To Stuttgart, or not to Stuttgart?

The pesky Umwelt Zone

We were up early to ponder a route to Stuttgart. Chancing upon some information online we discovered that whilst Pforzheim is in the ‘umwelt zone’ it’s through ways are excluded. Just off one of these roads is a motorhome aire, also excluded. We decided to chance it and then to investigate the train into Stuttgart for the day.

Bertha retraced her steps back along the winding road, this time heading north back to Pforzheim. We kept to the ‘bundesstrasse’ or through road until the combination of road works and our sat-nav sent us over a bridge too early into the town.

Right in the centre of the ‘umwelt zone’ we heard a police siren begin blaring behind us. I was frantically trying to work out how to best present our case in German and avoid the on-the-spot 80 euros fine.

The grey town centre

Incredibly the police car overtook us, acknowledged our stopping and sailed on by up the road. Around the next corner was the aire so we pulled up gratefully and calmed down over coffee!

The stopping train from Pforzheim to Stuttgart takes 90minutes to do the mere 27 miles and costs 27euros for two day passes. This was off-putting but frankly the prospect of staying longer than one night in Pforzheim was more so.

The town is all grey, concrete tower blocks and overhead walkways with a depressing square of high street shops, and peculiar and unattractive public art.

Most people in the centre seemed to be hanging about drinking. A pop-up Italian market provided the only colour under blue canopies.

Perhaps Pforzheim should be twinned with Plymouth?

The vendors were inevitably flirting loudly with local teenage girls, most of whom we saw already with babies or small children. We headed along the riverside in search of the old centre but found only blocks of flats, a grubby river bank walk, suspicious looking effluvial ‘drainage’ and a vast, empty public square with a towering sculpture of two red chopsticks. Weird.

When in Pforzheim…

The concrete walkways around town

A noisy night between the railway and N10

Simon mused that the perhaps the idea of an ‘umwelt zone’ is to keep you moving through it? We forgot about wanting to see Stuttgart and settled in for a nervy night in Bertha on the aire, looking again at maps for a route home.

In the morning there was an incident with a cat. A German couple parked in the van nearest to us had a striking large smoky grey cat with vivid amber eyes called ‘Tasso’.

Their van left as we had breakfast and when we packed up and got ready for the road ‘Tasso’ appeared at Bertha’s door. Oh my god!

How has he got off his lead? How can they not know? Surely they haven’t dumped him? What to do?

Not Tasso

‘Tasso’ didn’t want to be picked up and quickly set off mousing around the service point, terrorising something small and squeaking.

I went across the car park to another van to ask questions about ‘das grau katze’.

The smiling German chap understood my worries but said he had seen the other van leave earlier with the big grey cat on a lead, and anyway this one is smaller and not the same. It is a local cat. I wasn’t sure but it did look a little smaller and its eyes were more yellow than amber.

How could such a strikingly similar cat appear in the same place? A local grey cat did however suit Pforzheim.

Bemused, we left it leaping on top of its prey.