Tales from the Baltic

Stranger in the town

Judging by the curious looks I was getting, I had this nagging suspicion that this 13th-century Baltic sea town doesn’t get too many foreign visitors.

Walking around in this medieval town of Stralsund, I failed to spot a single face that looked like an outsider apart from my own that occasionally bounced off the mirrored shop fronts.

If there were tourists from outside of Germany from the rest of Europe I couldn’t tell, but your’s truly did stand out in the crowds as an odd man out.

Walking up to the Old Town Square in Stralsund. See Panaroma (right) for more pictures.

Feeling rather strange from all the curious looks I was getting — more so because I was walking around with two distinctly German-looking Germans — I decided to share my views with my friends.

“I seem to be the only non-German around here,” I told my friend Andrea. She smiled and said, “Could be. This is a very German holiday destination. Not too many foreigners come here.” Her boyfriend Wilko smiled in agreement.

My suspicions were confirmed when we walked into a shop . The cheerful elderly lady at the counter asked Andrea something and I could make out from her reply that she was introducing me as a friend from India. “She doesn’t get to see too many Indians around,” Andrea said and I thought that was an understatement!

So once my unique presence was established and I came to terms with it, I could now focus on sight seeing in this picture-perfect town that appeared caught in a time warp with occasional modern intrusions.

We were now in the heart of the old town or the Old Market Square (Alter Markt) with the Gothic town hall and the imposing St Nicholas’ church standing guard. My mind wandered off to a different world trying to imagine this market place abuzz with merchants, sailors and fisherfolk milling about.

My reverie was broken by the church bells that rang as a newlywed couple walked out hand in hand and posed for their wedding photographer. On that bright sunny day this medieval town square looked straight out of a children’s story book.

I clicked away furiously with my camera  not quite getting enough of the sight.

After a while, having checked out the imposing cathedral and the town hall, we decided to take a stroll down one of the streets leading to the sea front.

There lay the Baltic sea in all its azure glory. The Ozeaneum — a marine life museum — stands on the sea front shaped  like a concrete-and-glass ship while a real vintage German navy ship from the first world war floats anchored on the harbour.

Soaking in the sight we posed for very touristy photo ops and I tried to capture in vain the deep blue sea in the backdrop of the anchored white ship with my rather unprofessional camera.

Wilko and Andrea in front of the Town Hall.

The sun was quite up by now and we were feeling a bit peckish and beerish as well. And along came wafting on the salty sea breeze a mix of meaty and fishy aromas. My tickled nostrils fought with the smell of fish fries to pick up the meaty aroma trail as we walked to the nearest takeaway joint floating on channel.

My friends settled for fish fries and I chose a schnitzel (cutlet sort of) and we clinked the beer bottles. Refreshed, we walked back into the town.

Soon it was time to say good bye to beautiful Stralsund and move on to our original destination —  the Ruegen island across the bay — for a day of camping in the forest.

Coming up soon: An encounter with Raging Roland!