Wednesday, August 29, 2007


"Why did you come here?" ~ A question posed by the Manager of Travel Charme Kurhaus, Binz, Germany.
We next drove from Hamburg to Binz. The trek was 4 to 5 hours. It was a nice drive, full of green fields and giant windmills.

"Windmills Daddy", was the shout of the day.

To be specific they are actually 3 bladed wind turbines turning wind energy into electricity. Although this type of wind power only currently produces just over 1% of world-wide electricity use it does account for approximately 7% in Germany.

If the U.S. was not so in bed with the big oil companies we could be harnessing much more of this power... but I digress.

We cruised northeast on the Autobahn speeding through the former East Germany. Not much traffic could be found nor were there many places to stop for a bite to eat or to get gas... just beautiful countryside.

Did I mention this was our second rental car? The first was too small. Actually the car was a fine luxury Volvo but our luggage wouldn't fit. So back to the Avis desk we went, this time for a Volkswagen station wagon.

Our first goal was to find the Baltic coast city of Strahlbrode and catch a ferry to the Island of Rügen.

Sounds easy, right?

Well... the problem is that most of these roads are new, and as such, they are not on many of the maps just yet. So... we are looking for a proposed road... with no route number associated with it nor an exit number. Ugh... good times.

In the States we take for granted how recent the reunification of Germany actually was... here it affects all German life every day. From the a rising inflation, and corresponding rise of the Eruo, to the German Federal deficit that needs to build infrastructure in the East now rather than the West.

Let alone keep the maps updated.

Nonetheless we find the city, and the ferry after only one wrong turn. My son is thrilled... a boat that carries cars. "It must be the strongest boat in the world", he screams over the engines. So we check off on our list... Planes, Trains, Automobiles... and now boats!

Rügen is Germany's largest island located in the the upper most North coast of the country bordering the Baltic Sea. The island has many popular seaside resorts along the eastern coast, which is where we are headed, as well as two large national parks. The island is also famous for it's white "chalk" cliffs.

A wonderful 30 minute drive down tree covered roads, and some long bumpy stretches of cobblestones... and we arrive in our destination city of Binz. But wait? What's the address?

That's right. We didn't have an address for the hotel... how could this happen?

Easy. We've been just too busy... too many other details to keep track of, too much luggage and too many kids.

Not to worry... I'm from California and I knew the resort was on the beach... heck, I can find a beach anywhere!

AND no less than 5 minutes later with no wrong turns we arrive at the Travel Charme Kurhaus Binz. We pull in the drive way, ring the buzzer at the gate... and a voice greets us, "Welcome to Binz, Mr. Palmer, please drive in."


Wow, nice place. I knew it would be pretty from the pictures I saw online so I booked it with a blind-eye to costs. Surprised? For those that know me as a man who has studied the art of frugality you might be.

No, no... I knew if we made it this far... we would need a treat.

Boy was I right. The building and resort dates back to the 1880's, the rooms are lavish and the atmosphere calming. Nice work Dad!

One side note: The conversation with the Manager actually happened. He explained that we were the first Americans to the ever visit the Binz Resort. This is why they knew it was us at the gate. (Who else would be speaking English?) The man was kind but curious. How and why did we come to travel this distance to be his guest.

"I found it on the Internet", was my reply.

And I told him with the Internet he should expect more Americans. The area and resort was too picturesque not for them to come. He said currently only 5% of his annual guests speak English and most come Switzerland. As such, he apologized that the resort doesn't have the infrastructure to handle an English speaking clientele.

True dat!

Virtually nothing was translated and I think only one of the service staff spoke English. Makes for slow going at times... but we were not in a rush.

Sure it was tough at times... but it made us speak more German (bad German) and that is always fun. Both the staff and the townspeople were very understanding and tried hard to understand us as we butchered the German language.

So if you're ever in the area... Hahaha.

In the end we had a great time. The above picture is actually the familie waving from our room. Great ocean view and cool woodwork. I've never had oval window before in a hotel. I think they gave us the best room in the place. (Being the first Americans was worth something, eh?)

Would we come back?

Probably not. Although the resort and city were wonderful... we like to visit new places and explore new cities rather than come back time and again.

If we lived in Germany... absolutely. I could see us driving from Hamburg in the summer. The water is a beautiful blue, the beach is nice white sand and the accommodations were of high quality. What's not to like?

So... When do we rest?

Not yet... stay tuned. Gotta run.