Stuttgart became the starting point for our trip originally just because it was substantially cheaper to fly there than it was to go to Frankfurt, Bonn or Dusseldorf. Since our intent was to visit one of the many wine festivals in southwest Germany happening during our time in Europe, it seemed like we might as well spend a couple days in Stuttgart - home to one of the largest wine festivals.
We were a little skeptical as to what we might do in Stuttgart since the only attractions most material mentions are car-related (Mercedes Benz, Porsche) and we collectively have zero interest in cars. It turned out just fine as the center of Stuttgart is a pleasant place to wander around. The castle gardens are really more of a greenway that runs for many kilometers through the city. The u-bahn is extensive and seems to go just about everywhere. The 'castle' itself is more of a state government sort of thing (previous picture) and was rebuilt after World War II. The nearby art museum (Staatsgalerie) is huge and has a pretty good collection if you can actually figure out how to get inside it.
We also went out to the zoo where we took this picture. This is probably not what it looks like. It is two anteaters, vertically stacked, but in this case female anteaters tend to carry around their young until they're fully grown. The Stuttgart zoo is quite large - we spent about 3 hours just making a full circuit of it.
As with most zoos, elephants and primates seem to be the most popular things. We tend to like stranger animals that we haven't seen before - like this South American maned wolf. Incidentally, there is a river otter exhibit and we do have pictures of it but since none of them are all that exciting we've decided to deliberately ignore possible otter pictures on the website. (This may be the only time it will ever happen).
Stuttgart also has a reasonably large historic area. This is a portion of it and we spent quite a lot of time in there. The open squares and plazas were all filled up with the Stuttgart Weindorf (wine festival) however so we tended to ignore the surrounding architecture in favor of the surrounding wine.
Speaking of wine, a lot of it is grown around Stuttgart. There are vineyards in the city itself - visible from the train station, the zoo and most of the castle gardens. The wine festival is basically about 40+ wine growers and merchants. Each of them set up a 'tent' which is a bit more elaborate than that since they have full kitchens. They're also pretty lavishly decorated for the ten day event.
Our first appearance at the festival was late on a Saturday night and there was definitely a bit of a barrier to entry. Even with 40 tents, each with probably 30-40 tables, there were almost no available spaces. We bought some Sekt (a German sparkling wine) with strawberries in it from a roving vendor and sort of just circled until we found an open table. You can buy wine by the sample glass (0.1 L), the standard festival glass (0.25 L) or the bottle. Maybe by the barrel too for all we know. Once you pay for the festival glass it's yours and you can refill it for the price of the wine anywhere at the festival. The glasses appear deceptively small (there are some in the next picture) considering three of them equals a standard bottle of wine. German wines are not actually limited to the incredibly sweet mediocre whites that we seem to mostly get in the US. Apparently they just export the bad stuff and keep the rest for themselves.
There is plenty of food available as well, ranging from street stalls selling fruit dipped in chocolate, to assorted wursts, to full meals. As we've learned in the past, Germans know a thing or two about full meals so we don't order one each anymore. This is a specialty of the Wurttemberg region known as maultaschen. We'd heard them described as German ravioli (they come with a variety of fillings) but were not aware that one each was sufficient for dinner. Of course they come with a pound of potatoes just for good measure.