How often do we ignore the background to trade show locations? Editor Neil Martin is determined to find out a little more about the hometown of VISION.
Of course when we’re on business trips, the last thing we do is take a look around the local attractions, or take in the sights. It’s fly in, do the business and fly out. Me, I like to spend at least a few hours taking in the main attractions, although I have to admit that at the last VISION, I didn’t get much further than a very nice cafe in the centre. I was drawn in by the cosy atmosphere, superb coffee and ever better cheesecake. Yes, museums might improve your cultural standing, but a good cheesecake, it’s hard to beat.
But, just in case you want to impress your colleagues, or indeed you partner, with your knowledge about one the of nicest places in Germany, well read on.
First things first though, Stuttgart actually means ‘mare’s garden’, from the original name Stutengarten. It’s the sixth largest city in Germany and in case anyone was wondering why there are so many nice cars around (I once had a taxi which must cost more than any home I’ve bought), it’s the home of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.
It’s also a very green City and open spaces are wrapped around a charming city centre. There are a number of large parks and just north of the Rosenstein Castle, is one of the largest zoos and botanical gardens in Europe.
So, given that, here’s the five things you don’t want to know about Stuttgart:
1. Home to the world’s largest pig museum.
I have to admit, this is a new one on me. I didn’t know this, nor did I think there were such things as pig museums. However, and appropriately enough, the Schweine Museum Stuttgart occupies an old city slaughterhouse. It’s made up of 29 rooms, many of them themed (such as the Piggy Bank Room) and over 50,000 varying artifacts with a pig connection. As you might imagine, it has a restaurant which specialises in, yes, you’ve guessed it, pork.
2. Only German city with a municipal wine estate.
Surely too cold I thought when I heard this fact. Apparently not though, as there have been vineyards there since c.30AD and by now, they have got it right. The municipal wine estate covers a very respectable 15.5 hectares and no doubt is used to keep the local officials happy during official events.
3. Enjoys its own Oktoberfest
Someone told me that Oktoberfest in Munich actually takes place in September, not October, which I find strange, but who am I to argue? All I know that this is where you go to drink a lot of beer, with a load of others in a large hall and get served by people in traditional dress.
Well, the hot location for such activity is Munich, but Stuttgart also boasts its own celebration of beer, its own Oktoberfest. It actually takes place twice a year (anytime but October no doubt) and is said to host as nearly as many people as Munich attracts for its beer fest. Cheers.
4. Birthplace of the Teddy Bear
Pooh Bear and Paddington were in invented, in concept form, in Stuttgart by a chap called Richard Steiff. I’m embarrassed to say I used my Teddy Bear as a punchbag, throwing him around the room as I tried out various kung-fu techniques. It was the time when Bruce Lee was a screen idol and my Teddy Bear was useful for practising roundhouse kicks. Lee died young and so did my Teddy Bear, more’s the pity. I understand that old Teddy Bears are worth quite a lot nowadays!
5. It’s Christmas Time
It may be a time of tedious songs which we’ve now heard year in, year out for seemingly decades, but it’s also the time of one of Europe’s biggest Christmas markets. It kicks off on the last Thursday of November (not long after VISION if you want to hang around) and finishes on the 23rd of December (good time to buy the turkey). It is said to date back to 1692 (watch those sell-by dates on the Christmas cakes) and the near 300 decorated stalls are visited by almost three million people every year.