View from our seats at the Rolling Stones concert in Stuttgart… before the teeming crowds showed up!
I think 2018 will go down as our “year of the concerts”. This year, I have purchased tickets to five concerts, four of which are happening between yesterday and Halloween and one for next spring. In two weeks, we are going to fly to Dublin to see Paul Simon, who will have James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt as guests. In September, we’re going to see Roger Hodgson, formerly of Supertramp. In October, we’re planning to see an Irish folk music festival. Next May, we’re going to see Elton John.
We don’t usually go to a lot of shows. I don’t like crowds and Bill doesn’t like traffic. Neither of us likes overpriced concessions or being too short to see the stage. However, we have found that concerts in Germany are somewhat less obnoxious than shows in the United States, so we have taken advantage of the opportunity to see some of the great entertainers who pass through Stuttgart. So far, in our two tours in the Stuttgart area, we have seen: Lyle Lovett, Diana Krall, Van Morrison, Sting, and now The Rolling Stones.
Last night’s Rolling Stones concert is probably the biggest of all of them… and the tickets were definitely the most expensive. However, having now seen the freak of nature that is Mick Jagger perform live, I can say it was worth everything– the expense, fighting the crowds, sitting next to a smoker who kept hitting me with his jacket, and Bill’s manspreading.
Last February, when I went on my ticket buying spree, I remember gasping at the price of the tickets I selected for the Stones’ concert. They were priced at 497 euros each, but they were on the 13th row. In retrospect, maybe I should have opted for a seat in the stands, since I’m only 5’2″ tall and the 13th row is in the flat area. I probably would have had a better view on the side. But I wanted, just once, to experience a concert “close up”. Of course, if we’d really wanted to be close, we could have gone for the “stehplatz”. There were two areas where people were standing and dancing the whole time; one was literally just a few yards from the stage. Unfortunately, Bill and I are both short, neither of us are dancers, and Bill has a bad knee and needs to be able to sit.
Not so long ago, Bill and I were pretty much relegated to the cheap seats. I remember seeing both Alison Krauss and Eric Clapton while perched high in the nosebleed section. We had better seats when we saw James Taylor, except for the two drunk chicks who stood up and swayed in front of us for the whole show. Probably our closest seats were at Livingston Taylor’s show at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, and it was probably one of the best shows I’ve been to, although Liv is not as big a name performer as his brother James, is. Anyway, I figured that if I was going to drop a load of cash on close seats, The Rollings Stones would be the show for which to do it.
I learned a new German word on the way to the hotel. This camper is obviously driven by people who love their dogs. On the bumper, there was a sign in German warning that dogs don’t have a “crumple zone”; therefore, please don’t tailgate…
As is our habit, we stayed at the Wald Hotel in Degerloch the night before and the night of the concert. We started this custom when we saw Van Morrison in 2016. I remembered the nutroll of getting in and out of the concert venues and how late it usually was when we got home. The idea of staying downtown was very appealing, especially since Stuttgart is about 45 minutes from where we live, depending on traffic. Staying in Stuttgart gives us a chance to see more of the city without having to worry about getting home to take care of our dogs, who never stay with us at the Wald Hotel, even though the place is pet friendly.
We checked in on Friday, June 29th. As usual, I booked a “superior room” and added breakfast. The Wald Hotel is a very comfortable four star hotel. It’s situated very close to the TV tower and surrounded by a sports complex and walking trails. I think I booked it the first time because it’s air conditioned. I have booked in on subsequent occasions because it really is a nice place in a convenient location. It has free parking, free WiFi, and a very attentive staff. Even though we’re essentially staying in our home town, being at the Wald Hotel is a treat.
Below are pictures of our room, which was as expected. All three times, we’ve stayed in the same type of room and they all pretty much look the same.
King sized bed… very comfortable with fluffy duvets instead of sheets. We brought pillows because German hotels usually don’t have good ones. We needn’t have bothered. I had forgotten that the Wald Hotel loads you up with nice pillows.
Sitting area and desk.
Awesome shower! It has special lighting and a huge rainforest option that is just heavenly. With the press of a button the ceiling rains down a large square shaped swath of water You can also use the regular shower head, which you can see in the picture.
Since the World Cup has been going on, the hotel gifted us with soccer balls…
And the usual gummi bears, as well as a complimentary mini bar stocked with water, apple schorle, and beer.
View from our balcony.
Ordinarily, I would have liked to have booked us a table at a local restaurant, but we didn’t get to the hotel until about 7:00pm and Bill was tired from a day of hard work. Although there are several casual eateries near the hotel, we decided to dine at the hotel’s Finch restaurant, which is a very pleasant, but rather pricey place to have dinner. Although the weather was perfect, we didn’t have reservations. All of the outside tables were taken, so we were seated in the elegant dining at a private booth.
We ate at Finch on our last visit to the Wald Hotel and remembered the slightly Asian inspired menu to be creative in flavor and presentation. On our first trip to Finch, we both had meat. This last time, we went with main courses from the sea.
Bill decides on a wine. Finch offers menus in English, which I appreciated. Our waitress was the same very service oriented server who took care of us the last time we dined at Finch. She speaks English, but patiently indulged Bill’s elementary German.
Since we were both having seafood, Bill ordered a locally produced white burgundy. It was crisp and refreshing and paired very well with our meals.
We also had fresh bread with an herb spread, olive oil, and fresh bread garnished with black salt.
I had the Avocado Tatar, with included avocados with beefsteak tomatoes, peanuts, and spinach. This starter was surprisingly filling, but nice on a warm evening.
Bill had a lobster bisque; it was unfortunately served rather sloppily, but tasted good.
My lobster came with toasted macadamia nuts, half a lemon, drawn butter, spring onions and a sinful carrot puree. I enjoyed the lobster, but especially liked the colorful presentation.
Bill had “wolfbarsch” (European sea bass). As much as I like lobster and enjoyed my main course, I think I liked Bill’s dish better. It was a bit more flavorful.
I probably shouldn’t eat dessert so often, but I was intrigued by the “oats and nougat”, which was a nougat atop toasted oats (granola) and served with a caramel panna cotta. The dish was garnished with chocolate pieces and raspberries.
Bill had a passionfruit creation that he said reminded him a little of a napoleon. He especially liked the scoop of mango sorbet that came with his dessert. Wald Hotel also offers several cheese plates for those who are less tempted by sweets.
After dinner, we decided to hang out at the hotel bar. Wald Hotel has a very personable Italian bartender who is a master at mixing drinks and making conversation. While we were at the bar, a rather alternative looking couple came in. They heard us speaking English and asked if we were American. We answered affirmatively. It turned out they had come to Stuttgart to see The Rolling Stones. Both had lived in the United States to work and study and both had great love for our country. They were surprised we’d choose to live in Germany.
It turned out our new friends, Bjorn and Rokka, work in the film industry. Rokka is a makeup artist and has put her touch on many celebrities. Bjorn didn’t talk as much about what he does in film, but I got the sense that maybe he was a producer. Both looked a lot younger than their ages and, in fact, they told us they had booked the “stehplatz” up front. I was impressed, since agewise they were probably contemporaries of Mick Jagger’s. They seemed to have drunk from the same fountain of youth he has. Anyway, we had a very nice time talking to them, especially since they were so friendly and Bill has actually been to Iceland. I love it when we meet interesting people. Luckily, it seems to happen to us a lot!
An expertly produced gin and tonic by the barman, who also joined in our conversation. I’ve seen him on each of our three stays at Wald Hotel. He definitely makes booking the hotel even more attractive.
We decided to turn in at about 11:00 or so, which is kind of past our bedtimes. Little did we know how full our Saturday was going to be. More on that in the next post.