National Geographic : 1938 Jun
FLYING AROUND THE BALTIC BY DOUGLAS CHANDLER /ND in your Baltic rambles did you not take in Greece?" inquired the Sweet Young Stranger. In a compartment in the Berlin-Paris ex press I was discoursing on my summer's ad ventures in that northern European region whose waters the Vikings once plowed with their rugged long-boats; whose bar baric people the Teutonic Knights chas tened into Christianity; and whose reaches the vast Hanseatic League regarded for several centuries as its own private fish and-amber preserve. "Is it possible," I asked, "that you have been confusing the Baltic with the Bal kans?" Blushingly she admitted it. The Baltic is a baffling body of water. Hopping from stone to stone around its shores cleared many fogs of uncertainty in my own mind. Roughly a thousand miles long, includ ing the Gulf of Bothnia, and varying from 50 to 200 miles in width, it slants obliquely north-northeast from the midriff of Ger many's coast to the point where Finland and Sweden meet (map, page 770).* This tideless ocean, called by German speaking nations the Ost See (East Sea), measures, in its entirety, more than three times the size of the Adriatic; the Mediter ranean proper is, however, five and a quar ter times as large. "Fresh water!" ejaculates the swimmer in rising from his first Baltic plunge. But no; real ocean it is, though at its bitterest the surface salinity attains only 8 per cent compared with the Atlantic's average 35 per cent and (in the region of Cyprus) 39 per cent for the Mediterranean. In the upper reaches of its bays, where the eternal rivers bring down their melted snows, the water of the Baltic can be, and sometimes is, used for drinking purposes. TO HANSA-LAND IN A HANSA PLANE Between 6 and 6:30 o'clock on summer afternoons, huge trimotored aircraft with corrugated metal wings take off at five minute intervals from Berlin's Tempelhof Airdrome. The loud-speaker barks, "Passengers for Essen will please take their places. Pas sengers for Frankfurt, Breslau, Dresden, Copenhagen, Danzig." With daylight as- sured until after 9 o'clock, there is time to wing safely to one's destination. Our route lay along the line of the Ho henzollern Canal.t After Stettin the golden June evening curdled suddenly into low lying black mists. The daylight failed by perceptible degrees. A mere five minutes before Danzig's airport, fog obligingly melted into nothingness. Zoppot lies halfway between Danzig, for merly "The Empress of the Vistula," and that lusty Polish infant metropolis, Gdynia, which in twelve years has grown to a popu lation of 110,000 (pages 774-5). t A CITY OF GAMING AND OPERA Gracious forests come down close enough to Zoppot's broad beach to enable the trees to look in at the windows of the Casino where Polish vacationists pay tribute to the god of chance. The Casino's director, a former professor at Konigsberg University, commented on the naive philosophy of the gambler. "They, with their systems and superstitions, their assumption of being smarter than the law of averages, have built the luxurious hotel where you are lodging." Zoppot is proud of its long pier. The flags of all the world bedeck its sides, and upon its broad promenade one hears the speech of Babel. I arrived too early for the International Horse Race Meeting, but tennis, swimming, and surfboard riding were in full swing. To the melodious war waged between Bayreuth and Salzburg,: Zoppot brings a valiant challenge-its Forest Opera. Wag ner is presented by a picked cast of Ger man singers. The dimensions of the scenic background are suited to the composer's grandiose conceptions. Russian and Roman baths offer renewed vitality to those who weaken under the rigors of sport, gaming, and Wagner. * See the New Map of Europe, issued as a sup plement to THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for April, 1938. t See, in THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, "Changing Berlin," by Douglas Chandler, Febru ary, 1937; "Poland of the Present," by Maynard Owen Williams, March, 1933, and "Land of the White Eagle," by Melville Bell Grosvenor, April, 1932. s See "The Salzkammergut, a Playground of Austria," by Florence Polk Holding, in THE NA TIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, April, 1937.