The Secret Life of Binz (3)

The next morning, I was sitting on the loo, doing my business and minding my own business, when I noticed something rather odd – there was a bench right outside the bathroom window. I sat there, snickering to myself, imagining some garden party guests suddenly showing up and getting an unexpected eyeful. Thankfully, it was a Monday and not exactly garden party season so I figured I’d be safe enough.

Then the garden party showed up. Eight or ten jovial Germans stopped right outside the window, with two men so close they were practically touching the glass. Dear God, please don’t turn around, please don’t turn around. They turned to face each other so now I could see their profiles. Another inch or two and they’d be looking directly at me. I did what any normal person would do in this situation – I stopped praying, snatched up the toilet roll and scuttled, crab-like, over into the corner, where I hoped I could wipe without being watched. I wasn’t quite ready to perform “LO’G Drops a Log” in front of an audience…

View from inside
View from outside

Safely back in the kitchen, I had a nerve-calming cup of tea, waited for the party to move on, showered faster than I ever had in my life, and walked into town. After a “not strictly breakfast” breakfast, I made my way to Pauli’s Radshop to rent a bike. Poor Pauli.

Pauli trying to make a run for it.

After several abortive attempts on a bike with back-pedal coaster brakes…

“Pedal forward! Pedal forward!”

“I’m trying! I’m trying!” (Thump)

…Pauli and I decided that this option was definitely not for me. He found a bike with normal brakes, made it “Linda-sized” and I wobbled around the yard on it a few times. Success.

Next up came the issue of me not being German, therefore, not having everything neatly packed in a bicycle-friendly backpack. Nope, I had a whopping great handbag with me. But not to worry; Pauli was a total pro and had attached a basket to the back of the bike before I could say “rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz” (which has absolutely nothing to do with riding a bike – I just thought I’d scare you with a terrifyingly long German word).

After paying my €8 and signing a contract (Germany), I sailed off confidently down the street. Ah, this was great. So much more relaxing and civilised than Berlin – lovely cycle lanes, hardly anyone else on wheels – perfect.

Unfortunately, I was so busy trying to blow falling leaves out of my eyes, I went wrong somewhere and ended up on a main road. Not to worry – the Binzians are sweet, patient folk, I thought. They’ll understand.

Opa thundered by shortly afterwards in his black cab, roaring at me that there was a cycle lane, beeping, and making rather a rude gesture out the window. Sweet old man. Ah yes, what I’d thought was a pavement on the opposite side of the road was actually dual function. I dismounted, wheeled the bike over the road through a couple of ditches and carried on.

Finally, I reached my destination – Prora.

Anyone fancy a dance?

Prora is quite the fascinating place. It was built by the Nazis as a beach resort between 1936 and 1939 – sort of a Nazi Butlins, if you will. The original structure was massive – stretching 4.5 km along the beach front – and was meant to hold up to 20,000 holiday-makers as part of the “Strength through Joy” programme (Kraft durch Freude (KdF)). The idea was that every worker deserved a beach holiday – they’d come here, relax and recuperate, then work harder than ever when their holiday was over.

There’s a documentation centre you can visit where they show a very interesting video on the history of the place, on loop all day, with English subtitles. For obvious reasons, construction was never completed, and since 1945, it’s been used as a Soviet military base, an East German Army restricted military area, a Bundeswehr military technical school, and a refugee centre. Plans to sell the whole structure for development failed so now it’s being sold off to investors bit by bit.

 

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This being Germany, cafés are obviously a priority and so I found myself here.

The Horn family strike again.

After a relaxing cake break, it was time to hop on the bike again and back into town. If Pauli was relieved to see that me and the bike were still in one piece, he didn’t show it. I parked up and walked next door to his brother’s fish shop where they sell Glühwein for €1.50 a cup. I also got to sit in my first ever Strandkorb, which I think makes me officially a German. 

Happiness is…

It seemed that, for once, I was ahead of the German schedule. Four or five couples arrived shortly after me and all asked for Glühwein but it seemed I’d got the last of it – take that, Germans, haha!

After a rather brilliant night out with a fun Italian, two South Africans, and quite possibly the most boring Englishman ever to have lived, I woke up to my last morning in Binz. After a furtive visit to the bathroom, I packed up and braved the gale-force winds and torrential rain to go and get some pastries from the closest bakery.

The Horn family really have baking sewn up in these parts.

After a deliciously gooey Schokobrötchen and cup of tea, sadly it was time to leave. My new German mum and dad dropped me to the station to catch the Flixbus. But, of course, it wouldn’t be Binz if there wasn’t one last bit of kink to see me on my way.

Mr. Karsten Breast – you couldn’t make this stuff up.

Oh, Binz, you weird and wonderful place, I’ll miss you.

 

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15 thoughts on “The Secret Life of Binz (3)”

  1. OMG! I would have been horrified!
    I’m the type of person who insisted on wearing a bikini (bright yellow), and struggling to cover myself with a towel while everybody else was completely and utterly nude!

    Yes, indeed.

    And as for the toilet.
    I would just die!

    p.s. I was in the office a few weeks ago, and the subject turned to beaches in Germany, and someone said, “You should visit Prora.”
    Emm. Alright then mate.
    On googling said Prora, I wish he hadn’t mentioned the fact that you could stay there via Airbnb!
    Ghastly!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not at all! They’re doing an amazing job of doing it up. People are already living and working there and there’s a beautiful hotel. Lots of little shops and cafes in each block. It’s actually really lovely – and around a 3-minute walk from the beach! You should try it 😉 Probably less adventurous than India!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Too late now but couldn’t the blinds on the bathroom window be raised? What a fright! Imagine if you were showering at night, lights blazing. You wouldn’t have had a clue that you’d be providing some garden party guest an unexpected Peeping Tom opportunity. Prora looks like it could be a horror movie set … kind of creepy 😉 Glad you had such a good time. Thanks for taking us along 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Was nice to have you along for the journey! I’d go back there in a heartbeat – but maybe I’ll wait til spring at this stage 😉 Yeah, I’d say Prora at night is not somewhere you’d want to hang around! And yes, Manfredas made the same point about the blinds – I’m an idiot haha! Took me two days to even notice the bench so clearly I’m not the sharpest tool in the box!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Eh, I’m not sure I would have thought anyone could see down into the bathroom. I lived in an apartment building where the bathroom had a small window. It opened into a enclosed area, across from other apartments. I lived there 3 or 4 years but only twice did I think to look down. Egads if one time I didn’t see my apartment manager’s wife sitting on the toilet! Yet, I never thought to look up to see if anyone could see me … heheheh

        Liked by 1 person

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