From: Emilio Gonzalez 
Subject: 5.19.00 - 18:34 - stuttgart, germany

(typing on a german keyboard is mildly amusing. mildly. forgive typos.)

well, i'm in stuttgart now, but i didn't head here directly from cologne...

in cologne i met a couple of americans from nebreaska at the hostel who were
heading down south the direction i was, towards a town called bacarach (you down
there in the back, no bert jokes) - i'd read about it, so i decided to head down
with them. 

we took a slow boat upstream (south) the rhine river, watching the land turn from
flat and grassy to winding between hills and mountains. the boat is a great way
to see the area, passing by industrial areas, transitioning to agriculture and
forests, areas dotted with cities and towns, and a seemingly endless supply of
castles, nestled in the hills overlooking the river valley, around every turn.
it's german wine country, and it's incredibly beautiful.

from the boat (which ended about two thirds of the way there, although the river
continues on to bacharach) we took the train for the last leg of our trip.
bacharach is a small town, i imagine somewhere south of 500 people. it's
surrounded by vineyards that are perched on the steep hills around the town. we
stayed in what has to be one of the most beautiful hostels, a small 12th century
castle perched on a hill overlooking the town and the river valley - it's
fantastic. but you pay a price, not in money, since it's pretty much the same as
any other hostel (15 or so US dollars a night), but in fatigue, as unless you
have a car you have to take a small, winding dirt and stone stair trail up to the
castle. your knees will hate you but your eyes will love you. good food, hot
showers, comfortable beds, interesting people, and, of course, a surrounding that
can't be beat. the first room i was in had an unobstructed view down the river,
and the second night i was moved to a room with a view of the river and the
vineyard- covered hills. it was very hard to stop myself from burning through
many, many rolls of film.

a friend and i hiked around the hillside between vineyards, and the next day
around the town and the river. it's one of those classic southern german towns,
just how you think they are, with 350 year old buildings, small restraunts and
markets and cobblestone streets. one of the more interesting structures in town
was a church that had been destroyed hundreds of years ago, leaving but a few
walls with graceful, arching windows where stained glass windows were once...
instead of being destroyed, the structurally unsound parts of the building were
removed and it was turned into an open-air structure garden. 

after two nights we left bacarach today (definitely marking it as a place to go
on another trip) and hopped on a train south. i parted with my friends in
stuttgart, another city bombed during the war, and rebuild with few historical
buildings left. it's a lush city, if there is such a thing - green seems to be
sprouting out of everywhere, with trees and other plans all over.

i visited the porsche and mercedes-benz museums, of course (seeing as they're one
of the main reasons i came here). the porsche museum, while small, has much
history, with a number of 24-hour lemans and other race winning cars (fun fact:
porsche has made a tractor and a jeep/kubelwagen-like vehicle. a TRACTOR and a
JEEP for chrissakes. from porsche. definitely must pick up a few for the farm).
the mercedes-benz museum is large - three stories - so large, in fact, that i
didn't have the opportunity to finish seeing it all, i'm going to have (yes,
/have/) to return tomorrow to finish it. (fun fact: the mercedes in mercedes-benz
comes not from one of the automaker's names, but from a man who, early in
gottleib diamleräs automaking business career agreed to buy an entire year's
production of cars from the young manufacturer - almost 30 million dollars worth
today - in exchange for exclusive slaes rights in america and that the cars be
named after his daughter, mercedes.)

stay up