For some more days, we were hiking close to the water, but not at the open sea; several islands in front of the mainland had created calm lagoons rimmed with weeds or small forests. Soon we would reach the German Baltic coast again, with an impressive succession of seaside resorts, still buzzing with holidaymakers in September. Between days 135 and 143 of our hike, we had the pleasure of the company of good friends and family. This always adds a special flavour to our adventure, as we can tell our stories, live new experiences together, and learn about what is going on in their lives.
We started our hike with Judith and Carsten in Stralsund. Before we hit the road, we took advantage of the facilities of a bigger town, had breakfast in a good bakery and did grocery shopping for the day. We followed a nice trail along the waterline and stopped for our lunch break at a sunny port.
On that day, we had a bit of a logistic challenge, as there was no accommodation at the end of the track, and buses didn’t run on a Saturday. We had pre-arranged a taxi to pick us up at the bus stop at a certain time . After the break, we still had 2 hours to get there, the sun was shining, all was well. Unfortunately, one wrong turn lead us to a dead end and we had to do what hikers hate the most – return the same way. When we were about to start our run to make up for lost time, we saw – Katja, the hiker we had met a few days earlier! We only had time for a short chat, then it was off to the final point of our hike that day, still 6km away. Racing along straight countryside roads and fields paths wasn’t probably our hiking companions’ idea of fun. We made it to the taxi in the end, checked into our inn in Barth for the next two nights, and enjoyed a delicious fish dinner together.
With new energy and carrying only our light day packs, we took a taxi on day 136 to drop us where we had stopped the day before. We started with quite a lot of rain, but fortunately all of us were equipped. The rain stopped a bit later, so we could enjoy the beautiful landscape around us of green fields, forests and the shore of the Lagoon of Barth lined with swaying reeds. Moiken and Judith were using the time together for catching up on each other’s news; friends since school times, they hadn’t seen each other for more than a year.
In the afternoon, we arrived in Barth, where we celebrated our achievement with huge ice cream sundaes.
On a bright sunny day, we set off to hike on the peninsula of Fischland-Darss-Zingst – our friends had almost given up hope to see the Baltic Sea on this trip.
After admiring the landscape with a harmonic combination of water and land, we arrived at the perfect place for a break: A boat selling Fischbrötchen (rolls filled with fried or smoked fish) with benches and tables in front.
Unfortunately, after a warm and sunny morning, the afternoon turned out to be quite cloudy. We had a stroll on the seabridge, saying hello to the Baltic Sea and observing a touristic submarine submerge in the water, then we continued for a long and strenuous walk on the dike, with rain pouring down on us in the end! When we had finally reached the village where we would spend the night, it was still another two kilometers to reach our lodging place.
Everything was good after a hot shower, though, and we ended the day with our friends in a nice restaurant. Due to a huge coincidence, we were a party of six, because on our way, Judith and Carsten had met two friends whom they hadn´t seen in years.
Before we said goodbye to Judith and Carsten the next day, we walked together on the beautiful sand beach of Prerow. They had to return at some point to catch their train home, and we parted ways.
It’s funny, after hiking with company, we have a habit of taking them with us in our minds for a bit more, imagining how they would like or dislike the things we see and experience. On those days, it was an impressive lighthouse, a rather difficult hike on the beach with soft sand, and the landscape of the other two parts of the peninsula.
On day 140 of our hike, we had two traditional Baltic seaside resorts on our route: Warnemünde, with its white tiled lighthouse overlooking a massive beach promenade, lined with modern hotels and turn-of-the-century buildings, and Heiligendamm , the white town by the sea. Especially Moiken was quite excited to see the oldest seaside spa in Europe, where we would end our hike that day, but we were in for a bit of a disappointment. Yes, a few buildings, including a luxury hotel by the sea, have been restored to their original white splendor. Yes, the villas yet to be renovated are real pearls of classicist architecture. But there was no life outside the hotel area; no shops, cafés, let alone budget-friendly accommodation. However, we discovered an old-fashioned steam train going to the next town, Kühlungsborn, where we could find a wide range of accommodation options.
Faithful to our principle never to skip a part of the E9, we took the same steam train back the next day and walked through a forest along the coast, passing Kühlungsborn from East to West on its 3km long beach promenade. There, we had a history lesson at a watch tower turned into a memorial of the times when it was used by the border control of East Germany. Many people had tried to escape to the West from its coast, hoping to overcome the distance of about 40km to the coast of Western Germany with any possible floating device or even by swimming.
When we hiked in the serene natural reserve of Riedensee, we had a déjà vu from our time in Poland: A lagoon to the left and the sea to the right, we were walking on a small strip of land. At its narrowest point, it is frequently flooded, but we were lucky and arrived at the other end with dry feet. Then we followed along the path on the cliffs high above the sea until the cute beach and port town of Rerik. There, we met two very special visitors: Moiken’s sister Swanje and niece Loreley picked us up for a relaxing weekend on the beautiful island of Poel.
We enjoyed sharing a house with the two charming ladies, where we could spend time together cooking, exploring the island, going on a boat trip and witnessing Loreley’s first steps in the sea. No doubt she enjoyed the beach a lot and it was hard to get her out of the water!