Commentary by Isabella Weibel
Special to The Citizen
Editor’s Note: Isabella Weibel is a Stuttgart High School career practicum intern for the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs Office.
As the birds begin to sing, the temperature slowly begins to rise, and everyone begins to make their way outside, it is clear that spring has arrived. This means Stuttgart, Germany’s Frühlingsfest, or Spring Fest, is just around the corner.
Traditionally, Germans wear Lederhosen and Dirndls to fest. Having lived here for eight years, I have taken part in this tradition and am always excited to deck out in my floral Dirndl once fest rolls around. I do not usually carry a jacket because running from ride to ride and eating all the food keeps me warm. Plus, it can get quite hot due to the crowd, so I recommend a light sweater if anything.
Recently, I turned 18, and in my household it is now acceptable for me to ride the train to fest with a group of friends without parent supervision. Even though I love the freedom, I always take proper precautions. In my opinion, Germany is a very safe country, but I suggest going in a large group, and keeping your cell phone on hand during the entire outing.
Trains to fest may be empty or crowded depending on the day of the week and time of day. I tend to go on Friday and Saturday’s, leaving home at about 6 p.m. and returning by around midnight. The S–Bahn (local railway) is never unbearably crowded while arriving at fest, however, everyone usually leaves at 11 p.m. (closing time), so the trains returning home can be busy.
When we arrive at the station stop and the doors slide open, I am caught in a sea of people exiting the train. When the crowd finally disperses, the sound of exhilarated screams ring through the air as the Alpina Bahn roller coaster takes its descent, and the sweet smell of cotton candy fills my senses.
I am an adrenaline junkie, all the unusually fun and terrifying rides are my favorite. Even though tents can be the main event for some, for others they can be very stuffy, loud, and chaotic. I like to avoid the tents and enjoy the amusement park.
After enjoying various rides, I continue going from stall to stall, purchasing all the food I can afford, including: french fries, ice cream, fruit, and pretzels. Occasionally, while I am walking around, stuffing my face and searching for the next ride, a stranger will approach me. At the fest, it is easy to meet new people, but it can be hard to tell whether or not a person has the right intentions. My recommendation is to always stick with your friends, and engage with new people as a group.
Later, as the sun disappears below the horizon, trillions of radiant white and multicolored string lights illuminate every ride, including the Riesenrad Bellevue or Ferris Wheel. I have only ridden the Ferris Wheel once, yet I would not hesitate to do it again. The height allows you to see the entirety of fest grounds from a different perspective, and it is a wonderful and memorable view.