Set between stunning hills and vineyards, the city of Stuttgart and its surrounds, combine traditional German culture with a passion for innovation.
By Julie Andrews
Photos by Nigel Andrews
Wheelchairs and air travel can be a testing combination, as I discovered on our way to Stuttgart, but with the kindness and consideration of airport staff, the ﬂying was made bearable. Anyway, it was worth it since ﬁve days in this city of surprises charmed us all.
Bad Cannstatt is one of the oldest and historically signiﬁcant towns in Stuttgart, which is revealed alongside its meandering river and in its beautiful baroque buildings.
On our ﬁrst evening together, my family and I strolled through the characterful streets and whiled away the evening partaking of local beers and schnapps. Well, it would have been rude not to!
Straßenbahnwelt Stuttgart (Stuttgart Tram Museum)
Stuttgart tram museum, has an extensive collection of trams, buses, and related objects that date back nearly 150 years. Accessible throughout, it was enthralling to wander amongst the magniﬁcent machines on display.
Dreamily visualising bygone departures, with people uttering their romantic ﬁnal goodbyes, I was quickly brought back to the present, where we were about to make an enchanting journey of our own – and the main reasons for our visit.
Taking the great glass elevator down to the centre of the museum, Charlie, in his chocolate factory, couldn’t have been more excited than I. A special family wedding among the trams, was about to begin as our lovely Emily, glided down the aisle on her beaming dad’s arm, the extraordinary setting couldn’t have been more perfect. For a couple who work in the travel and entertainment industry, the ceremony and the surroundings were, at once, both theatrical and charmingly intimate. With gleaming bright carriages as the backdrop to their wedding, their tender vows were shared.
Following a surprise ride in a vintage bus through the streets of Stuttgart, the wedding breakfast was held in the stables of an historic Roman fort. Sharing the day with Family and friends from across the globe, we savoured every single moment of Emily and Tim’s spectacular celebration of love.
Mercedes Benz Museum
Late the next morning, we had recovered enough to celebrate my son’s birthday with a trip to the famous Mercedes Benz Museum.
Set to a height of 34 metres, the futuristic lifts transported us to the top of the building, where our fascinating spiral journey down through time began. Access throughout this experience was exceptional, with long ramps and satellite lifts serving all levels.
This is the only museum in the world capable of documenting an unbroken history of transport in actual vehicles. From Mercedes horse drawn carts, through to present day and beyond, the experience left us totally spellbound.
Back down to earth
To end our astonishing weekend of festivities, we shared a special family meal with the newly-weds. On our way back to the hotel, taking the underground, we were horriﬁed to discover that the lift was broken. Navigating a moving escalator in a wheelchair, is not for the faint hearted, I can tell you. Tipping myself backwards and landing in my hubby’s capable hands, I prayed for him to hold ﬁrm till touch-down, which thankfully, he did!
Saying goodbye to our sons and the wedding party, we took a couple of days to see the sights. After such a hectic weekend, we opted for a more chilled time the ﬁrst day and headed for Rosenstein Park.
High on a hill overlooking the city, Rosenstein is a park of many characters. A wonderful combination of scenic views, museums, educational tours and adventure areas for children of all ages. It even has the Wilhelma Zoo bordering it. We were like excited children as we picnicked with deer and camels only a wire fence away.
This is a space to discover adventure, be a kid or simply stroll away a day in harmony with nature – so we did.
On our final day we, took the U-Bahn into the centre of Stuttgart. Having imagined, loud monstrous trams trundling through the streets stealing the peace, we were pleasantly surprised by these bright yellow beauties floating along on a whisper. Trams were by far the easiest and cheapest way to get to around with a stop practically outside our hotel, it only took 15 minutes to reach the centre.
Leaving the station, we set off to explore. Stuttgart is an unusual city, a place where one minute you’re surrounded by regular high street stores and the next, you’re perusing cute markets stalls and being stunned by herculean looking gothic churches.
On the last night, we strolled through the beautiful parks surrounding our hotel. In a charming mix of café, bakery and general meeting place, we shared an evening with the locals, appreciating delectable food, fun conversation and new friendships.
We stayed at the Ibis Styles in Bad Cannstatt. Our room and the facilities throughout the hotel were brilliantly accessible. We were also conveniently located next to a U-Bahn (Tram) stop, making travel really easy.
Stuttgart is a sprawling city with extremely archaic provision regarding access with high dropped kerbs and few accessible rooms in the older hotels and so on. However, the trams and accessible taxis are brilliant and if you book into newer hotels and insist on a written guarantee of access when booking, holidaying will be easy.
If you are looking for spectacular views, great shopping, stunning cars, full-bodied beers and enchanting adventures, Stuttgart is the place to discover them. The food is scrumptious, the delightful quaint suburbs captivating and the welcome, warm.