“Do you have a navigation system?” the man behind the desk at Stralsund station asked. I sensed he was beginning to feel sorry for me.
Unsure whether he was referring to the Google maps app or an elaborate set of compasses, I figured “no” was the safer bet.
“You need to take a right when you leave the station,and another when you get to the crossroads. Eventually, you will reach two bridges. The bigger one is quite dangerous for cyclists, so you would be best advised to avoid it. However, the other might be difficult to navigate too because of the many fishermen who congregate there in the hope of catching herring.
Once you have crossed the bridge, you must take a left turn which will lead you towards a village. After you have passed through it, you will find a cycle path to Rambin. It shouldn’t take much more than an hour or two, though in this wind, who knows?” He paused briefly before continuing cheerfully: “Do feel free to send a complaint to Deutsche Bahn. After all, nothing will change if people don’t complain! Auf Wiedersehen!”
At this point, it is only fair to pay tribute to LSB’s restraint. Despite his protestations earlier that morning, he did not launch into a “I told you so” speech, nor did he accept my (what I considered very gallant) offer to abandon the bikes at the station and pick them up on our way back from Rambin.
At the same time,he didn’t exactly seem very pleased about the situation.
Nevertheless, we got on our bikes full of resolve to make the sea-crossing as smooth as possible.
After passing through the village of Dänholm, we came to the two bridges the man at the station had told us about.
One look at the scores of trucks whizzing along the top bridge convinced us to follow his advice and take the one below.
And truth be told, it wasn’t half bad, riding along with the wind in our hair, breathing in the Baltic Sea air…
Except that the Baltic Sea air reeked of herring.
Despite the near-freezing conditions, the fishermen really were out in force.
Positioned about a meter apart from each other, with identical buckets of herring by their side, they swept their rods in a giant arc behind them, causing me to swerve more than once to avoid being hit by their hooks.
Once we had crossed the bridge, we followed the signs pointing towards Altefähr which we had learnt was nearby.
We got to a cobble-stoned village, full of pretty thatched cottages and trees bearing elaborate displays of hanging Easter eggs.
One thatched roof impressed me so much that I got off my bike to take a picture of it.
When we got to the outskirts of the village, we stopped to consult Google maps once again. An elderly woman walking her dog took pity on us and asked us if she could help.
We told her we were heading to Rambin. Thankfully, she’d heard of it.
“See those windmills in the distance,” she said. “You need to ride all the way to them. Once you get there, turn right – then it’s a cycle path all the way to Rambin.”
I thanked her profusely.
LSB and I had never been so close to windmills before. As we rode past them, we agreed that they really were pretty magnificent.
It is difficult to describe the joy we felt when we finally reached the signpost telling us Rambin was only two kilometres away.
After a day of unexpected exertion, our biggest priority was getting food.
But we soon realised that Rambin is not known for its culinary offerings.
As the hunt for sustenance took over the evening, it became clear that the day’s challenges were far from over.
To be continued