Friday, 12 April 2013

The Stuttgart 21 Tour

Something that became quite obvious, even on the first day I was here in Stuttgart, was that there was some big construction work going on around the station. As I have listened to people and looked around more, it seems to be one of the hottest topics in the city: some people are for it and others very much against it. At the station itself they were giving away free badges like the one I collected below: 

And then there is the anti-Stuttgart 21 campaign which has a sign that I saw everywhere around the city, too. I heard that there were demonstrations against the work and that these attracted as many as 50,000 people at their height, completely blocking the city-centre. This was all very un-Stuttgart, apparently.

I remember the first time I came to Stuttgart a few years ago when I was here to do a show. I got off the train and walked out the front of the station to be confronted by a taxi bay and four lanes of traffic separated by a chain fence running down the middle. With some effort I dodged the traffic, found a way around the barrier, crossed the rest of the road and entered the city centre. I was working with a normal station logic and didn't stop to study that here you have to go down through subways in order to reach the city centre.

The real problem with the station, as I see it, is that it has been designed for cars. In the plans selling Stuttgart 21 to the public I saw no indication of this problem being mentioned. This is a car city I guess. As for the price, it seems to have risen sharply now the contracts have been awarded. In that respect it reminds me of the recent London Olympics which more than trebled in price once construction had begun. The whole thing looks like a great money spinner for somebody. Whether it is useful or not, however, I have absolutely no idea.

Today I took the suggested walking tour that is printed on the city map that I go from the tourist information. I followed it as precisely as I could to test my ideas of yesterday and see if I could make my tour identical to the official one in route though not in content. On my way I found the place where the coaches park and observed a group of French students drifting  towards their coach. 

The reason for taking the official tour route was to time it and see if it would work for me. The timer was set for 1 hour 30 and I completed it with 3 minutes 4 seconds to spare. This was walking slowly but not stopping to talk, as would happen on a real tour. It is therefore too long. I'll look at how I can shorten it and already have some ideas for shortcuts.

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