Monday, 7 August 2017


It's a strange feeling heading somewhere you expect to be the middle of nowhere, and coming across a large, busy town there. That's how we felt when we came across Kühlungsborn, which is in fact the largest seaside spa town on the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern coast. We had no idea. It's like suddenly coming across Bournemouth when you'd never knew it existed.

It has a marina and a long, long, long promenade and a beach fronted by elegant hotels and restaurants. And of course Strandkörbe. Lots of Strandkörbe, in all different colours.

What it does have that most seaside resorts do not, and certainly Bournemouth doesn't, is a military lookout tower:

What you can tend to forget is that not that long ago Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was part of Soviet-controlled East Germany, and this coastline was the border between the Communist states and decadent Western Europe. Many people attempted to flee to the West by sailing off from here hoping to reach Schleswig-Holstein, Denmark, or Sweden. Some made it, and some were spotted from towers like this and Police boats sent out to prevent their escape.

Birds know no international boundaries, but they are still subject to the law. Do not feed the seagulls!

These sparrows are having a giggle. "We're not seagulls, you can feed us!"

Here's another sight you will often see in German seaside towns. In fact, any touristy town! The ubiquitous Stadtrundfahrt 'train':

Before we leave Kühlungsborn, the resort we didn't previously even suspect existed, a note about these vending machines:

All spa resorts are allowed to charge a Kurabgabe, which is a 'health tax'. This goes towards keeping the beach clean and providing showering and toilet facilities, lifeguards, and many organised cultural events. Visitors can pay their tax at these machines, and you can be challenged by town officials to prove you have paid the tax. Of course, this being Germany, everyone automatically pays without thinking about it, and few people are bothered to be challenged. At Kühlungsborn the charge is 2€ per adult in the high season. Children up to 18 years old go free! I think this is a very good idea, and provides a small but guaranteed income to the town. I can't see it catching on in Bournemouth though.

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