Forget about Lederhosen Porsche, Daimler-Benz, and a host of other corporate thoroughbreds keep Stuttgart (pop. 587,000) speeding along in the fast lane. After almost complete destruction in WWII, Stuttgart was rebuilt in a thoroughly modern and uninspiring style. The city does have amazing mineral baths (Mineralbader), fueled by western Europe’s most active mineral springs. Mineralbad Leuze, Am Leuzebad 2-6, has indoor and outdoor thermal pools. Take Ul, or streetcar #2 to Mineralbader. ( 216 42 10. Open daily 6am-9pm. 2hr. soak ‚6.40, students ‚4.80.) The superb KStaatsgallerie Stuttgart, Konrad-Adenauer-Str. 30-32, houses an excellent collection of modem art in the new wing. (Open Su, Tu-W and F-Sa 10am-6pm; Th 10am-9pm. ‚4.50, students ‚3. W free.) The Mercedes-Benz Museum, Mercedesstr. 137, is a must for car-lovers. Take SI to Daimlerstadion. (Open Su and Tu-Sa 9am-5pm. Free.)
Stuttgart has direct trains to most major German cities, including: Berlin (6hr.2 per hr. ‚103); Frankfurt (1 ahr. 2 per hr. ‚43); and Munich (2V6-3Hhr. 2-3 per hr. ‚36-43). The tourist office, tips ‘n’ trips, Lautenschlagerstr. 22, has Internet access (‚3 per hr. W free) and info on the Stuttgart scene. ( 222 27 30. Open M-F noon-7pm, Sa 10am-2pm.) The post office is in the station. (Open M-F 8:30am-6pm, Sa 8:30am-12:30pm.) To reach the Jugendherberge Stuttgart (HI) , Haufi-mannstr. 27, take streetcar #15 to Eugenspl. and go downhill on Kemerstr. ( 24 15 83. Breakfast included. Sheets ‚3.10. Reception 24hr. Lockout 9:30am-lpm. Dorms ‚16, under-26 ‚14.) Hotel Espenlaub O, Charlottenstr. 27, has pricey but well-equipped rooms. Take streetcar #15 or U5, 6, or 7 to Olgaeck. (21 09 10. Breakfast included. Singles ‚44, with bath ‚62; doubles ‚5187; triples ‚7498. MCV.) The pedestrian zone between Pfarrstr. and Charlottenstr. has many reasonably priced restaurants, while Rotebuhlpl. is filled with fast food joints. Nightlife clusters around Eberhardstr. Rotebiihlpl. and Calwer Str. Suite 212, Theodor-Heuss-Str. 15, has DJs and videotechnique on weekends. (Open M-Th llam-2am, F-Sa llam-5am, Su 2pm-2am.) Postal Code: 70173.
BLACK FOREST (SCHWARZWALD)
The Black Forest owes its name to the eerie gloom that prevails under its evergreen canopy. Once inspiration for the Grimm Brothers’ Hansel and Gretel, today the region lures hikers and skiers with more than just gingerbread.
The gateway to the Black Forest is Freiburg, accessible by train from Stuttgart and Basel, Switzerland. Most visitors explore the area by bike, as public transportation is sparse. Rail lines encircle its perimeter, but only two train lines cut through the region. Bus service is more thorough, although slow and infrequent.
FREIBURG IM BREISGAU. Freiburg (pop. 208,000) may be the metropolis of the Schwarzwald, but it has yet to succumb to the hectic pace of city life. Its pride and joy is the majestic Munster, a stone cathedral with a 116m spire and a tower whose bell is the oldest in Germany. (Open M-Sa 9:30am-5pm, Su l-5pm. Tower ‚1, students ‚0.50.) The surrounding hills brim with fantastic hiking trails; maps (‚3.50-6) are available in the tourist office, and paths are clearly marked. Mountain biking trails also traverse the hills; look for signs with bicycles to guide you.
Trains run to Basel (lhr. 3 per hr. ‚9-16) and Stuttgart (2hr. every hr. ‚38). The tourist office, Rotteckring 14, two blocks down Eisenbahnstr. from the station, has maps and books Privatenzimmer (rooms in private homes); these are usually the most affordable accommodations in Freiburg itself. (Open June-Sept. M-F 9:30am-8pm, Sa 9:30am-5pm, Su lOam-noon; Oct.-May M-F 9:30am-6pm, Sa 9:30am-2pm, Su lOam-noon.) To reach the Jugendherberge (HI) , Kartauserstr. 151, take bus #1 to Lassbergstr. Take a left and then a right onto Fritz-Geiges-Str. and follow the signs. ((0761) 676 56. Breakfast included. Dorms ‚22, under-27 ‚19; doubles ‚48.) The Freiburger Markthalle , next to the Martinstor, is home to food-stands serving ethnic specialties for ‚3-7. (Open M-F 7am-7pm, Sa 7am-4pm.) Brennessel , Eschholzstr. 17, behind the train station, stuffs patrons with everything from ostrich-steak to pancakes. (Open M-Sa 8am-lam, Su 5pm-lam.) Postal Code: 79098.
TRIBERG. The residents of touristy Triberg (pop. 5,000) brag about the Gutacher Wasserfall, the highest in Germany, a series of bright cascades tumbling over moss-covered rocks for 163m. It’s more of a mountain stream than a waterfall, but the hike itself is idyllic. (Park open 9am-7pm. ‚1.50, students ‚1.20.) Nearby Scho-ach’s claim to the world’s two largest cuckoo clocks is less tenuous. The signs for Wallfahrtskirche lead to the small pilgrimage church, Maria in der Tanne, where the pious have, according to legend, been miraculously cured since the 17th century.
Trains run to Freiburg (2-2!hr. 1-2 per hr. ‚16-25). The tourist office, Luisen-str. 10, is on the ground floor of the Kurhaus; from the station, turn right and follow the signs, or take any bus to Marktpl. (s (07722) 95 32 30. Open May-Sept. M-F 9am-5pm, Sa lOam-noon; Oct.-Apr. M-F 9am-5pm.)
Located on the Bodensee (Lake Constance), the charming city of Constance (pop. 79,000) has never been bombed; part of the city extends into Switzerland, and the Allies were leery of accidentally striking neutral territory. Now one of Germany’s favorite vacation spots, its narrow streets wind around beautiful Baroque and Renaissance facades, gabled and turreted 19th-century houses gleam with a confident gentility along the river promenades, and a palpable jubilation fills the streets. The Munster has a 76m Gothic spire and a display of ancient religious objects, but it’s being renovated through 2005. (Open M-F 10am-6pm, Sa-Su noon-5pm.) Wander down Seestrafte, near the yacht harbor on the lake, or Rheinsteig, along the Rhine, for picturesque promenades. Constance boasts a number of public beaches; all are free and open May to Sept. Freidbad Horn (bus #5), the largest and most crowded, sports a nude sunbathing section modestly enclosed by hedges.
Trains run from Constance to most cities in southern Germany. BSB ferries leave hourly from Constance for all ports around the lake. Buy tickets on board or in the building, Hafenstr. 6, behind the train station. (2813 89. Open Apr.-Oct. daily 7:45am-6:35pm.) The friendly but tiny tourist office, Bahnhofspl. 13, to the right of the train station, provides free walking maps and finds rooms for a ‚2.50 fee. ( 13 30 30. Open Apr.-Oct. M-F 9am-6:30pm, Sa 9am-4pm, Su 10am-lpm; Nov.-Mar. M-F 9:30am-6pm.) In the center of town, Pension Gretel , Zollemstr. 6-8, offers bright rooms. In summer, call at least a month ahead. (45 58 25. Breakfast included. Singles ‚29-36; doubles ‚49-64, with bath ‚59-74; triples ‚75-93; quads ‚87-113. Extra bed ‚18.) To reach the newly renovated Jugendherberge Otto-Moericke-Turm (HI) , Zur Allmannshohe 18, take bus #4 from the train station to Jugendherberge; turn back and head uphill on Zur Allmannshohe. (322 60. Breakfast included. Sheets ‚3.10. Reception Apr.-Oct. daily 3-10pm; Nov.-Mar. 5-10pm. Lockout 9:30am-noon. Call ahead. Dorms ‚ 18, under-26 ‚ 15. HI members only.) Camp by the waterfront at DKV-Campingplatz Bodensee , Fohren-biihlweg 45. Take bus #1 to Stood and walk for lOmin. with the lake to your left. ( 330 57. Reception closed daily noon-2:30pm. Showers included. ‚4 per person, ‚4 per tent.) For groceries, head to the basement of the Karstadt department store, on August-inerpl. (Open M-F 9:30am-8pm, Sa 9am-4pm.) Postal Code: 78462.
Bavaria is the Germany of Teutonic myth, Wagnerian opera, and the Brothers Grimms’ fairy tales. From the Baroque cities along the Danube to mad King Ludwig’s castles high in the Alps, the region draws more tourists than any other part of the country. Most foreign notions of Germany are tied to this land of Biergarten and LecLeriwsen. Mostly rural, Catholic, and conservative, it contrasts sharply with the rest of the country. Local authorities still use Bavaria’s proper name, Freistaat Bayern, and its traditions and dialect have been preserved. Residents have always been Bavarians first and Germans second.