Rostock – A hidden German gem by Anke Holst
This post comes courtesy of the lovely Anke Holst of Conscious Communications which provides a service teaching people how to understand and better use social media to communicate.
I met up with Anke at the recent World Travel Market and it was immediately very clear that she has a real love of travel and culture. In particular, Anke is keen to promote some of the lesser known hidden gems out there such as her home town of Rostock in Germany, hence this (hopefully the first of many) article.
We are really proud to have someone with so much knowledge and experience of travel contributing to the blog and I hope everyone will give her a warm welcome in the comments!
Over to Anke!
Rostock is a fairly large town on the Baltic seaside of former East Germany. Yes, it’s the Baltic. I hear Baltic is a Cockney equivalent for brass monkeys. Does that mean it’s horrendously cold?
Actually, no! The weather is temperate, with temperatures very similar to London (without the rain, for most of the year), lovely warm summer days during the main tourist season June – August around the 30 Celsius mark, and water temperatures in the low 20 Celsius.
But let’s start with the essentials. Rostock is the economic centre of the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. It has about 120K inhabitants and is doing well in all sorts of areas (so don’t expect to see East German deprivation.) Outside Rostock, and further inland from the sea, there are mostly fields of wheat and rape-seed, and further south there are huge areas of forests and lakes to explore.
The East-German Baltic coast, and the whole of the area with its laid-back charm, open spaces, forests, castles, and the well-documented health benefits of sea bathing, were hugely popular tourist destinations during the 40 years when Rostock was part of the GDR, (even before that people came from Berlin to enjoy the seaside.
Home of the oldest seaside resort in Germany
Heiligendamm is actually the oldest seaside resort in all of Germany and has a memorial stone to prove it.)
Travel restrictions during the Socialist days meant that East Germans didn’t have a huge choice of great beaches to travel to for their summer holidays.
Bucking the tourism trend
Right after the German reunification, most East Germans followed the well-trodden tourist paths to the shores of Mallorca, Greece, etc. It’s in the last 10 years that the German Baltic coast has regained its popularity, but now with all of Germany flocking there for the summer.
Hotel bookings are, in fact, bucking the trend and going up from last year, and it’s advisable to book ahead if you’re going anywhere from June to mid September.
Great Spa treatments are easily found everywhere – look out for the word Wellness. Try the biggest German island Rügen, or the small resort of Kühlungsborn (where I was born!)
There is a 5 star Grand Hotel in Heiligendamm, which has won the award for the German hotel of the year , lots of great camping, holiday flats and houses you can rent by the week.
Rostock has loads to see and do
Rostock has a lot of sights to offer if it’s not beach weather. It’s a beautiful Hanse town with a great town centre to walk around in and shop, has one of the greatest zoos I’ve ever seen, a museum ship, lovely historical buildings, even a Stasi museum if you’re interested in recent history.
For an insider tip: there are several international cruise ships landing in Warnemünde every day. Get yourself into one of the guided tours they are bussed into town for, you’ll have the full walking treatment of Rostock, and in English as well.
Annual Hanse Sail
A huge annual attraction is the Hanse Sail, one of the biggest sailing events worldwide, where a huge number of restored classic ships in all shapes, sizes and styles visit. It is even possible to go on a day tour on some of them while they are there.
Full Of Surprises
The most surprising thing about this sleepy part of East Germany, with its tiny narrow-gauge steam-powered railway called Molli which serves 3 towns which are just over 10 miles apart, is that the worldwide only exclusively Frank Zappa themed music festival is held every August in Doberan, a small town 10 miles outside of Rostock. Including international bands and most of the musicians who origially played with Zappa.
There is always a great choice of cultural events, including open-air theatre and classical music. The nightlife is varied but be prepared that nights out start late. Try a glass of Rostocker, the local lager, in one of the pubs – I recommend the Kogge – and have some seasonal fish dishes in one of the hugely interesting restaurants.
It is advisable to know a few words of German if you venture outside Rostock. In Rostock itself most people will speak at least basic English.
For more pictures – mein-urlaub-in-mv.de
For more information check out the Central Tourist Board