July 1945 - from Grabow to Schwerin

"Frau Eschenburg looks after the children, while I spend hours outside the ration office and the town hall. Each day it is the same. The Russian has now got to Mecklenburg, but the earlier border is still unpassable. On Friday[...] I also meet a woman from Schwerin, who came to collect some things with her husband. [...] The husband [...]brings news that as Schweriners, they are now allowed to travel back on the trains. I run to the town hall. I identify myself as being from Schwerin with Ingeleins Czech birth certificate!! It works, and I am given a travel permit. "

We get up to leave early, in order to make the most of the day. We walk about 20k to get to the small town of Rastow, where will will take the train the rest of the way to Schwerin.

25th July - Grabow to Schwerin
The day is warm, but the walking is pleasant, and we manage to do a lot of it in shade. And having company again helps me understand just how nervous I’ve been at points while walking alone, and what difference company makes. I can still notice some smaller peaks of fear come up occasionally – hangovers from the past few days. At one point in the forest, my mind wants to focus on wild boar, and whether or not we will meet one here. We don’t, just as I haven’t all journey. I am really aware of how much it’s my mind creating these peaks, and being with another person helps me to drop them quickly.
"With a bad conscience, I go to Frau Neumann. I know I can’t last until Hamburg. She understands me, and even advises me to go. I offer that she could come with me. She declines. The next morning the Eschenburgs take me to the station, and for the first time in weeks, I depart without Frau Neumann. [...]"
"In the compartment I meet the Schweriner couple again. Just before Ludwigslust, just outside of Grabow, the train stops again. Russian soldier pull the men from the train, and whoever can’t identify themselves (I’m not sure as what) – is taken away. There are many. We hide my new companion behind my pram, and give him the baby to hold. He is not seen. [...] In Ludwigslust an official tells us that, for the first time, there’s a train headed for Schwerin, due at midday. Full of joy we disembark. We sit at the station for a few hours, and then the wooden train comes. The officers on the train help us into their compartment, and then it’s off to Schwerin. I laugh and cry with joy. "
Much of the journey is pine forest, a long long stretch of quite straight paths. We also wind through and past train tracks, and as is becoming usual, meet hardly anyone on route. Two cyclists on touring bikes pass us in the forest, and the surprise and intrigue is strong on both sides.

We continue to find all smaller villages deserted of people. Here again, the villages feel different to the first week or so of travel in Germany. I have left the Brandenburg county, and crossed into Mecklenburg-Vorpommern since just before Grabow, and I can really see a difference in the colour and style of the houses. The landscape is still very similar – very flat, very similar fields of crops, and similarly ongoing pine forests.
Once we arrive at our chosen destination – a train station in a tiny village, which will take us on for the last 40km, we are again met with the curious, and not quite friendly stares of the people living here. In the heat we have an hour to wait for the train, so we buy cold drinks and ice-cream, and take our time, celebrating our achievement of 20k walking, Rach’s first go at it.
The train speeds us on to Schwerin in about 25 minutes. It pours after we arrive so we take our time to rest and get ready to leave. Our hotel window looks directly out over the station and the small square in front. Schwerin so far is as decorative and elegant as all the bigger towns I have seen so far.
Once rested, we explore a little of the city – the closest of many of the lakes, and the two cathedrals from afar. We sleep early.
"At 4pm I arrive at the oh so familiar station. I wonder how my aunts are, and what will they say? It pours! I find myself, soaking wet, standing outside [the house]. Then Herr Bull comes out of the house. He hesitates, and recognises me. He runs up the stairs like a young man. Then everyone comes pouring out: Aunt Anna, Aunt Mary, Frau Dörcher. Everyone hugs me. I don’t remember how the children and I got upstairs with the pram. [...] Aunt Anna immediately makes up a bed in the lounge. I am put to bed and can finally sleep without worries or thoughts."