On the plus side, I did manage to find most of what I was looking for, mainly because if you are wandering randomly over a very small area for long enough, eventually you find everything.
The first thing I found was the marktplatz (translation somewhat unnecessary, as seems to happen sometimes with German). And, in keeping with its name, the weekly farmer’s market was being held there when I arrived. It was all very pleasant and rustic, though I suspect some of the farmers may have been selling foods that they did not personally grow, seeing as they were pineapples (the foods, not the farmers). I wandered around a bit, took it all in, then consulted my map and set off in the first of many absolute wrong directions, and the only one that involved climbing a very long set of wet stone stairs.
For lunch, I went to one of the few places my guidebook was helpful about. (My guidebook, as I have mentioned, is generally uninterested in the greater Stuttgart area.) It was a fine and cozy little restaurant of Swabian specialties, with one elderly waitress who spoke no English and clearly wasn’t starting now. (Myth to debunk: that all Germans speak perfect English. They don’t. Many of them speak only German.) I ordered via the time-honored method of pointing to the only item on the menu with a word in it I understood (“sauerkraut”) and received, to my relief, a tasty lunch of entirely identifiable food items.
After lunch I wandered some more, this time with stricter attention paid to my map. I still got lost, but only because there are so many churches.
I finished my day at the castle that dominates the hill over the old city, where I wasted some money on entrance to an archeological museum where I could not read any of the informative notes on the items. For all I knew, I could have been looking at someone’s collection of cereal-box prizes from 1947-1983. Assuming German cereal companies went in for fake Roman artifacts, including entire amphoras.
So it was four euros down and not in the best mood that I got lost on the way back to the train station, hurrying now because I had to walk from the stop in Sindelfingen back to the hotel, and I didn’t want to do it in the dark. I did, of course; I got the world’s slowest local train to go the thirty miles from Tubingen to Stuttgart, and before I even got on the subway it was pitch black. Fortunately, the route to the hotel was direct and well-sidewalked, and there was an accident along the way that stopped traffic so bad that I was actually going faster than the cars. I realize that sounds like a heartless thing to be pleased about, but at the time it was very satisfying.
As I have mentioned, when I got back I was very tired, so instead of blogging I took a nap. Then Cameron came back from the conference and we went and I had dinner in the hotel bar, because he had already eaten and I was too tired and footsore to be able to be excited about going out and experiencing local culture. I did have some local beer with my club sandwich, though.