From Sea to Sea

Location: Kiel Canal, Germany

Scenic drives usually leave me cold, but even I can appreciate the beauty around us today. The ship is going through the Kiel Canal, an artificial waterway in north central Germany that connects the North Sea with the Baltic Sea. Without it, we’d have to go up around northern Denmark, in an area known for rough seas. (And actually, most cruise lines do have to go around, as their ships are too big to fit through the canal — ha!)

The canal was built between 1887 and 1895 so the German navy could link its bases in the Baltic and North Sea without sailing around Denmark. It was internationalized in 1919, although Germany still administered it. Hitler closed it to other nations in 1936, but free navigation was reinstated after World War II, and today the canal is a major passage for shipping in the Baltic region.

I knew most of that before we got here. What I didn’t realize was how beautiful the trip would be. We’re surrounded by gorgeous countryside, quaint little towns, and plenty of wildlife in and around the water: swans, ducks, deer, cows…wow. I was up uber early this morning, so I hit the gym (which offers amazing views) and then went out on deck to get pictures. Nice.

Next up: Amsterdam…

Hitting Our Limit

Location: Warnemunde, Germany

It seems even I can suffer from castle fatigue. The brochure made today’s tour sound so good: a scenic lake cruise followed by a tour of one of Germany’s most picturesque castles and some free time in the city of Schwerin. But it rained during the cruise, the guide ran late so there was no free time, and we’ve already seen so many famous castles that it was hard to care about this relatively unknown one.

Nevertheless, we tried to look interested. Originally built in 1160 but modified many times in the centuries since, Schwerin Castle was once the residence of the grand dukes of Mecklenburg. Today most of the castle is occupied by the state parliament, but 20 rooms in the old ducal residence are open to the public. We walked through most of them in a daze, but I did perk up for the Throne Hall, which was pretty cool. But we’re just so done with castles. Thankfully that was the last one.

Tomorrow is a day at sea, although technically we’re transiting the Kiel Canal, which has Chris all excited. Maybe we’ll finally get a chance to try the pool.

Stay tuned…