London, Stuttgart, and Triberg
London was the last leg of my trip with Brian. We arrived on the train from Edinburgh and navigated our way to The Walrus hostel. It was located right by Waterloo Station, just across the river from Westminister. It was a pretty disappointing hostel – dark, dirty, and we were in an 18 (!!) bed dorm room. Thus, we tried to spend most of our time wandering around the city. We visited all the landmarks: Trafalgar Square, Westminister Abbey, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, etc. We even found a very classy cigar shop and smoked Cuban cigars. We heard all about how to get cheap tickets to see theater shows and we saw that The Book of Mormon was playing nearby, so for two days in a row we entered the lottery to win cheap tickets (apparently the only way to get them for that show), but didn’t win either day. We wanted to take a day trip to visit Canterbury, but by this stage on our trip we were running low on money and time, and we didn’t want to spend the extra cash to get there.
When our time together was up, both of us flew out of Heathrow; Brian went home and I went on to Germany. I was traveling on my own once again. Traveling alone is very different from traveling with a companion; worlds different. Before this trip, as I was planning it, I was very hesitant about traveling alone for such a long time, but now that I’ve actually done it I’ve found that I really enjoy traveling by myself. The single traveler has 100% freedom to go wherever, whenever. He can do anything he likes and only has himself to answer to. He also has a lot of time to himself, in trains or walking city streets at night. I also find it less stressful, maybe that’s because I don’t have anyone to point out when I do something stupid. But, the single traveler faces loneliness occasionally, (obviously) and needs to learn to deal with that. My time with Brian was excellent, but I’m excited about finishing out my trip by myself, traveling through Germany and Italy.
I made my way to Stuttgart, and after an entire day of traveling (because of frustrating complications) I arrived in the city around midnight. I crashed from exhaustion soon after. The next day I explored the city, tried some great sausage and beer, and visited the Porsche Museum. My grandfather is a Porsche fanatic so I’ve known about Porsches from a young age, but this museum was pretty incredible. They had examples of most of their models, from the early prototypes to the latest professional racers. While I’m no car enthusiast, I really enjoyed learning about the history and the engineering. It came through loud and clear that Porsche really cares about creating the best sports car possible. One interesting tidbit I learned was that Porsches in America are roughly 30% cheaper than their European counterparts. This is because Porsche set the prices of their autos when the dollar and euro were more equal. The dollar has weakened now, but Porsche hasn’t changed their prices because they are worried about scaring off American buyers: a new 911 is roughly $90,000 in America and roughly 90,000 euros in Europe. Therefore, when I strike it rich I’ll ensure I get my Porsche in the good ol' USA.
The next day, I took a train from Stuttgart to Triberg. Triberg is a small town in the Black Forest, west and slightly south of Stuttgart. The city is in a small valley, surrounded on all sides by mountains. A small river runs right through the middle of the city, with what is apparently Germany’s highest waterfall just a few minutes upstream. Triberg is known as the cuckoo clock capital of the world; this appears to be quite true, there are cuckoo clock shops galore. Triberg also boasts of having the world’s largest cuckoo clock – an entire house is required to house the mechanism and weights. I had a lot of fun exploring the small shops and looking at all the clocks and woodcarvings. Of course, I purchased an awesome cuckoo clock and intend to display it proudly in my new apartment in Berkeley. It should really tie the room together.
I’m on the train right now, Traveling from Triberg to Florence. Florence is probably my favorite city in all of Europe, so I’m ecstatic to go back to it. I only have eight days left before I fly home, so I’m trying to savor each detail. The beauty of Italy, especially Florence, is the details, so it’s a good thing I’m finishing out my trip there.
#london #stuttgart #triberg #england #germany #traveling #europe2013