March is a rather gloomy month, at least in Germany. Rain is falling every other day, the sun is hiding behind a thick veil of clouds most of the time and without a woolly hat and gloves you’d be cold and shivering. Although you can’t really flee from this kind of weather if you just want to get away from it all for a long weekend, there are places in Germany which can turn even the murkiest of months into something more invigorating.
The first place that comes to my mind when I don’t want to walk through leafless woods and barren meadows is the sea. Sand, dunes, waves – they don’t change their appearance significantly throughout the seasons, unlike tree, bush and flower.
So when Freddy, Fabian and me tried to think of somewhere we could go to escape our daily routines and quench our thirst for landscape photography the decision was quickly made: the German coastline of the Baltic Sea.
The Baltic Sea is more gentle than its neighbour in the northwest. High and low tide are not as extreme, the water doesn’t retreat for miles and the waves aren’t exactly ‚surf-able‘. What power the sea is lacking is fully made up by the wind. Strong gusts sometimes made it impossible for us to walk straight. But I loved it! Being utterly exposed to natures forces makes me feel alive and leaves me struck with awe every time. Nothing can contain nature and when you get the chance to fully embrace it I encourage you to head out there (as long as it’s safe of course).
(Thanks, Freddy for helping with the photo)
Although we didn’t fully escape the rain, the very changeable sea weather almost always brought the sun back sooner or later. I had almost forgotten how soothing it is to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and to bathe in its golden evening light. That’s how little sunshine we’ve been having in my neck of the woods since November. Very dreary indeed.
If you’re in need of some ocean vistas and sunshine as well then come along and explore the the Baltic Sea with me, from West to East:
#1 The Gespensterwald
The Gespensterwald (which translates into Ghost Forest) is a rather prominent stretch of forest right at the coast. Its gnarly, old beech trees creak ominously in the wind, looking down on everyone who follows the narrow path that is meandering its way past their pale trunks.
These trees are constantly exposed to the whims of sea and weather, which are gnawing relentlessly at the coastline. The wind was gnawing at us, too and it was rather scary. One moment the sun was shining and all was quiet and then suddenly everything went dark. In the distance we saw waves, wind and rain rolling over the ocean right towards us – proper doomsday mood. We quickened our pace but weren’t fast enough and the next moment hail and rain swooped down on us, fiercely slapping our faces.
Warnemünde used to be a fishing village and that maritime vibe still lingers here, especially the closer you get to the harbour. There are quaint half-timbered houses, old fishing vessels and on every other corner you can buy a fresh fish sandwich.
We visited Warnemünde for a couple of hours on our way East, strolled through town and out to the 541m long spit of land which first and foremost acts as a protective structure and eases ships the way into the harbour by breaking the waves. From the tip of that narrow headland you’ll gain panoramic views over the Baltic Sea and the coastline of Warnemünde.
#3 The Darßer Ort Lighthouse
Lighthouses, the sentinels of the sea have always fascinated me, so when I started planning our trip ‚lighthouses of the Baltic Sea’ was one of the first things I looked up. Although we did see a fair few of them there’s one that stands out: the red brick lighthouse of Darßer Ort.
Built in 1848 it is one of the oldest lighthouses in the area and still stands strong to show sailors the way to the shore. To get there you have to walk through forest and fen for about an hour (not literally ‚through‘ the fen, there’s a boardwalk). It’s a beautiful and peaceful track, especially when the sun is shining.
We were pretty lucky that evening, given that we almost got pierced by hail in the morning. But that only goes to show that you should never bury your head in the sand if the weather is lousy because it can change so swiftly up there.
#4 The Chalk Cliffs of Rügen
You simply can’t visit the Baltic Sea without laying eyes on the impressive chalk cliffs. Situated on the western coast of the island of Rügen they reach heights of 120 meters and are a truly magnificent yet bizarre sight to behold.
A sunrise stroll to the viewing platform atop 118m-high ‚Königsstuhl’ (which translates into King’s Chair, the most popular of rock formations up there), along the coast and through the forest is well worth the early wake up call. By the way, the island of Rügen is so different from what I imagined. I thought it would be all dunes and sand but Rügen is actually very hilly and in parts densely forested. So don’t just pack your sandals when you go there but take your hiking boots as well.
#5 The Sellin Pier
Another rather famous landmark of Rügen is the pier in Sellin. With a length of almost 400m it is the longest pier on the island. The first Sellin pier was opened in 1906 and back then it was about 500m long but storms and ice kept on damaging it. After it had been completely torn down in 1974 it was rebuild.
The pier reopened in 1998, wearing its historical attire of 1927. Nowadays it hosts a cafe and a restaurant and is a popular spot to go to when visiting Rügen. And that’s your history lesson for the day.
#6 Café SüdWest
This is a quick extra hint for everyone who’s striving to make their diet more sustainable! If you’re in Stralsund, which is the gateway to the island of Rügen head to ‚SüdWest‘, a little café close to the townhall offering awesome vegan and vegetarian options. Here’s a photo of their vegan cheesecake and if that doesn’t convince you to go there I don’t know what will…
Four days of salty air, strong wind, freezing fingertips, laughter and lots of sunshine were a good amount of time to explore this part of Germany and to just get out and about again. I really hope we can all leave our houses again soon, see our family, meet up with friends, go travelling. But for now let’s not put others and ourselves at risk and just stay home!
If you need more escaping or inspiration for your next getaway, which hopefully won’t be too far off, there are heaps more entries in my journal, ready to be devoured by you!
And as always I got some more impressions from the Baltic Sea for your eyeballs (there’s a happy doggo waiting for you as well):