Warnemunde, Rostock, and the Northeast German Coast

What a beautiful day! We slept in this morning, since our shore excursion didn’t leave until 1:45 PM. Many of our shipmates were taking the full day excursion to Berlin, so the ship was deserted by the time we made our way to the Cove Cafe for coffee and muffins.

One unexpected treat was that the Internet wasn’t being over utilized, so we spent a while uploading photos and checking our favorite Web sites. After that we retreated to the top deck of the Disney Magic to otake some photos from our high vantage point. Warnemunde is the port of Rostock, and is quite busy with passenger and cargo traffic. There’s a shipbuilding concern, some other industry, and the omnipresent wind turbines. But the major industry in this area is, and has been, tourism.

Even during the Communist-rule days when this was East Germany, Rostock and environs were known as seaside resorts. Now that capitalism rules, the cities have been largely rebuilt from years of benevolent neglect and the tourist industry is thriving.

Our first shore excursion stop was at the Bad Doberan Münster, a church on which construction began in the 1100s. Primarily known for a Cistercian monastery, the cathedral is also renowned for its beautiful red brick Gothic exterior, painted interior, and stained-glass windows.

After our knowledgeable guide Claudia finished showing us around the Münster, we got back on our bus for a short ride to the town of Bad Doberan, where we boarded the Molli Steam Train. This line was built in the late 1800s to connect several of the coastal towns, and has been lovingly restored by local train enthusiasts. The Molli line runs through the streets of Bad Doberan before entering the countryside. The train, which runs on narrow-gauge track, has a very high-pitched, shrill whistle to announce its proximity to intersections.

We got off the train in Heiligendamm, and reboarded the buses for a short trip to Kühlungsborn, a coastal resort. All of the towns were beautiful and looked brand new, not surprising since many of the buildings had been renovated or newly built since the fall of the Communist regime in East Germany in 1989.

The beach at Kühlungsborn was gorgeous and long, and a lot of visitors were enjoying the clear, warm weather. We went over to a nice little bar and restaurant, where I enjoyed the local Rostocker Dunkel Bier. On the trip back to the port, our guide shared stories of life under the Communist regime, explaining that buying anything required standing in a queue for hours on end. Her family had a mid-60s vintage Trabant car, for which they had waited for almost 10 years and which they drove until the early 90s. At that point, the probability of getting to any destination without a breakdown was about 40%.

We enjoyed the music of Bayern 111 (a German “Oompah” band) for a while before heading to dinner. We sailed out of Warnemunde during dinner at about 8:40 PM. It was surprising how many people from the city turned out (either on shore or in boats) to watch the Magic sail. We were amazed with the smooth seas as we sailed North on the start of our voyage to St. Petersburg, Russia.

Update: it’s now morning and we’re well on our way to St. Petersburg. The sea is flat and calm, and there are bright blue skies above. It looks like it’s going to be a wonderful day.

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