop on the subway to the Schweinemuseum, said to be the world’s largest repository of pig-related art and artifacts. You arrive to find owner Erika Wilheimer, clad in an acid-green zebra-print top, counting out small plastic piglets. Upon learning “The Pig Queen” doesn’t speak English, you go upstairs and wander the 25 exhibit rooms; you particularly enjoy the piggy portraits. A faint aroma of bacon seems to pervade the place.
Having indulged in the museum restaurant’s Slaughterhouse Snackboard (suckling pig, sausage, ham and a pot of drippings), you take the subway to the Degerloch district to visit the Fernsehturm Stuttgart, the world’s first TV tower built from concrete. A serious-looking attendant whooshes you 711 feet up in the rickety elevator, mumbling something about a café, then gestures for you to exit at the top. The wind up here takes your breath away, so you make for the afore-mumbled café, where you take in the panorama from a less breezy perch. After procuring a hot coffee and a wedge of custardy apfelkuchen (apple cake), you gaze out over rolling vineyards juxtaposed with the bright building blocks of industry.
A short cab ride takes you to Nordbahnhof and the lush expanse of Rosensteinpark, part of the so-called Green U. As you stroll, the hills soon come alive with the roar of tigers—which means you’ve arrived at the zoo and botanical garden Wilhelma, where visitors get as close to nature as they’ll ever want to be. The black bears, accommodated seemingly without barriers, are a notably arresting sight. It’s raining when you finally say goodbye to the wildlife, but the smell of damp pinecones is pleasant, so you wander the gardens until the golden lamps start to flicker to life.
For your second night you’ve moved on to the hip, modern hotel Le Méridien, which offers a nice contrast to the old-school glam of Day One. The vibe is jovial, and the hotel’s Bar Lillet (a nod to James Bond’s martini of choice in Casino Royale) is buzzing. You, however, are not, which means it’s time to flop onto your ludicrously large bed for a catnap.
Later, a walk across town takes you to Theodor-Heuss-Strasse, the main nightlife strip, where you pop into a dimly lit 1960s-esque bar called Mos Eisley. Inside, a huge stuffed antelope jumps out from the wall, as if from a Jägermeister label. Taking a seat in one of the red pleather booths, you examine a long list of quirky cocktails, then decide to try a local wine with your pork and sauerkraut. “Are you sure?” says the dapper bartender. “Beer we can do, but wine?” As the night draws on, you get to chatting with the other bar staffers, who treat you to steins of ale and fill you in on the lively late-night scene. Even on a school night, the Germans like to party. Prost!