An annual event in Stuttgart and a few other German cities is “Lange Nacht der Museen” or “Long Night at the Museums”, although I kept calling it “Night at the Museum” in hopes that everything would come alive at night. (Spoiler alert: no such luck) On Saturday night, March 25, all museums in Stuttgart and the surrounding areas were open from 7 pm to 2 am and could be visited on a single event ticket. This post is more about my personal experience, but you can read more about the event here:
Or if you prefer English, try this:
I decided ahead of time I most wanted to see the former WWII bunker, later used as a hotel that closed in 1985, because it’s not normally open for tours except this night. I also thought it would be nice to see the palace at the Schlossplatz since I have seen it from the outside so many times. My third choice was to see the activities on the Neckar River, especially since I saw a website advertising ballet performances. The plan was to see them in that order; most important first to be sure I could see the bunker.
I headed out to dinner with friends later than planned. Natalie had told me she thought there would be a big line at the bunker; I said, “I don’t think so; Germans don’t do lines”…. but she was right. On the other hand, her saying, “I told you!” does not really help when she was the one who showed up 45 minutes late anyway. (Love you, Nat! ♥) At dinner we learned that the line at the bunker was hours long, and it might be best to just wait until later when the lines died down, so we altered the schedule. A few people who ate with us decided not to do the museums because of the long lines and wanted to go drinking instead; I figured we could go drinking anytime but this was only happening one night a year, so three of us persevered. We ended up joining forces with another American couple in line who were talking to Alex. (Later I asked my new friend, “So how do you know Alex?” She said, “We just met him in line.” This is one thing I love about being an American here; we bond quickly.)
We ate dinner right by the Schlossplatz, so first we went to see the Neues Schloss, or New Palace. The line was long but moved fairly quickly, and we had gluhwein (hot spiced wine) and made new friends so all was not lost. The interior was definitely impressive, although I was surprised they had very little furniture inside – mostly we just saw the open ballrooms, intricately painted ceilings and lavish chandeliers.
The line for the bunker was still long, so we went to the Neckar River next. Earlier in evening when I was looking for directions, I saw a website that said, “Container ballet performances will be held every 30 minutes” which is one reason I wanted to go there. The river was supposed to be lit up, and our new friends told us the previous year there was music. When we got there, there was 1 of the 3 – the other side of the river was lit up. I suppose technically there was a noise my friend called “brainwashing music”. (Follow up: This morning I looked again at the website that mentioned ballet and it was from a previous year. Oops.) When we arrived we got ticket numbers to assign us to a boat, and since we had gone all the way there we waited the hour (or was it 2?) to go on a boring boat ride down the river. Needless to say, this part of the evening was disappointing and we were getting a little bored and silly.
Next we hopped back on a bus to go back to the Schlossplatz. The buses were just packed all night; in fact the streets of the city were crowded the entire time.
Finally it was time to see the bunker. I really wasn’t paying close attention, but it was after midnight by this point. (Being a good sleuth, I just checked my phone to see that I texted a friend at 12:42 am and told him I was in line at the bunker. It’s OK to text that late, he’s 6 hours behind me.) I really didn’t want to stay out that late, but I stuck to my motto about making hay while the sun shines! I thought the bunker was really cool and made the night worth it. For starters, I’d been in that plaza many times before (part of the Christmas market was held there) and had no idea there was a bunker underneath. It’s hard to imagine operating or staying in an underground hotel. There’s no way that would fly in the U.S. without adequate emergency exits.
I finally stumbled home about 2 am (another clue: a text from last night at 1:56 am that said “I’m home.”) As it turns out, they held the event on the night Germany springs forward for daylight savings time, so I was really home at 3 am. Ugh.
Overall, I was a little disappointed I didn’t get to see as much as I’d hoped due to the late start and the long lines, as well as in the underwhelming river experience, but the bunker was really interesting and I’m glad I went. Next year I’ll know to show up early and expect the lines, and I’ll try to see a few other places… possibly one of these.