“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” - Lao Tzu
Thursday, 9 December 2010
Rostock Christmas Festival
The more I travel the more I realise just how little I know of the world.
Many of the places I've been and will be going to have been just dots on a map, no different than any of the other dots around the globe. Even the satellite imagery of Google Earth can't really provide any real measure of what to expect before setting foot on the ground.
My time in some places I was excited about visiting has been disappointing, while other places, like Rostock where I really wasn't expecting much, have turned into highlights.
There is only one reason I visited Rostock. It's because the ship I took from Finland to Germany brought me here. I liked the idea of a German coastal town, so I thought I'd stay for a couple of nights and check the place out.
I booked a hotel the night before I left Helsinki. It was a good rate, good location, had good internet, and 24-hour check-in, meeting all my requirements.
As it turned out, this hotel and the room I got have by far been the best of this trip. The room was massive, looked great, and was directly above the market square which at this time of year plays host to the Christmas markets. So when I awoke the next morning I looked out and saw Christmas stalls full of people, decorations, food, carousels, and a busy crowd below me. I could not have chosen a better location if I grew up in the town and knew every street.
So I just spent the next day and a half wandering around. The Christmas market was huge and engulfed many blocks beyond the view from my window. And when I walked down to the docks, the view across the river was stunning.
I imagine Rostock is pretty quiet for most of the year, but I would definitely recommend a visit during December when their Christmas festival is running. I've seen a number of Christmas markets in bigger cities (Hanover, Helsinki, Toulouse, Paris) and the Rostock festivities were my clear favorites. It was as if the whole town was on holiday.