Date: August 24th 2006
Our tour of Hanseatic Germany started in earnest at Stralsund. We got there via Lauterbach and Putbus (don't bother), and had an entertaining if informal race up the Strelasund against a German in another Rassy. It was entertaining to us at any rate, as we won, thanks to Pat's excellent windward helming and the nifty little PDA handheld I've now got, which shows a realtime plot in the cockpit. It's invaluable in knowing where to tack.
Stralsund does have quite a considerable number of Hanseatic buildings left, as the Brits must have forgotten to bomb it in the second world war. (Considering the destruction the RAF wreaked, no wonder the Germans sometimes see it as a war crime). The town is best seen from seaward, when the size of some of the buildings become apparent. At night, the subtle floodlighting is spectacular.
The town has been hosting open air productions of Aida, and we arrived on the last night. The setting is quite the most stunningly audacious thing I've ever seen. The stage set is on a ship, the stage itself on a barge tied to the ship, and the audience on bleachers on the shore. With the exception of the orchestra, which was on the barge under the stage, there was no cover at all . Consequently, when it rained, which it did frequently, cast, conductor and audience all get soaking wet. Naturally, the production can be heard from all round the harbour, and enjoyed by us all. We're just sorry there weren't any fireworks.
The Monday was rather spoilt by a big motorboat from Hamburg barging into us on his way out of his berth, but we left after a substantial pasta and sailed up to a little harbour called Barhoft. The place, in the middle of a national park, was more popular with the locals than Stralsund. It gradually filled up until a group of Dutch arrived in a massive three-master, almost as big as the harbour itself. Some shuffling of yachts later, we all got in.
The next day we had a wet, bumpy and difficult trip round to Warnemunde against a significant sea. It turned out alright in the end as the wind shifted just enough for us to sail.
Warnemunde is a complete contrast. A poplar destination in its own right, its only 20 mins on the S-Bahn to Rostock. The town is thronged with tourists, both German and off the cruise ships which call regularly. Despite this, it didn't feel overcrowded or tacky.
The guide books for Rostock say that the place used to be dismal, but has had a stack of money spent on it to cheer it up, and I'd guess this is true. The tram system was modern and excellent, the main shopping drag having most things you need, and the old town retaining buckets of charm.
In Warnemunde, we made the mistake of tying up in the old yacht harbour. The wind shifted round to the North west and we rocked, rolled and bounced around all night as the swell came into the harbour. The next day (after dinner natch) we upped sticks and trolled over to the new marina on the other bank (Hohe Düne). This has to be seen to be believed. 750 berths, and the thing is largely empty. Its been built to the most gold plated standard imaginable, and is like something on the French Riveria. Seven restaurants, a huge hotel, and a boat storage shed which Kissen would be proud to be stored in. It also does the best breakfast for a tenner for miles around.
On the subject of food, I'm increasingly beginning to understand why the Germans eat on their boats when they are away. All the towns we have visited have a number of restaurants serving well cooked meals at reasonable prices. Substantial portions too. Its playing havoc with the diet...