brawl." They must have just gotten back from Italy when they said it.
Italy is all energy and anarchy and excess, where anything goes
except no one is quite sure how or where. Germany is all efficiency
and order and quiet competence, where 2:55 should never be confused
with three o'clock. My only experience with Germany before this foray
was in the far north -- Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen. But we were in
Stuttgart, in the southwestern corner of Bavaria, which is called
Schwabia, and I was bowled over by what a beautiful, green, pastoral
place it is compared to the north.
Stuttgart and nearby Ludwigsburg are part of the realm of the 19th
century Bavarian king, Ludwig II, known as Ludwig Friedrich Wilhelm
to his friends. He was also known as "The Swan King," "The Dream
King" and "Mad King Ludwig." I guess it just depended on the day.
Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't. Ludwig II is
perhaps best known for his three jaw-dropping castles, which he
called his "fantasies in stone." The most jaw-dropping of all is the
Neuschwanstein Castle, which would definitely ring a bell if you saw
it, because it was the model for Sleeping Beauty's castle at
Disneyland, a.k.a. the Happiest Place on Earth.
A model of precision
Today's Stuttgart is very user-friendly, squeaky clean, and boy do
the trains run on time. Every metro station has an electronic display
overhead that tells you when the next train will arrive, which is
usually no more than a few minutes, and where it's headed. If you're
into cars with prices that make you say, "Ach du lieber!" Stuttgart
is home to both Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. This is a company town,
though, and there's little doubt that the nummer-eine company in this
town is Mercedes Benz, which rolled out its first motorcar in Dec.
22, 1900, which was something like 104 years ago. In case anyone is
confused about whose calls get returned first at Stuttgart City Hall,
the spire atop the Stuttgart train station is topped by an enormous
Our hotel, the Steigenberger Graf Zeppelin, was top-notch, with
great service, and, of course, everything was neat as a pin and had