This was my second time visiting Germany, but its beauty never stops to amaze me. In just five days, during this fall break, I managed to visit four cities in the southwest part of the country.
My trip started, when I landed at Frankfurt Airport, which by itself looks like a mini city. One cannot be bored with all the shops, restaurants, bakeries and bookstores there. Frankfurt is a beautiful city but was not my first stop.
The first stop was Karlsruhe. The city may appear small but it is actually the second-largest city in the region of Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany. It is always full of life because of the thousands of students, who study in the university there.
One of the students in the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology told me the legend of the city. Karl III had a dream about a star-shaped city and asked his advisers to find the place with the best climate in Germany, where he can build his summer residency.
300 years later, I find myself at that exact place in the garden behind the Karslruhe Palace. It was designed to resemble the English landscape gardens and it consists of two large grass fields separated by a path. Sculptures complete the view on the further ends of the fields. During the fall people are in a hurry to get to their classes or to the nearest cafe but locals assured me that during the warm months, I would not be able to find a place to sit in the garden.
In order to move quicker, many of the residents go through some of the parks and gardens. This is exactly what my friends and I did the first night there. It feels surreal to walk on a two meter wide path with a big stone wall on the one side and a vast forest on the other. The noises from the woods make you feel like you are in a horror movie. Turns out they were nothing but harmless hedgehogs, wild pigs and other animals that live there freely.
After my imagination was calmed, it was time for the next stop, Stuttgart, the capital and the largest city of Baden-Württemberg. There I visited the famous Porsche museum. For a small fee I got to see the evolution of the Porsche brand and the original Volkswagen Beetle, developed during World War II.
There are three circles in the museum. When you step on them you can hear different motors roaring. Above your head there is a label telling you which one you are listening to at the moment. For no more than 100 euros, you can even drive some of the latest Porsche models for an hour.
I had been in Stuttgart three years before that but the city impressed me once again. Walking down Schlossplatz, the main square, at 7 p.m., I passed by myriad of people, some rushing through the crowd, others too busy observing the shops and restaurants, to notice the hustle around them. Two hours later the place looked empty. Almost everything was closed and people were either going home or meeting friends in the bars and clubs, which work until later. I am part of the latter.
All of this lead me to the Sbahn, meaning city rapid railway, which took me to Esslingen am Necker, where I saw my friend after being separated for three years. I did not get to see much of the city, especially at night, but I managed to walk past the main street, which similarly to Schlossplatz, was empty in this hour.
The final stop of my trip took me back to where I started – Frankfurt or as many call it “the German New York.” You may think you are ready for a megalopolis like that but the moment you step out of the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, the central station, the view will make you feel microscopic. Looking at the numerous skyscrapers, I had the urge to go to the top of at least one of them. We went up the Main Tower. Although it is not the tallest building in the city, it is the only one offering a public viewing platform.
A 56-floor elevator ride was all it took to get to the top. Down at the bottom, the city does not stop buzzing and moving, but at the top, you forget all about that and just enjoy the amazing view. The city is everywhere around you and this can be a good place to find what you want to see next. There are even a few telescopes you can use for one euro.
Back on the streets, we went to the Römer, or multiple buildings placed next to each other. It has been the city hall for over 600 years. The facade of the buildings is a mix of old and new architecture and they even tell part of the history of Frankfurt. The buildings are sometimes hosting exhibitions but are not a permanent museum and the balcony is used as a public stage.
The streets and the architecture have enchanted me not only in the big cities like Frankfurt and Stuttgart, but also in the smaller ones like Esslingen. Whether it is the view from the Main Tower in Frankfurt or the gardens of Karlsruhe, Germany is a country that makes you want to come back to it again and again.