It happened overnight. I woke up one morning and it was warm and sunny, the flowers were blooming, there were leaves on the trees, the cafes whipped out their sidewalk tables, and that was that. Now it's spring.
So, following the change of season, we decided to take a little trip up to the northeast coast of Germany, to the shores of the Ostsee (or East Sea, if you prefer). I'm not sure what I was expecting; I'd say that our experiences in other small towns of the former GDR have been varied, what with all the crumbling infrastructure and depopulation following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc. Many towns have really pulled themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps, but it's a lengthy process. However.
The towns that we visited were gorgeous. Everything you'd want from a small seaside community. Lots of ice cream and sunshine and little kids and people in visors; pretty standard fare in most of the Western world, I guess. I was pleasantly surprised to see some old GDR towns turning themselves into breezy, carefree villages. That's not to say there weren't some broken buildings lying around, but they were by no means prevalent. They were easy to ignore, at least.
Brad had fun, too. See?
I'll explain the story of the triumphant bridge pose: we arrived in a town called Greifswald to find it sleepy and Sunday-like (everything is always closed on Sundays), but no matter; our real destination was the bay. So we followed the river, hoping that eventually it would lead us to the sea. Brad kept insisting that there was a Dutch-style drawbridge, and that when we found it, the harbor wouldn't be far off. My disbelief lasted right up until the drawbridge came into sight. Hence the triumph.
We spent about half the day in Greifswald and then moved on, to an even more wonderful little town called Stralsund. Aside from the fact that the town was nearly 100% German and not adverse to looking at me strangely, it was a sweet little seaside haven. We even took a touristy little picture of ourselves to really drive the point home.
In the end, it was so pleasant that we'll be returning to the north part of the country this upcoming weekend, to a couple of towns that I've only heard some strange and mystical stories about. Lübeck and Schwerin, to be precise. I'm quite excited, actually. I'll let you know all about it.