Living in Stuttgart is much like being in other large cities, similar to New York City or Berlin, but the pace is far less hectic. As a cultural and industrial centre, the public transportation system runs good hours, keeping the city accessible and reducing the need for private cars. The trams and buses run until around midnight, with special night lines running on weekends until 3am. One thing you will notice right away is the lack of student bars and the lack of night clubs. Residents of Stuttgart prefer a quieter way of spending their evenings with friends.
The main plaza area, Koenigsstrasse, is open and airy. It is surrounded by many different walking malls that offer everything from retail shops to food markets. Several cinemas and other entertainment spots are located on the edges of the Koenigsstrasse making it a good central point from which to enjoy your weekends.
If the outdoors is your thing, Stuttgart is close to many hiking spots but you don’t even have to leave the city to get your fill. There are several parks, like the Rosenstein, that you can enjoy. The city is cradled by parks, which form a “U” shape around its centre. The parks are a major part of the daily life of Stuttgart residents.
One thing you need to be very aware of is the practice of paying in Germany is very different from in many other countries. Most retailers and stores do not take credit or debit cards. In fact, it is best to call ahead as many restaurants and fuel stations also do not accept them. There are plenty of ATMs available from the major German banks, but make sure you are aware of the fees and charges for using them that may be charged by the ATM provider and your bank. Citibank and Bank of America both have reciprocal agreements with German banks that allow their account users to access their ATMs without high penalty fees.
Depending on the social culture of the country you are coming from, you may be more used to having a mobile phone as a daily part of your life and for social interaction. It can be surprising to discover how many German homes and apartments still use landlines. The attitude towards mobile phone usage is slowly reaching the pervasiveness found in the American culture, but it is still not as common and rules of public etiquette are strictly followed.
The German mobile phone network system is excellent and offers coverage just about everywhere in the country. You may have to purchase or rent a phone if yours does not allow for tri or quad band coverage. Many of the phones in Germany operate on a prepaid card system that allows users to use SIM cards to operate different handset models. Monthly plans are available, but they tend to be more expensive than the kinds of plans found on the American market.
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