Overnight, we sailed south and early morning found us anchored in the port of Warnemunde, a former fishing town and seaside resort at the mouth of the Warnow River. Cruise lines advertise this as the port for Berlin; but Berlin is a good 3-hour journey by train...one way. We weren't too enthused about spending 6 hours in transit so we decided to postpone Berlin for another time.
Instead, we opted to head to Schwerin, capital of the federal state of Mecklenburg West-Pomerania and the second oldest city east of the Elbe. The bus ride was very relaxing through some pretty nice farmland. Wind turbines dotted the landscape almost all the way. The glitzy brochures describe Schwerin as the “Venice of the North” and, while that's a bit of a stretch, it was very pretty.
Water abounds, I think seven lakes altogether, and our first stop was for a boat cruise on Schwerin Lake to get to Schwerin Castle (sometimes also referred to as a Palace). The castle was really beautiful, situated in the middle of an island and surrounded by lush gardens, it serves as the State Parliament and a museum now. Three euro gets you permission to take non-flash photos and there was lots to shoot at. The interior featured a walk through the former living quarters of the grand duke Franz II and his wife. Elaborately and extravagantly furnished rooms together with a huge priceless art collection speak volumes about the lifestyles of the aristocracy.
We had a snack at the Market Square since lunch was scheduled later than we like. The square is home to city hall and the Lion Monument and a great place to shop.
I love churches and couldn't turn down an opportunity to peek inside the Schwerin Cathedral. As early as 1260, a Roman church was erected here. Today, it's a grand 117.5 meter high Gothic brick cathedral. Major artwork collections from the Middle Ages can be viewed.
Next stop...lunch of traditional German fare, pork, red cabbage, and potatoes followed by a berry dessert which was too sweet for our tastes, but the food was good and the location was nice, right on Schwerin Lake.
Our last stop was in Rostock, the “Gateway to the North” and full of history dating back to the Hanseatic times. It was once a shipbuilding town and home to aircraft factories. Rostock was leveled by WWII bombs; but, fortunately, the towering St. Mary's Church suffered only minor damage and has been repaired since the 1990's. This church is so tall and hulky, it was impossible to get a good exterior photo. While we've seen more impressive churches, St. Mary's has its own feel: a very musty odor, tall, white, and very Lutheran. Unique features included an unusual astronomical clock, dating back to 1472 and reportedly has original working parts, and a baroque organ dominates the back of the church.
We would have liked more time in Rostock to see some of the other historic buildings especially those focusing on the Stasi history and the Cold War but we were wrecked tired and headed back to the ship. We had dinner and a quiet evening, looking forward to a day At Sea tomorrow to recover.