Rostock international port was bustling and busy on a balmy late summer’s evening as we arrived on the TT Line ferry from Trelleborg. We were back in Germany having sailed out of Kiel harbour nine weeks ago.
The surprisingly long 14km drive out of the port and into the Old Town was an unwelcome shock in several lanes of heavy traffic. Once parked up for free along the banks of the old port in the Altstadt we joined the groups of students amassed along the dock walls. It was a surprisingly warm, and light, evening after the recent cooling and darkening nights in Sweden.
Rostock was one of several Hanseatic towns along the Baltic Coast. Its historical centre has managed to retain some treasures of 15th century architecture, most notably the gabled merchant houses that line Universitätsplatz and the large square of Neuer Markt.
Only two of the city’s original 32 gates and a tiny section of the old walls remain. Kroperliner Tor cut an impressive picture as a traffic island a stone’s throw from the massive brick-built 13th century MarienKirche.
These few surviving buildings are even more remarkable for enduring the destruction wrought upon the city during World War Two and later, by Soviet concrete-loving builders.
We found it to be very smart and well heeled. Apartment blocks – there are many – along the hillsides up from the Old Port to the Old Town are typically modernist. Public planting of fruit trees and palm trees around fountains and courtyards provided calm spaces to escape high rise living.
Rostockers have a secret up their sleeves too. The city limits include the long stretches of sandy beaches at Warnemünde.
A sunny weekend sees the centre empty as the population decants onto the sands for picnics of locally smoked fish rolls, nudist sunbathing and the odd international volleyball tournament. We had discovered this on an earlier visit to the German Baltic Coast.
Rostock was a fine place to end our journey around the Baltic Sea.
Together with our earlier explorations of the Polish Baltic Coast and but for the few miles where the coastline belongs to Russia at Kaliningrad, we felt that we had truly explored the very diverse countries that the sea borders.
It was a budgetary relief to be dealing again with the Euro. The cost of living for us, when converting from Sterling to Krona, had been expensive. Our budget has fluctuated almost daily in reflection of the (usually) downward value of the British pound.
With a loss of nearly five euros a day on an already stretched purse, on this trip we had to prioritise fuel over accommodation and food. Just to put this in context, three years ago we were enjoying a pound to euro conversion of €1.42 whilst we end this trip with a rate of €1.09. Ouch.
Rostock provided a reasonably priced German beer with which to mark our departure from the Baltic Sea. For just a few days more, we hoped to be currently away…