August 16: Today we sailed the Baltic Sea and would not dock until tomorrow at 7:00 AM. It was great to sleep in without worrying about being in the departure lounge in time for a particular tour. The morning went quite quickly with my walking around the outside decks in order to get some steps; I believe 7 times around on the Wind Surf equals one mile. I did break down and purchased the internet connection which made me feel better about being able to contact people back home. After a late lunch, I spent the afternoon at the Compass Rose reading, sending emails, watching the kitchen crew carve flowers from vegetables and make animals from dough, and listening to a very spirited Team Trivia competition among the passengers. In the evening, Ginni and I went to the Captain’s reception given to those who were repeat customers of WindStar (of the 290 passengers on board, 150 were repeat customers). We had dinner with two gals from North Carolina, Maureen and Rowy, who have been traveling together for quite a few years. After connecting to the internet and getting a night cap, it was after 11:00 and time for bed.
August 17: This morning we docked at Warnemunde, Germany best known as the jumping-off points for Berlin, which is three to five hours away by train. Still an operational fishing port, Warnemunde is a seaside resort with vast dunes and stretches of sand on either side of the Warnow River. Many of the passengers signed up for the bus tour to Berlin but, because we did not want to ride 6 hours in a bus and only spend 5 or 6 hours in Berlin, Ginni and I signed up for the tour of an amber factory established in Ribnitz-Damgarten and a hunting lodge located in Gelbensande. After a narrated tour of the amber factory, each of us was given the opportunity to select a piece of amber which we ground down, polished, and made into a necklace that we were able to bring home.
Next on the tour was the Gelbensande Hunting Castle erected between 1880 and 1885 as a summer residence for Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. After 1887, it was used as a base for hunting in the surrounding forest, the Rostock Heath. Because of the duke’s marriage to one of the Russian Tsar‘s granddaughters, the Mecklenburg-Russian relationships can still be seen inside the castle today. The hunting castle remained in the Grand Duke’s use until 1944. It was subsequently used as an army hospital, a sanatorium for tuberculosis, public library, veteran’s club and a sort of hostel for construction workers; since 1989/1990, it is owned by the town of Gelbensande and open to the public as a museum.
It was after 1:30 when we returned to the ship and I had planned on going back into Warnemunde to shop. However, there were two LARGE cruise ships that had pulled into dock and the streets/stores were packed so I decided to stay on board and spend the rest of the afternoon reading. In the early evening, I went to the lounge to watch a German Folkloric group perform; they played typical German music and danced. After the performance, I listened to the tour manager give a talk about our next stop which will be Copenhagen. This was the night for the BBQ Dinner on the decks; we ate under the stars and watched as the crew line danced the night away. It was a great amount of fun!