In this series, I ask expats to share the joys of local life they’ve found in their corner of the world. If you’re just joining in now, check out other cities that have been covered so far here.
Remember last week when I was in Switzerland and said I’d start posting again once I returned to Paris?
Well, I was in Paris for all of three gloriously sunny days…before I got called in for a last-minute business trip to Italy. (My first time in this country I’ve wanted to visit forever and I won’t see anything because I’ll be working nonstop. Perfetto.)
So while I’m in northern Italy for the next couple days slaving over magazine edits and photo layouts, enjoy the following guest post from Alex — an American living in Germany whose blog I adore (though I keep missing her every time she’s in Paris!) — which also marks the return of my I Love My Neighborhood expat series!
Alex: Why I Love Südweststadt
The first time I rode through my neighborhood on my bicycle, I was with a group trekking to a party in the Südweststadt (southwest city) for the first time. It was unanimous opinion among the group that it was certainly the prettiest part of Karlsruhe. There were old, high-ceiled apartments, tree-lined streets, bakeries and neighborhood corner stores – heck, it actually looked and felt European (a trait that the relatively young European city of Karlsruhe seems to lack). At the time, I never knew I would call this area home. A new job and apartment hunt later, I found myself back in Südweststadt and realizing there was even more to it than the surface.
Südweststadt is calm. There is not much auto traffic throughout the neighborhood and the abundance of trees decorate the residential surroundings.The tram lines run around, not through the neighborhood creating accessibility without the noise and dangers that come along with the public transit lines. The area is dotted with parks and playgrounds and the nearby hospital reassure everyone that help is never far away. On any given morning, I can be at a bakery, ice cream parlor, or Döner shop, by foot within five minutes — what more does one need, after all?
The Südweststadt captures the feel of a homey neighborhood right in the middle of the city. Neighborhood bakeries, groceries, and restaurants dot the streets, but the franchises and big box stores are nowhere to be seen. However, these larger retailers lie just out the outskirts of the neighborhood, so within the city residents have a clean, green feel with all the necessities nearby. The houses in the area also all have particular garden spaces for summer barbecues and gatherings. Any of Karlsruhe’s main squares and attractions can be reached in 10 minutes or less by bike. Marktplatz (the main square), the mall, the train station, and the Schlossgarten are all convenient by both tram and bicycle, without having the constant traffic associated with these popular gathering points.
Classic Meets Modern
Karlsruhe is a modern city proud of its engineers and technological advancements. Much of the city reflects this, but the Südweststadt still sports a classic brick architecture with smal balconies and dramatic rooftops. However, most the most notable building in the area is the ZKM, a world renowned media art museum that shows off Karlsruhe’s mechanical mindedness. I love how the two personalities mesh right together in the Südweststadt to create an attractive part of the city.
The Günther-Klotz-Anlage is a large city park lying right outside the neighborhood. With a pond for row boats, beach volleyball courts, bike paths, playgrounds, a large artificial hill looking over the park, the Alb creek running through, and greenery for miles, it’s no wonder it is a popular hangout for people all over Karlsruhe and home to Karlsruhe’s large outdoor music festival, Das Fest, that takes place over a weekend each July. It is one of the largest recreational areas in Germany.
About the author: Alex is Texas expat misplaced in the land of pretzels and punctuality (that’d be Germany, people). Her journey began as an au pair, but the year passed too fast and she found herself unready to leave. A bit of fairy dust later, Alex went from party-for-a-year-abroad to full-time German wannabe and expat as she transitioned into working and living in Germany. Denglish is now her preferred language and she firmly believes smiling solves all problems. Alex also runs a European travel planning business. Find her on blabbering about at ifs ands & Butts, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
All photos courtesy of the author. Want to feature your neighborhood in this series? Drop a line!