This monkey knows that Sundays can be great in Germany...
In April 2016, I wrote a post inspired by a rant by a newcomer in one of our local Facebook groups. The newbie was perplexed about what to do in Stuttgart on a Sunday. Actually, I kind of felt that person's pain. I'm old enough to remember the days when Sundays pretty much sucked. When I was a kid, stores were closed on Sundays and there was nothing but sports and old movies on TV. I'd be forced to go to church and come home to brunch. Then it would be pure boredom, at least until I was old enough to have a horse to ride and clean up after.
Coming to Germany, where stores are closed on Sundays and I don't get TV, was almost a throwback to those old times. Of course now, I can drink beer and have sex with my husband, not that we necessarily do that. Anyway, I learned from my first time living here that time is precious. It's no good sitting around in your house when your days living in Europe could be limited. The first time we lived here, we didn't quite get two years. We spent entirely too many days sitting around doing nothing on Sundays. This time, we are determined to make our Sundays count. I think you should make your Sundays count, too. So I'm going to make another list of ten things to do in the Stuttgart area on Sundays.
These suggestions are not ranked in any particular order. Many of them might have appeared on the first list. If I double up on a suggestion, it's because I really think it's worth doing. Or I've run out of ideas. Forgive me. I'm still recovering from my sickness, probably contracted during last week's excursions. When possible, I will link to my blog posts about experiences we've actually had.
10. Go barefoot in the park!
Okay... so I did mention this possibility in my first post. But I wrote that post before I actually experienced one of Germany's awesome barefoot parks. We have one in Dornstetten, which is about a half an hour from where I live in Unterjettingen. It's probably a bit further for those of you living closer to the military installations. If you have kids, this is a great activity. If you are a big kid, this is a great activity. After you're finished hopping across a trampoline, walking through mud, traipsing across glass, and hopefully not falling on your ass, you can have a snack at the on site imbiss. Bill and I went last summer and Bill, who is definitely not as big of a kid as I am, still talks about it. I have a feeling we'll be going back soon.
9. Visit caves!
I also mentioned caves in my first post, but that was before I actually went to any in the Stuttgart area. And funny enough, the ones I linked to are ones I haven't been to yet. Last weekend, Bill and I visited three (technically four) caves in towns about an hour from Stuttgart. It turns out this area is full of them and they range in difficulty, but the price is definitely right and they are generally open on Sundays. If you have young children, I highly recommend the Bärenhöhle, which is very kid friendly and doesn't take too long. Afterwards, you can visit Traumland, which is a kid friendly amusement park. For older kids, there's the Tiefenhöhle, which is the only vertical cave in Germany that is open to the public. Fair warning-- this cave is pretty challenging and is probably best suited for older kids who respect heights. If the kids aren't worn out after the cave, you can venture next door to Kletterwald, which is a ropes course. Or they can just play on the equipment set up right next to the biergarten.
8. Visit a Biergarten!
The Stuttgart area is loaded with great places to drink beer. I have linked to my review of the Schwabengarten, but after almost a total of five years living in this area, we have only been there once. We are usually partial to biergartens closer to us. We like the Neckarmueller in Tuebingen or the Longwy Bar in Nagold. Check your area for good watering holes. They are especially great to visit after a walk in one of Stuttgart's many great parks.
7. Try a new museum!
I love to visit quirky museums and the Stuttgart area has its share of them. The first time we lived here, we visited the Mercedes Museum, which was certainly interesting. This time, we have visited the Schweine Museum. A couple of weeks ago, we visited a kids' science museum. Yes, people gave us looks for visiting a kids' museum, but we had fun anyway. Want something a little more precious? You can also check out fancy rocks on Sunday...
6. Feed some monkeys!
If you've already been to Wilhelma Zoo, you can venture down to "Monkey Hill", where very intelligent monkeys will take popcorn from you. It's a lot of fun and a great way to kill a Sunday!
5. Get naked!
I mentioned spas in my first post on this subject. That post was written before I ever had the pleasure of being naked in front of a bunch of Germans. A few weeks ago, Bill and I visited Palais Thermal in Bad Wildbad, the very same town where the famous "treewalk" is located (another great Sunday activity in these parts). We ended up going native at the spa... I must say, it was a really liberating experience, if not exactly kid friendly (not that that matters to me). Not into nudity? You can visit the Paracelus Therme, a spa in Bad Liebenzell, which I understand does not have a textile free area. Also, the Mineraltherme should be opening again soon-- that spa offers a nude area only in the lower level.
4. Break out of a room!
Stuttgart has Exitgames, which is an activity where couples or groups try to "break out" of a room. I haven't tried this myself, although it is definitely on the list. Exitgames can be booked online and Sunday slots are available. Stay tuned. I have a feeling Bill and I will be paying a visit very soon.
3. Go for a drive!
This is another activity I have yet to try myself. Basically, you drive a "hot rod" car and go for a tour. Fair warning. You have to be at least 18 and a licensed driver to do this activity, but it definitely looks like fun. Even better, it's based in beautiful Calw, which is not far from where I live and I can attest to how beautiful the area is.
2. Hit a fest!
The above link is to just one example of the fests that are available in the Stuttgart area. One lovely thing about Germans is that they always find a reason to celebrate. I found a wine fest in early April because a German friend alerted me to it. Turns out the wine fest goes on every year. Many communities offer weekly papers alerting to what is going on, or you could join the local Facebook group dedicated to local events and holidays. Chances are, if it's a weekend, someone is having a fest somewhere.
1. Leave the country!
Remember that France and Switzerland are both less than two hours away. If you have no other pressing commitments, you can easily take a great day trip to either country. Just be aware that if you plan to drive on the high speed roads in Switzerland, you will need to purchase a vignette, which you can get at either the border or your local ADAC store. They are good from December 1 of the previous year until January 31st of the next year. So if you buy one in on December 1, 2017, you have until January 31, 2019 to use it.
In France, you don't need a vignette. However, if you end up on a high speed road, you may end up paying tolls. Have some euros available for that possibility-- and consider sticking around the Alsace region to avoid that possibility. You may also want to do your homework, since France and Switzerland also close stuff on Sundays. And don't forget your passports! It's not likely you'll have to show them to anyone, but there's always a chance you will need them.
Of course... having driven B28 to France a few times, I can attest to how charming the area is. You might decide to stop on the way... The Black Forest has a lot to offer, including several lakes where you can go swimming. It may turn out you don't need to cross the border if you happen across a town that speaks to you. You might even encounter a fest. I guess my best advice is to not be afraid to wander. You never know what (or who) you'll run into. No, you can't hit the mall on most Sundays in Germany, but you can find something to do. Chances are, it will mean a lot more to you than the mall will, anyway.