Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stuttgart and the Cannstatter Wasen Volksfest

When we decided to go to Germany for Oktoberfest we thought we would also visit Stuttgart.  Many German towns have their own festival at this time of year, and Stuttgart is one of the bigger ones.  Less well known than its Munich counterpart, the Cannstatter Wasen Volksfest is none the less a pretty large event and just as much fun.
As we were no longer going to Tubingen, we had four nights in Stuttgart and had decided to camp next to the show ground on the banks of the river.  The campsite was OK.  Like most German campsites I have used before, it had quite good facilities; the toilets and showers were much better than a lot that we used last year, and there was a little shop and a bar/bistro that opened in the evening until very late. Unusually though, we found that the loos weren't kept very clean - ie not cleaned for about thirty-six hours!

The other issue there was the tent area itself.  Whilst thankfully not as crowded as the caravan and camper van area, where they were packed with a hairs breadth between them, it was between two busy roads, so even after the music of the fair finished, there was no peace and quiet to be had.  But at least there was no cess pit nearby, which you will understand if you have been a regular reader.

But we weren't here for the quality of the campsite, and it was certainly convenient for the Volksfest.  And during the festival, the U-bahn (local trains) stop at the gates, so it is easy to get into the city too.

We had a bit of a wander around the city, strolling around the park and castle vicinity, but we didn't do any of the museums or other tourist bits.  If we had been so minded, we could have gone to the city museum, the Steiff museum, and the pig museum.  Or if cars were our thing, we could have gone along to the factory museums of Mercedes or Porsche.

Instead, we found a couple of nicer bars and restaurants.  We tried a few local dishes.  The first was called gaisburger marsch and was a broth with beef, vegetables and dumplings.  It wasn't quite what we had expected, but it was tasty.  In another place, Nic decided to try the pork hock.   I had warned him that it would be big - after all, we are talking about a leg of pork - but I don't think he was quite prepared for what was put in front of him, with the added chips, sauerkraut and so forth.  He got through most of it, and I was happy to help him out with the crackling.

The festival itself was fun.  Nic was relieved because due to my continuing cough (more about that later) I didn't really feel I could do the big rides, so he wasn't dragged onto any of them.  Mind you, I think he felt a bit giddy just watching them.  He frequently asked why anyone would want to be thrown through the air, turned upside down and around at great speeds.  I could only say 'because it's fun!'.  He did at least agree that it was amusing to watch the people walking automatically duck when the arm of one of the rides passed at speed over their heads with a lovely whooshing sound!

We didn't go in the beer tents here, as we figured those in Munich would be better, but we did find a nice 'village' area, where they had live music.  We found ourselves a space at one of the tables and sat eating roasted wild boar with rosemary potatoes, listening to a couple of guys doing excellent versions of numerous kitch songs in different languages, and drinking a few of the beers brewed especially for the festival.

And of course I had to have a Bratwurst.  I got to like these sausages when I lived in Germany, and always take the opportunity to have one when they are available.  In theory, you get them in the UK these days, usually at the European style Christmas markets, but somehow they never quite seem right.  That said there's a pub in Whitstable that really does have the proper ones.  The owner is German and brings them over himself to make sure they are right.  That was a nice surprise when we went there to watch the football once.  But back to Stuttgart, I couldn't resist the half-metre long Bratwurst.  Nic foolishly thought the idea was to share, but I soon put him right.

So we spent a few days at the Volksfest, watching the people in their lederhosen and dirndls, taking in the parade of bands, old cars and livestock, and generally enjoying ourselves.  I would definitely recommend it if you happen to be in the area at the right time.

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