Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Life Is A Highway... but it should be an autobahn!

Day 3 of our Cruise found us in Warnemunde, the port town of Berlin, Germany.
The weather that day was amazing - hot and sunny, the sort of weather I imagine is common on a cruise around the Mediterranean, not the Baltic.
We hired a car for the day as Kent was champing at the bit to get onto the Autobahn and drive like Jeremy Clarkson... imagine his disappointment when the girl at the hire place handed us the keys to a Skoda! A 1.4L Skoda station wagon, no less. Last time we drove in Europe we had our car, so this was another new experience, and I have to say sitting in the passenger seat on the right hand side of the car was totally weird.
We headed north east to the island of Rugen, on the way passing loads of signs pointing to 'Ausfahrt', which, naturally I couldn't help laughing like a 7 year old at... Kent figured it must have been a big city to have so many roads heading there... till we figured it was German for 'exit' - oops!
We stopped off in Bergen briefly, a biggish town with pretty buildings, where we bought a massive map of the area and chose a few bits and pieces to do... including a visit to a German U-Boat in Sa├čnitz, where I managed to fall down a flight of submarine steps... clearly not growing out of my clumsy phase, then. It was pretty interesting, although probably not good for anyone with claustrophobia - how on earth the sailors were able to cope with living in it for months on end, I don't know.
After a few enquiries, we tracked down German Asterix at a bargain price - hooray!
We had spotted a few postcards with pictures of huge chalk cliffs on them, so decided to find them... although, according to our map (in German, so a bit of guesswork involved here) Konigsstuhl is only accessible by a short walking track, so off we trotted for a couple of miles in the bush... only to find that 200m away from the cliffs was a major road and a carpark, but the walk was lovely and a good way to walk off all the ship food!
We still had time to burn before the 2 hour drive back to the ship, so we called into Guttin Airport to see if they did scenic flights and took to the skies in a Cessna 172... which could not have been more of a perfect way to see the islands - hardly any clouds and breathtaking views, plus it wasn't very bumpy, which allayed my fears about falling out of the sky!
I've tried to be economic with the photos:

The drive back to Warnemunde was Kent's chance to try and beat his hi-score speed of 169km/h from that morning (all legal) and he managed (with a tail wind) to get to 175, not bad for a fairly gutless car - and people were still breezing past us in the other lane. We should mention that the roads are about a million times better than anything either of us has seen in NZ or Britain, and there just aren't many older cars on the road, so it's not nearly as unsafe as you might be thinking.
We arrived back in plenty of time, and had time for a wander around the town, which was lovely - one of my favourite things about this part of the world is abundance of public spaces and how many people use them, and this was no exception, at 9pm there were still hundreds of people walking around, stalls set up selling all sorts, and just a really lovely feel to it... just another place to add to the ever-growing list of "let's go back there"s!
K & E xx

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