"You need to bring your passport with you" was the instruction today as we headed out to Rostock, Germany. After having visited two other countries without needing to bring a passport my mind got to work. Now given the fact that I am both a student of history and known to be somewhat snarky, I almost immediately went to something along the lines of...
What you don't want to happen in Germany: Have someone come up to you & say "Papers...can I see your papers?"
(Said with a thick German accent)
(Said with a thick German accent)
...if you don't get that last point, well, don't worry about it. Attribute this to the fact that I have a vivid imagination and I've simply seen too many World War II (WW2) movies in my lifetime.
In any event, today was a great day. The morning was spent on a guided tour of Rostock, a former East German city, and a major port. We had a terrific tour guide, a native of Rostock, who was old enough to remember life before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Learning about the city, especially during World War II and afterward, was fascinating. Rostock was heavily bombed by the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the war, mostly because of the Heinkel and Arado aircraft factories found in the vicinity.
(Center City, Rostock; all of this was basically destroyed during WW2)
(The fountain; see directly below)
The fountain shown above was constructed by the East German government, and officially named the "Fountain of Joy". According to our tour guide, that's not what it's called by locals. Because of the several naked bodies, it's unofficially called the "Porn Fountain" (as in "Meet me by the Porn Fountain at 4pm Klaus!"). And who said that German's don't have a sense of humor?
(Saint Mary's Church, one of the few buildings not destroyed during WW2)
We spent the afternoon in the resort town on Warnemunde, which kind of reminds you of a classy version of a higher-end Maryland beach community. Except of course for all the Germans. The architecture is very similar to that of Rostock.
(A row of shops in Warnemunde)
Still no pickup trucks, by the way. What I have noticed is that some passenger cars have this weird (by U.S. standards) rear hitch that seems to be something of a Northern European standard.
While I can normally only get about six photos in an average posting, I'm going to see if the Blogger gods will smile upon me and allow one more.
(One of two harbor lighthouses; its companion was red)
A few observations:
- Language. Warnemunde was the first town we've been to where we countered a significant number of people that did not speak English. In fact, Ms. Rivers bought a gift at a shop where the owner didn't speak a word of it; fortunately, Visa seems to do a lot of talking on its own, in both German and English.
- Euro. Just for the heck of it, I got twenty Euros out of a local ATM. That probably cost me a small fortune, but it was worth it when we needed local currency to buy a few snacks and pay to use a public toilet in Warnemunde. As an American, it feels odd having larger denomination coins.
- Post Wall Architecture. Our guide mentioned that something like 95% of the area had been rebuilt/modernized since the unification of Germany. It was neat though seeing the rows on squared off apartment buildings and nearly identical cottage houses constructed during the days of communism. To the latter, our guide mentioned that there were something like three officially sanctioned cottage designs in East Germany.
- Time. I'm a pretty time conscious guy. That happens, by the way, when you are raised in something like a junior version of the Marine Corps. Anyway, I've genuinely lost track of time and dates while I'm here. That probably speaks more to the power that routine has in our brains than anything else, and this trip has definitely been a different kind of experience.
On a final note, I try not to take too many photos with my cell phone, mostly because I have a lot of money tied up in expensive photography stuff. What's the sense in having an expensive camera if you don't use it? Anyway, after dinner, Ms. Rivers and I were strolling on the second-floor deck of the ship and we spied a wonderful sunset, which I just had to capture. The sun is actually setting over Germany and/or Denmark.
The next port of call is in Poland.