Peloponnese: Greece, unknown – the Mani peninsula

“When God was done with the creation of the earth, he had a sack of stones left and emptied it here.” The inhabitants of the Greek peninsula Mani say this with pride – and somehow it is also true. There are lovelier corners in Greece, no question about it: lush green hilly landscapes, perfectly curved sandy bays, islands with white cube houses.

The middle finger of the Peloponnese is different – wild, tart, sometimes repulsive. But also authentic, relaxed and friendly. If you want to experience the normal everyday life in Greece, you will find fruit sellers who jingling with small trucks drive through the villages, cats dozing in the sun and sweet, hot Greek mocha, served in dented metal jugs.

Over a length of 75 kilometers there are mighty mountain ranges and dense green deciduous forests, jagged cliffs and peaceful bathing bays, almost deserted stone villages and tourist-free taverns. All of this was washed around by the Messenian and Laconian Gulf and shone on by the tireless Greek sun, which kept warm well into autumn. And the sea is still over 20 degrees in October.

The Mani Peninsula is quiet even in summer

However, the peninsula is little known as a holiday destination. Many a well-heeled Athenian has a holiday home here, and in the summer months Greeks move from the hinterland to the pebble beaches of Mani. But it never gets really full, not even in August and certainly not in this virus-ridden year.

Wild beauty: the southern tip of the Mani peninsula is stony and criss-crossed by old paths

What: pa / imageBROKER

If you come by car from Kalamata and drive south on dizzyingly narrow mountain roads, sooner or later the navigation system will be switched off. There is neither the house of the famous British author Patrick Leigh Fermor, who lived by the sea not far from Kardamili, which has been converted into a museum, nor Vivi Letsou’s beautiful “Zen Rocks” yoga retreat, which hovers high above Kardamili and also from German fans is visited.

“We send our guests precise directions,” says the boss, who has lived in California for a long time and speaks perfect English, “some people get lost anyway and then tell us about the great landscapes and tiny villages they discovered along the way.”

Dining on the beach in Kardamili

Kardamili himself can be found without any technical assistance – the way to the tip of the peninsula leads directly past the coastal town. Everything you need in everyday life is lined up on the main street: a post office, a pharmacy, a supermarket, a bank.

In addition, a few things that are fun: fashion boutiques with airy caftans and casual beach bags, the courtyard café “Androuvista”, where you can have a wonderful breakfast, and the nice shop “To Lokalee”, whose owner makes jam and fruit from the own garden and hand-cleaned sea salt sold.

Peloponnese (Greece): Traditional tavern in Areopoli, the capital of the Mani peninsula

Among the locals: Traditional tavern in Areopoli, the capital of the Mani peninsula

What: pa / robertharding

On the cobblestone streets that lead to the sea and the small port, there are defiant old stone houses with terraces overgrown with bougainvilleas. In between, a handful of restaurants have established themselves. One of the best is “Tikla”, a terrace restaurant with a view of the sunset and delicious feta in filo pastry.

As an alternative, locals recommend the “Elies” garden bar right on the long Ritsa beach. Zucchini fritters, bread salad, grilled prawns and broad white beans are served under mighty olive trees. The sun loungers lined up at a comfortable distance from the beach belong to the restaurant and are rented out until late October for five euros per couple.

Towers, taverns and stalactite caves

But however seductive the loungers may be – the real charm of the peninsula cannot even be guessed from there. It only reveals itself many serpentines further, in the scruffy-barren region between Mani’s sleepy main town Areopoli and the southern coastal town of Gerolimenas, which at least has a beach and a few pleasant taverns to offer.

The first are just before Areopoli pyrgospita To see: high, square and almost without windows, the stone residential towers were designed as fortresses against bad neighbors. Because the law of blood revenge still prevailed here into the 20th century, families fought each other in endless feuds, which often ended with the extermination of entire clans.

The writer Patrick Leigh Fermor was one of the first travelers in the 1950s to venture to Areopoli with a backpack and shorts. As he tells in his travel memories (“Mani: Traveling in the southern Peloponnese”), many of the residents had never seen a foreigner at that time.

Peloponnese (Greece): Visitors explore the stalactite cave of Pirgos Dirou near Areopoli on the Mani peninsula

Visitors explore the stalactite cave of Pirgos Dirou near Areopoli on footbridges

Those: pa / Rolf Haid

Today Areopolis attracts the atmospheric juxtaposition of towers and taverns, who indulge themselves here before or after a boat tour in the labyrinthine wonder world of the stalactite caves of Pirgos Dirou a few days of leisurely Greek everyday life.

Like a little Manhattan in the Peloponnese

On the Plateia Athanaton (Place of the Immortals) stands the statue of Petros Mavromichalis, one of the most important leaders in the battle of the Greeks against the Turks. From there, narrow streets lead to the church square with many shops and cafés – and to the massive stone houses of the local family clans.

Peloponnese (Greece): In Vathia on the Mani peninsula one of the largest remaining collections of "pyrgospita"

Medieval residential towers: In Vathia one can find one of the largest still existing collections of “pyrgospita”

What: pa / robertharding

One of these houses the Pikoulakis Tower House Museum, which tells the story of the Byzantine Christianization in Mani. “We now see more foreign holidaymakers here than before,” says Kostas, who stands behind the counter of the “Aula Cocktail Bar”, “I recognize them from a distance”.

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Holidaymaker in Lindos on the island of Rhodes (Greece)

Further south you reach Vathia, formerly a pirate’s nest and to this day one of the largest remaining collections of pyrgospita. From a distance, the ensemble looks like a small Manhattan. Unfortunately, only a few of the medieval residential towers have been renovated.

When hiking, only wild goats cross the path

If you walk past them, you come to the remains of the Temple of Poseidon, where sailors used to pray for a safe journey before the dangerous circumnavigation of Cape Tenaro, Mani’s outermost headland.

Here you can still feel the remoteness of the region sealed off by the high Taygetos Mountains. The streets are narrow and empty. In the past you could only reach mountain villages like Pyrrichos or fortresses like Keléfa on foot on old paths, past massive boulders and ancient olive trees.

They are still used by hikers, but encounters remain a rarity. Only wild goats often cross paths – the ubiquitous stones have never been a problem for them.

Mani Peninsula, Peloponnese, Greece

Source: WORLD infographic

Tips and information for the Peloponnese

Getting there: For example with Condor non-stop from Düsseldorf, Munich or Frankfurt to Kalamata, alternatively with Edelweiss via Zurich or with Austrian Airlines via Vienna. Continue by rental car.

Accommodation: “Zen Rocks Mani Retreat”: Beautiful studios with kitchenette and private terrace in stone houses high above Kardamili. Plus: yoga classes, vegetarian restaurant, great views. Double rooms from 100 euros, zenrocksmani.com

“Hotel Anniska”: Friendly family hotel in Kardamili with bathing access to the sea. Quiet rooms and apartments with kitchenettes and balconies. Double rooms from 85 euros, anniska-liakoto.com

“Areos Polis”: Traditional stone house with tastefully furnished rooms, roof terrace. Best location to explore the Mani. Double rooms from 60 euros, areospolis.gr

“Kyrimai Hotel”: 23 rooms with natural stone walls in an old ship outfitter workshop in the picturesque harbor village of Gerolimenas. Ambitious regional cuisine, terrace with sea view, bathing jetty. Double room from 120 euros, kyrimai.gr

Corona rules: Online registration is mandatory for Greece. Holidaymakers must fill out an online form (“Passenger Locator Form”) at least 24 hours before departure. You will receive a QR code that must be shown upon entry. Individual travelers can be tested. Hygiene rules apply in the country. Info: Auswaertiges-amt.de; greecehealthfirst.gr

Further information: discovergreece.com; visitgreece.gr

This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG. We are happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.

Source: Welt am Sonntag

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Algarve: In Portugal, Günter Grass also offered ink as a delicacy

The Algarve region

Dhe Portuguese Algarve on the south-western tip of mainland Europe is the most sun-kissed spot on the continent: a good 3000 hours a year, spread over around 300 days, it shines from the sky here. How good that the cooling Atlantic is close by.

Good to know for bathers: The Algarve is divided into two areas. There is the rocky Algarve west from Faro to Sagres with only small bays between cliffs (exception: the beach in the seaside resort Armaco de Pera) and the sandy Algarve east from Faro to the Spanish border with wide sandy beaches.

The whole region was culturally shaped by the Moors. From 711 to the 12th, sometimes 13th century, it belonged to Al-Andalus, the Muslim-ruled part of the Iberian Peninsula. The name “Algarve” is derived from the Arabic word for “the West”.

Witnesses of this time are, for example, the heads crowned by turbans in the coats of arms of many places or the famous azulejos, brightly painted and glazed ceramic tiles on house facades, churches and interior walls, whose glazing technique comes from the Persian region. A popular souvenir.

In culinary terms, the area is characterized by the fruits of the sea, such as grilled sardines, the cataplana fish pot and the xerém, a corn flour soup that is served with mussels, bacon and ham in Olhão, for example.

Source: Infographic Die Welt

The quote

“Oh, my lost Portugal, how do I miss your southwestern coast”

Günter Grass (1927–2015) loved the Algarve and mourned when he could no longer travel there for health reasons – how much is shown by this quote from his posthumously published work “Vonne Endlichkait”.

In his house in the hinterland of Portimão – he called it “Casa Rosmano” because wild rosemary grew there – he drew a lot. To do this, he used fresh, “expressive” sepia ink, which he extracted from squid himself. Then he fried the animals and ate them with relish. “The process of obtaining ink is a pleasure.”

Sepia officinalis

Quelle: Getty Images/Schafer & Hill

Fantastic beaches for surfers and sun worshipers

Fine sandy beaches that gently nestle into the sea. Dramatic cliffs. Bizarre rock formations like arches, needles, caves, and natural bridges, perfect for Instagram photos. But there are also surfer paradises, marinas and beach bars.

The region’s 200-kilometer coastline offers more than 100 dream beaches, many of them award-winning. At Praia de Odeceixe (photo), for example, the salt water of the Atlantic mixes with the fresh water of the Ribeira de Seixe river, children can splash around in the lagoons, and surfers can ride the waves.

Sometimes the whole Algarve is simply named a top beach destination, for example in 2019 with the World Travel Award, the “Oscar of the travel industry”, as “Europe’s Leading Beach Destination”.

Beach of Odeceixe an der Algarve (Portugal)

Source: Getty Images / 500px Plus

The Portuguese water dog likes to go fishing

Fluffy, friendly, hardly hairs, so it is suitable for allergy sufferers – and it can also catch fish! Who cares that the Portuguese water dog jumps into every pool and doesn’t avoid a puddle.

Barack Obama made him famous: when he became US President in 2009, he gave his daughters a copy. Since then, dogs have been in fashion. The breed has its origin in the Algarve, where the dog helped fish. Today he doesn’t need that anymore, being cute is enough.

Portuguese water dogs

Source: picture alliance / blickwinkel

The golf courses are also attractive in winter

There are 35 golf courses in the Algarve, which – thanks to the mild climate – can be played all year round. The best place in Portugal (ranking: Golf Monthly) and one of the top 10 in Europe (according to golfworldtop100) is the Monte Rei Golf & Country Club.

The 18-hole course, located in the picturesque foothills of the eastern Algarve, was designed by Jack Nicklaus. And the Vale do Lobo Royal Golf Course near Almancil can boast of the most photographed golf hole in Europe: at No. 16, a cliff of the cliff is torn off.

The Templar Church survived the great seaquake

It is the oldest church in the Algarve. Knights Templar built the chapel in the 13th century after their victory over the Moors: Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe (“Our Lady of Guadalupe”), 13 kilometers northeast of Sagres. The church was one of the few structures in the region to survive the seaquake of 1755.

Back then, on November 1st, of all Saints’ Day, waves up to 20 meters high had destroyed many Algarve locations – and with them many architectural testimonies. But this little early Gothic church only had a few cracks. It has been a listed building since 1942. Its annex houses a museum on the history of the Algarve and seafaring.

Die Kirche Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe (Algarve, Portugal)

Quelle: mauritius images / Hemis.fr

The best cork in the world comes from Portugal

The region around São Brás de Alportel near Faro prides itself on being the origin of the “best cork in the world”. In fact, the material from the cork oak, Portugal’s national tree, is of such high quality that it can not only be used to make bottle corks, floor coverings and insulation, but also bags, hats, shoes and jackets – and even masks. Cork is sustainable and hypoallergenic.

Quirky, record-breaking, typical: You can find more parts of our regional geography series here.

This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG. We will be happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.

Welt am Sonntag from September 20, 2020

Source: Welt am Sonntag

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Planned vacation: does Corona end spontaneity when traveling?

opinion Well-planned vacation

The rebel books a room with flexible cancellation conditions

Even before the pandemic, travel had to be planned more and more in advance. Well, in times of Corona, it is of course a good thing that there are security concepts. But there is a risk that some things will stay that way in the future.

| Reading time: 3 minutes

What vacationers need to know now

In many European countries, the number of new corona cases is increasing critically. The Federal Government is therefore now warning against traveling to Vienna and other parts of France.

Wow much vacation is there in a vacation for which you need an appointment calendar? 9.20 a.m. breakfast, 1.40 p.m. guided tour of the museum, from 3 p.m. a beach slot. Do the Corona measures finally mean saying goodbye to spontaneity when traveling?

It started long before the pandemic. What has dampened my wanderlust for a good decade is the fact that you have to plan more and more in advance when you’re out and about. Just land somewhere and have the car rental company show you the available cars? Not possible, because queues form in front of the small rental counters at airports like at the fairground rides.

Today you don’t just have to choose a car, you also have to choose extra services. This forces decisions such as whether the glass and the floor should also be insured, whether the car will be handed over to another location, whether it will be used to cross national borders for an extra fee. I don’t know if I will cross state borders! For me, the answers to these questions are the opposite of a road trip.

Absurd experience with a hotel in Arizona

In the past decade, the end of spontaneous hotel overnight stays was heralded. If you want to be crazy rebellious today, book a room with flexible cancellation conditions. But you have to book in advance. It is no longer possible to simply set off for a chance.

Road trip in a Mustang: the author during a stop at a gas station in Arizona

What: Inna Hemme

When I tried that on my recent Arizona tour, it ended absurdly. After driving around for a long time, I got out of my Mustang in a James Dean mood, walked past the pumped-out pool to the motel reception and asked about the room rate. It struck me as disproportionately high, so I booked the same room via the hotel’s WiFi on an online booking portal for almost half.

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Money gone, vacation gone: If you fall for fake ads, you usually have double bad luck

I ask myself: Why do hotels no longer give spontaneous travelers good rates, but offer them on platforms where they also have to deduct commissions from this price?

What will traveling to Corona be like?

Island hopping, making a quick decision to take the ferry, change the travel route because you meet new people on the way, fall in love and unbuckle again the next day – all of this was getting more and more difficult even before Corona. But now we even have to plan the mundane: snack, swimming lake, Brandenburg local museums.

I recently read that Schleswig-Holstein is planning a reservation app for visiting the beach. A kind of internet platform that works in a very similar way to online booking for the opera: Tourists can see which section of the beach there are still tickets for and then book them. Time slots also have to be reserved almost everywhere for museums; you can no longer just stop at most restaurants.

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Little Square "Plönlein" (Rothenburg ob der Tauber Landmark)

Travel in times of Corona

I am glad that we can travel at all – and that there are security concepts that enable this freedom that is not so taken for granted. Many of my friends in South America are still not allowed to leave the house and look enviously at Germany.

I’m just a little worried that some practices seem so sensible to well-organized fellow human beings that they will simply be adopted even after the end of the pandemic. And then spontaneous people like me will have an even harder time traveling.

Because to turn up somewhere without a plan or booking confirmation, to do unknown things, to eat and to think – that’s what traveling is all about. And there is no reservation for that.

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According to tourism experts, distant dream destinations will continue to attract holidaymakers in the future

This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG. We are happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.

Source: Welt am Sonntag

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Ranking 2020: The most popular beaches in Europe for holidaymakers

Europe Travellers’ Choice

These ten European beaches are most loved by vacationers

Hidden bays, great diving conditions, white sand: a travel portal has identified the most popular beaches in Europe for vacationers. One country even made it into the ranking of the ten most beautiful beaches three times.

| Reading time: 2 minutes

This means the lifting of the general travel warning

From October 1st, the general travel warning for countries outside the EU will be lifted. Even then, unlimited travel will not be possible. In the future, the Federal Foreign Office intends to assess the situation in each individual country very differently.

TTurquoise blue water, snow-white sand and lots of sun – the Spiaggia dei Conigli in southern Italy is a dream for sun worshipers and bathers. The beach is located on the Isola dei Conigli off the south coast of Lampedusa. Translated, Spiaggia dei Conigli means Rabbit Beach. Long-ears don’t hop over the sand here, but visitors can expect Caribbean flair without having to fly halfway around the world.

So it is hardly surprising that the Spiaggia dei Conigli is at the top of the Tripadvisor ranking of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. For the “Travelers’ Choice Awards 2020” ranking, the travel portal evaluated ratings from travelers on Tripadvisor over a period of one year. Both the quality and the quantity of reviews from vacationers played a role.

Kleftiko Beach on Milos Island came in second. It is located in Greece, which is represented three times in the top ten. The beach on the south coast of the small island of Elafonissi ranks seventh and the bay of Balos on Crete landed ninth.

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Not only in southern Europe, beaches make the hearts of many holidaymakers beat faster, as shown by Luskentyre Bay on the island of Lewis and Harris, which made it to third place. In view of the water temperatures, bathing can be a real challenge here, but the landscape is all the more enchanting. And surfers also get their money’s worth, because there is plenty of space and wind.

Spain should of course not be missing in such a ranking and is represented in fifth place with Platja de Ses Illetes on the Balearic island of Formentera (fourth place) and Playa de La Concha, the beach in the Basque city of San Sebastián. Right behind is Woolacombe Beach in Devon, a county in the south-west of England, eighth place went to Italy with Cala Mariolu in Sardinia, and tenth place went to Black Sand Beach in Iceland:

Platz 1: Rabbit Beach (Rabbit Island, Italien)

Rabbit Beach (der Kaninchenstrand) on the Rabbit Island vor Lampedusa, Italien

Off the south coast of Lampedusa, on a small island, is the Spiaggia dei Conigli, the Rabbit Beach. There are no rabbits here, but fantastic conditions for bathing

Quelle: Getty Images/Maremagnum

Rank 2: Kleftiko Beach (Milos, Cyclades, Greece)

Kleftiko beach on the Cyclades island of Milos in Greece

Rock gates and protective rock ledges – Kleftiko Beach is one of the most spectacular places on the Greek Cycladic island of Milos

Which: Getty Images / Manuel Breva Colmeiro

3rd place: Luskentyre (Outer Hebrides, Scotland)

Luskentyre - Lewis and Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Luskentyre Bay is on Lewis and Harris Island. The beaches in the Hebrides are an insider tip in the surfing scene because there is space here and there is always wind

Quelle: Getty Images/Paul Carroll and Mhairi Carroll

Platz 4: Ses Illetes Beach (Formentera, Spain)

Ses Illetes Beach, Formentera, Balearic Islands, Spain

It doesn’t always have to be Mallorca: The dream beach of Platja de Ses Illetes is located in a nature reserve on the Balearic island of Formentera

Quelle: Getty Images/David Navarro Azurmendi

Platz 5: La Concha Beach (San Sebastián, Spain)

Fifth place in the ranking shows that city beaches can also inspire enthusiasm: La Concha beach in the Basque town of San Sebastian (Spain) is 1.5 kilometers long

Fifth place in the ranking shows that city beaches can also inspire enthusiasm: La Concha beach in the Basque town of San Sebastián is 1.5 kilometers long

Quelle: Getty Images/www.christophefaugere.com

Platz 6: Woolacombe Beach (Devon, England)

It can be stormy in Devon, a county in the south-west of England.  But that doesn't detract from the beauty of Woolacombe Bay

It can be stormy in Devon, a county in the south-west of England. But that doesn’t detract from the beauty of Woolacombe Bay

Quelle: Getty Images/Sandra Clegg

Rank 7: beach of Elafonissi (Crete, Greece)

Greece: This wonderful beach is located on the south coast of the small island Elafonissi, which is located in the southwest of Crete.  A nature trail leads through the nature reserve of the island

This wonderful beach is located on the south coast of the small Greek island of Elafonissi in the southwest of Crete. A nature trail leads through the nature reserve of the island

Quelle: Getty Images/David C Tomlinson

Rank 8: Cala Mariolu (Sardinia, Italy)

Italy: Cala Mariolu is a small hidden cove on the Sardinian coast that is difficult to reach by land.  Here it is not only worth your while in the sun, but also diving or snorkeling

Not only nice for sunbathing, but also for diving: Cala Mariolu is a small hidden bay on the coast of Sardinia, which is difficult to reach by land

Quelle: Universal Images Group via Getty Images/REDA&CO

Rank 9: beach of Balos (Crete, Greece)

And once again Crete: The bay of Balos with the lagoon of Gramvousa is one of the highlights in the west of the island, alongside Elafonisi and the Samaria Gorge.  The lagoon beach consists of fine white shell and coral sand

And once again Crete: the bay of Balos with the lagoon Gramvousa is one of the highlights in the west of the island, along with Elafonisi and the Samaria Gorge

Quelle: Getty Images/maydays

Place 10: Black Sand Beach (Vík í Mýrdal, Iceland)

Reynisfjara Beach in Iceland proves that there are spectacular beaches not only in southern Europe.  The beach consists of black lava, basalt columns and rock formations make this place unique

Reynisfjara in Iceland is a magical place. Basalt columns line the black lava beach, and bizarre rock formations rise off the coast

Source: Getty Images / Suttipong Sutiratanachai

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“Colossus of Prora”: The kilometer-long, never completed Nazi holiday complex on Rügen has been luxuriously renovated in part

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Denmark: At 128 meters, the chalk cliffs on the Baltic Sea island of Mön tower over the Königsstuhl by 10 meters

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The author at the age of eight in 1968 on a roof terrace in Wenningstedt

Are women allowed to sunbathe topless on the beach?

An incident on the Cote d’Azur sparked a heated discussion in France. Gendarmes asked several women to put their tops back on. The Minister of the Interior also intervened.

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“The Asians’ approach was already rigid”

Wolfgang Clemens is a legend among globetrotters: he has been sailing the oceans for three decades. But when the corona pandemic broke out, his freedom was over. How did he experience that time in Asia? .

North Sea: These five beaches are simply terrific

Eit doesn’t exist the North Sea. In this sea there are ebb and flow, sand and mud flats, wind and waves in very different forms. And coastal dwellers with many customs of their own. Every island, every shore here is different – and always something special. We present five of the most attractive places on the water.

Denmark: fishing trawler right on the beach

And that too, one involuntarily thinks – the fishing trawler ran aground, here in Jammer Bay on the northwest coast of Jutland in Denmark. The ship is lopsided and sways in the waves.

A sailor stands at the bow and throws a line. The surf tugs at the cutter. But it doesn’t have to be rescued, just pulled ashore.

Thorup Strand in northern Denmark: Here the cutters land directly on the sand and sell freshly caught fish to tourists

Quelle: Getty Images

Thorup Strand in Denmark is one of the last and largest landing sites for fish in Northern Europe, where the local fishermen and captains let themselves be pulled ashore with their cutters by a bulldozer, there is no pier or quay.

When the weather permits, the ten skippers of the local fisheries association extinguish their catch every day – mainly plaice, sole and cod. If you want, you can buy these fish right here from the ship.

EU fisheries ministers agree on new catch quotas

After a negotiating marathon, the EU fisheries ministers agree on new catches for the North Sea and the north-east Atlantic. Significantly less cod can be caught in 2020.

Source: WORLD / Sebastian Struwe

Of course, you can also eat freshly caught North Sea fish in the small town: In “Thorupstrand Fiskehus”, for example, fish sizzle in butter that recently swam in the sea.

And in the snack bars you can get fried fish dumplings on hand for the beach. This is the best way to sit down in the fine sand, listen to the surf, look at the blue cutters and have the taste of the sea on your tongue – more North Sea is not possible (Info: visitjammerbugten.de).

Netherlands: Show of the stars on the mudflats

In the alleys of Schiermonnikoog, a few lanterns provide some light. But the small village is quickly left behind – and you are, in the literal sense, completely in the dark.

Schiermonnikoog is the smallest inhabited island in the West Frisian Wadden Sea in the Netherlands. In 2006 it was named the “most beautiful place in the Netherlands” by the Nederlandse Christelijke Radio Vereniging.

Beaches on the North Sea

Source: WORLD infographic

Also because of the darkness – on the island, which is just four kilometers wide and 16 kilometers long, nothing disturbs the view of the night sky. The few lanterns in the village and two lighthouses – these are the only artificial light sources.

Only a handful of residents live in the postcard-beautiful island village. The feeling of being far away from the rest of the world is therefore particularly intense on Schiermonnikoog. There is always a place on the island where you can be all to yourself. Just nature and the sea. And the sky above, which is most beautiful at night.

It’s a 20-minute walk from the village to the beach, first through the heather, then through a pine forest – and the sea spreads out in front of you, dark and unfathomable. A ghostly atmosphere, also because long-eared owls and nightingales are calling and the surf is rumbling.

More can be seen from the sky than from the dark water, such as the constellation of the Big Dipper. There is orientation, the fivefold extension of the rear axis leads to the North Star. It is one of the brightest stars in the sky and is exactly north.

Netherlands: The island of Schiermonnikoog should definitely be explored at night

The Dutch island of Schiermonnikoog should definitely be explored at night

Quelle: Getty Images

A bright band stretches out up there: the Milky Way. The stars sparkle like diamonds on the velvety black. Depending on the season, Venus can also be seen; sometimes it is the evening star for months, sometimes it announces the approaching morning. Jupiter and Saturn are in the constellation Sagittarius. In spring the lion sneaks up as its constellation.

More and more stars can be seen – in the deep darkness you almost have the feeling of being drawn into space. And sometimes even a shooting star pulls its orbit through the loneliness of the universe and ensures an unforgettable goosebumps moment in the loneliness at night on the beach of Schiermonnikoog (vvvschiermonnikoog.de).

Helgoland: The home of the gray seals

The little ferry has hardly left Heligoland when it arrives at the dune opposite. The little sister island with its snow-white beach and the holiday village is a bathing paradise and at the same time the nursery for Germany’s largest predator – the gray seal.

531 young animals were born on dune in 2019. The population has grown significantly in recent years and Heligoland’s side island has become a hotspot for seal fans from home and abroad.

Researchers waited almost 20 years for these recordings of gray seals

British researcher Ben Burville spent almost twenty years trying to capture these gray seals on camera. Now he has finally managed to record the animals’ breeding behavior, which is quite surprising.

In summer several hundred animals hunt for fish in the waters around Heligoland, often taking a break on the beach of their native island. Nowhere on the North Sea can you see the seals better.

However, a safety distance of at least 30 meters must be maintained on dunes – the sluggish-looking animals can, if they feel threatened, come out of cover at up to 20 kilometers per hour. And they do it without hesitation!

Helgoland is one of the best places on the North Sea to spot gray seals

Helgoland is one of the best places on the North Sea to spot gray seals

Quelle: picture alliance / imageBROKER

Those who want to be on the safe side prefer to take part in a guided tour. A specially created panorama path offers views of the sea again and again – and with a bit of luck you will see hairy snouts emerge from the waves.

It is not always seals, it can also be seals. They don’t use Helgoland as a nursery, but they also love trips to the island to do the same thing as human visitors: enjoy sunbathing (helgoland.de).

St. Peter-Ording: sailing on sand

How was that with the braking? The sand yachts are fast and have foot pedals as a steering wheel, but no brake pedal. Several of these three-wheeled speedsters with sails whiz across the beach of St. Peter-Ording. A constant wind blows on the kilometer-long sand ridge and puffs up the sails.

“The beach here is particularly suitable,” says Sven Harder from the Nordsport beach sailing school. He offers courses for beginners on one of the largest beaches in the North Sea. “Beach sailors have a lot of space here, hard sand and mostly good wind.”

Wind strengths between 3 and 6 are ideal, adds Harder, as it is a wonderful way to escape the stress of everyday life. If you know how to slow down the beach runabouts, you would like to add.

The course starts with some theory, the rules of avoidance, flag signals, safety instructions and fitting the helmet. It is particularly important because the lower, horizontal rod on which the sail sits just above the head swings back and forth when driving.

And how do you even get going? “With a line that we call a sheet, you let the sail loose or pull it in,” says Harder. “The sheet serves as a kind of gas pedal. If you pull the sheet tighter, the sand yacht accelerates. If you loosen the sheet, you reduce the speed again and thus determine the pace. “

North Sea: You can learn sand sailing on the beach of St. Peter-Ording

As fast as the wind: you can learn sand sailing on the beach in St. Peter-Ording

Quelle: picture-alliance / dpa/dpaweb

And brake? “You let the sheet as loose as possible, but not let go! You steer against the wind and take the car away from it. “

Dealing with the sand yachts seems child’s play. Feel, think, do – and the box starts running. Soon the course participants were racing on the firm sand of St. Peter-Ording.

Even beginners get going quickly, and they can soon manage a speed of 50 and more. And apparently the beach yachtsmen have been paying close attention during training, because everyone manages to brake without an accident. Without a brake pedal (st-peter-ording.de).

England: castles overlooking the North Sea

You can literally hear the blades clapping and the screams of rough men echoing through the walls – in your mind, of course, because it is more than 1200 years since native Celts and invading Vikings crossed their blades here in what is now Northumberland.

The defiant castles, of which there are many in this part of the English and Scottish North Sea coast, fire the imagination of the visitors. They are silent witnesses to an eventful history – and a wonderful backdrop for a walk on the beach.

One of the most beautiful North Sea beaches in Great Britain is the one in front of Bamburgh Castle. The castle itself is now a place for cultural events, you can visit it, walk in the footsteps of sagas and legends.

England: Visitors can also spend the night in Bamburgh Castle on the North Sea coast

Visitors can also spend the night at Bamburgh Castle on England’s coast

Quelle: picture alliance / Loop Images

And you can live here: On a clear day, the view from the room in the Neville Tower extends across to Holy Island and out to the Farne Islands. With binoculars you can see seals and dolphins, sometimes even whales.

The late light sets the huge castle in a picturesque scene and lets the walls light up like brass, the clouds in the sky are the color of mallow, the surf shimmers silvery and light gray.

The beach is clean and beautiful, the lords of the castle and the nature conservation organization Natural England are in charge. Bamburgh Beach is sweeping, ideal for long walks; however, the water is too cold for bathing.

Surfers in their wetsuits have it better, they appreciate the wind-blown coast, where steadily passable waves roll. Those who love lonely walks will get their money’s worth here, and everywhere you can enjoy an unobstructed view of the sea and the beach, the drama of the landscape and the sky.

But you can also just sit in the slipstream of the dunes and watch birds for hours. Or you can practice as a lord of the castle – and build a sand castle in the form of Bamburgh Castle (visitnorthumberland.com).

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The author at the age of eight in 1968 on a roof terrace in Wenningstedt

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The North Frisian Wadden Sea: in front right Blauortsand, far right Blauort

Vacationers come back to a new normal

Much is no longer the same as it was before the Corona crisis. And it will probably stay that way for a while. Holiday destinations on the Baltic Sea prepare for visitors with strict rules.

Source: WELT / Marcus Tychsen

This article was first published in May 2020.

The text comes from WELT AM SONNTAG. We are happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.

Packshot_WamS_halbeSeite_17.05

Source: WELT AM SONNTAG

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Thessaly: The monks reached their monasteries via rope ladders

Die Region Thessalien

Mith around 30 million tourists annually, Greece is one of the 15 most popular travel destinations in the world – that was true before the outbreak of the corona pandemic and will certainly not be any different afterwards. It is all the more astonishing that there are still such untouristic regions in the country as the Agrafa massif, which is traded as an insider tip among outdoor activists. After all, 15 peaks are over 2000 meters high here, the highest, the Tymfristos, reaches 2312 meters.

Agrafa is located in western Thessaly and is the largest of the nine Greek regions in terms of area. Enclosed by high mountains, there are two wide, fertile plains with Tríkala and Lárissa as urban centers – Thessaly is also Greece’s granary. It is not boring for tourists here: Even the ancient Greeks were diligent in agriculture and animal breeding – which makes Thessaly a treasure trove for educated citizens on the trail of antiquity and its mythology.

Another advantage of visiting the area is that it is, with the Metéora monasteries, Mount Olympus and “Mamma Mia!”, A world cultural heritage site, seat of gods and the location of a cult film. And from Volos, the largest Thessalonian port, it is only a stone’s throw over to the Pelion Peninsula, a hiking paradise with shady oak forests and picturesque bays – without any tourist crowds.

Source: WORLD infographic

Monks built monasteries on pinnacles

For almost 400 years they were fortresses of the Christian faith in the Islamic Ottoman Empire – the Metéora monasteries in Thessaly, enthroned on pinnacles. Around a hundred stone solitaires, remnants of a sandstone mountain, rise up to 600 meters near Kalambaka.

Thessaly in Greece: Roussanou Monastery used to be reached via a rope ladder, today there are steps up

In the past, Roussanou monastery was reached via a rope ladder; today there are steps up

Quelle: Getty Images

In Byzantine times, a few hermits from the monastic republic of Athos built airy outbuildings here, but after the Turkish invasion in the 15th century, every third rock was occupied by monks – and only accessible via rope ladders.

Six monasteries are still inhabited today, they now have stair access and can be visited. The remaining “rock nests” were gradually abandoned after the liberation of Thessaly in 1881; ruins are clearly visible on two dozen sandstone towers.

Monasteries in Thessaly (Greece): Around a hundred stone solitaires rise up to 600 meters near Kalambaka

Above the clouds: around a hundred stone solitaires tower up to 600 meters near Kalambaka

Quelle: Getty Images/PHOTO BY DIMITRIOS TILIS

Beaches and bays as a film set

Thessaly not only includes miles of beaches along the Olympic Riviera, but also cinematic bays. The blockbuster “Mamma Mia!” Was filmed there in 2007, on the Northern Sporades, part of Thessaly.

According to the script, the Abba musical is set on a fictional Greek island, and the camera team chose Skopelos as the location for the beach scenes: with its 80 percent forested hinterland, the Sporades isle is considered the greenest island in the Aegean – and with its 66 kilometers of turquoise coast The sea is also a bathing paradise. If a tree-lined bay comes into the picture in the film, it should be Kastani Beach.

Greece: The 2007 blockbuster hit the Northern Sporades, which belong to Thessaly "Mamma Mia!" turned

In 2007 the blockbuster “Mamma Mia!” Was released on the Northern Sporades, which belong to Thessaly. turned

Quelle: mauritius images / Collection Christophel

Hiking in the Agrafa Mountains

It is considered the most remote mountain range in Greece – Agrafa in western Thessaly. Not even the Ottoman tax collectors penetrated the difficult-to-access area, which saved many residents from taxes. The landscape is still archaic today. If you want to experience it: The European long-distance hiking trail E4 touches 14 ancient mountain villages.

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Hiking in Bavaria: A hiker in Berchtesgadener Land takes a break and enjoys the view of the clear Obersee

Music in honor of the gods

Zeus on Mount Olympus, Apollon in the Témbi Valley, the Centaurs in the Pelion Mountains: what had rank and name in the ancient world of gods cavorted in Thessaly. The gods loved music, and in their honor it was played at every opportunity.

Water-powered organs, called hydraulis, which are among the oldest keyboard instruments in the world, were also used. In 1992 a specimen was found at the foot of Mount Olympus.

Hydraulis: Water-powered organs are among the oldest keyboard instruments in the world

Water-powered organs are among the oldest keyboard instruments in the world

Source: WORLD infographic

A mountain railway in “Switzerland of Greece”

The Greeks praise the Pelion peninsula in the south of Thessaly as “Switzerland of Greece”. The fact that a narrow-gauge railway from 1895 trundles through the rugged mountains, passing two tunnels and nine viaducts, fits in well with the Swiss cliché.

The Pelion Railway takes 90 minutes for the 15 kilometers from Ano Lechonia on the Pagasitic Gulf to the mountain village of Milies. Before it goes back three hours later, the locomotive is turned manually on a disk; Travelers are allowed to help.

Greece: The Pelion narrow-gauge railway passes a viaduct

The Pelion narrow-gauge railway passes a viaduct

Those: De Agostini via Getty Images

The marathon leads over the summit massif of Olympus

The Faethon marathon participants have to conquer 3200 meters of altitude. The 43.4-kilometer circuit leads from Kokkinopilos in Thessaly over the Olympus summit (2918 meters) back to 1250 meters. Ten hours are set for the route.

Alongside the Olympus Mythical Trail, the Olympus Ultra and the Almira-X Triathlon, the Faethon Marathon is the most demanding of eleven running events that have been established on Olympus since 2004.

The quote

“I have a horse like you’ve never seen it before”

Philonikos, a 4th century B.C. Horse breeder living in Thessaly, rightly praised his animal: under the name Bucephalus it would later write world history, because it carried Alexander the great through all battles.

Thessaly’s warhorses had already proven themselves against the Persians. Alexander even founded a city in honor of his horse, Alexandreia Bukephalus, now Jhelam in Pakistan. There are no longer any purebred Thessalians, but the tough Pindos pony can probably be traced back to them.

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Holidaymaker in Lindos on the island of Rhodes (Greece)

Quirky, record-breaking, typical: You can find more parts of our regional geography series here.

This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG. We are happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.

WELT AM SONNTAG from August 30, 2020

Source: WELT AM SONNTAG

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Holiday complex on Rügen: will Prora be a normal seaside resort?

“I would never voluntarily spend a night here,” says Christian Schmidt from Sassnitz. “Great holiday apartments right on the sandy beach, we’ll be back,” enthuses a family from North Rhine-Westphalia. Welcome to Prora – no state-approved resort in Germany, perhaps even worldwide, is likely to polarize more. And that’s because of its history. Today the colossus is becoming a controversial vacation spot.

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Salina near Sicily: the beauty of the island kept secret

Fif you ask any islander about his ancestors, you often hear the story of visionary entrepreneurs who emigrated to Australia or America and returned to Salina with fresh money and new ideas. From wealthy Malvasia wine merchants or at least from farmers who have grown the valuable capers in addition to grapes and almonds. And who, thanks to their wealth, were able to put a few splendid palaces on the slopes above the coast.

“Our island has always been special,” says Salina-born artist Pippo Cafarella. One volcano wasn’t enough, there had to be two. Both are long extinct, but their black, mustard-yellow or bright red rock shapes the spectacular landscape.

It is also special that the 2500-person island of Salina governs itself, in contrast to the other Aeolian Islands – the film diva Stromboli is one of them, but also Panarea, Vulcano and the rocky spots Alicudi and Filicudi, which are administered from the main island of Lipari . Salina has three independent municipalities, each with a port, a city council and its own mayor.

Salina is considered the most beautiful of the Aeolian Islands

The archipelago north of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea has been a Unesco World Heritage Site for 20 years and is a worthwhile holiday destination well into autumn. Bathing is still in November, hikers climb extinct and not extinct volcanoes or stroll between vineyards and caper fields. Each of the seven inhabited islands is unique in its own way, but Salina is considered by connoisseurs to be the most beautiful and special of all.

Source: Infographic WELT / Jörn Baumgarten

The locals kept it to themselves for a long time. They wanted to prevent Salina from becoming as glamorous as Panarea or as famous as Stromboli. The creation of tourist infrastructure was deliberately neglected, only a few hotels offered a few rooms, anyone who wanted to go on holiday on Salina needed their own house.

Then director Michael Radford came and shot “Il Postino” (“The Postman”) in 1994. The story of friendship between the poet Pablo Neruda and his postman moved many cinema viewers to tears and aroused their curiosity: Where is the village of Pollara, through which the postman cycles? Where is the lonely bay that Neruda walks along? And where is the poet’s pink house? The answer to all three questions is: Salina.

Even the Ferrari boss flashed here

With the film, the island became popular. Pippo Cafarella, who owns the picturesque film house, could have sold his property several times: actors, industrial captains, public offices and even the Belgian royal couple were interested. But he is not thinking of giving up his house with its overgrown garden.

Villa on Salina (Sicily, Italy)

There are some villas on Salina with a great view

Quelle: Getty Images/Hemis.fr RM

“No”, said Patrizia Lopes when the former Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo offered four million euros for her weathered villa above the port of Rinella. “Villa L’Ariana was my grandparents’ holiday home, I live here, why should I sell?”

She prefers to rent a few rooms in the peach-colored property with its terraces and the striking bust trellis on the roof to vacationers: “Some guests have been coming for 30 years, should I put them in front of the door?” And anyway: “What does Signor di Montezemolo want in Rinella? “

In fact, the place doesn’t offer much: a small supermarket, an ice cream parlor, a church and a tiny beach, which – like most on the island – consists of dark gray lava sand. But with the motorboat you are quickly in a Caribbean blue bay and with the Vespa in one of the osterias.

Salina: The village of Pollara with its boat houses carved into the rock and a bay for diving

The village of Pollara with its boat houses carved into the rock and a bay for diving

Those: Getty

For example in the “Villa Carla” in Leni. There is a handful of tables between blooming rose bushes, the view overlooks the sea, island specialties such as ravioli with caper filling and fish in a crust of breadcrumbs, mint and orange peel come from the kitchen.

The straw-yellow Malvasia from the Capofaro winery, which towers high above the sea, goes well with this. It belongs to the Sicilian noble family Tasca d’Almerita, who not only grow this wonderfully dry white wine on Salina, but also run a luxurious hotel.

The rooms and suites are located in houses overgrown with bougainvilleas between vines or in the lighthouse built in 1884 and score points with their chic, pleasantly cool island design.

Despite more holidaymakers, not full even in midsummer

From here it is only a stone’s throw to Malfa, a village with narrow streets, photogenic faded house facades, a church square with palm trees and a few cafes where large cups of almond or mulberry granita are served. On the outskirts of the village, the Scario Beach, which is surrounded by dark cliffs and valued for its crystal-clear water, is attractive, but also for the tiny “Maracaibo” bar, where you get filled foccacia, beer and colorful air mattresses.

Salina: Malfa is a village with narrow streets, a church square with palm trees and a few cafes

Malfa is a village with narrow streets, a church square with palm trees and a few cafes

Quelle: REDA&CO/Universal Images Group v

Malfa’s mayor Chiara Rametta is closely watching what is happening on her island: “We are seeing more holidaymakers than ten years ago. In the past only Italians came and they only came in August. Now the first holidaymakers arrive at Whitsun, the last come in October. And international vacationers also come. But it is still a very discreet tourism. ”It can hardly be felt anyway – Malfa looks sleepy and pleasantly provincial even in the high season, especially in the Corona summer 2020.

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Aeolian Islands (Italy): On Panarea there are also hiking trails with breathtaking views

Santa Marina is a bit more urban, simply called “la città” by the 900 residents. There are restaurants, a marina and a shopping street with lovely shops like “Le Signorine”, where Rossana and Serena Cervellera offer their own line of saline jewelry and Mediterranean home accessories.

The “Mercanti di Mare” hotel on the promenade also belongs to the elegant sisters. They inherited the beautiful building with a spacious loggia from their grandparents. Of course they could have sold it, there were enough interested parties. But that is out of the question for her: “It’s our family’s house. We don’t give it up. “

Salina: The Cervellera sisters run a hotel in Santa Maria - and they don't think about selling it

The Cervellera sisters run a hotel in Santa Maria – and don’t think about selling it

Quelle: Patricia Engelhorn

Tips and information

Getting there: Flight to Catania or Palermo, for example with Lufthansa or Easyjet. Most of the ferry connections to Salina and the other Aeolian Islands are from the port of Milazzo, e.g. with Liberty Lines (libertylines.it/en/) or Siremar (carontetourist.it/en/siremar), tickets from 20 euros (one way ).

Accommodation: “Hotel Mercanti di Mare”, nine rooms furnished in a pretty island style, some with a view of the Santa Marina promenade, double rooms from 100 euros, hotelmercantidimare.it. “Hotel Signum”, charming 30-room hotel in Malfa, which is spread over several renovated island houses in a garden landscape, restaurant with Michelin star, double rooms from 200 euros, hotelsignum.it. “I Cinque Balconi”, ten rooms with beamed ceilings, antique floor tiles and family antiques in two historic merchant houses in Santa Marina, double rooms from 80 euros, icinquebalconi.it. The “Capofaro” is a magical Relais & Châteaux resort in a vineyard with a sea view, 27 minimalist, elegant rooms, spacious pool, gourmet restaurant, double rooms from 260 euros, capofaro.it (not until 2021).

Further information: salinaturismo.it; visitsicily.info/en/salina/

Sicily: Salina Island, Malfa, Hotel Signum, pool

The “Hotel Signum” in Malfa has a pool

Source: pa / DUMONT Bildar / Sabine Lubenow

This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG. We are happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.

Source: Welt am Sonntag

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Flanders: Belgium’s North Sea coast fascinates with its mix

WITHTwo young people sit on the concrete vault of a World War II bunker and look pensively at the sea. Directly below there is lively beach life with colorful umbrellas and children of all ages trying to save their sandcastles from the approaching tide. A couple of lovers ahead, laughing and holding hands, throwing themselves into the surf. Outside two sailing boats and finally a large cargo ship on the horizon.

The sea – it is the epitome of longing and freedom, a place where the boundaries between fantasy and reality tend to blur. How harmoniously the incompatible sometimes nestles together!

Here in West Flanders this also happens when you let your eyes follow the coastline to the east. There, at an indefinite distance, a huge something shimmers in the backlight. A gigantic power plant that has pushed itself into the magical unity of beach, water and sky? Or is it just a mirage?

The apartments on the seafront in Ostend are not nice to look at, but offer accommodation with a sea view

Quelle: Getty Images/Habub3

The foreign body is the skyline of Ostend, which suddenly towers four kilometers away. Anyone who goes for a little shopping spree in the former “Queen of the seaside resorts”, however, needs strong nerves.

Not only because of the unfamiliar hustle and bustle, but also because the center, which is peppered with shops, music bars and trendy hangouts, shows no signs of urban planning attentiveness. Old and new form a mixture here that people with a pronounced need for harmony can only fail.

Only a few German vacationers on the coast in Belgium

All the livelier you feel on the beach promenade. It is car-free, wonderfully spacious and has great contemporary art on it. In addition, the view of extensive beaches, which, as everywhere on the Flemish coast, consist of the finest sand. It’s just astonishing that here – regardless of the healthy, stimulating climate of the North Sea – so few people romp around, and you are almost completely alone even on the historic bathing mile.

This mile is lined by the 500-meter-long Doric colonnade, which King Leopold II had built for himself to get from his summer villa to the racecourse on dry feet. At the beginning of the 1930s, a long grand hotel was built over it.

Flanders (Belgium): A long colonnade lines the historic bathing mile in Ostend

A long colonnade lines the historic bathing mile in Ostend

Those: visit-oostende.com

The result is an ensemble that is one of the most beautiful monuments in Belgium. Nowhere else is it easier to travel back to the golden days of a North Sea holiday.

It is clear why there is never mass activity on this stretch of beach: Most Ostend holidaymakers usually bathe in the vicinity of their holiday homes, and Germans still consider the Belgian coast to be terra incognita, an unknown country. It is mainly the Belgians themselves who vacation here, beach guests from other countries are largely absent. It remains manageable.

Building sins line the beach at Ostend

Strolling towards the city center means immersing yourself back in the world of building sins. The front of the lake consists of a desolate cluster of six- to eight-story apartment barracks, which should bring joy to those who have actually settled here, do not have to see them from the outside and now enjoy a clear view of the sea.

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The continuous development, at best as a matter of taste, is probably one of the reasons why German beach vacationers usually avoid the seaside resorts of Flanders. Where one would expect quaint villages with old fishermen’s houses and smart holiday bungalows, one is confronted with the dubious charm of suburban satellite towns.

Christa Kurthen, the city guide, explains this with the fact that, in contrast to neighboring countries, Belgium only has a strip of coastline just 67 kilometers long: “The pressure to develop was of course enormous, especially since a socialist philosophy was followed, which is incompatible with aesthetic categories: Everyone has a right to a view of the sea, and everyone at the same moment. “

Villas and hotels from the Belle Époque in De Haan

But there are exceptions: for example, De Haan, just six kilometers away. There are houses on the promenade that are not exactly a feast for the eyes. But they are not as high as those of Ostend, Blankenberge, Bredene, Wenduine and Middelkerke – and the town center behind the dunes is downright idyllic.

As expected, you also meet a larger proportion of Germans here: not only those who are too crowded on the German coasts this year, but also the type of holidaymaker who likes to relax from their own compatriots during the holidays.

Belgium: De Concessie is the name of the historic center of De Haans, which houses villas from the Belle Époque

De Concessie is the name of the historic center of De Haans, which houses villas from the Belle Époque

Quelle: pa / imageBROKER / De Meester, J.

The quarter is characterized by villas and hotels from the Belle Époque. In 1889, Leopold II had given some business people concessions to build a bathing resort, but linked them with the requirement of proper town planning. De Concessie is now the historical center of De Haans.

What was built had to be surrounded by gardens and open spaces. Numerous country houses in the Anglo-Norman style were built in the quarter. And they have been preserved. In one of them, the Villa Savoyarde, De Haan’s most famous resident stayed for a few months in 1933: Albert Einstein, who had fled Germany.

A tram connects the seaside resorts in Flanders

Thanks to the legendary Kusttram, you can commute back and forth between all the seaside resorts in West Flanders, just like today. The coastal tram has been rattling almost the entire coast since 1886, and it also has many stops outside of town. To reach the most remote stretches of beach, you don’t need a bike or car, and there are no forced marches that go on for miles.

After getting off, the bather only has to cross the dune and he is where he wants to go. One of the longest tram lines in the world allows freedom of movement that one can long search for on the coasts of other European countries.

Belgium: Almost the entire coast is accessible by a tram, some of which runs right along the beach

Almost the entire coast of Belgium is accessible by a tram, some of which runs directly along the beach

Quelle: picture alliance / YVES BOUCAU / win rf

During the day, the tram often runs every ten minutes, and it also stops at the sights of the country’s darkest history. In Raversijde, for example, visitors wander through the positions of two world wars: The section of the Atlantic Wall is one of the best-preserved relics of the German line of defense.

It consists of sixty bunkers, exposed and underground passages, observation posts and artillery positions. Some of these shelters have been designed like museums and provide information about historical connections that should not only interest military collectors and World War II tourists.

Relics are reminiscent of the First World War

If you drive a few more stops, you will reach the town of Nieuwpoort, which has also been able to retain a tranquil town center. An excursion boat starts there every afternoon, following the Yser coming from the Ardennes into the interior – and thus the former front line of the First World War. For almost two hours it goes through a lonely coastal river meadow landscape, which the Belgian and French armed forces flooded in October 1914 to make it difficult for the advancing German army to advance – which succeeded.

Belgium: In Diksmuide you can visit the last originally preserved trench from the First World War

In Diksmuide you can visit the last originally preserved trench from the First World War

Quelle: pa / imageBROKER / J. The teacher

In Diksmuide, the end of the almost two-hour journey through time, you can visit the last originally preserved trench from the First World War. And you can commit it. The place itself was completely destroyed. But after the war it was rebuilt in the old Flemish style.

With the architectural chaos of the coastal towns still in mind, one is completely enthusiastic about such an intact site – as long as one does not think of the hell to which it owes itself. But this knowledge remains and is also conveyed to you on the well-marked circular route through the city: In the most prominent places there are large boards with black and white photos from 1918, which show the extent of the destruction at that time.

It’s hard to believe: Today’s Diksmuide is a memorial immersed in perfect beauty. Another example of how seemingly irreconcilable things come together in Flanders today.

North Sea coast in Flanders (Belgium)

Source: WORLD infographic

Tips and information

Getting there: Since you don’t need a car on site thanks to the coastal tram (dekusttram.be/de), we recommend arriving by train. There are no through trains, from Cologne you need three hours with a change in Brussels. You travel 75 minutes longer from Frankfurt am Main, and a total of 8.5 hours from Berlin (bahn.de).

Accommodation: In the “Grand Hotel Palace Thermae” in Ostend, an overnight stay in a double room costs from 99 euros (thermaepalace.be). In the newly renovated hotel “Astoria” (hotelastoria.be), a Belle Époque villa near the beach with a view of De Concession in De Haan, a double room per night including breakfast costs 151 euros.

Essen: Freshly caught North Sea fish is served daily in the “Toi, Moi et la Mer” on the Ostend beach promenade (toimoietlamer.be); The “Bistro Mathilda” (bistromathilda.be) offers gourmet quality at reasonable prices. Recommended in De Haan is “Le Kok Sur Mer” (lekoksurmer.be).

Art: Ostend and the surrounding area are home to some excellent museums, including the Mu.ZEE with modern art (muzee.be). Connected is the Permekemuseum in Jabbeke, once the home of the expressionist Constant Permeke. The former home of the painter James Ensor can also be visited (ensorstad.be).

Hygienehinweise: The Federal Foreign Office warns against traveling to the Antwerp region and Brussels, the coast is not affected. There is a national mask requirement in public spaces. You can move freely on the beach.

Information desk: visitflanders.com; visitoostende.be

German submarine from World War I identified

The German submarine UB-29 sank off Ostend around 100 years ago. The found wreck has now been identified by researchers. The exact location, however, should remain secret.

Source: N24 / Kevin Knauer

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