With the constant rain, it’s been a slow weekend overall. This morning, I woke up to catch up on some reading, and to start planning for the upcoming weekends and holidays. On my list: UK, Switzerland, Austria, and potentially Italy.
With travel and things like Frühlingsfest (translation: Stuttgart Spring Festival) coming up soon, I will probably be spending little time at home on the weekends, which is a good thing. So, I thought I’d make the most of today by cleaning up my hotel room and doing some prep for the coming weeks.
Just after 12:30PM, I had a strong urge to get out of the room and go exploring around Stuttgart. The rain will not stop me, I said, as I threw on my new Regenjacke (translation: rain jacket) from Jack Wolfskin (see yesterday’s accomplishment).
Stuttgart has many parks distributed all throughout the area. I decided to visit one park in particular, Teehaus im Weißenburgpark (translation: Tea house in Weißenburg Park). From what I could see online, it seemed like a quiet cafe at the top of a hill (Surprise, surprise!) with beautiful views. That was exactly what I was looking for to setup today’s adventure. The Teehaus is located close to the Fernsehturm (Stuttgart Television Tower), so most of the route was the same as yesterday. There were no new surprises, other than the rain.
Parking today wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I ended up parallel parking at the base of the hill where the Teehaus is located. But, what honestly frustrated me a bit was that as I was hunting for parking, a car behind me was much closer to me than I was normally comfortable with. That’s something that I’m still getting used to here. In the US, if you drive up close behind the car in front of you, that signals that the person in front is going too slow and that car should get out of the way. Typically, US drivers don’t really respond well to the pressure. From a safety perspective, driving too close to the car in front is never a good idea, because people underestimate stopping distances all the time, leading to fender benders.
As I’ve noticed in Germany (I’m not sure if this is the norm), that’s actually not seen as a negative thing, just a means to keep the pace of traffic efficient. I still feel nervous, and want to pull off to the side to let the car behind me go. On the Audubon, most cars will overtake on the left, or I’ll just stay in the slower lanes to keep traffic moving. Today, the person behind me was unbelievably close, so I felt very nervous coming to a stop. I had to pull forward and off to the side to let the car pass, before I could safely maneuver into the spot.
Once I was out, I started the little trek to the top of the hill. The path that I took led up a flight of stairs on a walking path. The path was pretty steep. With slippery, cobble stones covered with wet moss, this was a bigger challenge than I expected. Trying not to slip and fall, I gingerly placed each step in front of the other, eventually making it to the top. The smell of fresh rain fall and birds chirping against the gentle wind made the trek enjoyable.
When I got to the Teehaus, I walked around the park area. Though the rain drowned out portions of the walkable areas, the views from the top of the hill patio were beautiful. I could basically see the majority of the main Stuttgart valley basin.
If it weren’t raining, I would definitely spend my day sitting outside under the sun. Today, I opted to go inside the main building, which was adorned with a beautifully decorated rotunda. Inside, voices of conversations reverberated around the dome. I ordered a Weißwurst mit Brezel and a Coke, and grabbed a seat by the door. After enjoying my meal, I spent the next few hours writing and reflecting about my time so far in Germany (as private notes, parts to be shared soon) while subtly people-watching the groups of people entering and exiting the small Teehaus.
There were some people there that I thought could be “regulars”, but I wasn’t sure. They clearly had a familiarity with the employees. I thought about the places that I frequently attend in Sunnyvale and in the Bay Area. Familiarity is one of the things that makes a place slowly feel like a home. I spent some time imagining what their day must have been like waking up, deciding to visit the Teehaus like any other day, and slowly trekking back home. In the magnitude of the quiet rotunda, I spent a lot of time imagining the lives of many of the visitors to the Teehaus.
You Get a Castle, You Get a Castle, You Get a Castle
I’ve written about this before. Germany is filled with castles. Big ones, little ones, there seems to be a castle everywhere you turn. As I finished up at the Teehaus, I thought it would be fun to visit Schloss Solitude. I got in my car and drove over. There’s a beautiful driveway lined with trees and open fields on both sides that leads to the main entrance. When I arrived, I parked and got out of my car. Unfortunately, the rain did not let up at all, so exploring the castle grounds was not going to be a very enjoyable experience. I decided to postpone my exploration to a day with sunshine. As I got back into my car, I felt the judgment of the horses as they stared at me, unbothered by the rain eating grass. TODO: I will definitely dedicated a post entirely about German castles on this trip.
A Dose of Reality
Just before I sat down to write today’s post, I had a dose of reality: it was time to file my taxes. I’ll spend some time writing about the taxation structure in Germany, which is very different than in the US. In general, there are many things I admire about Germany’s taxation policies, but I do have many questions about day-to-day living and wealth creation tactics when taxation rates are so high. There are many guaranteed services and programs made available to all citizens (and even visitors), like healthcare and education, which is definitely not the case in the US. It’s markedly different than the free market policies driving the development of similar programs and institutions in the US. In my opinion, neither approach is better than the other — ideally, it would be combination of the two, if you ask me. But, I’ll dedicate a post entirely to the topic later.
This coming week is going to be busy with lots of topics at work, so I’ll likely only post about my morning running adventures and places I go for dinner. Nevertheless, there’s always an adventure somewhere, it just depends on how you see it.
Frieden und Liebe ❤️ (translation: peace and love)
Brezel 🥨 Count : 2 (new counter I'm introducing, #1 was on the drive from Frankurt to Stuttgart when I arrived)