Wednesday, July 10, 2013

City Hopping -- Warnemünde

It is said that the little spa towns along the shores of the Baltic Sea have their charms.Well, I've said it before, but I'll say it again here: this place is a make-do sort of holiday destination with samey architecture--well maintained villas, small hotels and little huts that sell smoked fish--and an uneasy feeling of white-bread Spießigkeit.

The Baltic Sea coast is frequented by mainly German and Polish tourists who flood to these beaches because they're close--not because they're hospitable. In fact, the very inhospitableness of this place is what gave birth to the Strandkorb in the first place. The only less hospitable (and I'll stop using this word soon, I promise) beach I can think of is on Fuerteventura where the sand and wind left lacerations in my calves. I'm being harsh.I don't know. Blustery is not for me.

Do you like fish? I like fish. I like grilled fish, raw fish, breaded fish (of course gluten-free), fish in bouillabaisse, fish in paella, fish in moqueca and sometimes even a terrine made of fish. I'm not even picky when I'm picking pin bones out of my teeth. I'm really quite easy when it comes to fish. I'm not a fish hater. Really. I'm a friend to the fish--though I'm not that fond of swimming.

Why do the people in these villages at the Baltic Sea have to pickle and smoke fish? I know I risk being alone here. Smoked fish turns my stomach, and I refuse to stay in the house when Gerhard the North German Greeting Card Designer eats his Bratherring out of a tin. It smells like a yeast infection. Is it any wonder that these little Baltic Sea towns are overrun with cats and seagulls? Entire villages smell like old cat food. It's just not for me. But I'm being harsh. Here, just look at some impressions of Warnemünde while I calm down...

Smoked Fish 20 metres

The pier at Warnemünde

Outside Warnemünde

An exhibition on the beach at Warnemünde

OK. I have my happy face on again. Warnemünde has its highlights and history. During the days of the GDR the Neptune hotel was a popular hangout for prominant politicians and celebrities. Unfortunately, the hotel was also a popular place for the Stasi to film these prominant politicians and celebrities having sex with prostitutes. It was the stuff of blackmail, and I can only imagine the subjects of these videos were being blackmailed for their lack of sexual creativity. These aren't Paris-Hilton sextape material. But I'm being harsh again.

The Neptune is the taller building on the left.

Hmmm. And that's about it for Warnemünde. If you've been to one of these towns, you've been to them all. Warnemünde, though, is a bit more crowded than most towns since it has a large harbor where many of the largest cruise ships dock. The day we visited there were two enormous ships in the harbor, one of which we'd actually been on a few months ago. The area around the harbor, where all the stinky fish stalls are, was so crowded that we had to eat standing up behind some rubbish bins. I say 'we'. I didn't eat anything. I had the choice of pickled fish on a roll or smoked fish on a roll or nothing. I chose--and was quite happy with--nothing.

The birds were attacking the people to get their ice cream.
I make Warnemünde sound much worse than it is. It's just not my type of place. If you love blustery days and smoked eel, you might just love it here.

I must be off,


Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's award-winning writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Prime Number Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul and SmokeLong Quarterly's Best of the First Ten Years anthology, among many other wonderful places.