7th September 2016. Wismar, Germany.

We finally left Neukloster today.  We were enjoying being settled in one place but the owner has started closing up the site for Winter and yesterday she shut down half the site.  Luckily the site became quite busy yesterday and when she popped over to ask us, and the people on the pitch opposite us, to straighten our awnings in case she needed to use the pitch next to us (it would have been a bit tight for space if that pitch had been used) we decided that there was a possibility that we could be crammed in, time to move on.  Although the pitches were quite close together the vans had all been nicely spread out because there had been very few people staying.

As we were leaving our pitch I noticed a very cute van.  It was a little blue Citroën van, the owners were sitting outside enjoying the sun and they smiled and waved to us as we drove past.  I wish we’d had time to stop for a chat but we’d already had a visit from the owner reminding us that it was arrival time in 15 minutes!

I learned yet another lesson today.  As we were leaving we filled up with water and emptied everything that needed emptying.  I was keeping an eye on the water tank as it filled.  The water pressure was very strong so it filled up in half the time it usually does and it was suddenly lapping at the lid of the tank so I jumped out, had a panic trying to find the switch to turn the water off in the van, located that and turned it off breathing a sigh of relief.

I then noticed a man hanging around waiting to fill his water tank so I panicked and rushed over to disconnect the hose at the same time as Darren reappeared and started talking to me.  Consequently I disconnected the hose while the tap was still turned on and got thoroughly sprayed with water for my troubles, water was gushing out of the tap onto the floor and in my sodden state I couldn’t remember which way to turn the tap off!  Darren to the rescue with his “Lefty loosy, righty tighty” advice (I wouldn’t mind but I had passed on that little rhyme to him so you’d think I would have remembered it wouldn’t you).  We drove away from the site at Neukloster with me sitting in the passenger seat dripping wet and leaving a big puddle by the tap.  I hope that the people in their van enjoyed the entertainment, I know we would have if we had been in their shoes.

We drove to Wismar, we’d passed through it on the way to Boisendorf where we’d had an overnight stop on the way to Sweden.  They were doing a lot of road works at the time and we were diverted through the town centre which was beautiful.

As usual we had trouble parking, they were still doing road works (we really do need to get this SAT NAV updated).  We ended up going along a road which said ‘No buses or coaches’ and considering the size of our van that was a little worrying because the road appeared to be getting narrower by the minute.  Darren got out of there the minute he had the chance and we drove off to look for out of town parking.

We weren’t having much luck until we saw a sign for Aldi.  They had a lovely big car park and were a short bike ride from the Town Centre (we’ve noticed the signs to the Town Centre are now signposted ‘Zentrum’, in Sweden it was ‘Centrum’ and in Norway ‘Sentrum’).  Darren went to check that there weren’t any time limits parking there while I started assembling the bikes.  It was a lovely ride into the town along a tree lined cycle path and then along the path into the beautiful town square.

Wismar was even more beautiful than we’d remembered.

As we had an initial exploratory wander around the square Darren caught sight of a sign for an Eiscafé  (ice cream café) so we headed there.  We were a little ‘thrown’ when the waiter came up to us and spoke to us in Italian (we used to get a lot of that when I studied in Bedford which has a huge Italian community, they all assumed Darren was Italian because of his colouring, in fact he still remembers the time he was sitting in a barbers chair having his hair ripped out with a cut throat razor while the barber chatted away to him in Italian.  Something for the weekend sir?) for a very brief moment we both questioned where we were, then he tried German and when we replied in English he looked extremely surprised and told us he only spoke a little English.

Once that little bit of excitement was over we ordered our coffee and ice cream,  I had a crepe filled with fruit (the healthy option!) which was yummy and to ring the changes Darren had a plate of ice cream spaghetti, it seems it was a similar menu to the ice cream shop in Venlo.  Darren’s idea had been to relax and people watch but earlier when we were looking at the menu he’d started looking for his phone to use the translation app and that’s when I remembered I’d placed it on the shelf in the ‘garage’ while I was assembling the bicycles.  Normally it wouldn’t have been a problem but Darren was ‘on call’ and needed it this time.

He decided that once we’d finished at the café he would cycle back to the van for the phone and leave me to do some photography which is just what we did.  I had a great time wandering round the pretty square.

I spent a long time just photographing an ornate building in the corner of the square, in fact I was just clicking away when I heard a man’s voice directed at me, I thought he was speaking in Italian to begin with and I caught a word that sounded similar to ‘fascinating’ so I replied that it was very beautiful and fascinating.  It turns out he was German and he spoke to me in broken English then asked if I would like him to take my photograph in front of the building.  That was really kind of him and I spent the next 10 minutes posing.

When he’d gone I carried on taking photographs and then noticed Darren chatting on the phone on the opposite side of the square.  It was a work call.  Perfect timing.

We had a lovely time exploring the streets of Wismar, I received a huge smile from a girl we cycled past which made me very happy, I can’t help smiling when I’m happy but although people have been very friendly towards us on our trip I’ve seen very few smiles.

Wismar was full of surprises (for two people who hadn’t been to the Tourist Information Office!)  We cycled up one street and found a clock with a 1920’s sign on it (I’ve since looked it up, this is a replica of the clock that had been there in the 1920’s.  In 1987 Persil celebrated their 80th anniversary by putting this clock where the old one had once been.)  A bit further along we came across a canal.  We had no idea there was a canal in Wismar!  We really should do more homework before we visit a town.

We stopped on a little bridge, Schweinsbrücke (Pigs’ Bridge), to look at the water and noticed there were four bronze pigs each in a different pose.  I stood my bike up at the side of the kerb and took photos of them then noticed Darren talking to a man in a car.  After the man had driven away Darren told me that when the man had initially started speaking to him he thought he was being told to move the bike but then when the man realised Darren spoke English he repeated what he’d said.  He was telling him that the pigs all had names, there was the strong one and the one laying on its back was the happy one but he couldn’t think of the translation for the two on the opposite side of the bridge.  It was very kind of him to take the time to stop to do that.  I have since discovered that they were made by a local sculptor called Christian Wetzel.

We followed the canal past a HUGE church to another bridge just before the harbour where some people were filming by the very old building that straddled the canal.  When the film crew had gone we saw two ‘characters’ appear, we had seen them up at the town square earlier.  They were dressed in Bavarian style outfits and carrying walking staves with their belongings wrapped in cloth.  They stopped beside the canal to take photos of their belongings that they’d placed on the cobbled street.

It’s amazing just how many of the places we’ve visited which have cobbled streets.  The cobbles in Wismar had particularly large gaps between them making for an extremely bumpy bike ride, thank goodness it appears to be acceptable to ride on the paths in this part of Germany!

On the way back through the town we were stopped by a lady who we think was asking us for directions (in German) we apologised and said we didn’t speak German but she carried on talking, we caught the word ‘museum’ which we’d passed and pointed in that direction but apparently that wasn’t what she was asking.  We were there a good five minutes while she carried on talking, a short while later we saw her again with her husband at the top of the hill by a church where we’d stopped to watch an American style school bus go past, they seemed happy so someone must have directed them to where they wanted to go.

We’ve spent a lot of time saying ‘sorry’ because we don’t speak the language and we decided we needed to find out what the word ‘sorry’ was in German.  Strangely enough when we got back to the van and popped into Aldi to do some shopping we discovered what the translation was when the lady in front of us at the check out had to rush out to her car to get more money, she returned and said “Sorry”!

We drove on to a stëllplatz in the grounds of the schloss in Schwerin.   We saw some interesting things along the way, unfortunately I was having a day of trees/lamp posts/bushes jumping into the frame as I took the photo, the hay bales were the only pics that were reasonably clear (but I still managed to get a lamp post and the van window!).

The drive in was horrible, we’d obviously hit rush hour and the beautiful buildings were liberally splattered with tags and other graffiti making it look like a really dodgy area.  The SAT NAV decided to sulk and didn’t mention that we had to turn left until we’d gone past the turning by about 100 yards and then she decided we needed to do a ‘U’ turn (Darren had already had to do one of those earlier on in the journey but it was far too busy here).  We eventually found a car park by the ‘Welcome to Schwerin’ sign and got back on the road we were supposed to be on.

However our SAT NAV was obviously in a bit of a mood, as we sailed past one road and looked down the hill there was a car park with a motorhome in it, that’s when she decided we needed to turn down a very narrow cobbled lane which was at an angle impossible to turn into from the road we were on!

Darren turned left at the next turning which took us into another cobbled street which was so narrow it had traffic lights on it.  We don’t know how they work they were only red and amber but the lights at the top of the hill were blank when we drove down and they went from red to blank (we saw that when we drove back up again, but cars were still squeezing past us on their way down the hill).  When we reached the bottom of the road we came face to face with a bus as it was in the process of turning in.  Darren waited for him to squeeze past then did a three point turn in the narrow ‘no entry’ road (he’s brilliant at manoeuvring our van).

We finally got back to the very narrow road that the SAT NAV had originally tried to turn us down and thought for an awful moment that we were going to be stuck because there were metal posts all along the side of the car park.  Luckily there was a narrow lane running along the side of the car park so we squeezed along that to the entrance.

We parked with a few other motorhomes, had a nervous 10 minutes as lots of police vehicles went past with their sirens blazing (something big had obviously kicked off).  After breathing a sigh of relief that we’d finally arrived here we decided to walk off some of the stress in the pretty park in the setting sun.

The buildings we’ve seen so far in Schwerin are stunningly beautiful.

We walked back through the park to our van as the sun was setting.

Darren did a Harry Worth impression and got some very funny looks and a laugh from a couple cycling past him.  They’re not in this photo, I asked Darren to do it again without the audience participation this time.

We’re looking forward to exploring the city tomorrow.

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