The roads are well signed and it is easy to follow the autobahn and then the highways into Stuttgart. A little harder to find the road connections to the smaller communities. Finally at 1:00 pm we arrive in Schorndorf Weiler and a quick phone call to Steph to ask 'where the bloody hell are you' calls her to the balcony where we are parked below! She looks really well and happy to see us and there are many hugs all round.
We sit and chat and have pretzels for lunch - yu-um. I don't care how nice it is to have pretzels on sale in the markets at Maryborough, there is nothing like really fresh pretzels warm from a German bakerei! So pretzels and ham and cheese and chat - nothing like it!!! Following lunch, we go up to Steph's aunt and uncles house where we will be staying. Mutti (her grandmother) is keeping watch from behind the curtain and is outside waiting for hellos before we can get out of the car. It is lovely to see her again, although she is older and looks more frail than I remember her. We meet Aunt Olga but Uncle Rudi is not well and is in bed. You should see the rooms we have. They are on the second floor of their house and consist of a huge bedroom, a separate living room and a bathroom. Such joy after hotel rooms for the past couple of weeks. It is very obvious that they have all gone to a lot of trouble to get ready for our arrival and it is lovely to be welcomed so warmly into the family.
As tonight is the last night for the Christmas market in Stuttgart (that are known as the best in Europe) we had asked Steph if she would come with us. As parking will be painful in the centre of town, we catch a train in and meet up with Steph's man Felix at the station in Stuttgart. He has worked as a tour guide one summer, so knows all the information about the area that we are walking through and readily shares it with us.
The markets do not disappoint us. Lisa, Kelli and all of you need to come and see how a REAL Christmas market operates!!! Maybe FCRC can send you to investigate!!!
The stalls are a combination of food stalls, handicrafts and commercial goods. But all are themed and as it is now dark (of course!) everything is lit. We go to the Ratskeller Stall for Nuernberger Wuerschdle (Bratwurst) Rolls and Gluehwein. Talk about food fit for kings. After we finish, we spend the next couple of hours wandering through the markets, contemplating buying all sorts of traditional souvenirs and decide that we are not in a position to carry them all. Michael however does manage to get a fleece lined flannalette over shirt for 15 euros.
We finish our night at the Breuninger Department Store - a large store similar to David Jones that is only found in the Stuttgart area - they have 10 outlets for hot chocolate and coffee before returning to the Station via another section of the Christmas markets for the train ride back to Schorndorf.