Beautifully set between the Swabian mountains and the Black Forest on the Neckar River, Stuttgart, Germany, dates to AD 950, though there have been settlements in the area since prehistoric times. Today it is a large industrial center, and the metropolitan area is automobile manufacturers Daimler AG and Porche. The city has a port and an international airport.

As a side trip, try the lovely and friendly spa resort of Bad Urach in the mountains near Stuttgartā€”it is remarkably quiet in winter. Sights include the mineral springs, a 121-ft/37-m waterfall, a mill and the late-Gothic Church of St. Amadeus. The Residenzschloss houses 22 gloriously hand-crafted, gold-plated baroque sleighs. Be sure to taste mell, a delicious honeyed wine drunk warm or cold.

Tubingen, a famous university town, is close enough to Stuttgart to visit on a day trip.

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