In 1996, I visited Mecklenburg Vorpommern, looking for White-tailed Eagles.
We still did encounter many remnants of the communistic period.
There are photographs from a later date.
Around Pentecost 1996, I traveled to Waren
, in Mecklenburg Vorpommern, former
Eastern Germany, with a very good friend, on our motorbikes.
Waren is situated next to the "Ostufer der Mueritz" , a nature reserve within the lakes area, attractive to a lot of birds, including the Lesser Spotted Eagle and my main reason for this trip, the White-Tailed Eagle.
We decided to stick to smaller roads to Waren, covering the distance in two days. Our first stop was on a camping ground somewhere on the
, and we decided to take our first meal in a restaurant. They served
a delicious asparagus-meal, with lots of asparagus, new patatoes, butter, and a gigantic schnitzel (we were in Germany, remember).
Unfortunately, my friend started feeling sick after a few bites, and had to return to the tent. I never ate as much asparagus in my life as I did that evening, and that without company!
We were very glad that my friend's sickness was gone the next morning, so we could go on to Waren. We crossed the Elbe at Lauenburg, in the rain. For me, this was the first time that I set foot (wheel) on former Eastern Europe ground.
Of course, there still are many differences with the part of Germany that I do know. In the first place, the drivers are different.
German drivers are of a special kind. They know how to drive, I admit that (Dutch drivers are incredibly sloppier than German drivers), but their driving style is not friendly at all.
Once I drove on the German Autobahn in a small Peugeot 205, borrowed from my father, completely filled with my three kids and camping gear. The car was not washed for ages, so we looked very cheap. But the car happened to be rather fast, and we were often in the fast lane, passing a lot of Mercedeses, Audi's and BMW's. At least one out of ten took this passing as a personal insult, and would pass me again, showing the superiority of their car. Unfortunately, they always would slow down after a while to their own comfort speed, so I had to pass them again. I caused feelings of inferiority to lot of Germans, with this sloppy car from my father.
This is typical for German drivers from the West.
In the Eastern part, it is completely different. They don't drive as fast as in the Western part, and they are very friendly. When you have the right of way, you always get it (unbelievable in the Western part, were the most expensive car takes the right of way). When you don't have the right of way, they sometimes give it to you anyway.
And this behaviour is not only seen in drivers with cheap cars, but also in the ones who can afford a new Mercedes. On the other hand, they are not good drivers, maybe even slightly worse than Dutch drivers. So you have to be prepared for stupid, ridiculous, dangerous actions.
I even saw a stationcar Trabant, which came in very handy because the woman driving it was transporting a rake, sticking out of the back door. It would never have fitted in an ordinary Trabant :-)
Most of the roads are pretty well maintained, but from time to time I was glad to have a dirt-oriented motorcycle, because the roads tended to turn into sand, mud, holes filled with water, and piles of stones once in a while. Needless to say, I liked this property of the roads very much.
The square of Waren was the first middle-european square that I saw, and I liked it very much. Some of the houses were ramshackles, some were in the process of being restaurated, and some showed all their glory. I was very glad that I visited Waren at the time that it still had these ramshackle houses, because their presence added to the sense for the enormous amount of work that is being done to get the country up to the standards of living of the western part (and of course, they appeal to my romantic taste).
The towns and villages that we visited did not contain shops, which is very strange for a westerner. Waren did have some shops, containing household
devices, presented without any fantasy and without any logic on some racks.
The shops were you can really buy things are all outside the towns and villages, in modern malls.
What I liked very much was both the smell of the towns and villages (coal; I even remembered the smell from a very long time ago), and the lack of light in the night: if it had not rained that much, it would be possible to see a great sky of stars in the middle of Waren).
The lakes of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern are already discovered for water sports (Waren might be an expensive marina city within a couple of years), but the Ostufer-part is prohibited for boats. Everywhere are walking tracks, and that is how you discover the lakes.
At dusk, we heard cranes, breeding in an unaccessible part. When walking through the woods, an incredible number of song birds can be heard. Most songs did not ring a bell with me, but I did hear an Golden Oriole , which never fails to make me happy.
After a few birds of prey which turned out to be just ordinary Buzzards, I saw my first and my second Lesser Spotted Eagle.
And from the first bird-hide-out, at the lakeside, I could discern an enormous shape in some far-away tree. Even at that distance I could see
without my binoculars that this shape had ridiculously big feet and a ridiculously big head.
And, yes, the binoculars told me that this was my very first White-tailed Eagle, a mature bird with a very light head.
It even showed itself flying after a while. Later, a forester told me that this particular bird spends his whole life sitting in that particular tree :-), showing once again that starlings and sparrows are in fact far more interesting birds than white-tailed eagles.
When we arrived at the camping ground near the lake,
camping Ecktannen, it was raining terribly (the whole day had been
A sign at the office told us that we had to wait 3 hours before we could enter the camping ground.
The office was outside the actual camping ground, which was inaccessible because of a very solid barrier and an enormous amount of barbed wire, which made me wonder what would be that attractive within.
When I arrived three hours later at the office, a huge queue was formed, mainly of rather dangerous looking fellow-bikers who had their luggage (tents, beer, and amplifiers) carried by big cars. The office opened ten minutes late, and everyone in the queue received a form which had to be filled out with everything from the license number of the car or bike, to the age of your parents.
We were only allowed to enter the office one at a time, so it took me more than an hour of queueing time.
The strange thing was that nobody complained or got angry. I was compelled several times to shout to the office people that the fucking camping ground didn't interest me at all, and that I would never in my life make use of their services, but the patience of the others made me fear that this was just the normal procedure everywhere.
The good thing about the camping ground was that there was an enormous amount of space. The bad thing was that during Pentecost, camping grounds in this part of Germany are crowded and noisy, though most of the time I liked the music of the fellow-bikers.