Saturday, 13 June 2009
Surf, Sand and Seagulls - A Day Trip to Warnemünde
A day-trip to the seaside in Germany is naturally not as easy as for sea-bounded Britons, where the coast is never that far away. Many English people, when they think of Germany, probably wouldn't even associate it with having coastal resorts. But it certainly does, along the North Sea (Nordsee) and Baltic (Ostsee) coasts.
Warnemünde is one such resort, and is about three hours Noth-West of Berlin by train, just North of Rostock.
The day we went, it was very windy blowing in from the sea. I mean, incredibly windy. So windy that you could hardly stand upright. If any of these photos look a bit shaky, it's because I had difficulty even holding the camera steady. And the ultra-fine, bright white sand - which must be gorgeous to wriggle your toes in on a fine, sunny day - was being whipped into a sand storm which would annoy a Bedouin's camel. Indeed, I was still finding grains of sand in my ear-hole days later. Here's a photo of the waves rolling in onto the end of the harbour mole (as usual on this blog, all photos are copyright me, and you click on them for a bigger image).
And here's a photo from the same place, looking West along the 3 km of beach. I had brought my swimming costume, but nothing was going to get me into that swell!
Here's a photo of a guy returning from the beach wearing what you did need if you wanted to go into the sea; a rubber wet-suit!
He had probably been kitesurfing. We saw dozens of people doing this, which is kind of like surfboarding, but whilst holding onto a large controllable kite. The wind would pull them at speed along the breakers, and then they would leap into the air off of the crest of a wave and glide for about twenty or thirty metres before landing again on the sea. It was incredibly impressive, and I'd show you some photos of it if I'd been able to keep my camera straight!
Higher up the beach, the most notable features were the lines of beach chairs, which in German are called Strandkörbe (translates as 'beach baskets'). These aren't your common bog-standard English deck-chair, oh no! The land of 'Vorsprung durch Technik' has invented a two-seater whicker basket creation, with self-contained foot-rests, arm-rests, tiltable top, and storage space below the seats for your bottles of beer and beach picnic. Here's a photo of some of them:
And here's a composition of them, with seagull:
On a day as windy as when we went, people were using them to get a bit of shelter (and a bit of kip too, it looks like). Notice the sails of the kiteboarders in the background.
Some poor soul apparantly still has the job of setting them up (photo below). I don't know if this is a regular occurance; there are hundreds of them, so whether or not they are left out on the beach most of the season, or are brought back each night for storage (a mammoth task, and we couldn't see anywhere they could be put), I don't know. There aren't any tides to speak of on the Baltic coast and these things look like they are designed to withstand a hurricane, so I guess they could be out all Summer. If they were on the beach in England of course, they wouldn't survive the night without being vandalised or set alight. Or am I just being cynical?
In the background in the photo above is another of Warnemünde's lighthouses, the oldest, built in 1897. To the left of the lighthouse is a structure called 'Teepot', which is an interesting example of architecture from DDR times (Warnemünde was in East Germany of course). Here they are from the other side and closer up.
Anyway, back to the 'beach baskets', and here's another line of them, with some brave young paddlers in the calmer waters behind the sand-bank. What I find interesting is that of course the German coast faces North, so all the beach chairs are facing inland, not the sea, in order to get the warmth of the sunlight (and on such a day as we went, to protect you from the gale).
You might have got the impression that I have quite taken to these Strandkorb things, and yes I have! I want one for the garden to sit in having a beer on a sunny afternoon! If anyone would care to donate one to us, please send me an email :)
Apart from the beach and the lighthouses, Warnemünde has all the attractions of a typical sea-side resort. So, a promenade . . .
... a large harbour ...
... trips around the bay ....
... and even fish 'n' chips and ice cream:
In fact it's just like Skegness (Lincolnshire coastal resort favoured by day-trippers from the East Midlands)! Except that Warnemünde isn't choked with litter, blasted with the noise from amusement arcades and bingo-callers, full of drunken youths, and doen't have a beach which is half dog-shit, condoms, and used nappies. But apart from that, almost exactly the same.
Summertime Dreaming on the Baltic Sea ...