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Stuttgart Day 1

Meet The Parents
Straight past the exit gate, my mom stands waiting in apprehension. Once I catch her attention, her fists fly up and her eyes begin to water. My parents visit me at school every October, but this fall their trip was a bit longer than a nine-hour car ride to Cincinnati.
A bit more scenic, too.
Before boarding the train to Stuttgart, Dad needed his cup of Java. Approaching the station’s Backerei, I figured I would welcome myself back into Germany with a pretzel. This purchase was the first of many indulgences during fall break under my parent’s budget.

Home Sweet Stuttgart
An hour outside of the Frankfurt Airport lies the humble town on Stuttgart. Waiting at the train station was my German “relative”, Gerlind. Her grandmother and Mom’s grandmother were cousins, so you do the math. Gerlind ran up to three lost Americans with open arms and escorted us out into the downtown square.
Downtown Stuttgart
We lucked out. Snow threatened Stuttgart just weeks ago, but we toured downtown in sunglasses and warmed up under sunlight during our patio lunch. The adults talked politics and health care as I people-watched while sipping sparkling apple juice. Occasionally contributing to the conversation, I found Germany’s school system impressive given the nation offers free education (including college). I could buy a few dozen round-trip tickets from Kansas to Germany in exchange for Xavier’s tuition.
After lunch, Gerlind took us to the old church, the old palace, and the indoor market. Similar to Florence’s San Lorenzo market, but much cleaner. Mom and I lit up amongst the rows of food and spices. Indoor markets spur the same reaction as a trip to Target, where women spend hours shopping and inspecting every isle. My Father, on the other hand, started to fade.
Stuttgart Palace
Respecting Dad’s wishes, we jumped in Gerlind’s Opel and swerved through the hills of her neighborhood, stopping at her gated home. Through the fences grew dozens of plants, flowers, and trees. After a catnap, I sampled grapes and miniature kiwis from the vine while watching goldfish sliver inside the backyard pond. Looking up, hills covered in foliage boarded the subdivision. After months of living in warm Tuscany and spending weekends on the beach, this autumn setting was a nice change of pace.

Tea Party Talking About The Tea Party
At the end of our garden tour, Walter and Tim stepped through the gate. Walter, Gerlind’s husband, picked up their son Tim from the train station for a weekend home from school. The three blondes showed us the way to the dining room for homemade chocolate cake and apple pie. Again, we (my dad) discussed politics and culture. Frank pressed his right-winged opinions on the table while I sat back, listened and smiled. I had always learned that politics were a taboo subject to discuss with new acquaintances, but Martins like to speak their mind.
Around 9pm, I figured we would wind down after our hot drinks and dessert. However, the feast had just begun. Gerlind crept behind the kitchen doors and returned with a casserole of Spaetzle, a traditional German noodle dish. Baked with cheese and onion, our German friends reloaded our plates throughout the night. By 11pm, I was stuffed with Spaetzle and social issues. My parents looked at their watches with shock, while Gerlind and Walter explained that the night was still young. Regardless, the Martin’s were worn out and retreated to bed.

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