By E. Richardson
When I started my university career, little did I know it would take me to a picturesque town in the middle of the German state of Baden-Württemberg. But where better to spend my semester abroad; it is gorgeous and warm in summer while beautiful and white in winter, and the people defy just about every stereotype you have ever heard about Germany.
Tübingen is a university town with a population of almost 90,000, more than one quarter of which is made up of university students. The Old Town is exactly what you think of when picturing Germany; there are timber-framed houses, market places, cobblestone streets, and even a brewery. You can find fresh fruit and vegetables in stands around the town, and four times a week there is a farmer’s market in the main market place outside the town hall. The zone is mainly pedestrian, and full of book shops, gift shops, and boutique clothes shops, making a wander through the maze of the Old Town an interesting and enjoyable way to pass the afternoon.
On the southern side of the Old Town runs the Neckar River, which together with Neckar Island forms the most commonly photographed part of Tübingen. A popular pastime in Tübingen is riding on the Stocherkahn (punting boats), and there is an annual punting race on the river each June. Another novelty race held on the Neckar River is the rubber duck race, in which thousands of yellow rubber ducks are let loose on the river, competing for first place and a prize. It is also on the northern bank of the Neckar River that we find the Hölderlinturm, where the poet Friedrich Hölderlin lived for the 36 years before his death after he was brought to Tübingen for ongoing treatment of mental illness.
To the north and northeast of the Old Town we find the university and university residences, as well as residential buildings. South of the Neckar River is the train station and an extension of the shopping in the Old Town, and slightly to the southwest is a large outdoor water park alongside sport facilities and a large grassy reserve area. There are also many nearby towns to explore, as well as castles and the Bebenhausen Monastery. For such a small town on a world scale, you will struggle to run out of things to do in Tübingen and its surrounding areas.
Getting to Tübingen is no problem, with a bus running regularly from Stuttgart airport, which has many international connections, and trains connecting the town to everywhere else in Germany. Due to the high number of students here, Tübingen has one of the youngest populations in Germany, and this is noticeable in the culture of the city, giving it a lovely vibrant feel. The climate in Tübingen is generally very pleasant, with pleasantly warm summers and cold but breathtakingly stunning winters, and I would recommend visiting at any time of year.
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