On Wednesday, we hopped on the U-Bahn to visit a colleague in the small town outside Stuttgart where she lives. Herrenberg is a charming city with a particularly beautiful “Altstadt” (“Old City”). It is also unique because since its Stiftskirche (church) is set atop one of the highest hills in the area, it was used as a landmark by Allied forces and was thus spared from bombing during World War II. We entered the church as the organist was practicing, and Aaron danced and sang (“la la la la”) in the sanctuary under ornate stained glass windows and gilded ceilings.
I love how these old German cities were designed, with narrow cobblestoned streets and residences mixed with shops to create a peaceful, easily accessible downtown area. Granted, it’s hard to accommodate cars down the narrow alleyways, which is why much of the Altstadt is a pedestrian area. At least the mixed use zoning renders cars somewhat unnecessary– we traveled the 35 kilometers in 45 minutes and didn’t have to worry about traffic or parking.
Our colleague and friend, Allison, took us to a small tea shop owned by her friend Anna. She served us cappuccinos in tiny cups and let me sample the locally made liquors and schnapps– my favorite was the “Herrenberger Zwetschgen,” a fiery concoction distilled from plums grown in Anna’s garden. For lunch, we headed to a restaurant specializing in Swabian food and enjoyed Spaetzle, Schnitzel, and Beef Goulasch with salads. In Germany, dogs are allowed in most public places, including restaurants, so A. spent a lot of time getting to know the resident golden retriever, whom he occasionally referred to as “Ike.”
The train ride back to Stuttgart took us past long swaths of forests that reminded us of home but seemed extra mysterious…the perfect setting for a Brother’s Grimm fairy tale or two, perhaps?