Germany Off The Beaten Path Tips by ant1606
Germany Off The Beaten Path: 488 reviews and 757 photos
Rügen Island seen from the ferry from Trelleborg
After reunification, Rügen can now be called the largest German island and sits in the Baltic Sea.
It can be accessed via a bridge from Stralsund and ferries from Trelleborg, Sweden, and other locations. Coming from Trelleborg, the coast shows off its beautiful chalk cliffs (Jasmund National Park) north of Sassnitz, the port location. The island is off-the-beaten-path for its geographic position, certainly not in terms of tourism.
Most of the territory is a protected area and worth to discover. Pasture land, woods, countless quiet inlets and several beach resorts. North of Binz, a popular destination on the eastern coast, lies the decadent and massive housing establishment of Prora. This was built to be a beach holiday resort at the time of the Third Reich but never actually used as such. Ironically, it was used by the Soviet Army as a base in 1945 to be soon abandoned again. The complex is nearly three miles in length and originally intended as the "Kraft durch Freude", or KdF project (Strength through Joy) with a capacity of 20,000 guests. Too costly to be destroyed or converted into a useful facility, this monster still stirs debate.
The bad weather, temperature and empty beaches as of August 2011 in Binz reminded me of our Mediterranean shores in winter time, when most of the buoying folks can be Germans indeed.
Stresow - Former border between the two Germanies
Cycling along the Elberadweg, the cycling path that follows the long Elbe river, is an occasion to come across the former border separating the two Germanies and trespass the "Iron Curtain" in Stresow. Located about middleway between Hitzacker and Havelberg, this is now a memento park where sections of fencing and border facilities were saved for posterity. It was a highly watched zone extending for miles and actually forming a wide no-man's-land gap. It's now a protected area and wildlife sanctuary but, considering that this area was banned to humans for years, one can assume wildlife was left in peace here even before. For those who have time, a museum in nearby Schnackenburg should further explain.
Coordinates: N53 00.617 E11 34.161
Torgau - "Elbe Day" Monument
Located in the northern part of Saxony, Torgau lies on the left bank of the Elbe river.
It has a nice restored city center and the fine Hartenfels Castle featuring a beautiful external staircase in its courtyard. A couple of bears sadly kill their time in a portion of the moat and can be seen while walking on the access bridge to the castle's entrance. Their pain can be read in their eyes and redundant movements, I hate the concept of confining animals for mere display purposes.
A better sight is a monument by the river. It is here that the US and the Soviet armies had met on the meaningful "Elbe Day", April 25th, 1945. The monument commemorates the event and its intrinsic meanings. The end of a terrible war that had swept away millions of humans, and the Yalta decisions re-drawing borders and changing the lives of millions for a long time to come.
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