Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Arttours Tour: a walk with Amy in Stuttgart and London

So I'll begin with the news. I heard back from Sabine at Turmforum about the tour of S21: they won't budge on the price of €30 for a tour. I then got talking to the anti-S21 people and explained my situation. They were very approachable and one of them, Mark, offered to give me a free tour on Saturday. So now I have my S21 tour taken care of. Perfect! 

Today's tour was one organised by my hosts Arttours, and it was called A Walk With Amy. Like my tour of Weissenhof yesterday, this was another personal tour. The difference was it was a 'remote' tour, which I'll get to in a moment.

I was told to arrive at Marienplatz where the tour would begin. I found Susanne Kudielka co-director of Arttours, with young daughter in tow, and a journalist Haike from the city newspaper. It started in a relaxed way with a short wait and then I was was invited to walk to the centre of the square and await a call. When it came I found myself talking to a woman named Amy Sharrocks who explained we would take a walk together. 

We set off and negotiated our way around our respective environments, me in Stuttgart and her, I don't know where. We made an agreement not to mention place names but instead to focus upon what we saw, to describe it and decide where we went.

Our journeys had both parallels and points of departure. The experience brought many things into greater focus as they were contrasted with another environment. This statue of a beggar in the front window of an insurance company was one such thing I noticed.

Sometimes we'd wait at traffic lights together and then cross at the same time. Waiting at this red light I remember talking about the myth that Germans always wait for the lights to change, even when the road is quiet. Well here in Stuttgart I see plenty of people of all ages crossing on red and taking a much more practical approach. As this is a car city the lights are sometimes timed so much in favour of the car that you'd be a fool not to just walk when there's a lull in traffic. 

This somewhat putrid green statue of a cat was another one of those beautiful, random creatures that strayed into our conversation. After about 20 minutes of this I found myself back on Marienplatz having been half conscious of this other space, most probably in the UK, that sounded a good bit grittier than Stuttgart, with its forecourts littered with spilled cement.

Finally I have been doing more preparations for my Tour of All Tours, nailing down my route and making it as short as possible so that there is time to talk about the various tours. One of the challenges is finding ways to incorporate the tours that take place outside the city centre into my tour. One solution is to stop at the U-bahn station and indicate that one of the tours begins there with the train which must be taken to get to the site. Other varieties of links are slowly coming but there is still much research to do and this is multiplied if I am to try and offer the tour in two directions so a German and English group may take it simultaneously and cross rather than follow one another. As I want to make each tour work as a journey rather as a set of points (like the bus tour was) this means making each direction somewhat different but complimentary.    

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