On leaving Wismar, we decided to try following Google Maps to get to Kahlenberg where we planned to stay the night with relatives. Google Maps took us the most direct route – through a suburb of gardens, along a very bumpy cobblestone street which gradually degenerated into a dirt and rock laneway, past a farmhouse and into the woods where the laneway became a narrow, muddy track.
We burst out of the shadows into bright sunlight, fields of grain rippling in the breeze. The track became a grassy agricultural trail, we bounced and careered down a big hill and up another to the village at the top where an astonished local asked whether we were lost.
The following day we left Kahlenberg after a hearty breakfast and cycled most of the day, through Rerik and Mechelsdorf until we arrived at Kühlungsborn where we had the novel experience of being turned away from a camp ground. Until now, I hadn’t believed that campgrounds would turn cyclists away but apparently they can be so booked out in summer that they don’t have room for out puny little tents and bikes. Shaking our heads in dismay at the ‘system’ which allows such infamy, we made our way to Börgerende.
It rained constantly overnight at Börgerende so we spent most of the morning drying our gear under a shelter thoughtfully provided for wet tourists. The route then took us through wet beech forests and small seaside resorts, along fields of golden grain edged with a myriad of red poppies, blue cornflowers and some other nameless white flowers.
Warnemünde is a historic beach resort which used to attract royalty as well as many very rich, famous and beautiful people. Nowadays it attracts cruise ships with their thousands of passengers. The streets were so crowded it was a struggle to push our bikes through. The ferry across the river was moored right under the nose of a gigantic cruise ship. We slowly edged out, the ship’s keel looming over us, a sight not for the faint hearted.
We were cycling through yet another beech forest when the heavens gave a long, drawn-out rumble and spat oceans of water at us. We sheltered under some trees with a couple of holiday makers from Erfurt. They were very chatty so I now know that holidaying in Poland is very enjoyable and Leba is worth looking forward to.
The campground at Graal-Müritz is quite ‘special’. It’s completely covered in close growing beech trees which allow very little sunlight to penetrate to tent level. The ground is totally bare, no vegetation whatsoever, just dirt. There are no numbered sites and there is no control about who camps where so the campers are jammed in cheek-by-jowl, everyone has dug a trench around their tent. I hate it!
After Graal-Müritz we cycled through a large area of beech forest then along a narrow strip of land leading to the Darss Peninsula. The path along the isthmus is dead straight for kilometres with sand dunes on the left calling for an obligatory photo stop and newish holiday houses to the right.
The last section before Wustrow closely follows a dramatic sheer cliff – concentration and focused cycling mandatory lest we end up as bird bait at the bottom of the cliff. The authorities have built a series of barriers along the base of the cliffs. They stretch out into the sea, one after the other, for miles and miles. The idea is to cut down on the wave action and slow down the erosion which otherwise would eat away this isthmus in no time, geologically speaking.
Born is a village on the sheltered side of the island. It has a lovely ambience, a bright lime green house, a butter yellow house and a café in a windmill. There are hundreds of other houses but they’re all white. A lime green house in Germany is unique and therefore worthy of mention. We coffeed in another historic café with gloriously painted ceilings inside and 400 year old linden trees shading the courtyard.
The campsite at Prerow is amazing. There are hundreds of campsites amongst the dunes! I couldn’t believe it. The German authorities are usually so determined to protect the environment yet they allow people to set up their tents all over and through such a sensitive ecosystem. On the other hand, all the cars are parked in the car park. People manually cart all their gear onto their sites in little handcarts.
The weather is absolutely feral – raining, windy, getting colder. I’ve tried to make the best use of my time by charging my devices, checking emails, catching up on my diary and updating this blog. Unfortunately internet reception is dreadful to non-existent and the WiFi is so slow as to be completely useless.
We went into Prerow for a coffee and cake break. There’s a sign indication how far away many places are. Sydney is 16,074 km away.
It stopped raining, we survived being wet, cold and miserable. We decided it’s time for some civilisation so we’ve packed up and left camp.
We went to see the Seemannskirche in Prerow. According to LP, it’s worth seeing because of the model ships hanging inside. They were no big deal. Every church along the Baltic coast has the same but this church has a huge EYE overlooking it all! No mucking around here – the eye sees all!
The other special thing was the artistic exhibition inside the church. One item was of a person trapped in a stack of wooden blocks. The title read: ‘Das Geheimnis der Freiheit ist MUT …’ (The secret of freedom is COURAGE …) I should take this as my personal motto. I just need a coat of arms to go with it. I could have bought this art work for 2,200 Euros but the secret of wealth is moderation of one’s instinct to accumulate ‘stuff’. I find that taking photos and writing a diary works just as well.
The route from Prerow to Barth took us for seven or eight kilometres along the top of a dyke, dead straight and perfect cycling. I was quite impressed with the number of other cyclists out enjoying a ride – singles, couples, families, old and young, in snazzy cycling gear or daily clothes, out for exercise or actually going somewhere – it was great to see. I wonder whether the effect of having so many safe and enjoyable cycling routes available can be empirically measured in terms of its effect on the general health of a population. We all ‘know’ that regular exercise like this is good for health but has it ever been measured in financial terms? Have cycling paths ever been budgeted for as a preventative health measure in Australia?
Having arrived in Barth, we decided it would be much 'healthier' to take the train into Stralsund where Anne-Rose has organised accommodation for us in a sports centre. I was greatly looking forward to being dry and warm.