By Therese Weiss
Special to the Citizen
In Germany, August is high summer and the traditional time for outdoor events, music festivals, fairs, expositions and family vacations.
The Hundstage (dog days of summer) that began in July and end August 23 may bring the hottest days of the year, droughts or frequent strong thunderstorms. By definition, the dog days are the steamiest part of summer. It is the meteorological period when Sirius, the Dog Star, rises around the same time as the sun. Best advice: Stay in the shade and drink lots of cool water.
Meteor Showers Aug. 12
NASA experts predict that this summer, meteors from the annual Perseid meteor shower called Sternschnuppen (shooting stars, or in German folklore, Laurentius’ tears), will be visible in the northern hemisphere until August 24 as the Earth passes through the densest, dustiest area of the comet Swift-Tuttle’s path. The shower’s peak occurred on the night of Aug. 12 and early morning of Aug. 13. For potential sky-watchers who plan to see the Perseid meteor in the Stuttgart area, choose a dark place, bring a blanket or cushion, then relax and watch the celestial show.
August is also vacation time in Europe, with much to do and see this month in and around Stuttgart. Many towns and villages will be, flying banners and providing the setting for much fun, culture, sightseeing, entertainment, fests and fireworks. Hundreds of fabulous open-air and indoor swimming pools beckon.
Dozens of musical events and scores of marvelous street and sidewalk cafes and eateries await your visit. There are also numerous nearby commemorative events, anniversaries, wine tastings and other celebrations scheduled throughout the month. View events on the Culture Events page.
Stuttgarter Weindorf (Wine Village) Festival Aug. 30-Sept. 10
Each year at the end of August and into the first week of September, the annual Stuttgarter Weindorf takes place. In past years, four to five million people from all over the world attended this fun-galore, two-week wine fest event. More than 500 wines from the Württemberg and Baden regions can be accompanied with traditional Swabian dishes such as “Maultaschen” (meat and vegetable-stuffed noodles), “Zwiebelrostbraten” (roast beef with sautéed onions) and “Bubaspitzle” (potato noodles mainly served with sauerkraut). The fest is open daily. For more information, visit www.stuttgarter-weindorf.de/english.
Stuttgart street cafes and Koenigstrasse shopping
Not only Paris, Milan or Rome are rightly famous for their many outdoor wining and dining establishments. Stuttgart has its own reputation in the field of open air cuisine and fresh air relaxation. A casual stroll up or down Stuttgart’s main pedestrian walkway, the famous Koenigstrasse, will lead toward a dozen or more street cafes and boulevard restaurants. When the weather isn’t too hot, windy or rainy but just right, or at least dry and cool, there is nothing better than watching people and the world go by, to refresh oneself, to quench a thirst or satisfy a hungry moment, to rest and simply experience the hustle and bustle of the city, to absorb the atmosphere in leisurely comfort from a bistro chair.
Begin your exploration by walking from the Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof (main train station) through the Klett Passage, the underground shopping center, and take the escalator to street level where you’ll find the tourist information office, or “i-punkt,” to your left. Just ahead is Koenigstrasse.
On this strolling and shopping mile you can find coffee, tea, drinks, cakes, sandwiches, sausages, pretzels, and more. Window-shop (or really shop) to your heart’s content in the many department stores, boutiques and specialty places. Larger department stores and brand name stores generally do accept VAT Tax Free forms too, so bring some with you if you plan to shop.
A few blocks further up and past the Schlossplatz (another great picnic spot), Calwer Strasse provides yet another colorful microcosm of Stuttgart’s shopping, walking and outdoor dining areas, plus there is the Gerber’s mall to investigate. Especially here, after all this walking, you might want to pause for a somewhat longer look and another rest while indulging in an invigorating espresso or a rich chocolate concoction before heading back. You’ve certainly earned it!
Weekly Stuttgart Flohmarkt (Flea Market)
What comes to mind when you hear “flea market”? Old is beautiful? Jolly junk? Used items, and on rare occasions, real treasures? European flea markets are usually held in the same places where they occurred in the Middle Ages, and many have a tradition of some 800 years or more. The popular weekly flea market is at the Karlsplatz in downtown Stuttgart, Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
German flea markets tend to be quaint hand-me-down events. They’re fairly quiet, merry places where one can find all kinds of treasures like embroidered shirts, dollhouses, Delft tiles, old model railroad trains (even steam engines!), lace collars and doilies, ancient coins, first editions of famous authors like Schiller, Goethe, Lessing or even Shakespeare, some worse for wear garments, dog-eared paperbacks, flatirons, Dresden china, nicely frames mirrors, and bits and pieces of no value at all. But remember, it’s not the things nor the prices that count, but the fun of it.
Admission is free and you might even acquire a real flea or two! You can browse for hours, look, barter, negotiate and buy, and realize how much fun there can be in open air shopping. No foil-wrapped or mass-produced merchandise and no recommended prices to be paid at some electronic cash register – just a lot of used stuff.
You might see mature, professorial looking gentlemen rummaging around bins of hand-wrought door locks; school kids swapping comic books or games; students selling and bartering college texts and notes; young women parting with dolls, teddy bears or long outgrown dirndl; headscarves, spangle necklaces and earrings. You might find odd-numbered sets of silver cutlery, wooden chests, monogrammed pewter cups, vellum bound books – either very cheap or sometimes wildly overpriced “bargains.” The buyer bears the risk; cracks, chips and wrinkles are included in the purchase. Goods aren’t new or sterilized, and no exchanges, please!
Fact is, things and tastes come and go, are useful, fashionable and trendy and then go out of style. Property outlives its owners or is tucked away and forgotten. And as things get older, the curve might take a sudden upswing and long written-off flotsam and jetsam is dusted off and offered for sale at a flea market.
For information (in German) and photos, visit www.flohmarkt-karlsplatz.de/home.