At long last we seem to be getting something like ‘normal’ summer weather and so the last few days coming into the Baltic have been rather pleasant. It has, however, been extremely busy operationally with the most time consuming being a full safety inspection carried out by outside inspectors on Saturday. Sunday then, was to be a little more relaxing, after an early start to arrive in Warnemunde, the port for Rostock. This of course used to be East Germany, the Soviet styled German Democratic Republic. The all day tour to Berlin was despatched just after eight, the other more local ones left soon after.
I convinced my wife that we should join the afternoon tour that went over to Bad Doberan where a 700 year old red brick church, the Minster, dominates the skyline. Being an astute woman, she of course new the real reason for my suggestion, the Molli. This a narrow gauge steam railway originally built in 1886, was designed to carry passengers to the Baltic Sea and eventually extended in 1910 to the resort of Ahrendsee, a total distance of 15.4 km.
The Minster was certainly an imposing building, surrounded by a small lake and parkland. Inside the red bricks with light coloured cement seem to accentuate the height to almost towering proportions. There is much to see for religious scholars, including numerous statuettes of deceased monarchs, all having remained unscathed from the ravages of war over the centuries. We continued on until our coach came to a halt a few minutes later near the centre of the small town. The Molli was passing through the narrow main street, its bell ringing out a warning which was probably unnecessary as anyone in the vicinity was there just to witness that unique experience. The carriages have a balcony at each end, enabling the enthusiasts to lean out during the journey to capture the memory. Great if you don’t mind soot in your eyes. My wife was fine inside, chatting away to other ‘suffering’ ladies.
It was a delightful journey, with the not so small engine powering its way down the line, grey smoke billowing out at times, and folks waving at us enthusiastically as we went past. The country side, with rolling green hills in the distance and nearby corn fields ready to be harvested looked magnificent in the dappled sunshine. On occasion the train stopped at a small station to let folks on or off, while half way we waited for the returning train. It all seemed very relaxed and very far away from the normal rush of everyday life. I guess that’s as a result of what it was actually built for, an escape from reality.
Ahrendsee is now known as Kuhlungsborn, and it is where we alighted in order to take some small refreshment then a stroll along the sea front. The area, so very clean and ‘tidily organised’, was busy with holidaying tourists. We were reminded that, before the reunification, factory workers were awarded the ‘prize’ of a holiday at this resort, but could only come as an organised and escorted group, not individually. Armed guards, in the days of the GDR, apparently patrolled the coastline, and it wasn’t to stop folks coming in from the sea. How times have changed.