I haven’t actually been here a week, but I’ve been away from work for a week so it seems like it’s been a while. I guess I’ve seen a bit of Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen (yes, I read all of that in German, too. Not quite.), but given that I’ve stayed mostly within Stuttgart in the last four days, I don’t have anything epic to show. Yet.
I started off at O’Hare, where I thought it’d make a lot of sense to take pictures of all the water fountains I see in my travels (idea for a theme courtesy of Joshua Lee),
but I realized in about fifteen hours that most European places don’t have water fountains immediately visible. I therefore decided to take pictures of phone booths, since they’ve largely gone extinct in the US.
This one had a credit card slot… I was impressed. However, this was nevertheless another strike against my theme planning, as instead of having to search out phone booths in Europe (one shouldn’t generalize: so I’ll say instead Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen), they’re practically everywhere!
Ah well. Anyhow. On my way to Germany, I ended up taking a Lufthansa flight (long story for those of you surprised I didn’t choose a flight on a Boeing craft) on the recommendation of Paul Chowdhry, a fellow trainee. I saw beer on the drinks cart and knew it was free, but asked for water first. Then I turned around after the cart had passed and sheepishly also asked for a Warsteiner (which is all I saw).
I then almost got kicked off the flight because I was so intoxi — okay, I’m kidding! Can any of you ever see me being unruly on an airplane?
My hotel, the Hotel El Camino, is pretty decent.
The room is very small (by US standards), but it’s a decent enough place to stay and also has internet. The issue is that my room is too far from the router, so I don’t actually get a signal… which partially explains the lack of an online presence recently (but let’s face it; I’m also out being a touron a lot). Since I don’t speak so good German, I ordered a random seafood dish and was initially surprised to see calamari on my plate. The restaurant of my hotel acknowledged they were wrong and brought out the correct platter — I apologize for the bad lighting but this was from my phone’s camera — which was truly squid. There’s calamari squid (like 1″ size) and then there’s this… which was doughnut-sized. Very good, but also very surprising as I thought I had ordered fish. I’m glad I eat anything… because this would have been a rude awakening any other way!
I’ve had one pretzel so far (but not a buttered pretzel… clearly I haven’t been wandering around the right parts of the city), but none of my other meals have been this interesting, suffice to say!
On Friday afternoon, I visited the Porsche Museum. Porsche’s headquarters are in Zuffenhausen, so I figured I might as well visit when I was still within walking distance. On the way, I saw something that’s probably not too common in the US… some homeowner association probably wouldn’t be happy about this sort of thing.
The museum itself was sweet, though with a traffic circle (with stop lights?!) in front didn’t lend itself to as “clean” an image as I had hoped for. The 911 kind of helps the image, but because I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for this shot, the 911 isn’t “frozen,” either. Oh well. You get the point: lots of fancy shmancy architecture befitting something with the name “Porsche.”
Another confession: I don’t know Porsche’s history or vehicular significance even after going through the museum — I kind of went backwards in its timeline; oops — so I won’t post too many pictures of its cars. However, there were a few vehicles that caught my eye: first, a comparison of the various sizes of what has become the 911 line. The current car is quite a bit bigger than the original 356, and now I’m curious if the BMW 5-series (for instance) has grown as much in its lifetime (hint: I’ll find out when I visit the BMW Museum sometime in the next 6 months).
Also, Porsche didn’t just make cars. On display also were design collaborations with bike firms, forklift manufacturers, watercraft, aircraft engines, tractors (?!)… quite an interesting and very rich history.
As I said, I’m not really that familiar with Porsche cars, but since I watch Top Gear religiously, I have learned that the Porsche 959 was a great car… so I took a picture of it. There is a very thick line between “tourist snapshoter” and “pretend photographer,” and I happily cross it every time I bring my camera with me — mostly into the territory of the former!
I think my favorite exhibit was a three-section cutaway of a modern 911 that showed the various design elements of creating a Porsche (design (styling), development, and production). Each section of the car showed various parts to that particular phase. Overall, a pretty neat museum and worth the 4 € entrance fee and 2 € audio guide fee. (The regular entrance fee is actually 8 €, but because the agent was nice and I was new to working in Germany, she gave me the reduced rate — which is also the student, elderly, and something else rate. Sweet!)
As I walked home, I saw what seemed to be a parked truck with some concrete mixer cargo.
With closer inspection, however, there was a “passenger” in the passenger seat. It was kinda creepy, but more humorous than anything else.
I’m really not sure why there’s a huge stuffed dog there. I’ll be ignorant (i.e. sarcastic) and assume it’s another part of German culture I don’t understand yet, so I’m off to go do some more exploring and find out. (Not really; unless I see this again somewhere else, I won’t bring it up.)
Should be a good time here. Growing a thick skin and having to be the ignorant American is difficult — I hate asking people whether they speak English; they shouldn’t have to in their own country, regardless if it is the language of international business, but I’ll see how much I can learn in the coming months and hopefully try to avoid making eye contact and blurting out, “Sprechen Sie Englisch?” and closing with an exceedingly impressive “Danke Schön” and “Tchüss.”