It was a really nice weekend. Spring has officially arrived in Stuttgart and with the return of nice weather, the city explodes into the street. Every bench was full, every street stair, stoop, and ledge was occupied, and even bars and cafes with no outdoor seating apparently went to IKEA the night before because everyone wanted to sit outside and drink something. Stuttgart on the first weekend in spring is uptown Tokyo. Konigstrasse is Shanghai's Nanjing street.
Saturday we had a huge breakfast of fried eggs, tortillas, salsa, cheese, berries, and avocado out on the patio before heading out to the city center where we literally stumbled over my friend Apo and a friend of his. We stumbled over them because they were sitting on the ground, drinking at Palast, because that is what one does at this bar. We joined them for a beer and a redcurrant soda and just chatted for a little over an hour. Always, always running into people we know at Palast. It was funny because Apo, Saori, and I were also all wearing white and black Converse sneakers.
Sunday I made pancakes topped with kiwi and a side of pan fried wurst, and we ate on the patio again, because there's only ten nice days a year in Stuttgart. Friday after work, Saori had asked me if there was anything I wanted to do on Sunday, and I mentioned that I would really like to get out and see some of the blooming apple and cherry trees everywhere. Which turned out to be precisely what she had been invited to by her coworkers. Around one we met our friends Georg and Daphne and Selma they gave us a lift to Herrenburg, a village at the edge of the S-bahn system from Stuttgart.
There, we met up with about ten or so more people, mostly Saori's coworkers, and we started our Wanderweg from the picturesque village square busy with people getting gelato and lounging at cafe tables at the base of a large hill. We climbed up past the old church sinking a centimeter a year, and up into the hill past sleepy ruins into the trees and winding hillside paths. Lots of bicyclists, hikers, and wanderers like us.
We hiked along the treeline, mostly at the edge of the slope, and we were greeted by vista after vista, clearing after clearing of beautiful trees and sweeping panoramas of the green lands and stubby green plateaus and highlands of the Schwabisch Alb in the distance. The highlight of the trail was a particularly pretty gentle hillside dotted with apple trees, where under one blooming tree, an enterprising group had set up a Sekt bar, selling flutes (and bottles) of locally produced juices and flavored sparkling wines.
When I say "flavored sparkling wines" there are probably a few readers who are already flinching, but these were really really quite nice. Apple-Pear was a particularly good one, but I also tried the plum. Some wooden picnic benches had been set up nearby, but I was happy so sit on a grassy hillock and just take it all in. It made me sad that this kind of thing is an impossibility in the US, which would probably prohibit the vending of alcohol in a public trail first of all, but would also require a cordoned-off area with an ID checker even if it were permitted.
After resting for a bit and enjoying a glass or two of bubbly, we continued on our way and hiked along, down to a village, and then back through the valley to where we started again. It was a haul. We walked perhaps six or seven kilometers, and by the time we sat down at a hotel beer garden for a final drink, we were all quite tired. But what a great hike!
After we were dropped off back in Stuttgart, Saori and I hit a burger shop and split some fries for dinner, before climbing the challenging six flights back to our apartment. A really good day.
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