Although I had a great time, I wouldn't recommend anyone else do it the way I did. My plans called for a train trip from Berlin to Kamien Pomorski, and renting a bicycle to visit as many sites around Kamien as I could. Those plans fell apart when I reached Szczecin at 0935 on 19 November, and found the scheduled connecting train to Wysoka Kamienska had vaporized, and none would be leaving until 1555. There was no way I was going to hang around that miserable train station for six hours. The best alternative I could come up with was taking a taxi to Kamien for 250 PLZ (about $59). Not that much money, and it got me to Kamien at 1100, but it blew up my trip budget right at the start.
In Kamien I stayed at the Hotel Pod Muzami, right on the Rathaus Platz. This turned out to be a marvelous place. It's staffed by a crew of very pretty, personable, and helpful young women. All of them spoke at least a little German, but only one spoke any English. The hotel was incredibly cheap, too. Four nights in a single room, with a large breakfast every day, plus a phone call to Germany, came to 348PLZ (about $80)! It's 15-20% more in season, but that's still a nice price.
I decided to travel on foot instead of bicycle mainly out of fear. The roads there are very narrow, have no shoulders, and outside of Kamien have no sidewalks. Maybe if I was a more experienced bicyclist I could have done it, but, I'm a very experienced hiker and knew I wouldn't have any problem covering the distance. However, traveling on foot severely limited the number of places I could visit.
On Monday I walked around Kamien, them crossed the footbridge and explored Soltin. Tuesday I spent walking to Insel Gristow, exploring Gristow, Neu Gristow, Bünnewitz, and the "Royal Stone". Wednesday I did Fritzow and Grabow. Thursday was Jassow, and Friday morning at 0605 hr I left by train for Berlin.
In each village I started by drawing a small map showing where I was taking each photograph. The maps are crude, but I think accurate enough. I concentrated on pictures of the prewar buildings, and I think I got most of them. The biggest problem I had was dogs. Everywhere I went I was surrounded by small packs of barking dogs, who rotated off as I traveled. They never got really nasty, though, unless I tried to leave the road to get a better shot of a house. So, some shots had to be long distance and I couldn't always get the angle I wanted. Anyway, if you happen to see a picture that applies to your family and would like a copy, or if you have a question, please let me know. Here we go:
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Learn from my mistakes!
Some final notes. First, if I said anything in here anybody found insulting, I'm extremely sorry. That wasn't my intention. Almost everyone I met in Kamien Pomorski and the surrounding villages was extremely nice to me. The problems I did run into are problems I could have had in America, Germany, or practically anywhere else in the world. The point is that I avoid those places, too. Also, I'd like to thank some people who were very, very helpful to me. First, Günther Harder for writing and sending me two marvelous books, Gristow, Inselin der Obermündung , and Gristow, Insel der Heimat . Those books had me feeling like I knew the island intimately before I ever saw it, and gave me a greater appreciation of it when I finally got there. Second, Dieter Wallschläger, for his tips on traveling in Pommern today, for the new information on my ancestors he was able to find, and for the delicious dinner with his lovely family. And last, but not least, my uncle, Werner Mag, plus my cousins Taina and Georgie and their families, for not only making my trips to Germany possible, but for making every single day with them an absolute delight.
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