A trip to Baden-Württemberg: Karlsruhe, Tübingen & Stuttgart

Last weekend I was off on my travels once again and my latest escapade took me down south to the Bundesland of Baden Württemberg. At Lunchtime on Thursday I jumped aboard the ICE train (InterCity Express) in the direction of Basel, Switzerland. I was not planning to cross the border however and two hours and twenty minutes after leaving Düsseldorf, the train pulled into Karlsruhe Hbf.. my destination. My friend Rebecca was there to meet me and to make the most of the beautiful sunny weather, we made our way into the city centre by foot. Once in the city we found our first stop, Cafe Extrablatt, where we stopped for a bite to eat. We both opted for pizzas which were rather delectable and the cafe provided a great ambience for catching up on life since our last meeting in Koblenz (read about that here). After a fair amount of time, during which we demolished our pizzas and chatted, we left and began our ‘city tour’. Unfortunately at present, most of Karlsruhe has been invaded by various diggers and machines, and the city centre itself has been ripped up in order for the installation of a new underground line. Even the Schloss was under scaffolding..

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However, Rebecca still managed to point out some of the ‘important’ sights including the glass pyramid (under scaffolding), the Rathaus and Karlsruhe Zoo, where we waved hello to the friendly red pandas.

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We had soon seen everything on offer and headed back to Rebecca’s after a quick trip to the supermarket, to pick up something for dinner.

On Friday we were up with the lark and were already sat on the tram travelling towards Karlsruhe at 0910. Our train to Stuttgart left at just gone ten o’clock and after an hour we arrived into the station with plenty of time to make our connection. After an hour’s travelling we arrived in the university town of Tübingen and made the short walk to the town centre, crossing the Neckarbrücke (Neckar Bridge) along the way.

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The streets of the old town were very picturesque, paved with cobble stones and featuring lots of half-timbered houses. Due to the town’s hilly terrain, many buildings also had narrow, winding staircases up to their front doors, making each building different and unique. We slowly weaved our way through the little streets, making our way up towards the Schloss. After a steep trek up the hill, we finally got there and spent a little time admiring the view, and of course, catching our breath. It turns out that the castle building itself is now part of the university and Rebecca and I both noted that it would take quite some effort to get to lectures every day!

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From the Schloss we made our way back down into the town, past the Rathaus (townhall) on the busy Marktplatz ..

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and then continued to stroll down and around some of the other little streets following the path of the canal.

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Come lunchtime we grabbed a sandwich to go and rushed back to the station in an attempt to catch our next train. Although it was tight, we made it, and travelled back towards Stuttgart on a ‘Harry Potter’ style train. Unfortunately, during the journey, the weather turned and it started to rain. We were also delayed but finally we arrived back in Stuttgart ready for a bit more exploring.

Once we made it out of the vast Hauptbahnhof (Hbf), we found ourselves on Stuttgart’s Königstrasse – this is Stuttgart’s main shopping street which is 1.2km long stretching from the Hbf building right up to the city’s Rathaus (townhall). Königstrasse also claims to be the longest pedestrianised street in Germany.

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Whilst walking up Koenigstrasse, we came across a number of the city’s sights and some old, historical buildings. The first of these was Schlossplatz, the city’s largest square which was also a little reminiscent of Trafalgar Square crossed with the Royal crescent in Bath. Schlossplatz is also home to the Neues Schloss, which despite being heavily destroyed during WW2 now looks rather impressive and I can imagine the grassy area in front of the Schloss is a popular place to sit and relax when the sun is shining.

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From the Neues Schloss, we continued our walk until we came across the Altes Schloss, which is now home to the Landesmuseum.

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In the same area are the StiftskircheAlte Kanzlei and Stuttgart’s Markthalle.

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At this point we were beginning to lag, so there was no surprise when the delightful aroma of fresh crêpes sparked our appetites and we called for a refreshment break. With no exaggeration, it was perhaps the best crepe I have ever eaten and it was ginormous! Definitely check out Eiscafe Venedig on Koenigsstrasse (U bahn: Stadtmitte)  if you are ever in Stuttgart!

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3 euros for this beauty

We had some trouble with blow away icing sugar and by the time we had finished eating, thanks to the wind and Rebecca’s crêpe, my black jeans were no longer black.. Soon after we had gorged ourselves on our tasty snack, we met up with another friend from Southampton, Amy, who is doing her Year Abroad in Stuttgart. We had a little wander around and then together with Amy visited a sweet little tea shop, just off the main shopping street – us Brits and our tea! From there we began the short walk towards Charlottenplatz and after a bit of walking around the area, finally found the typical Swabian restaurant/ pub (Weinstube “Zur Kiste”) that we were looking for. There we were joined by some of Amy’s German friends and a few more language assistants.

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Picture courtesy of another ELA

Having had a long day and needing to travel back to Karlsruhe, Rebecca and I only stayed for a drink but the food that the other’s got looked incredible; typical German dishes such as Käsespätzle and Ox meat. The restaurant itself was also really interesting and atmospheric, spread across three floors reached by a narrow, winding wooden staircase, each with small rooms kitted out with wooden tables, seats and wood panelling on the walls. If it’s Swabian food you are looking for, this is the place to go!

At around 1900, we said our farewells and made the short journey back to the Hbf, negotiating the U-bahn system successfully and arriving at the station with enough time to buy a souvenir postcard each and board our train. It had been a long and tiring day, but successful and interesting too but I for one, was definitely ready for a nice cup of tea and bedtime!