MonthAugust 2013

Stuttgart: Revisiting My Once Home Away from Home

My next destination after Munich was Stuttgart. I spent the better part of eight months living in Stuttgart during my co-op work term at Bosch and in this Europe trip, I was able to visit this place again.  I didn’t really feel like a tourist here, and it felt like I was a local – after all, I still knew my way around quite well.

Here, I visited the places that I used to frequent and I still have very fond memories here. It’s like going home again after a long time, but the difference here is that this was never my real home, but a temporary one. It’s really hard to explain. I definitely still have an emotional attachment here.

Of course, I went back to probably Stuttgart’s most recognizable landmark: Schlossplatz. I spent a lot of time here just chilling with my intern friends after work.

As I walked around the city, all the streets looked pretty much the same as I remembered. There wasn’t anything super different. I guess that was to be expected.

I remembered that we always bought donairs from the same shop and so when I went back, I did the same. It tasted just like I remembered.

I also went to Schlosspark to see if the people camping there were still there. When I was in Stuttgart in 2011, there was a huge group of people camping there in protest against clearing the trees in the area for a railway station construction project (Stuttgart 21). But I guess these people were kicked out – and the trees are gone too.

Before, everyone had their tents set up here. They even strapped teddy bears around trees to prevent people from cutting them down. This was probably the biggest change that I saw in the city.

Later that day, I had dinner with one of my intern friends that I met while at Bosch, and we ate at our group of friends’ favourite place: Sophie’s Brauhaus. The most unique thing about this restaurant that is really different from what people do in North America is that this restaurant brews their own beer. They have the best Hefeweizen I’ve ever had and of course, that’s what I ordered.

For dinner, I had Spätzle with Lentils, something I ate all the time when I was living here. The Bosch cafeteria often had this for lunch. My friend had Maultaschen, which can be thought of as a giant dumpling, but German style or very large ravioli. All of this was quite nostalgic for me.

After dinner, we walked around the city some more to see what had changed until my train arrived. After waiting for a train that was delayed for about an hour, I managed to finally make my way to Mannheim, just in time to meet my friends for the RoboCup Workshop we would have with the other two German teams in the international RoboCup competition.

Link to photo album here

Nymphenburg Palace

After visiting the BMW Museum, I went to the Nymphenburg Palace.  I didn’t pick a very good day to do this, since walking around 40° weather is not fun. This castle was the main summer residence of the rulers of Bavaria back in the day. Despite having seen many castles and palaces in my travels in Europe, this one was quite unique.

The main atrium of the castle was probably the most impressive room.

Apparently King Ludwig II was born here.

For some reason, this castle had a Chinese themed room. I’m not sure why.

There is also a room with paintings of various women that were seen as beautiful.

There’s also an artifact or prize that the Bavarian Empire obtained due to their assistance to the French Empire during Napoleon’s battle against the Third Coalition in Austerlitz (Part of the Napoleonic Wars). It’s nice to see a piece of history like that. It’s more interesting to me than seeing the palace itself.

I don’t ever recall seeing stuff like this in other castles like Versailles and Neuschwanstein or if I did, it definitely didn’t stick that well in my head. The architecture of this castle was definitely not the greatest, but what I saw inside was quite different from what I had initially expected.

Link to photo album here

BMW Museum

I had already been to the Mercedes Benz Museum and the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, and now I got the chance to go to the BMW Museum.

The museum showcased their history by displaying their past motorcycle, car and aircraft engine designs.

Some of their brands like the BMW 328 still exists today, but there is little resemblance in the historic version of it.

They’ve made so many cars that they have a giant display of all the logos.

One of their concept cars was displayed too. The idea was that each fin on the car could orient itself depending on whether the car wanted to accelerate or decelerate.

Another concept car was the BMW GINA. There isn’t a lot of information about this car. I guess it stayed as a concept car.

The museum also had a bonus exhibit for Rolls Royce, which is one of BMW’s child companies.  Not really a car I’d buy, but it would still be pretty sweet to own one.

The BMW Museum was pretty interesting and I wish I had booked the factory tour ahead of time.  Apparently I was supposed to book the factory tour a few weeks in advance in order to get a spot.  That would have made the visit to the museum even better.

Link to photo album here

Chiemsee (The Bavarian Sea)

The day after the bike tour, Tobias drove me and his two friends to Chiemsee, the Bavarian Sea.  It’s called a sea, but it’s really just a lake.

Herrenchiemsee

We took a ferry to some of the islands in the lake. One of them is called the Herreninsel, and on that island there is an unfinished castle, built by King Ludwig II. The castle is called the “Neues Schloss Herrenchiemsee”, which translates to the “New Palace of Herrenchiemsee”.

Ludwig II was inspired by the construction of the French palace of Versailles and so he wanted to build a palace just like it. Unfortunately, he didn’t have quite as much money as Louis XIV, so he couldn’t finish his castle.

I would have liked to take more pictures of the castle, but we were forbidden to take any. From what I can recall, a lot of rooms were modeled after rooms in the Palace of Versailles, except they were unfinished.

Fraueninsel

Another island is the Fraueninsel. On this island, there is a monastery.

Some people also live on this island, but there aren’t many. The houses here are probably vacation homes for rich people.

Leberkäse

For lunch, I had Leberkäse, which is a traditional Bavarian dish. Directly translated, it means liver cheese, but I’m not sure how much liver was in it though. The meat actually consists of corned beef, pork, bacon and onions baked into a shape like a slice of bread. I guess it is Bavarian meatloaf.  The fried egg on top was also a nice touch.  The roast potatoes on the side was also really good.  It’s probably the best way to cook potatoes.

Chiemsee

The weather was really good that day despite the 38°C heat wave weather and the visibility was really good.

The nice thing about Chiemsee is that it isn’t as famous of a travel destination for North Americans and so it makes it a lot less touristy.

Link to photo album here

Back to Munich

As Edward flew back to Vancouver, I flew to Munich to meet with a friend of mine, Tobias, who lives in Munich.  I had met him during my robotics course at UBC.  We worked together on all the lab work for that course and in most of our e-mail correspondence, we wrote German to one another.  It gave me quite good practice in the language.  Now I’m visiting him in his home city.  It’s not the first time I’ve been to Munich, but I liked the city enough to go back another time.

On the day I landed, Tobias picked me up from a train station near his house and I dropped off my stuff at his house.  Afterward, I went on my own to visit the Deutsches Museum.  He mentioned that the next day, we would be meeting up with two of his other friends that he met while on exchange at UBC and by sheer coincidence, they all happened to be in Munich at the same time.

A Very Stereotypical Bavarian Breakfast

In the morning, we rode bicycles to the English Garden to meet up with two of his UBC exchange friends. One of them was also from Munich and the other came all the way from Australia.

For breakfast, we had Bavarian white sausage (Weisswurst, or Weißwurst) with sweet mustard, giant pretzel (or Brezel), and of course, beer. There is a German phrase “Kein Bier vor vier”, which means “no beer before four”, but that does not apply on weekends. As good as that breakfast was, I saw a guy roasting an entire pig and that looked really good.

The English Garden

We biked around the English Garden enjoying the scenery for a little bit. While I’ve been there before (so I didn’t take many pictures), it was nice and relaxing to ride around with a bike in the scorching 38°C weather.

We passed by an area, known as the Eisbach (or ice brook), which is an area in the English Garden where people surf on standing waves. The difference between standing waves and the regular waves that people surf on is that standing waves pretty much stay in one spot and surfers try to surf on for as long as possible.

Friedensengel

Friedensengel can be translated as “Angle of Peace” and it is a reminder of the years of peace after the Franco-Prussian War. The German victory in the war united the German people and formed the German Empire.

Munich’s Birthday

It just so happened that when we were in Munich, the people were celebrating the city’s birthday, so there were quite a lot of people in the streets. People were dressed up in really traditional clothes and just dancing in the street!

Marienplatz

This is where the city hall is located. It’s probably one of Munich’s most recognizable buildings.

St. Peter’s Church Church Tower

Germany doesn’t really have a lot of skycrapers, so the tallest observation points that tourists can find are typically in church towers. It usually costs a few euros to go up, and there are no elevators since the architecture is so old. Going up is a pain too as the only way up is usually a very very long spiral staircase with a width that only fits one person going up and one person going down. But at the top, there is a really clear view of the city.

Lunch at the Hofbräuhaus

Every single time I’ve been to Munich, I’ve eaten at probably the most touristy restaurant in Munich. This time was no different. This makes it the third time I’ve been to this place. And of course, I order a pork knuckle with a liter of beer.

After a very filling lunch, we went back to the English Garden to just relax for a little bit before going home. For dinner, I had dinner with Tobia’s family. I met his parents and his brother and sister. His whole family was super nice. They totally did not have the typical German stereotypes that German parents were super strict. They joked around with their kids so much and even went as far as to making Nazi jokes, which I thought was completely taboo. In their family, it wasn’t.

During my stay, I got to practice my German with them and I was surprised that I could even say as much as I did, even if I talked slow. It definitely increased my confidence and ability with the language. All the time I spent learning German was paying off!

Link to photo album here

Deutsches Museum

From Vimy Ridge, we went back to London for another day and then we parted ways.  Edward flew back to Vancouver while I stayed in Europe for another two and a half weeks.  My next destination was Munich.  Each of our flights were very early in the morning from London Gatwick, so we just went to the airport and slept there for a night.  It wasn’t restful sleep at all.  At least I managed to sleep more on the flight there.  I met up with a friend of mine that I met while taking courses at UBC while he was an exchange student.  I stayed with him for a few days.  The last time I went to Munich, I never got the chance to visit the Deutsches Museum, which was my first destination this time.

The Deutsches Museum is one of the largest museums I’ve been to. There were so many topics on technology that the museum had. They had the usual topics on flight, ship building, engines, etc., but they had even more exhibits on classical mechanics, electromagnetism, chemistry, nuclear physics, mining, semiconductors, computers, cartography, microsystems, space exploration, printing, etc.

There was even a cool demonstration of arc lightning.

The section of space exploration was quite interesting too, but it wasn’t as big as the exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of Flight.

The clean room exhibit reminded me a little bit of the type of work I did during my internship at Bosch.

Of course in any exhibit on computers, there has to be a computer from Remington Rand.

Here is the experimental apparatus that was used to discover nuclear fission.

The stuff I looked at was only scratching the surface of the museum. I pretty much skipped entire sections like time keeping, wind turbines, bridge building, among other things. I was there for four hours too and I didn’t even look at any one section in a lot of detail. To see everything, one would have to spend days here.

Link to photo album here

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