When shops were closed in Oslo, Norway on the first of May for May Day, we were more than excited for the second stop on our Scandinavian cruise with Princess Cruises: Germany! Several of the shore excursions for the day included three-hour train rides—each way—to Berlin. As much as I wanted to visit Berlin, I decided to save it for another trip, because Tamara and I found a shore excursion that caught our eye immediately: The Best of Rostock, River Cruise, & Microbrewery. As soon as I read there would be soft pretzels involved, I was sold!
This dream of a port town starts with the view of Warnemünde from the Regal Princess. A church steeple, a winding river, and a smattering of picturesque cottages set in front of a sparkling sea. It doesn't get any better than that. I woke up early and caught the sunrise and was absolutely enchanted by the colors that were layered throughout the clouds.
Rostock, Germany is a picturesque 800-year-old town that makes you want to burst into the "little town, it's a quiet village" number from Beauty and the Beast. The town square looks as perfect as a film set, and as with any classic European city, it does feel a little like a step back into time.
As it happens, the oldest university in all of northern Europe is located in Rostock, established in 1419. Albert Einstein even had an honorary doctorate degree from the University! The main hall is a beautiful building right in the center of town that seems to anchor the city square.
After a stroll through the more modern shopping stretch, our tour set us free for about twenty to thirty minutes of wandering around the square. There were a ton of cute little shopping boutiques and patio restaurants, and the cutest boutique hotels. Rostock would be a wonderful place to stop on a road trip through Germany (which is now on my travel wishlist!). There was even an adorable coffee bike parked nearby to enjoy during our break.
However, like I said, my favorite part of the tour was visiting a local brewery, because what is Germany most famous for? Beer, of course, and they’re very proud of it. Our tour guide told us plenty of his favorite drinking stories to entertain us during the drive! We arrived at Brahaus Trotzenburg to a full tray of warm soft pretzels, and sample cups of two kinds of beer—but pay no mind to the mini-size steins, you can go back for seconds! One thing I learned was that mustard, a condiment I usually enjoy with soft pretzels, is more common in southern Germany, and nearly unheard of in northern Germany. Of course, the United States differs greatly from region to region, but I didn’t think about how different two regions in a much smaller country could be.
Although our tour lasted a short four hours compared to the twelve-hour day other passengers were enjoying in Berlin, Tamara and I were exhausted and headed back to the ship to regroup. There may have been a nap involved. However, there was more exploring to do in our port town of Warnemünde, which was a very short walk from the ship.
Warnemünde was just what I had in mind for a small, northern Europe port town. There were a ton of cute souvenir shops and cafes lining the river, as well as beautiful fishing boats. Tamara and I strolled the fairytale-like cottages to the end of town where we ran into a gorgeous Baltic Sea beach, which reminded me a lot of East Coast and New England beaches in the States. I imagine Warnemünde would be an amazing place to vacation in the summer!
I bought a couple souvenirs in town, but make sure to stop in to the shops on the walk back to the ship, specifically the shop inside Karls Pier 7: you can smell the strawberries practically out the door! Although I didn't have any room in my suitcase for their delicious treats, I did come back with a captain's hat.
Our cruise itinerary contained so many stunning big cities in northern Europe that taking a day to explore some smaller, quieter towns was a nice little break. Still, this was definitely a full day for us, but worth every step. Plus, local tour guides who know the ins and outs of everything you might want to know is just the cherry on top of a fun and food-filled excursion. Auf Wiedersehen!
Thank you to Princess Cruises for sponsoring this post.