Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy holidays!

Happy holidays everybody! The blog will take another short hiatus while I return to by birthplace for Christmas. Back in the New Year with more insightful commentary into random tourist topics. Did you know that Stuttgart is (unfortunately for me) one of the few cities in Germany where rather than employ a superintendent, the tenants take turns cleaning the sidewalk and taking out the trash from large apartment buildings? It snowed copiously during my week, just so I could have this experience.

Altes Schloss, Stuttgart

Thursday, December 16, 2010


My favourite part of Germany so far! From the end of November until a few days before Christmas, an outdoor market is set up dedicated to all things Christmas. There are stalls selling ornaments, gifty items, candy, gingerbread, chocolate covered fruit, Christmas-themed tableware, Glühwein (spiced wine) and traditional Schwäbisch street food (mostly different types of sausages). The one downside is that the market is super crowded and so gets a bit claustrophobic if you're trying to walk around. Stuttgart has one of the larger Christmas markets in Germany, and it attracts busloads of tourists. Now if only it were a bit warmer . . .

'Official' entrance to the market right by where the tour bus parking lot is.

Stuttgart Rathaus (city hall) overlooking the main marketplace. The enormous decorated conifer was actually cut down and brought to Stuttgart just for this occasion.

The rooves of all the stalls are decorated. I was at another Christmas market in the Stuttgart suburb of Esslingen where one of the stalls was decorated with taxidermied musk deer - slightly unsettling.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Museum am Löwentor

The natural history museum of Stuttgart is divided into two facilities. The extant collections are displayed in a palace in the centre of the park

And the fossil collections are displayed in the much less glamorous Museum am Löwentor

Okay, so the seasonal difference between the two pictures doesn't help make this building look less industrial
The mascot for the museum is Plateosaurus, shown here accumulating snow outside the museum

And in a slightly more hospitable environment in a diorama inside the museum

Plateosaurus is a plant eating dinosaur from southern Germany, and most of the specimens come from a single quarry. Animals of all ages are discovered, and many of the skeletons are articulated (bones are in association) making Plateosaurus one of the better known early herbivorous dinosaurs. The museum has reopened the quarry (it is their mascot animal, after all).

From this same quarry is the even more famous Proganochelys, the oldest terrestrial turtle, seen here glowering menacingly from behind the glass.

The museum has cool displays and houses many famous fossils, but I feel like I should ration out the details since I have replaced all those touristy afternoons wandering around the German countryside  with sitting in the museum basement measuring stuff. So, whenever I get stumped for blog content I'll trot out the gallery fossils.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The blog is back . . .

The blog took a brief hiatus due to personal problems, and the break was sustained due to the unfortunate fate of my digital camera (abandoned on a bus in Berlin) - but I think I have a grip now, and also a brand-new camera so no excuses. Also sadly no post about Berlin, since I didn't download the pictures before losing the camera.

I currently live in Stuttgart, and have since the beginning of November. Stuttgart is not a pretty city by any means, but is definitely growing on me. One of my exciting new discoveries - the radio station doesn't have any ads! It took me weeks to figure out what was different, embarrassingly enough. Same music (oddly more Arcade Fire), a bit less dj chatter (amazingly enough, they restrict themselves to band interviews and commentary directly pertaining to the music), same news and weather on the hour. . . .something's different but I can't quite put my finger on it. . .

Stuttgart is also very cold and snowy, which makes me wish my winter boots were not in my parents' basement. It also has those annoying salt rings that migrate from the slush up the legs of my pants. Argh.
City centre

View from my apartment of city centre