Thursday, February 23, 2017

Germany's Mecklenburg Lake District By Houseboat: Cities, Pottery Factory & German Aviation Museum

This is the second post in a series of three about traveling in the Mecklenburg Seenplatten (lake district) in the former East part of Germany.  In my previous post, I described what it was like to travel the area on a houseboat

One Easter vacation my husband, myself, his sister, her husband and three of their teenage children boarded a houseboat for a week of cruising in 75 miles of interconnected waterways, canals and lakes.

There is so much to explore in this unique and beautiful area. Aside from the nature preserves, within the village and cities, the local food and fishing scene, Prussian castles, a ceramic factory and a fascinating a vast aviation museum. There are zoos and family parks and tons of bike and hiking trails. 

Once we left the houseboat rental dock, my sister-in-law had planned out our journey. Here is a tour of the villages and cities we visited on our trip.

First Stop Neustrelitz: This baroque city once had a matching palace. Unfortunately, the palace once rebuilt from burning to the ground in the 1700s, was completely destroyed in WWII.
However, the royal gardens and some outer buildings still remain and are beautifully preserved.  

The Bird of Paradise plant is called Strelitzia in this city. It is named for Prussian Princess Sophia who eventually became a British queen, born here.

Once we docked in Neustrelitz, I had the opportunity to spend a few hours roaming around the city, gawking at the gorgeous buildings and exploring the palace garden. 

The palace gardens are an easy walk from the water with beautiful views.

The area they cover is vast, beautifully laid out and a welcome opportunity to stretch my legs after hours of boat cruising. 

A highlight of the gardens is this Alley of the Gods lined with 22 beautiful sandstone sculptures of Roman gods.

There are also several monuments located around the gardens representing different layers of history. A monument to the fallen soldiers of WWI.

A memorial stone for soldiers who died in battle in WWII.

A replica of the tomb of Louise, a popular and beloved Queen of Prussia who died in 1810 at the age of 37. She is buried in Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin.

The palace church also still stands on the grounds. 

After a long wander around the royal grounds, tt was time for some fortification. 

I headed back to the harbor for mittagessen and a cocktail.

We enjoyed delicious, locally sourced fare. 

After lunch, we walked the streets a bit more before heading to our next destination.

Everywhere remnants of old, once beautiful buildings are tucked between the new and newly renovated.

This Neustrelitz high tech weather forecasting station highlighted the local sense of humor.

Rough translation: 
Dry Stone: Sunny
Wet Stone: Rainy
White Stone: Snow
Moving Stone: Windy
Buried Stone: Earthquake
No Stone: Stolen

It was time to board the boat to take off to our next adventure.

Next stop... Rheinsberg.

After disembarking there, We were greeted by this series of beautiful, whimsical Odessyus themed wood sculptures by the dock.

Rheinsberg is another substantial sized city. 

Horse drawn carriages waited for tourists in the town's main square.  

There was no shortage of beautiful shops and restaurants to explore. 

I loved this small firefighter history exhibit located by the city's tourist office. 

There was no resisting popping into St. Laurentius church for a peek.

It's not every day you get to stand in a house of worship that dates from the 13th century

The organ was installed in 1767 and is still in use today. 

Rheinsberg is famous for its ceramic factories. 

This one we visited seemed endless.

The shelves housed different selections of goods separated by style and color.

Many items, labeled in German depicting what each is designed to hold make unique and beautiful souvenirs, especially for an American.

The shop also sells dry goods and locally made liquors and food items.

I may or may not have walked out of the place lugging a heavy bag. 

The highlight of Rheinsberg for me was the visit to the palace of  Frederich I beautifully situated on the water. This and the other Prussian castles I visited will be highlighted in my next and final Mecklenburg Lakeland post. 

It was hard to tear myself away from the castle. But we had a travel schedule to keep. It was time to cruise on to our next destination.

We arrived in Mirow, tied the boat up for the night and hopped off to have dinner at a beautiful restaurant by the dock. I opted for the Käsespätzle. I rarely go wrong with Käsespätzle, one of my absolute favorites. It was delicious. 

After dinner, they rolled out the schnapps party wagon featuring the most impressive array of flavors I'd ever seen.

The next morning I set out for the local castle.

Nearby is a brewery/restaurant to visit. The building contains a 500-year-old cellar where Knights of Templar stored ice. It is now a party room/restaurant for tourists complete with jesters, fire jugglers, a Monk who tells historical antidotes and a dance floor. 

The castle, Cavalier house, church and various other outbuildings are a unique look back through an 800-year-old architectural and cultural history. 

There is also a mysterious "love" island off of the main island. More about that and the castle in my next post about this trip.

After an extensively touring the palace and buildings, it was time to get back on the boat to travel to Müritz.

We docked in the town of Rechlin in Müritz and were peckish upon our arrival.

Luckily for us, there was a nautical themed restaurant tucked into the harbor. 

The restaurant didn't look like much from the outside but inside was a different story. We felt like had left one boat, only to board another. 

Carrot cream soup and bacon wrapped shrimp calmed the hunger.

Side note: I was a little perplexed at this bottle of Worcestershire proclaiming itself to be Dresden Style at the table. 

We waddled back to the boat, sleepy but satisfied and spent the night.

The next day, some of the family stayed on the boat to relax and a few of us walked about a mile to visit the Luftfahrt Technisches Museum (Aviation Technical Museum).

Rechlin was the Luftwaffe's main testing ground for new aircraft designs in Nazi Germany.

During WWII Rechlin also was an outpost for Ravensbrück, the largest concentration camp for women.

The Dead Remind Us
The museum is huge and could take up a whole post of its own. There is so much to see there. 

Aviation aficionados, as well as war historians, would find it especially fascinating. I am neither and still found it extremely interesting. 

It's a bird. It's a plane.
The grounds outside the museum are covered in all types of air, land and sea craft.

Some are beautifully preserved, some in various stages of being restored.

Volunteer Fire Department Truck
Once inside, the walk through took about two hours, counting a brief visit to the gift shop.

Several examples of military uniforms on display. 

Ejection Seat
Flight Simulator

Medical Kits
German-Russian Word Book
Recovered Roll-Royce engine of a British warplane shot down in a night raid. 
The plane was on its way to Dresden. Six died, one was held as a prisoner. 

Letters Depicting the Fate of a Rechlin Family after 1945

It was time to leave the museum. The picture selections above show only a small fraction of what is on display. I could have spent at least another hour there, partly because German is not my mother language and I read a lot slower than the average German. 

Before I left, I had to take another look at the Trabtanic parked outside. This is a boat cobbled together using two roofs from two Trabant or "Trabi" cars for the hull of the boat. Here's a picture of an old Trabi I found on the street in Neustrelitz for reference.

Who says East Germans don't have a sense of humor?

We spent that evening on the boat engaged in our nightly trivial pursuit game. 

trivial pursuit game in german

The next morning it was time to make our way over the rivers and through the locks back to spend the night at the Locaboat dock before handing over The keys to the Potsdam.

On the way back, we cruised by some beautiful old factories and buildings.

Stay tuned for part three of my three-part series on cruising the Mecklenburg Lakeland by houseboat.  

Next up the Prussian Castles of the Mecklenburg Lakeland. 


  1. What a great post, full of beautiful images, and loved the tour guide. On a light note, loved the ceramic teapots (could keep the tea hot!) and would love to know what the Käsespätzle's ingredients are... really inspired to do this trip sometime! Thanks!!


  2. Thank you for sharing this is probably where I will be and my wife will take a honeymoon

  3. Thank you for sharing this is probably where I will be and my wife will take a honeymoon


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