“Aller Angfanger ist schwer”. Every beginning is hard.
As I struggled about securing a phone plan, opening a bank account, enrolling at the university, accessing internet, buying bed sheets and being confused about shampoo and conditioner, I began to realize the truth behind this German saying. I truly didn’t enjoy my first two weeks in Stuttgart since I was so stressed about the administrative things I had to do.
By the second weekend, the number of things to do were mostly checked off my list. So, I made my first small sightseeing trip. I jumped on bus 92 and rode it to it’s end stop and stepped out on to the courtyard of a small palace. Schloss Solitude, a small yet beautiful palace situated at the top of a hill overlooking Stuttgart in the valley below. The place wasn’t busy at all, just a few hikers and bikers and one or two other tourists milling about, admiring the views.
The palace was commissioned in 1763 by Duke Carl Eugen von Württemberg and was set out to be his summer home and hunting lodge. It was easy to see why he chose to perch his home here. Acres of garden space and forest made for a beautiful place to spend the warm summers.
Instead of taking the bus back to the city, I walked down the hill through the Rotwildpark, a lush forest with an infinite number of trail paths. The sunlight sparkled through the leaves and the air was filled with the muskiness of dirt. I passed a beautiful giant snail the size of my palm and many lizards sunbathing on the stone steps.
I was not quite ready to go home (where I knew I would just be sad and alone) so I hopped on another bus which took me to the base of Karlshohe, a hill in the middle of the city. The walk up was unexpectedly steep but the views from the top were worth the short hike. It wasn’t as tall of a hill as the one upon which Schloss Solitude sits but it is located closer to the city centre, giving one of my favourite views of the city. I sat up there admiring the view until my stomach starting grumbling.
I headed down the hill and dropped into Cafe Moulu for a late lunch. It was my first time going to a restaurant in Germany and I didn’t have an inkling as to the etiquette of dining out. Did I have to wait to be seated? Did I have to order at the counter? It was an awkward fiasco but in the end, I learned that I should’ve seated myself and a waitress or waiter would have come to find me to take my order. My cheeks burned with embarrassment but the food and the kind service made up for it. I ordered a “Rührei mit maultaschen” which was scrambled eggs with maultaschen, a specialty resembling ravioli originating from the Swabian region. It came served with a fresh house salad. Everything was delicious and I was stuffed full, like the maultaschen, when I finished.
Although it was a rough start to my three months in Stuttgart, the storm was over and I began to see the beauty of my new living environment. The next three months were looking bright.