KAnyone can imagine how many old, beautiful concepts of daily life have been sacrificed to the zeitgeist: the ladder and the cold dog, the cavalier and the sex bomb, the hip flask and the summer freshness. “Adultery” sounds like a hernia and when you hear “Backfisch” everyone thinks of a fish sandwich from “Nordsee”.
Only the Automobile Club of Germany (AvD) defies the trend and promotes a car driver to the “hero of the road” every month. Because we have been living in post-heroic times for a long time and the demand for heroes has collapsed as has sales of hula hoops. In “civil society” there is no longer any room for heroes, only for “people with moral courage” who sign resolutions against hatred and xenophobia and demonstrate against climate change.
It is all the more astonishing, downright sensational, when the federal government, of all people, brings heroism to new life with its video campaign # special heroes.
GShop protected from the sun and rain – the idea is as old as the movement of goods. Just visit the ruins of the Trajan’s Markets in Rome, built in the 2nd century AD. Bales of cloth and amphorae were sold in the covered corridors – a forerunner of arcades in medieval squares, baroque arcades and modern shopping malls.
They can now also be found north of the Alps, for example in Wasserburg am Inn. The so-called German arbours were added as a second facade from 1500 onwards. They offered space to stroll around, for business premises and workshops – and still offer it.
In general, the Upper Bavarian town is worth seeing. Its island location gives it a romantic flair, the old town with pastel-colored Gothic houses and the castle tempts to stroll under the arcades in all weathers.
Germany’s prime city when it comes to arcades is, however Hamburg. Germany’s bad weather metropolis has a kilometer-long labyrinth of arcades, passages and shopping centers, some of which are interconnected, in the city center between Gänsemarkt, Jungfernstieg and the main train station. Here you can walk for hours even in continuous rain without getting wet.
The most beautiful are the Alster arcades with their Venetian flair, created after the great fire of 1842. The Mellinpassage branches off from this (opened in 1864), with ceiling paintings like in a church, elegant Hanseatic shops and the Felix Jud bookstore, where Karl Lagerfeld was a regular customer (“My intellectual deli”).
The Hanseviertel, the Hamburger Hof, the Kaufmannshaus and the Kaisergalerie are also well sorted and covered, all lined up along the Große Bleichen shopping street.
Also Leipzig has a number of old passages, mainly from times of trade fairs. The most famous is the 140-meter-long Mädlerpassage from 1912, with “Auerbachs Keller” integrated into it, to which Goethe sent his Faust. “Above all, I have to bring you / into fun company / so that you can see how easy it is to live,” says Mephisto and leads Faust into that cellar.
If you want, you can explore Leipzig’s passages, courtyards and hidden shortcuts on a guided tour. In addition to the magnificent Mädlerpassage and Specks Hof, they also offer discoveries beyond the tourist racetracks, including the world’s first model exhibition center, built between 1894 and 1901.
By the sea or on the mountain – hiking outside
Usedom offers 42 kilometers of sandy beach alone, you can go from Peenemünde in the northwest to Swinoujscie in the east. You can’t get lost: the sea on the left, the sand on the right. You only stop when the wind blows you through enough and your legs get heavy from sand hiking.
Conveniently, the ban on accommodation in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has just been overturned by the court. In Lower Saxony it doesn’t apply anyway, that’s why it’s there Borkum a good November hiking alternative.
On the one hand it is pretty, with dunes and a sea view, on the other hand it is healthy, in a stimulating climate. The combination of sun, wind and cold sea water influences physical performance. Which is why they call hiking on the island “climatic terrain cure” – you trudge through the three climate zones on Borkum, from the sheltered interior of the island over the edge of the dunes to the fresh air beach.
Or may it already be snow? If you can’t wait for winter: on the Zugspitze it has already snowed. Germany’s highest mountain was climbed for the first time 200 years ago, today you can take the train up and enjoy the panoramic view of the snow-covered Alps, walk around on the Zugspitzplatt and throw snowballs or enjoy the winter sun from a deck chair.
If you want to combine mountains and trees, go to the Bavarian Forest National Park. There is a network of hiking trails around 350 kilometers long. Snow is not a problem here either. In the lower parts of the national park, the hiking trails are rolled or cleared. And when the snow is really deep, you can just rent snowshoes and hike through the white splendor.
Immerse yourself in another world in the library
Already 4000 years ago the Egyptians collected papyrus rolls, ancient Greeks and Romans surrounded themselves with writings, in the Middle Ages important libraries were built in the monasteries – unforgotten by Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose”. A novel that is in every library today.
Germany’s monasteries, cities of culture and universities in particular offer great libraries that you can spend days in. And not just reading: Most of them offer extensive media collections.
The Duchess Anna Amalia Library in is a wonderful old house Weimar, Founded in 1691, managed by Goethe for 30 years, Unesco World Heritage. A fire destroyed the historical book inventory in 2004, but the oval, gold-decorated rococo hall could be reconstructed. The largest book collection north of the Alps was brought together by Duke August the Younger in Wolfenbüttel in the 17th century. Here too – from 1770 – a famous librarian was in charge: Gotthold Ephraim Lessing.
There are not only historical, but also new, equally spectacular libraries in Germany. To name (and recommend) is of course in here Stuttgart the futuristic cube by the Korean star architect Eun Young Yi.
But also the city library in Württemberg Heidenheim Well worth a visit: The Swiss architect Max Dudler created an airy reinforced concrete building in a shell made of light bricks, with a gleaming white interior. The house won the International Architecture Award of the Chicago Athenaeum in 2019, something like this does not happen every day in Heidenheim.
Evergreen gardens – in the museum
Do you remember? Everything is green. Flowers of all colors. This is how it looked in gardens and parks in October. Anyone who passes away from longing for a garden in November can satisfy them: In search of the lost greenery, you meander through Germany’s museums – and find good-mood garden paintings (although you should generally find out in advance whether there are current corona restrictions, such as the Opening hours).
The Museum Barberini in offers plenty of choice Potsdam with his impressionist collection. An entire hall is dedicated to the artist gardens.
The garden pictures by Claude Monet are to dream away, who even created a pond in his garden – with water lilies. In Potsdam, you can linger on a bench in front of two of his large-format water lily pictures, think about last summer and indulge in the coming spring.
Max Liebermann also painted his own garden in his villa on Berlin Wannsee. And that’s exactly where they’re exhibited. One would like to sit on the white “garden bench” of the 1916 painting of the same name in the midst of rampant greenery.
Where does a garden actually end and where does landscape begin? In front of the mini-picture “Italian Landscape with Bridge” from 1630/35 by Carel de Hooch in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich ponder. Bushes grow around an Italian country house, then it gets hilly, in the distance the sea – a dream!
You will also find what you are looking for in the Städel in Frankfurt, with the Old Masters on the second floor: Here the view is lost in the “paradise garden” of an unknown Upper Rhine master, full of details such as birds, apples and lilies of the valley. The painting is over 600 years old – one has dreamed of gardens for a long time.
Travel around the globe while drinking tea
Hot tea is not only perfect for warming up in cold November, you can also combine it with a trip around the world on your doorstep. If you are longing for Turkey, for example, you can visit one of the countless Turkish cafes that can be found in all major cities from Duisburg-Marxloh above Berlin-Kreuzberg to Hamburg-Ottensen. Here the sugar-sweet chai is poured out of the samovar, just like on the Bosporus, and served in the typical small glasses on red and white saucers.
British-style afternoon tea is also available in many cities. The ritual of Five o’Clock Tea is attributed to a lady-in-waiting of Queen Victoria. The tea is served with sandwiches such as cucumber sandwich or salmon snacks, often also as a cream tea with scones, a pastry that is served with jam and clotted cream (thick cream).
In this country it is often celebrated at a high level – in luxury hotels like the “Excelsior Ernst” in Cologne, the “Four Seasons” in Hamburg or the “Taschenbergpalais” in Dresden. Whether you take the “Mif” or “Tif” tea is a question of faith – that is, “Milk in first” (first the milk in the cup) or “Tea in first” (first the tea). The Queen prefers, one hears, the “Tif” variant.
Germany offers the most exotic tea enjoyment Berlin: the “Tajik tea room” in the Kunsthof. The interior was originally from the Soviet pavilion of the Leipziger Messe from 1974. Russian and oriental dishes are served with strong tea from Central Asia in the tea room. However, guests have to be flexible: here, as it should be in Tajikistan, you sit on cushions on the floor.
And if you want to experience the whole world of tea, go to it north – that’s the name of a pretty town on Lower Saxony’s North Sea coast. The East Frisian Tea Museum there in the old town hall not only takes visitors to the growing areas in India and China, but also provides information about the tea rituals of various cultures – including local ones.
For that you need the original East Frisian tea mixture, a warmer, sugar tongs for the Kluntje (rock candy piece) and a silver cream spoon to put on the Wulkje (cream puff). The East Frisian tea ceremony was even recognized by Unesco as intangible cultural heritage – a German world heritage for drinking.
More tips for a vacation on your doorstep:
This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG. We are happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.
What’s next with the cruise? The industry is currently on an expedition itself – and is discovering new routes and ports that no cruise ship has visited before. A test drive on board the “Hanseatic Inspiration”. .
EIn a bit of wind, there is always Neuwerk, that tiny island off Cuxhaven that is so small that there would not even be a place for an 18-hole golf course. At night, when the day visitors have disappeared, it is completely quiet on the three square kilometers. At most you can hear a “pop”. Then a pawn fell over on the hotel’s garden chess field, caught in a light breeze.
37 people live on the green spot in front of the Elbe and Weser estuaries. Most of them live from tourism. There are five guest houses in total, plus a Wadden Sea house, a bit of agriculture, a bit of port logistics. Neuwerk and the surrounding Wadden Sea are part of Hamburg, but the few island tractors have Pinneberger license plates. Sometimes wealthy horse owners bring their animals here so that they can recover from their lung ailments in the pure North Sea air.
So close that you want to start walking right away
This island is so different and so close that you want to start walking straight away. The temptation already begins at the Cuxhaven ball beacon and continues to the beach at Döse, where the huge container ships in the Elbe estuary are soon no longer a sensation. Here we really see it: two distant rows of trees shimmer like a mirage on the horizon, with a tower between them. It looks like a little Mont-Saint-Michel. But wait! You can’t just run out into the mudflats, no matter how seductive it is. The moon only pulled the carpet of the sea briefly. Soon the creeks will be full again, then the tide will come. When everything is back to the way it was, there will be a flood.
Tschelp. Dschubb. Our shoes squeeze the mud like in a Donald Duck story. Now we’re on our way to the island. Julia from “Wunderwelt Watt” leads us, together with the dog Ben. At eleven o’clock sharp, we left the land in Sahlenburg, less than a minute later. Today is low tide at 1 p.m. During the almost four-hour hike, we run halfway into the lowest point and halfway out again. Sahlenburg disappears behind us, other groups move away in front of us. Soon we 20 mudflat hikers seem to be alone under the pencil-gray sky. We stay together. Julia stops. It gurgles in the silt, bubbles rise – the work of sapling tube worms, which continue to filter food in the damp channels. We continue. It is still a long way to Neuwerk, around twelve kilometers in total.
“O”, just “O”. That is what the island was called in ancient times. Sometimes also “Og”, like at the end of “Langeoog” or “Spiekeroog”. Around 1300 Hamburg took possession of O and built a tower, the “Nige Wark”, the “New Factory”. The stone building, almost 45 meters high, served primarily as a defense tower. Even then, half the world was on the move with its goods in front of the Elbe estuary. But the area is treacherous, until today sandbanks and currents change. Pirates and wreckers could count on rich booty back then.
Happiness is knee deep
Traffic jam at the first large creek. A column of yellow horse-drawn carriages crosses the water. The people are wrapped in blankets and remain motionless. It looks like an antediluvian silent movie. Immediately a band of riders appears on black horses. Then it’s our turn with our sneakers and it looks like 2020 again.
We’re lucky, the water is only knee deep today. For a few years this has been becoming increasingly rare, and the tide can reach up to the shoulders for both horse and human. Environmentalists attribute the changed flow behavior to the Langendamm in front of Cuxhafen. Although this makes the Elbrinne safer, the two main prelays in front of Neuwerk are becoming increasingly unpredictable. The current is already fast, we have to hold on to iron bars.
On, on and on. We are points in an immeasurable world of gray. Olive gray the mudflats. Navy camouflage blue-gray the sky. The lifeboats are also gray. The steel cages on stakes were erected after a teacher with twelve students drowned here in the mudflats in 1979. Suddenly they were caught in sea fog. When he comes you won’t see anything at all.
Then finally, after three and a half hours, the first green. Neuwerk is no longer an illusion. We wash shoes, stockings and trousers from the cotton splashes and say goodbye to Julia and the others. In the evening, the group will take the ferry back to the mainland – like most of the more than 100,000 guests a year who visit the island in a combination of a boat trip, a mudflat hike or a wagon trip.
After that Neuwerk belongs to the Neuwerkers again. And the two self-confident hamburgers who smoke a cigar on the dike. And the young woman who jogs once around the island on the six-kilometer outdoor path. And a little bit us too. We have to play a game of chess tomorrow morning.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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. “
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Dhe sea can be felt everywhere on Römö, this island in the Danish Wadden Sea, but it is still a long way to the North Sea. The trail leads us from the heather over a kilometer-wide, reflecting surface swept empty by the eternal wind. Only horizon and high sky. The cries of birds blow away, the sand grinds between your teeth. Then the blurred transition to the water in the distance. And finally the sea is reached.
Islands like Römö are subject to the regime of wind, water and waves. Traces are lost. Sand covers them and water washes them away. Melancholy lies over this large, empty room, fingers of light reach out from the cloudy haze. It is an island with an ambivalent relationship to the sea, which took and gave. Romo is an island of seafarers, their graves and stories.
Almost 600 people live on Römö, this barren and once poor island in Denmark, which one had to leave for a chance in life and whose island church, named after the patron saint of seafarers, Saint Clemens, is visited by 80,000 people every year. Whoever wanted to become something went to sea, went to the Arctic Ocean, went to the East Indies. These were risky undertakings that cost some emigrants their lives, while others returned home rich.
Stories from the glory days of the seafarers
A faint gallop can be heard in the distance, and soon the horses and their riders are standing in the surf. As suddenly as they came, they disappeared again. A flock of birds flies up, flighty and fleeting. The animals also seem to sense the presence of the North Sea and its volatility.
Before the water comes, we make our way back, again over the heather, then through a forest, and suddenly the white island church in front of us. St. Clemens looks like a defiant castle as it rises from the country.
Jörn Carl leads through the cemetery, he is a church leader. Some of his ancestors are buried here. “My great, great, great-grandfather drove into the Arctic Ocean as a commander,” says Carl while walking around the tombs. He knows countless stories from glorious seafaring times, has written a book that keeps this memory alive, that describes the tombstones and votive ships inside the church.
He is a teacher of history and religion and can tell of adventures at sea, which are about danger and luck, faith and gold and are unbelievable – but naturally belong to the life story of the sailors of Romo.
Seafaring brought prosperity to Romo
In 1982 a grave was dug and the sexton found three gold coins. Two came from Flanders, one from England, and they weren’t simply lost, says Carl. These are probably so-called Charon coins, because they lay next to the dead man’s left hand and were intended as payment for the crossing to the realm of the dead.
In Greek mythology, Charon is the ferryman and drives the dead from this side over the river Styx to the next. “In the course of the Middle Ages this myth became a Christian tradition – and the coin find of St. Clemens shows the importance of seafaring for Romo.”
Seafaring brought prosperity. Anyone who knew how to handle a ship here on the unpredictable coast was good at it, went fishing or sailed as a sailor. And then things really started: at the end of the 16th century, English and Dutch sailors tried to find a passage to China via the northern ocean.
“They did not find an alternative to the long sea route around Africa, but very large populations of whales in the Arctic Ocean. The whale hunt soon began between Greenland and Svalbard. “
Whales and seals were popular
The oil of whales and seals was particularly popular as fuel, seal skins were a valuable commodity. “At the height of whale and seal fishing, almost a third of the 1500 inhabitants on the island of Romo went to sea.” As skilled and capable seamen, some made it to the captain of a fishing ship. So they got rich and had tombstones made that tell their life story.
40 of these stones are in the cemetery of St. Clemens, and seemingly forever they tell of how dangerous the journey into the Arctic Ocean was. One of them is the tombstone of Anders Michelsen List – who first sailed as a child and later as a captain on ships, who sank off Greenland and survived.
“When he was twelve he was taken whaling,” says Carl. “In 1777 14 whaling ships got caught in the pack ice off Greenland, were trapped and crushed, five of these ships were led by men from Romo.
450 sailors fled from their destroyed ships onto the pack ice and began the long march to the east coast of the ice island, 300 of them drowned and froze, died of starvation and exhaustion. ”Anders Michelsen List spent the winter of twelve years on Greenland, he was 56 years later buried in the churchyard of St. Clemens on Römö.
The North Sea is also present in the church
Jörn Carl opens the heavy door, there is complete silence in the church, and soft light falls through the window. Inside, too, St. Clemens looks like a castle, the building has been expanded again and again over the centuries. The ceilings have remained low. As if the people wanted to seek protection, at least security for the soul. But even in here the sea is always present, as a memory.
Seven of the ship models hang from the ceiling. For example the “Flora”, a pretty three-master, detailed, equipped with dinghies. “This ship came back in 1836 with its biggest catch, laden with the bacon from five whales and 5000 seals.”
The votive ships show the enormous importance of seafaring for Romo and, like Carl’s concentrated knowledge, keep memories alive and in honor. In keeping with this, the metaphorical designation of the church interior as a ship: The congregation, Carl explains, treads the path from this world to the hereafter.
She is on a journey through life with an unknown destination, as are the sailors on the “Flora”, the “Danmark”, the “Aurora Borealis” and the other ships that are heading for the altar in St. Clemens.
Pirates kept attacking ships
A warship also hangs in the church, the “frigates”. Because it happened again and again that mostly merchant drivers were victims of pirates. That is why civilian ships sailed under the protection of armed convoys, explains the church leader.
“The ‘Danmark’, a merchant ship, was equipped with cannons to defend itself against pirates – the cannons were also incorporated into the model.” For Andreas Sörensen, this help came too late: In 1724 he got caught in the Mediterranean during a trade trip Algerian pirates were imprisoned, they sold him on, and a North African ruler finally demanded the horrific sum of 2000 thalers for poor Andreas, 20 times the annual wages of a helmsman.
This news reached Romo. Pastor Anders Andersen Amders organized a collection on the island. “Most of the ransom came from the state slavery fund, which was set up specifically for such purposes, and a wealthy citizen of Romo also provided a larger deposit,” said Carl.
In 1725 Andreas Sörensen was released – and he soon went with his wife on a trip to the west coast of Römös to collect money for the bail of his release. “He must have done that in winter, because in summer he went to sea again.”
So at the time of year when some of the most interesting stories in Römös happened. Such of adventures at sea, of faith, hope and a spiritual triumvirate of seafarers: a large church on a small island somewhere in the North Sea.
Tips and information
Getting there: The island of Römö is located north of Sylt in the Danish Wadden Sea. It can be reached via a road embankment from the mainland by car or by ferry from List / Sylt to Havneby / Römö. The regular trip there and back by car costs 83 euros, until December 20 a reduced price of 55 euros. Those arriving by train to List pay 12.30 euros for the ferry as an individual, children up to 14 years 8.10 euros (syltfaehre.de).
Accommodation: For example, in the cozy and modern “Havneby Kro” hotel in Havneby, double rooms from 111 euros including breakfast, the hotel is within walking distance of the ferry to Sylt (havneby-kro.dk). Providers such as Novasol (novasol.de) or Dancenter (dancenter.de) offer a large selection of holiday homes, some of which have reduced prices in winter.
Going to church: St. Clemens, island landmark, is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in winter. It is named after St. Clement, patron saint of seafarers. Around 80,000 visitors come every year. Jörn Carl speaks fluent German and you can request tours by email (email@example.com).
Information desk: romo-tonder.dk; visitdenmark.com
This article was first published in December 2019.
Participation in the trip was supported by Visit Denmark. You can find our standards of transparency and journalistic independence at axelspringer.de/unabhaengigkeit.
AOn July 22nd, 2020, Clara Pufe found the little animal on the beach in Cadzand-Bad in the Netherlands. Although only the torso and tail were left and the characteristic horse’s head was missing, the six-year-old knew straight away what she was looking for, as she knows seahorses from visits to the aquarium and counts the peculiar fish, which are largely related to the perch, to her favorite animals.
Such finds are rare. Not only for young shell collectors, but also for the biologist Rainer Borcherding. He works for the Wadden Sea Conservation Station in Husum and helped develop the website www.beachexplorer.org, on which everyone can share what they have found on the beach, which is then collected in a database. Borcherding has compiled the reports on seahorses from over a hundred years. According to this, just seventy finds have been reported in the North and Baltic Seas since 1886, between which there were sometimes decades without sightings.
Extinct for ninety years
As can be seen from the collection, two of the 43 species of the genus can be found on the Wadden Sea coast Hippocampus before: the long-snouted seahorse (H. guttulatus) and the short-snouted (H. hippocampus). The two are often confused, says Borcherding, but genetic analyzes have shown both species. The habitat of both long-nosed and short-nosed seahorses extends in the North Sea from Belgium up to Denmark and across the Kattegat into the Baltic Sea. “In the Wadden Sea, the short-snouted seahorse predominates,” says the biologist. “I’ve seen that myself.”
The fact that even experts rarely encounter the iconic fish and accordingly little is known about their distribution in the Wadden Sea is due, among other things, to the fact that they are difficult to get at. Where they live, it is too shallow for most research vessels, but they are also difficult to reach for investigations on foot, says Borcherding’s colleague Christian Abel, who is responsible for marine nature conservation at the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park Administration. Seahorses literally live in a transition zone. The fact that they are also rarely washed up on the beaches indicates intrinsically small populations of the animals protected by the Washington Agreement. Seahorses have been considered extinct in the German Wadden Sea since the 1930s.
More data doesn’t automatically mean more seahorses
Are you coming back now? In fact, the watchful Clara find is the latest in a hopeful series to date. Seahorses have been sighted more frequently since 1998, initially in Belgium, but in 2007 several specimens were found in the Dutch and German Wadden Sea. What is particularly striking is what is happening in the Netherlands: there were almost twenty finds in 2019, mostly off Zeeland, and a good thirty by the end of May 2020. Rainer Borcherding also considers this increase to be an observation effect: You can get through the two Internet portals beachexplorer. org and waarneming.nl have much better data than before. On the other hand, there was apparently a real wave of seahorses immigrating to the Wadden Sea in 2007.
The golden age of Danish oil and gas production with self-sufficiency and high export income ended a good ten years ago. The best fields in the North Sea have been emptied, and unless an unexpected giant find is made or a technological breakthrough occurs that makes previously inaccessible deposits interesting, the end of production is foreseeable. As things stand, this will happen around the middle of the century – the existing licenses will expire by 2046.
However, there are tenders for the further search for new sources in which energy companies such as Hess and Total participate. However, the licensing was suspended in November 2019 after protests by three left-wing parties who support the social democratic government and are declared opponents of the promotion. In a so-called understanding paper between the parties, they were able to stipulate that Denmark should reduce CO2 emissions by 70 percent by 2030 compared to 1990.
Of course, this can only be achieved by further increasing the share of renewable energies and ending the burning of fossil fuels in the country. Licenses for a further search for oil and gas would therefore be a provocation. Especially since economists question the profitability of new fields. According to estimates, tax revenues of a maximum of several hundred million euros will be possible if the search is successful at all.
Climate and Energy Minister Dan Jørgensen is therefore under pressure. He initially commissioned a study so that, in his words, he would have a secure basis for decision-making. At the same time, he is obliged to introduce measures to implement the ambitious Climate Protection Act of 2019 into the cabinet this year, which also concern oil and gas production. As energy minister, however, Jørgensen is also under pressure from the energy companies who threaten to stop investments in the event of a license refusal.
Since the start of production in 1972, the Danish state has collected around 55 billion euros in taxes and duties from oil and gas production, while an industrial sector with thousands of jobs has emerged on Jutland’s west coast. The existing fields ensure profitable operation for decades, and mining companies appreciate the political stability in this part of the world.
It is not without good reason that they point out that oil and gas can be used in many ways. Incineration is, strictly speaking, the worst possible use. The modern economy cannot do without lubricants made from crude oil, and plastic is difficult to replace. At the annual conference of the Danish oil industry in 2019, it was also smugly remarked that the blades of the wind turbines were ultimately also made from crude oil. It should also be clear to the minister that a cessation of Danish production would create unwanted dependencies on unstable regions and allies with a tendency to go it alone.
It is therefore unlikely that there will be a ministerial power word ordering an expiry date for Danish oil and gas production. Jørgensen could postpone the licensing or suspend it entirely. The entire government of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen will want to avoid stepping on the feet of industry or political allies too hard. Therefore, further research could be started to find time to compromise.
The massive drop in oil prices as a result of the corona crisis will have given the executive floors food for thought anyway. The production costs in the North Sea are higher than in the Middle East, for example. Jobs have already been cut in the Danish oil and gas sector. There is great uncertainty in the industry as to whether and when you can return to the level of activity before Corona.
If the gap between costs and profits is too wide and persistent, the funders could make decisions on their own in the near future. The modernization of the Tyra field, which has already begun, is not affected, as too much money has already been invested here, but the future will probably bring a reduction in production rather than an expansion of oil production.
“We should take a quick breath and stop everything,” says Birte Wieda from Sylt. The green local politician Lothar Koch speaks of “density stress” and his party friend in the state parliament, Andreas Tietze, brings concrete measures against the current mass tourism into play. What the islanders are discussing now.