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Published: July 20th 2016
It was one of those days when you walk out of the house at 7:30 in the morning and it is already hot. The news reported that this was going to the be hottest day of the year so far, and they were right. In addition, our destination was Stuttgart. It's geography places the downtown portion of the city firmly at the base of a large bowl, thereby negating any hope of a cooling breeze. Combined with the heat generated by the urban environment, the temps this afternoon easily climbed into the mid 90's. There were zero complaints or gripes from the kids however, and they made it a great day!
Our first stop in Stuttgart was the Mercedes Benz Arena, home to Stuttgart VFB, he local soccer club, which was founded in 1893. The stadium seats 60,000 rabid fans, which is just a touch fewer than the Seahawks stadium holds. Interestingly enough, they also celebrate the "12th Man" here, and actually allowed the supporters groups to have a very strong voice in the plans for the remodel of this beautiful stadium. Plans for luxury suites on the ends of the stadium were abandoned at the request of the fans.
That's not likely to happen in any NFL or NBA stadium!
Our tour began at the front gate, and was led by an English speaking guide who actually spent several years in North Carolina. We moved into the outer press areas for an introduction to the club before venturing into the room where pre and post match press conferences are held. Of course our kids took turns sitting in front of the mics on stage, ready to answer questions from the press. From here it was on to the home teams locker room. In the hall, one of the paintings on the wall was that of Jurgen Klinsmann, the United States National Team coach who once played for Stuttgart.
The locker rooms were not that impressive really. Nothing more than what you would find in a high school or small college in the States. Our guide pointed out that the players spend no more than ninety minutes or so every other week in that room, so they didn't put too much into it. The player facilities at the training ground are much more plush and luxurious we were assured.
It was on to the field next, and
they really did it up right! They turned on the music, and the kids walked out the players tunnel entrance to the pitch just like on game day! It is a brilliant spectacle from field level, especially on a bluebird day like today. We soaked in the sights, took lots of pictures, and struggled to stay off the grass.
Up to the luxury boxes where Chancellor Merkel and other German power brokers sit when they are in attendance. World Cup and Euro qualifiers have taken place at this stadium, so many notable dignitaries have enjoyed matches in the very seats our kids occupied today. More pictures and some relaxing, perhaps stalling a bit in order to enjoy the rest, and then we were off to the nose bleed seats at the very top of the stadium for a grand vantage point indeed.
One noticeable difference between German soccer stadiums and those in the U.S. is that the visiting supporters have their own designated section in which they must remain. Not only that, but it is fenced in from the home side supporters with tall metal chain link. This is to keep the opposing rooting interests separated for their
own good. Yup, they tend to get a little rowdy around here when it comes to soccer!
A quick stop in the team shop, and it was time for a stroll down the road to the Mercedes Museum. The entire area, perhaps equal in size to Pioneer Square to down past Safeco Field in Seattle is Mercedes sponsored. The stadium, front offices, club training grounds and youth academy, as well as the Mercedes Museum is located right here, which made today's early itinerary quite convenient.
If you are a Mercedes fan, a car fan in general, a history buff, or just like brilliantly graceful and artistic works of automotive art, this museum is most definitely for you! It is a grand facility with a seven story open atrium inside. One boards the elevator and is lifted into the past, emerging to the sight of a horse as the elevator doors open. From there, one winds their way down through history, past the first horse drawn carriages and the earliest motorized vehicles. Slowly downward through seven stories of ever more modern Mercedes designs until the first level is reached and the displays of the most recent Mercedes racing machines
greets the eye. It is an incredible display to say the very least! It would be easy to spend all day gawking at the incredible beauty and the evolution of these cars. They are truly works of art. Very, very expensive works of art.
After a bit of a delay as we waited for a few boys who perhaps lost track of time, space, and reality as they enjoyed the exhibits, it was back to the bus for a short hop to the pedestrian only shopping plaza of Koenigstrasse. We spent almost three hours of free time here, and that perhaps still wasn't enough for all of the shopping and relaxing to get done to everyone's complete satisfaction. Students enjoyed a cold kugel of eis, the many air conditioned stores, and even the only known Starbucks locations in the region.
It was yet another very enjoyable day in Stuttgart! A mix of sports, cars, and shopping, there really was something for everyone!
Tomorrow we are off to school in the morning, followed by an optional hike to the Zeller Horn in the afternoon. This short hike will afford those who attend a brilliant perspective of Hohenzollern Castle
and the villages beyond. The heat is supposed to subside some tomorrow, so the timing of this event should be perfect.
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