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Until 12 October, Rostock is hosting the Internationale Gartenbauausstellung IGA , a hectare exhibition of prize-winning plants and gardens from around the world, constructed on the banks of the river Warnow. This is followed on August by Hanse Sail Rostock, a tall ships festival that provides an excuse to party on shore.
If neither gardens nor boats appeal, then simply rent yourself a "Strandkorb" - one of the distinctive deckchair-cum-windbreaks that characterise many breezy Baltic resorts - and soak up the holiday atmosphere. For more information contact the German National Tourist Office ; www. The easiest way to get there is to fly to Hamburg and take the train to Rostock. I flew with Lufthansa ; www. Lufthansa also has direct flights to Hamburg from Manchester. British Airways 77 77; www.
More cheaply, Ryanair ; www. The name Rostock is taken from the Slavic for "widening of the river". Throughout its year history, Rostock's position as a port has heavily influenced its industry. It was one of the first towns to join the Hanseatic trading league and is still home to both ship-building yards and fishing fleets. As with many former East German cities, the historic town centre has only partly survived the ravages of the Second World War and the decades of communist rule that followed.
Die Kleine Sonne is a brand new city-centre hotel at Steinstrasse 7 00 49 ; www. Painted in bright primary colours, it has a fresh, modern feel and friendly service. The exhibition is easy to describe in terms of statistics and superlatives: , varieties of flowers; 10, roses blooming over the summer on the "rose hill"; the largest number of international participants at any IGA; the first world-class exhibition to be held in a former East German state and so on.
However, what really distinguishes this from other garden shows is its close association with the water. Step ashore and you find yourself in the "floating gardens", a series of three linked gardens demonstrating the evolution of plant life. Each of seven small "Rostock gardens" tells a different seafaring story, and even the childrens' basketball pitch is built in the shape of a boat. You pay extra to ride on the cable car above the exhibition, which enables you to see the gardens from the air.