Library, Pub, & Gymnastics: Stuttgart, Germany

Hi beautiful place.

This spring we traveled to Stuttgart, Germany to attend the FIG World Cup for my birthday. My first time in Stuttgart, the trip included three of my travel favorites: library, pubs, and a cemetery (plus bonus this time–my first elite gymnastics competition). I saw the queens of the sport (Simone Biles AND Aliya Mustafina) along with wandering this beautiful city.

Simone being a badass as always.

We stayed a little outside the very center of Stuttgart and I preferred that location over the touristy area of Schlossplatz. Our street had so many adorable restaurants and shops–definitely recommend staying near the Lehen neighborhood if you don’t mind putting in the extra steps on your Fitbit.

We loved our Airbnb! Woke up to fresh flowers each day.

Pro tip: Stuttgart (and Germany in general) has great public transport available and journeys are MUCH cheaper than an Uber ride (save that money for extra spätzle!) Our way home was pure Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: bus to the train station, train to the airport, plane to Vienna, car from Vienna to Hungary. All a part of the lovely adventure.

Hard to choose just one gif from this iconic film.

Where are we?

The sixth largest city in Germany, the area of Stuttgart is spread across a number of hills. Commonly described as “zwischen Wald und Reben” (“between forest and vines”) due to the close proximity of the Black Forest and the city’s numerous wineries, Stuttgart is definitely a walkable city with some elevation–getting those calf muscles working!

The Stiftskirche (Collegiate Church)

Stuttgart was founded in 950 AD by Duke Liudolf of Swabia (the root of the name derives from the Swabian word Stuotgarten meaning “stud farm”) for the purpose of breeding warhorses. Swabians are Germanic peoples native to the Swabian region of Germany, an area that is now present-day Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria.

Like most German cities, the population and physical landscape drastically changed during WWII. In 1933 the Gestapo occupied Hotel Silber, a site used to torture, detain, and transport political prisoners. The Old Synagogue was destroyed during Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass) and in 1934, the Nazis began to arrest members of the Jewish population of Stuttgart; many were deported to the prison camp in Welzheim or to the Dachau concentration camp. From 1941-1945, more than 2,000 Jews were sent to Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Riga, and Izbica; only 180 survived the war.

Stuttgart was heavily bombed by Allied forces throughout the war. On September 12th, 1944, the Royal Air Force dropped over 184,000 bombs on the city. The attack completely destroyed Stuttgart’s center and killed 957 people. Overall, the city was hit by 53 bombing raids, which leveled nearly sixty percent of the city and killed 4,477 of Stuttgart’s inhabitants. Following the end of the war, the rubble in the city was used to build Birkenhopf, an artificial hill that is now the highest point in Stuttgart and a memorial to those who died during WWII.

We we only had a weekend in Stuttgart, but I think you could spend at least a week in the city and still not see everything on your list. I was bummed to miss the botanical gardens in Wilhema and the Ludwigsburg Residential Palace, but incredibly thankful for the opportunity to see all we did during our visit.

The Sites:

Public Library:

The cube building created for Stuttgart’s Municipal Library was absolutely intentional: “the dimensioning and positioning, detached from their urban context, are a symbol of the significance of the library as a new intellectual and cultural center”. The nine story building was designed by Eun Young Yi and was completed in 2011.
The space is breathtaking to see in person! This is a shot of the “heart” a representation of the meditative center point.
I love this quote from the city: “In earlier years, it was a church or palace that marked the centre point of a town. But in a modern society, it is the significance of a place for individual knowledge and enrichment of experience that takes centre stage. And that is how the library gains more and more significance for society. “
Photo via Totems

Schlossgarten:

Loved taking a walk through this beautiful park in the center of the city! Definitely has some GoT Kingsroad vibes.

Schlossplatz:

Schlossplatz (Palace Square)
Neue Schloss (New Palace) was completed in 1807.
Charles Eugene moved the seat of power back to Stuttgart when he assumed the throne in 1744. The palace was built near the old castle in Schlossplatz.
Allied forces almost completely burned Neue Schloss to the ground in 1944, leaving only the facade. Reconstruction on the building began in 1958 and is currently used by the state government to house the State Ministries of Finance and Education.
Kunstgebäude Gallery featuring the the stag–the state symbol of Württemberg.
View from the Old Palace. Today the area is central to shopping, bars, and restaurants.

Pragfriedhof:

Pragfriedhof is the third largest cemetery in Stuttgart and opened in 1873. We walked the quiet area for about an hour.
The Jewish Cemetery is separate from the larger cemetery (on the outside portion of the fence above). In 1873, following the influx of the Jewish population in Stuttgart, the community was forced to find additional space after the Hoppenlau cemetery was full.
A quiet moment from the busy city, Pragfriedhof is a beautiful place for a break and learn more about the people who once lived here.

Stiftskirche:

Remains of a Romanesque church dating all the way back to the 10th century are currently the structures of the Stitskirche (Collegiate Church). Over time, the building changed and grew; following the end of WWII, the church was rebuilt after it was heavily damaged by bombing raids.

Karlshöhe:

The Karlshöhe area includes a large and beautiful park, along with coffee shops, restaurants, and historical buildings. St. Maria Church is one the highlights of this part of the city.
St. Maria Church was built in 1879. The towers barely survived WWII and were rebuilt in 1949.
Translates to “What’s happening?”
The Stadtlücken initiative is an awesome project by a couple of non-profits in Stuttgart that encourage citizens to be more active in “shaping spaces” within the city as the “city belongs to the people”. This underpass was the site of a couple of different workshops and street art displays while we visited Stuttgart. From their site: “It is a place of coexistence, exchange, culture and conviviality – a place for all, where everyone can contribute, use and shape. ” ❤ ❤ ❤

Restaurants & Pubs:

Kraftpaule:

Stuttgart’s first craft beer bar, Kraftpaule, has a huge selection of their own brews along with beer from all of the world. Their bar is modern and cozy, and includes a solid pub menu featuring nachos and sandwiches.

Ribingurūmu:

A little difficult to find initially, Ribingurūmu is an awesome ruin-bar-esque pub located a short walk from Schlossplatz. The interior is your grandad’s den meets sewing shop/library—obviously my aesthetic.
Photo via Geheimtipp Stuttgart
Also, pomegranates in a vodka/soda? Be still my heart!

Paul & George:

I love finding secret speakeasies! Paul & George is a gorgeous must-visit in Stuttgart. As always, the entrance is a little difficult to find, but worth the extra sleuthing. We both had the espresso martini (inching up the list to become one of my favorite cocktails lately) and one of their specials.
Photo via Julia
Nice to have a little fancy cocktail every so often!

Mata Hari:

Mata Hari is a spacious pub located in the center of Stuttgart. The interior has that same grandad den feel (you’re seeing a pattern here, I’m a old man at heart, clearly) but with a secret skateboard mini ramp in the basement. With both indoor and outdoor space, Mata Hara is a good location for late night (it does fill up quickly) and boasts a solid menu with both meat and veg options.
Photo via Yelp

Misch Misch Coffee:

Hailed as one of the best locations for coffee, we spent a few hours at Misch Misch for breakfast and to get a little work finished. The cafe is gorgeous and their coffee was great. On the smaller side, know you might have to wait for a seat, but with the motto of “let’s fill this town with good coffee” you can’t miss it.

Brauhaus Schönbuch:

Located right on the Palace Square, Brauhaus Schönbuch is a great stop for a solid German lunch or dinner. I ordered spätzle (of course) and Chris had the pork schnitzel.

Kleinigkeit:

We LOVED Kleinigkeit! This adorable cafe offers a small, but awesome breakfast menu (we both ordered eggs benedict) with really great service. They were booked with reservations when we arrived, but allowed us to sit outside and have breakfast. They fill up fast, so make a reservation if you can!

List Cafe:

List Cafe was our final breakfast stop before leaving Stuttgart. A nice cafe with both a German and English menu, we ordered eggs (mine with onion, Chris with ham) and salad. Both were great! Our server was so sweet and gave us extra chocolate “for the trip home” when she saw our bags.

Little Italy Stuttgart:

Hi, can I live here?
I know, I know, Italian food while you’re in Germany? But we couldn’t say no to our Airbnb host’s recommendation of two of her favorite restaurants: Little Italy and Sultan Suray (below).
We don’t have many authentic pizza options in Hungary so this was an awesome treat. Chris and I ordered bruschetta (the best) and pizzas. Best part? Our server wrapped our leftovers for our trip the following day. Loved this place and pizza for the plane.

Sultan Saray:

Here’s the thing: Chris and I absolutely love Turkish food, especially late night Turkish food. We actually had dinner at Sultan Saray twice #sorrynotsorry while in Stuttgart–the dishes are THAT good. They serve authentic Turkish options and a couple of international favorites as well; lots of dishes for vegetarians too!
Photo via Sultan Saray

Shops:

Leckerli Stuttgart:

We happened to randomly walk past Leckerli Stuttgart on our way into the center center. This adorable pet shop has everything from organic pet food and homemade treats to pet beds and bandannas. I picked up a couple of dog suckers, which Porkchop promptly devoured and Arya held onto for dear life.
Arya: “What is this treat and how do I keep my big brother from stealing it?”

Cosima Chiton:

I absolutely adored this little fabric and stationary shop! Cosima Chiton is located in the south of Stuttgart and sells unique sewing supplies, postcards, and writing accessories.
Photo via Prinz Stuttgart

Bonus: Stuttgart World Cup

We attended my first ever elite competition while in Stuttgart (best birthday present ever, Chris!) The World Cup was AMAZING and our seats were great. Unfortunately, my camera is terrible, so these potato-quality photos don’t really do the event justice. In an effort to practice mindfulness and being present, I also only took a a few photos. I’m always trying to document everything, so I tried my best to relax and enjoy the event in real time. I’m.so.glad.I.did.

The competitors included Simone Biles (USA), Ana Padurariu (Canada), Elisabeth Seitz (Germany), Lorette Charpy (France), Aliya Mustafina (Russia), Hitomi Hatakeda (Japan), Kim Bui (Germany), Zsofia Kovacs (Hungary), and Carolyne Pedro (Brazil).

Warm-ups prior to the start of the competition. Simone Biles (in blue) next to one of her coaches, Laurent Landi, Kim Bui (in red and white) with her back to the picture, Aliya Mustafina (in red, speaking to her coach), and Lorette Charpy (in blue) taking a turn on vault.

This competition was so fun to experience in person! Of course it was amazing to see Olympic champions Biles and Mustafina compete–Simone literally tumbles feet higher than anyone else and Aliya’s bars are one of the prettiest routines in the world–but also so cool to see athletes newer to the scene (Padurariu’s beam was fantastic and she looked as if she was having the time of her life, Charpy’s beam and bars were awesome, and the powerful Pedro finished her day with a great floor performance).

Biles (in blue) warms up on bars alongside 2016 Olympian Zsofia Kovacs (Hungary).

For me, I loved seeing the German athletes compete in their home country. Two-time Olympian Bui is still competing (and looking amazing, especially on bars) at AGE THIRTY. She is currently earning her Master’s Thesis in–wait for it–immunotherapy treatments for cancer patients, specifically engineering protein cells to combat the disease (!!). Elisabeth Seitz, a two time Olympian herself, rocked the arena on both bars and floor to take the bronze medal.

I’m also so thankful for the opportunity to see Kovacs compete in person. The sole Hungarian Olympian for Women’s Gymnastics in 2016, I watched her compete in Rio my very first week in Hungary (thankfully, the hotel we were living in was playing the Olympic Games). She’s had a couple of unfortunate injuries, but hoping to try to help secure a full team for Hungary for the 2020 Tokyo Games at the upcoming World Championships this October.
Aliya, the two time Olympic Champion on bars, gave birth to a baby girl in 2017. She is currently making her elite comeback and looking AMAZING. Her bars are all the heart in the eyes emojis.

❤ Stuttgart. So, so thankful.

The Neckar River
❤ ❤ ❤

Currently:

Reading: Every Day is for the Thief
(Teju Cole)
Watching: The Case Against Adnan Syed
(HBO)
Listening: Reveal: Lasting Impact
(Center for Investigative Reporting)

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