Monday, August 16, 2010


August 14, 2010

After sleeping in Saturday morning, I dressed for all expected weather conditions (capris, tank top, flipflops, sweatshirt, rain jacket), packed my Berlin bag full of gummi bears and my camera, and biked in the continuing deluge to the train station. I arrived 45 minutes early and completely soaked. I squished my way to the ticket machine, which was not working. I sloshed over to the ticket counter, and (IN GERMAN) bought a ticket from the friendly lady. I squeaked outside and shivered on the platform with the other drowned souls for half an hour until our train arrived.
I have half an hour to wait.

I read my new German novel, slept, dried, and looked out the window at the rainy green world. An hour later, we stopped in Zinnowitz, where I needed to change trains. The sky opened up and drenched us anew in the 30 second run across the platform to the waiting connection. Great.

At the transfer in Zinnowitz

A short ride later, we stopped in Peenemünde on Usedom Island. It was definitely still raining in this charming town...
In Peenemünde!

...but at least the museum was only five minutes away.
Museum Peenemünde: birthplace of the rocket!

Museum Peenemünde is a former Nazi weapons test site. This is where the rocket was born! Wernher von Braun and his team of physicists developed the V1 and V2 rockets here in the 1940s. The exhibits consisted of the buildings themselves (those which were not destroyed during the war) and very interesting displays on rocket science, how they fit into WWII, and a discussion of how this site brought forth the predecessors of both horrible weapons of mass destruction and inspiring space flight! The scientists were originally motivated by the latter, but politicians directed their research to the former.

After buying my ticket (IN GERMAN), I re-entered the soggy outdoors.

The first building was the control center:
The first building was the control center for rocket testing.

The cool relief map of the old site was the first stop outside:
Map of the area

This crane was used for transferring coal from the mine:

This bridge leads to the main factory:

The site is conveniently on a harbor:

An old Soviet ship is part of the museum, too.
This kind:
That's what it is
Soviet ship

It reminded me of many trips aboard naval vessels with my dad when I was little. :)

Lifesaver and big gun
Herr Kommandant

Like my wet-weather garb?
Raaain gear!

The pump house and rooms in the factory reminded of Doctor Who sets!
Reminds me of Doctor Who sets.
More cool rusted factory things
Power station control room

Here's a blurry and reflective picture of Wernher von Braun:
Wernher von Braun

Don't end up like this sign; stay back from the test zone!

After the history of the site, they had a section on what's happened since WWII. The Allies competed for the German technology and scientists, and the museum looked at each of their development. Naturally, this focused on the USA, Russia, the Cold War, and the Space Race. Our (inside) tour ended with some disturbing depictions of how the world sits with its stockpiles of WMDs:
Again, scary

Outside, the last stop was a model of the V2 rocket:
Model of V2 (I think. Got too tired of rain and left.)

I didn't go over to it; I was COLD by now and starving, and we know how I get when that happens... ;) I asked the ticket lady on the way out to recommend a cafe to me (IN GERMAN). She told me (IN GERMAN) to go out and go left and then right but NOT left because there is nothing and KEEP GOING and you'll get to Cafe am Deich. Okay. Got it.

Turns out, I didn't have it. I asked a lady at a gift shop (IN GERMAN). She said (IN WHAT?) to "follow the road to the fire and take a right". Feeling like I could figure what the heck "the fire" would mean, I trudged off.

By now, there were puddles ankle-deep completely covering the road in some places, and buckets of rain were still pouring from the sky. I passed a Pacific Science Center-like museum, a toy museum, and a U-Boot museum, all of which would interest me on another, less soggy, hungry, tired, and cold day. Finally, I saw this:
OOOH. "THE FIRE". Yessss.

And this:
Peenemünde proper
That looks decidedly downtown-ish.

And this:
I'm so close!!!

I actually never made it to Cafe am Deich. I stopped at the first cafe I saw. I was only their third customer, and immediately requested coffee (IN GERMAN). And then a menu. It was here that I discovered that "Fischstäbchen" are fish sticks. It's not what I was going for, but it was filling and warm. :) Which was actually what I was going for, so go me.
i didn't know I was ordering fish sticks.

To verify, I asked the server (IN GERMAN) how to get back to the train station. She told me a different, shorter way than how I came. It sounded fine. Shuffling off in my still drippy clothes, I found the train tracks, and huddled with the shivering masses until our train came to rescue us.

Goodbye, Peenemünde!
Leaving on the train! IT'S STILL RAINING.

I had to wait about half an hour for my transfer, but once it came, I got a window seat and fell asleep. My bike was still at the Greifswald Hauptbahnhof (SCORE!), and it was actually NOT raining for my couple mile bike home. I took a super long, hot, bubble bath and slept incredibly well. :)

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