For years and years the little Turkish “Döner” restaurant Alaturka in Stuttgart has consistently been rated as having the best döner kebap in all of Germany.

I arrived about 15 minutes before they opened for lunch, and my waiting time on line was only around 40 minutes. However, if you get there anytime later, you’ll likely wait on line for an hour or more.

They grill their vegetables, they make their own kebaps, and as shown here, they also make their own Ayran, in two flavors no less!  Of course you’ll pay Swiss prices – but definitely worth it!

Mind-blowing paternoster in the Stuttgart Rathaus

A paternoster is a continuously running elevator in which you nimbly deftly step into the cabin as it scrolls by. Or you die trying. As of the year 2002, paternosters killed on average one person per year in Germany – even though there was an installed base of around 200 of them. The number of gruesome injuries was not recorded.

Most of them have been decommissioned due to safety reasons, but a few are still in use, such as this one in the Stuttgart Rathaus:

When memories trigger the senses

My Aunt recently posted a very old advertisement of an American variety store called Woolworth’s. Apparently, she thought they were all out of business – and in America, they are. But not in Germany, as this snap shows:

The key point here is a different one. The advertisement for Woolworth’s – as indeed this real store – immediately triggers a flood of memories involving sights and smells. And not just for me: when I shared this photo with my family, they also mentioned this effect.

There is something about the old “Woolworths” that is hard to put into words. You would walk into one of these stores and be hit by the smells of their inside cafeteria — “back in the day” it was common for any large store to have a cafeteria – but also the sights and sounds.

Sunrise over the Alsacian refinery

As artistic a snap as I thought I could take of the sun rising above Germany’s Schwarzwald, shining down onto a refinery next to the Rhein River in Alsace,

Most times my photos are opportunistic – I see a sight I like and I take a snap. In this case I had the idea the sunrise might lead to a nice snap, so I arrived early with a thermos of hot tea, and waited for what I thought was the right moment.

It’s also at times like these when I think about what it must be like to own a multi-thousand-CHF digital camera with fancy lenses. If I had one, I am sure this shot could be 147 times better!

I don’t own one. I’ve got a little Canon point-and-shoot I bought for CHF 400 several years ago and is still top in its class today. I like the idea of having my camera with me – at all times – everywhere. I sacrifice quite a lot on photographic quality, but it is more than compensated by getting snaps of sights that I spontaneously see and appeal to me.

A real locomotive . . . at REAL

There is a chain of hypermarkets in Germany called Real – a tad smaller (well, considerably smaller) than Walmart or even Carrefour in France. OK, so let’s just call them “big supermarkets that sell other things, not just food.”

The Real located in Böblingen, Germany has – for reasons I do not know but are on my bucket list to find out – a steam locomotive in their parking lot.

Here’s what it looks like from the side:

The locomotive has been – every time that I have visited at least – been open to the public, so you can climb up and check it out from in the inside. I don’t have any snaps of the inside, but here is a close-up of the wheel assembly:

And I thought the boiler tank was quite interesting:

But to me the two most amazing things are the front of the train, which uses exactly the same bumper technology and connection technology that you find on trains today:

And the writing on the side of the train, just like you find on trains today:

Where Switzerland meets Germany

Well, this place isn’t anywhere close to where the border of Switzerland touches the border of Germany. But it is in the north central Swiss town of Schaffhausen, which is the largest village and natural embarkation and debarkation point for train travellers arriving from or travelling to Germany.

And you can see that in this magnificent train station, with the “Schweizerische Bundesbahnen” on the left, and the “Deutsche Bahn” on the right.

To me it is also a powerful reminder of the two very different cultures: literally translated Schweizerische Bundesbahnen means Swiss Federal Railroads – a collection of different companies united equally into a larger framework – and the Deutsche Bahn, just one company.

Stuttgart Fountain: Then and Now

I took this snap of a very unusual fountain in Stuttgart:

And recently I came across a wonder iPhone app called “Then and Now” that shows historical photographs:

Now that I have the app, next time I’m in Stuttgart I’ll try to do a better job of capturing exactly this frame. Here’s another view:

The careful observer will definitely notice some changes. These are most likely explained due to bombing damage from WWII. In the top snap you’ll see the upper part of the building in the foreground is new.

The historical name placques of Konstanz

I’ve written about a number items of Jewish historical interest in Switzerland, now here’s one from Germany. During WWII the Jewish population of the southern German city of Konstanz was mostly swept up in the holocaust.  Today, as you walk around the residential area, you can spot things on the ground just outside of the doorfronts that look like this:

If you look closely, these are placques that bear the names of the Jewish residents that met their fate in WWII:

Lest you think these are all memorials to victim of the holocaust, some of these markers show that while, yes, they were victims, they did not all perish in the pogroms.  Clockwise from top left, the translations read: fled to Yugoslavia 1935, survived; slandered and disenfranchised, died in 1934; fled to England 1939, survived; fled to England 1939, survived; deported to Auswitz, killed 1942. Since they all have the family name Haymann it is a further tragedy to see how this family unit was broken up in this way.