Arriving in Stuttgart on December 19th on a cloudy day, hoping for the snow, but instead getting rain and fog, was at first a bit of a disappointment. However, after relaxing and getting ready to explore the city and everything that it has to offer, a feeling of a very merry Christmas takes over, no matter if there is snow or not. The hilly city is full of cheerful tourists and locals shopping for a perfect gift, or just enjoying the holiday season. Much of the city’s festive atmosphere has to do with Stuttgart’s Christmas Market, and it is why I chose to stop there first.
The Market is set in the center of the city, so getting there by foot or public transportation is fairly easy. It is one of the most beautiful and oldest markets in Europe. The Christmas market takes you to a winter wonderland and makes you feel like a kid. It’s full of Christmas spirit, activities, and food. You don’t even notice that the snow isn’t there or that it’s drizzling a little. In fact, I would say the light fog and a light drizzle gives the market a magical appearance. Once at the center of the market the sheer size and the massive decorations hit you. The 280 wooden stands are uniquely decorated, starting from the roof down to the floor. Whether it’s a large Santa in a sleigh on top of a roof, or three mechanical angels moving in one slow rhythm singing a Carol, or simply a Christmas tree, all the decorations are well thought out and seemed to be very unique. My absolute favorite stalls were those with the Christmas ornaments. They carry a large variety of different toys, small and large, funny ornaments, such as a case of beer, or a hamburger. All the toys are beautiful, and they reminded me of my childhood in Russia (similar designs and shapes).
The streets are filled with different smells such as cinnamon, vanilla, and pine. However, the scent of culinary delights draws you into the other great aspect of the market. Roasted chestnuts, gingerbread, candied almonds, bratwurst, gluehwein, fire cooked fish are some of the tastiest treats at the market and are defiantly worth trying. As the market is filled with many different stands finding a stall with great fresh food isn’t hard. The only difficulty I had was choosing what I should eat and what I should drink. Thus far my favorites include bratwurst and gluehwien.
During my amazing four-day stay, I also got to visit the famous “Mercedez Benz” museum. In the 9 story glass building, there are 1,500 exhibits, displaying some of the finest automobiles and the history behind one of the world’s most famous car brands. Each floor took me to a different era, starting from the top floor, I got to know the “founding fathers” the men that started it all: Karl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler, and Wilhelm Maybach, as well as the first gas engine that made it all possible. Moving down from floor to floor I was mesmerized by the transformation of cars, engines and how history affected the brand. Ending the tour with the modern cars we see today on the streets, one gets a good look at what we humans have accomplished over just a decade.
As I continued to explore the city, I dined at the “Goldener Adler”. Reservation is optional, however, I strongly recommend making one. The restaurant has a modern design yet it has a cozy and relaxing atmosphere. Service is excellent, and the waiters speak English, which makes it easy to order or ask any questions regarding portions, wine or ingredients. The food itself was good and the beer was excellent. In particular, the schnitzel served with cold potato salad was my favorite. If street food doesn’t cut it for you, try this traditional Germany restaurant.
Stuttgart was everything I hoped it would be: a quiet German city infused with lots of Christmas spirit. Visiting here was a great way to start my adventure around Germany.