I must go down to the sea again,
to the lonely sea and the sky;
I left my shoes and socks there -
I wonder if they're dry?
Spike Milligan (after Sea Fever by John Masefield)
I love the sea.
I grew up beside her and know all her moods, her charms, her terrors.
Whenever I can, I return to her, even though I am living now quite a bit inland.
One of the nearest seaside resorts to Berlin is Warnemünde, on the Baltic (Ostsee) coast in the German federal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. It takes about three hours to get there by Regional Express from Gesundbrunnen Bahnhof, and if you catch the ten to nine train you can be there by lunch-time.
We first went there in June 2009 (see my Warnemünde blog for that) and have been back since, but never in the deep mid-Winter. But it is my fiftieth(!) birthday this Monday, and I felt like I needed a treat.
In Warnemünde, nothing seemed to have changed, except it was a bit chillier and there were less visitors around. I hadn't noticed before, that the craze for showing your love for someone by locking a padlock on a bridge had reached Warnemünde. It evidently has, though I pity whoever's job it will be to someday have to get the bolt-cutters to this lot:
Otherwise, Warnemünde was just the same wonderful mixture of sea, boats, sand, seabirds, and fish:
You could only tell that it was still within the twelve days of Christmas by little additions such as a Christmas tree on the mast of the lifeboat Arkona:
Warnemünde isn't just a holiday resort, it is also a busy port and one of its fascinations is watching the sea traffic flow in and out to and from all parts of the world:
Warnemünde also remains a traditional day out for the kids to play around in the sand-dunes, even at the beginning of January:
The Baltic Sea is not much different to the North Sea and Atlantic that I grew up with, though perhaps a bit calmer, especially this week when gales and storms are battering Ireland and the West coasts of Wales, Scotland and England. Look, hardly a ripple:
Even if the seas do get rough, the iconic lighthouses marking the entrance to Warnemünde harbour show the way to a safe haven:
There were a fair number of people walking up and down the beaches, but there was enough space for meditation and enjoying the sounds of the splashing of the waves.
Not my dog, but she wanted her photo taken with her favourite stick, so I had to oblige:
It's kind of funny to think, when looking back inland, that it's about 1,200km before you reached sea again at the Adriatic. In the UK it's never more than 100km in most directions you headed, and often much less.
This is a view of the Hotel Neptun. Opened in 1971, it was built as a show-case for guests to the DDR - including Fidel Castro - that East Germany could do 'luxury hotel' as well as the West. Even if it does look now like a piece of Seventies Torremolinos, except without drunken Brits diving off the balconies into a swimming pool.
My new Samsung camera (an early birthday present from my Beloved) certainly seems to have a good zoom:
One brave (or mad) soul we spotted was a seventy or eighty year old woman who bathed naked in the freezing Baltic. I have spared her her embarrassment by showing her with her bath-robe on before diving in, though she seemed to have no embarrassment herself at the time. And I'm worried about turning fifty! Good on her!
This is the famous landmark, the Teepott. Established as a tea pavilion in 1925, it was rebuilt in 1968 in imitation of the Kongresshalle in West Berlin (now das Haus der Kulturen der Welt). It might not be as large as the building that inspired it, but it's looking pretty good next to the old light-house. However, if you want a better cup of tea (or hot sandornsaft as I had) and more importantly an extensive range of delicious cakes and confectionery, then we can recommend the nearby Cafe Röntgen.
All too soon the Winter sun was setting, and we had a walk along the middle quay to the golden statue called Hoffnung (or Esperanza) - meaning 'Hope' - by artist Ene Slawow.
Okay, the statue might be meant to be calling and waving at boats coming into port - perhaps it is meant to depict the wife of a sailor anxious for the safe return of her sea-faring husband? - but is it naughty of me to think that it looks like someone making a tooth-brush moustache with her fingers under her nose and about to do a Sieg Heil?! Yes it is Andie, very naughty indeed!
Four hours in Warnemünde flew by, and we found ourselves heading back home after a wonderful day beside the seaside. Thank you Warnemünde - and my Beloved of course! - for making me feel good about everything and ready to face up to being fifty!