The sad thing about docking in Warnemunde, Germany is that it is just close enough to Berlin to be able to go there but just far enough away that it’s not a great idea to go if you’re not on an excursion that was booked through the ship. The train ride is 3-hours each way (and not a cheap ticket either!) which really only leaves you an hour or two in Berlin before you have to run back to the station to be sure you don’t miss the ship. So, sadly, we skipped going to Berlin this time. The only other thing I didn’t like about Warnemunde was the heat and humidity. I can’t even begin to describe the grossness that was walking around during the day. The East Coast of the US has nothing on Warnemunde. Neither does the Caribbean. We were soaked in our own sweat about five minutes after leaving the ship. Truly, the most disgusting weather I have ever encountered. That aside, we really enjoyed our time in Germany.
During the two hours we spent in port during the daylight, we walked around the beach area and strolled through the old town. The beach area reminded us a little bit of Bethany Beach in Delaware minus a lot of the kitschy Americana. Lots of restaurants and boardwalk shops and stands. Very cute. I can see why Germans love to vacation there. The old town was like walking through the part of Fantasyland in Disneyland that is supposed to depict German villages. The gingerbread houses were lined swirling trellises that looked like icing and punctuated with flower boxes spilling over with bright colors and sweet scents. Little shops and restaurants were scattered up and down each street. Eventually we found a little beach-side café to grab some lunch and settled in to much on a box of something akin to gyro meat and french fries smothered in a garlicky sauce and a weinerschnitzel. Delicious! The heat was unbearable though, so we headed back to the ship to shower (again) change and wait out the humidity.
In the evening we went to town with our friends Brian & Jenny who we met last contract on the Noordam. They took us to their favorite restaurant for dinner. The darling little diner was the opposite direction of the touristy area and filled with entirely locals. Our waitress spoke some English but we relied mostly on my two years of high-school German along with a lot of pointing and pantomiming to get what we wanted. We ended up with a sausage, Greek salad, and a plate of smoked fish. Everything was unbelievably good. The restaurant has a traditional shot of homemade schnapps that we were compelled to drink. The clear liquid tasted of mint and cinnamon and came with a cherry skewered by a nail. After eating the cherry and taking your shot, you’re to hammer the nail into the table with the mallet. We obliged and then signed our names in the log book to commemorate our experience. For some reason Ron thought I should write the one nonsensical phrase I remember from my German classes which is “der kartoffelsalad est gemutlich,” which means “the potato salad is comfortable.” I don’t totally remember why I know this phrase but I vaguely remember some kind of an inside joke with a friend named Aubren about 18 years ago. Apparently after a beer and a schnapps shot, it’s still funny.