Rail route of the month: across eastern Germany to the Polish city of Szczecin

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Our slow travel expert rides a train through a region of lakes and forests which deserves to be far better known

The elegant main railway station in the Hanseatic city of Lübeck is well suited to grand departures, but these are few and far between these days. The only international destination served from Lübeck is Szczecin, in Poland. Half a dozen daily trains ply a meandering route through sparsely populated terrain on a 185-mile journey that starts in Holstein and then crosses Mecklenburg to reach Pomerania. It is a region where, historically, Prussia and Sweden vied for supremacy. Today it’s a chance to see off-the-beaten-track communities in a remote part of eastern Germany.

I start my journey by Lübeck’s celebrated Holstentor: it’s an extraordinary mid-15th-century city gate and sets the scene for the journey east towards Poland. The rail route from Lübeck to Szczecin is known as the Stadttore-Linie (the Town Gates Route). Several places along it boast fine examples of defensive gates, most of them in an architectural style found across the Baltic region. It’s called by the German name Backsteingotik (brick gothic).

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