I woke up on Saturday morning with a desire to drive a certain distance away from Stuttgart. So I took out my map of Germany and after a moment of reflection, found the places to go to : Schwäbisch Hall and the Hohenloher Freilandmuseum (Open Air Museum) at Wackershofen.
I usually have impulses like that when Hubby is away and I esteem that he should be around to spend time with me and the kids instead. On another occasion a few years ago, I bought air tickets to Crete for myself and our then 2 children when I discovered that he would be away on business during the children's school break. Though once I was there, I wasn't really in the mood to holiday, what I really wanted was for him to be with us.
So I prepared the children hastily, packed a few snacks and drinks and ushered everybody into the car. The good thing about having a GPS is that one doesn't usually get lost.
The Hohenloher Freilandmuseum is 1h25 mins from Stuttgart. Traffic conditions were good on that day and we were even able to lunch as I hoped, in a Chinese restaurant along the way. Cheap buffet with the usual fried stuff that the Germans threw themselves on, but I didn't feel like eating sausages so it would have to do.
It was a lovely day, sunny yet not too warm. I found the museum easily. The parking was full, but I was able to park my car easily and it was for free too. There was a Cheese Market on the museum grounds that day and so we even obtained discounts on the entrance fees! 1 adult and 3 kids for 5 Euros.
We started out with the pig sty. When you eat those animals in bits and pieces, you fail to realise how big (and smelly) they actually are. Though the piglets were like the roast suckling pigs I've always seen (and eaten, ahem). The kids loved it, of course. And seemed quite oblivious to the smell. I had to snatch Baby Boy once when he went too near to one of the sties, he could easily have lost a hand to one of those beasts' big, sharp teeth. Two to a pen, lots of food and they still had to fight each other as they ate. What a pig.
Main Square, Schwäbisch Hall
Chocolate Tin Town
In fact, I've grown to really appreciate Southern Germany over the last few months. It's green, clean, nicely-planned and often so pretty. The roads are logical and well-signed, there is often parking everywhere for a decent fee...
And as I was flying at an average of 170-180km/h on the Autobahn, I told myself that it was wonderful to be able to do that. Even as we entered into stretches of the highway where we could only drive at 80km/h or 120km/h. The contrast was what allowed one to better appreciate the no-limit parts of the highways. And especially knowing that this freedom is enjoyed within the confines of safety, mutual responsibility and good conduct on the road. Quite like the freedoms we should enjoy in our lives - freedoms to balanced with freedoms from.
We arrived at Stuttgart Airport (to pick up Hubby) before time. I felt quite rewarded when Hubby said - after I told him where we've been to etc - that WE could have gone there together :-).