This is my first visit.
With the knuckle-dragging politic of the Leave EU campaign braying today that “we didn’t win two world wars to be pushed around by a kraut” I am on a train from the airport to the city centre. Wincing at the Twitter diatribe, I glance furtively around the train. It is filled with people crying over the future of Europe now that the UK is leaving. They are bemoaning the rudderless future without us Brits telling them what to do.
Of course it isn’t. Of course they aren’t.
What it is: a clean, on time, brightly lit commuter transit with people going about their evening business not giving two (or any) hoots about the UK. For the 30 minute ride, I’m charged €2.90 – that’s almost two-pounds-ninety these days! – which includes a transfer via a subway train to my lodgings. The short walk to the hotel is a clean street with designated cycle lanes. The hotel itself is immaculate and has a very definite sense of style. I am greeted in perfect English. I ditch my gear and head out for a bite and alight upon a nearby burger-cafe-bar. Embarrassingly I can only make a 50/50 stab at the menu because my German is pretty much non-existent. No matter, my server speaks English and is very helpful: good food, good beer arrive in short order.
Back at the hotel, the bar is fully international but after a shufty am just not in the mood. In my definitely-designed room the telly has a raft of German channels, none of which appear to feature Brexit. I leave on a ice-hockey match which is suitably vigorous as a kind of chewing gum visual.
Comparison to the east Midlands town in the UK last week? Another world. Here is sane and ordered and calm and rational. And not boring. The burger joint was filled with grown ups enjoying a lively after work drink and scoff: lively but not intimidating, not in your face LOUD. My mission this week is to get under the skin of a global industrial behemoth. At this rate, I sense it’s going to get under mine first. Am feeling easily European and awkwardly British just now.
Stuttgart-Leipzig-Berlin is the itinerary.