Wilhelma Zoo – Stuttgart

Photo gallery can be seen here.

With not much happening this weekend, and a beautiful slightly sunny day ahead we decided to spend the afternoon in Stuttgart and take a stroll through the Wilehelma Zoo.

The zoo had quite a nice selection of different animals, including a small aquarium and insectarium. During wintermonths entrance is down to 8 Euro from 12, half of that on student discount meant a very reasonable 4 euro entrance.

The biggest complaint from the group was the lack of Lion. It didn’t bother me much, I was quite happy with the Cheetah, Tiger, Jaguar, Leopard, Polar Bear and other animals :)

he didn’t seem to enjoy the attention much

Porsche & Mercedes Museums – Stuttgart

Collection of photos can be seen here.

On Saturday a small group of us went to Stuttgart for the day to spend some time at the Porsche and Meredes-Benz museums located in the city. We took the train from Reutlingen through to Stuttgart Hbf and then the S-Bahn to Neuwirtshaus (Porscheplatz). As you climb off the train you’re straight into the road surrounded by Porsche buildings. The large, white, imposing and windowless building to one’s right is the museum, with a dealership and service centre off to the left and other corporate buildings off in front.

Tickets for students were only 4 Euros which covers the entire exhibition and an audio guide available in a variety of languages. A baggage and coat check was available and a long escalator ride takes you to the start of the exhibition. The exhibition has a nice suggested spiralling route which takes you through pretty much everything in a progressive order. Starting with some of their first vehicles, a look at the VW Beetle and going through a variety of sports and publicly available cars covering the last 60 years.

Most of the exhibits have numbers printed on which when typed into your audio guide give you quite a lot of information. Some other displays have engines made for boats and planes. One exhibit demonstrates different stages of design and production with cross-sections of a specific model allowing you to see all the internals.

We were there for between an hour and a half and two hours. If one were to listen to all the audio information one could probably easily be there for over 3 hours. It’s a lovely display of Porsche heritage. The museum is beautiful, well laid out and worth the visit. Included downstairs is a restaurant, coffee bar and merchandise shop.

After a look around the Porsche dealership we hopped back on the S-Bahn back to Hbf where we went into town to grab some lunch. I ate my first beef steak since having arrived in Germany, and although not the best steak ever was a good meal. Back on the S-Bahn and off at the Neckarpark (Mercedes-Benz) station.

First thing we notice is that there’s a 1km walk from the station up to the museum. Not the end of the world, but just something to note. Once again as you head towards the museum you’ll notice all the surrounding Mercedes branded buildings including the Mercedes-Benz Arena.

Entering the building it’s the same 4 Euro student ticket, bag and jacket check and free audio guide for the exhibits. We climbed into an elevator shuttle which takes one up to the 8th floor to start the tour. The Mercedes museum covers the full progression of the motor car and the internal combustion engine, with displays on the founders Benz, Daimler and Maybach. each floor is separated into to two separate displays. Usually one with a selection of cars of a specific era or design styling and the other displaying Mercs seen in pop culture, racing or public service vehicles.

Most displays would have a marker indicating that audio guide information is available. One is supposed to point your guide at the marker press a button and then select between several different options relating to the display, technology, culture, and one or two other options. The point and click worked to varying degrees of success on different occasions. Quite often there are some small interactive displays explaining steering, braking, superchargers or some other technology developed by Mercedes.

The building has a kind of flow to it from floor to floor, but we found that if you follow the flow for a floor you end up on the wrong side of the building to get down to the next floor, generally just taking a set of stairs down to the next floor then crossing and rejoining the flow. Nothing major but just irritating at times.

One can spend hours and hours in the Museum. After taking half an hour to get through the first floor we were advised to speed it up a bit if we want to see everything as one can spend a long time looking at all the exhibits and the museum was set to close in two hours (18h00). So after that we hurried through the rest of the floors, finishing with several minutes to spare strolling through the gift shop and sales floor. Restaurant facilities are also contained in the building.

The building is huge and one can definitely spend many hours there. We also got to keep our Mercedes Museum branded lanyards which we used for our Audio Guides, a nice souvenir. A quick walk back to the train station and we were on our way back to Reutlingen.

Cannstatter Volksfest / Wasen

I seriously took a lot of photos. Close to 1000 possibly. I’ve scratched two thirds of them, and have uploaded about 100 to Google Drive.

The Canstatter Volksfest which takes place in Stuttgart every year is like a mini-Oktoberfest. I say mini in that it’s about half the size, receiving about 3 million visitors a year compared to Munich’s 6+. But it’s a very similar setup. Carnival type atmosphere with roller coasters, games and stalls. Just with the addition of the massive beer tents.

Me and my roommate Wu Di

Much like in Munich, the tents are open to the public all day until 16:00, when people with reserved tables are permitted in. In Munich we were part of the public, whereas in Stuttgart we had reserved tables. Baldur Veit, the Director of the International Office at Reutlingen University had organised with one of the big breweries for semi-sponsored tickets and reserved places on the last day of the event.

Last year there were 1500 students that attended the event, I don’t know the stats this year, but the 2000 tickets made available were sold out, some people bought more than one ticket, and also invited friends form outside the university. This year we had place in the Fürstenberg tent which holds about 2800 people.

We arrived at about 15:00 at the festival and walked around a bit before entering the tent and trading in our coupons. The setup was very similar to the tent in Munich with rows and rows of benches and tables spread out around a central stage. One difference only getting to the tent at 16:00 meant that we had live music being played almost throughout the night, till we left shortly before 22:00. This was opposite to our relatively quiet morning experience in Munich. Security also didn’t seem to have too much of an issue with people standing on benches, as the entire crowd spent most of the evening. The only acceptable reason to do this in Munich was when you were going to down your maß.

The festivals are very similar. It’s difficult to say whether one is better than the other. There are definitely more people in Munich, this could be felt just walking through the grounds. For most of us, Stuttgart was a more enjoyable experience. We only had a 1 hour train trip there and back, and the tent was filled with like minded students. I’d like to experience a reserved place in Munich one day, but if you only get the opportunity to go to one of the festivals, I wouldn’t say you’re missing out on much.

I preferred the Augustinebrau beer to Furstenburg’s, on the other hand it’s only 9 Euro for a Maß in Stuttgart as opposed to 10 in Munich, and the half chickens we got in Stuttgart also came with a breadroll, something that was lacking in Munich.

Member of Joe William’s Band who sang “Give me Hope Jo-anna

It’s difficult to know what else to say. The live music (Joe William’s Band) and hordes of students definitely made the event more enjoyable for us. As we waited at the train station some fireworks lit up the sky. We got home on time and even managed to catch the last bus home. Something we’ve struggled to do in two previous trips.

Next week Saturday the local Erasmus organisation has organised a trip for us to Sigmaringen so I’ll probably spend the day there.