Saturday, September 2, 2017

Ratzeburg: Additional notes

It seems that these days my blog serves little more than to explain how to get to places featured in my “Destination” series, so apologies for that. Nevertheless, here are some additional notes to accompany my video about the town of Ratzeburg, a pretty — and pretty unusual — little place in the far north of Germany.

Thanks in part to the support I’m getting via my Patreon page, I have been able to travel much further afield. This gives me the opportunity to show you something rather different: different building materials were available in different parts of the country, and architectural styles differed as well. There are fewer timber-framed buildings and a lot more red brick.

Rural idyll: the Island Town of Ratzeburg

Ratzeburg is a small place, but worth a day trip if you’re not looking for excitement and adventure — although you could, weather permitting, hire a canoe or simply go swimming. At least one restaurant I saw, on the lakeside right next to the Castle Green (Schlosswiese), offers freshly-caught fish straight from its own doorstep, so to speak.

The closest major city to Ratzeburg is Lübeck, from where it’s an easy day (or even half-day) trip. By car, it’s a quick drive down federal route 207 past the airport: Ratzeburg is signposted from central Lübeck.

As the seat of the local district administration, Ratzeburg is also served surprisingly well by public transport. It’s on the Lübeck-Lüneburg line, and there is an hourly service on, if my experience is typical, full trains.

The service also calls at Lübeck Airport, which some budget airlines fly to claiming it to be a Hamburg airport. Note that this stop is a request stop: you need to make sure the driver can see you on the platform. If you’re on the train wanting to get off at the airport, you need to press a button to signal your intention.

It’s also easily reachable from Hamburg, although it does involve a transfer at Büchen. You need to take a train bound for Schwerin and Rostock, and then transfer at Büchen for a train bound for Lübeck and Kiel. It is also possible to take a train to Lübeck and transfer there, but it takes longer and is more expensive.

There is a better alternative from Hamburg: a regular bus service runs from Wandsbek Markt U-Bahn station to Ratzeburg, taking an hour, which is actually faster than the train, including the time needed for transfers. It will also take you direct to the historic centre of Ratzeburg.

Ratzeburg train station is about 3 km (just under two miles) from the historic centre. A hundred years ago, as briefly mentioned in the video, there was a narrow-gauge railway that would have taken you there, but it is no more. The young and fit can easily walk that distance, but there are also frequent buses into town (including the aforementioned bus from Hamburg). “Demolierung” is probably the best place to alight, as it’s right by the (new) town hall which also serves as the tourist information centre.

Finally, don’t bother getting up at the crack of dawn and rushing to Ratzeburg as soon as you possibly can unless you’re a photographer. The place really doesn’t wake up properly until about 10 o’clock even on weekdays, and even the cathedral is closed until then.