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Baltic 2 – Germany

Flag of GermanyJuly 28, 2013: Warnemünde, Rostock and Schwerin, Germany

After departing Copenhagen, we sailed through the night counterclockwise around the Danish island of Zeeland and on towards Germany. Our room, portside on the 10th deck of the ship, included a balcony. We enjoyed beautiful weather and were able to keep our door open all night every night of the cruise to enjoy the fresh Baltic air.

Baltic 2013: Part two of six
  1-Denmark  2-Germany  3-Estonia  4-Russia  5-Finland  6-Sweden 

We looked forward to visiting the Rostock area in Germany with particular anticipation. Our daughter Nicole visited Germany the summer after her junior year in high school. While there, she stayed with a family in Rostock and now we would get a chance to walk the same streets she did back in the summer of 1999. Not only that, we would be visiting the hometown of “our German daughter,” Antje. It was her family Nicole stayed with in 1999, and Antje came to Minnesota to stay a week with us in 2003. We would have loved to meet up with her and her parents during our visit, but Antje lives in another part of Germany today.

Our day began with a brief walking tour of the resort town of Warnemünde. The town bustled with mostly German tourists enjoying a weekend stay in one of the country’s most popular Baltic resorts. The temperature may have topped out at 90 degrees Fahrenheit during our visit–quite high for the area–making the beaches an attractive destination. We felt early that our guide Karen would be a wonderful and informative companion for the day, and she was. In addition to Joann and of me there were six other tourists in our group: Bill and Brenda from Pennsylvania, and a family of four (two college-age children) from New Jersey.

Nicole and Antje visit Chicago, 2003After seeing some of Warnemünde, we caught a commuter train for the 20-minute ride to Rostock. The city has a long history and was a very important part of the Hanseatic League. The Dukes of Mecklenburg ruled in the city from late in the 15th century until (nominally at least) 1918. But at times it has been occupied by Danes, Swedes and the French. It and the other areas we visited on this day were part of East Germany from the end of World War II until the fall of communism in the late 1980s.

We saw Rostock University, one of the oldest universities in the world. It was founded in 1419. Perhaps its most famous students was Tycho Brahe, who lost part of his nose in a sword duel with a cousin while studying there.

Unquestionably the most amazing thing we saw in the city was the Rostock Astronomical Clock in St. Mary’s church (Marienkirche). It was built in 1472 and has been in continuous operation since that time. The clock accurately tracks moon phases, high and low tides, the zodiac, sunrises, sunsets, and much more. Parts of it will no longer be valid after 2017. It’s had a pretty good run.

Also in Marienkirche we saw a 720-year old baptismal font. During World War II it was hidden to prevent it from being melted down for use in the war effort.

We left Rostock by first-class train for a one-hour trip to Schwerin. Our first order of business in the city was lunch. We were promised a light lunch at a local restaurant, Zum Stadtkrug (literally, “The City Jug”). As you can see in the photo album, the lunch was anything but light. It was delicious and the beer–brewed on-site–was very good.

Schwerin CastleThe reason for our visit to Schwerin, the capital city of the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, was to see its famous castle. Its location on a small, beautiful island is spectacular. Inside, it was nice if not quite as stunning as some of the palaces we would see later on our trip. Its lack of air conditioning on this very warm German day may have tempted us to rush through our visit. But we were treated to the fantastic spectacle of five life birds on its grounds (Sparrowhawk, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, White Wagtail, Eurasian Nuthatch and Great Crested Grebe).

After a thoroughly enjoyable day in das Vaterland (Joann and I are both of German ancestry), we relaxed on an air-conditioned train ride back to Rostock, endured a short commuter train ride back to Warnemünde, boarded our ship and said “Auf Wiedersehen” to Germany. Next stop … Estonia.

Baltic 2013: Part two of six
  1-Denmark  2-Germany  3-Estonia  4-Russia  5-Finland  6-Sweden 

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