• Germany's news in English
 

Turning the Baltic Sea into a swimming Poel

Published: 17 Jun 2011 14:47 GMT+02:00

Lying on a fine, white sand on a gloriously sunny afternoon, I was having trouble concentrating on the otherwise engaging novel I had brought with me. The beach wasn’t overly busy that early in the season, yet it seemed that every time I looked up, there was something new and fascinating to pique my curiosity.

First, it was the troupe of pot-bellied ponies and their equally rotund riders thudding slowly up the beach, now and then rearing their tails to cast the odd Pferdeapfel into the sea.

Then, it was the teenage gothic couple, accompanied by one of their mums, stumbling through the sand in their black Doc Marten’s boots, black jeans, black t-shirts, and the guy’s black top hat.

Their attire, however, was in stark contrast to the main source of my distraction, the chap to the right of us who stood for a good portion of the afternoon at the water’s edge sporting nothing more than a middle-aged gut and a humungous moustache.

Eventually, having thoroughly surveyed the beach and the sea beyond, the nude guy retreated to his enclave of fellow naturists, who were nestled between some adjacent dunes, and I was able to return to my book.

Yet all the diversions I beheld on that beach that afternoon stood in contrast to the relative simplicity of the Baltic island of Poel. Lying just off the coast near Wismar, its name is derived from the Slavic for “flat field” – which, come to think of it, probably isn’t the best in tourism marketing.

The island’s also not very big. At 36 square kilometres, it’s positively tiny compared to its much bigger, more famous Baltic cousin further to the east, Rügen. But flat and small has its advantages, and once on Poel there’s not much need for transport other than that propelled by your own two legs.

Unsurprisingly, it’s very difficult to get lost on Poel, especially given that Kirchdorf’s 47-metre-high, 14th century church steeple is visible from almost everywhere on the island.

Our lodgings for the weekend – Seedorf Sieben – was a lovely old farmhouse and stables converted to house four self-contained holiday apartments as well as the home of the owners. Located a stone’s throw down the road from the town of Seedorf, in the middle of the island, it had a multitude of old bikes racked up about the place for guests to use; all that we needed to do was pump up the tyres a bit and we were on our way.

Smooth, concrete roads snake lazily through the fields of rapeseed that blanket Poel in spring and early summer, occasionally branching off towards the pretty, sandy beaches that lie along the west and north coasts of the island. It’s these beaches and their shallow, clear waters that attract the majority of the island’s visitors.

We were also drawn to Poel’s proximity to Hamburg (an hour and a half by car, but also easily accessible by train), the reasonableness of the accommodation (our one bedroom apartment cost us €45 a night), and the fact that most people we talked to had heard little about the island.

Wanting to get away from the masses, we took this to be a good sign: generally the less people know about a place, the less likely they are to visit it. Poel’s 3,000 or so permanent inhabitants are joined by plenty of holidaymakers wanting to spend a day or two at the beach each summer. But you’re unlikely to encounter the hordes of tourists that regularly descend upon German islands such as Sylt in the North Sea or Rügen in the Baltic.

Furthermore, we visited the island early enough in the season when it was warm enough to bare all like the moustachioed guy and his FKK (Freikörperkultur or “bare body culture”) buddies, yet the water was still chilly enough to put most sane people off going for a dip. Consequently, the beaches were relatively quiet and we met few people while cycling the rudimentary bike tracks that run along the coast and through the island’s narrow stands of woods.

We also didn’t spend a great deal of time in the little seaside towns of Timmendorf, Kirchdorf or the wonderfully named Am Schwarzen Busch. A lot of the architecture along the coast seeming to have favoured functionality over form, but we wanted to get away from the usual trappings of the city anyway.

To this end we’d come prepared with a car boot full of food and drinks (there’s also a good-sized supermarket in Kirchdorf if needed), as well as booking an apartment that was both self-contained and had an outside barbeque. The island’s pancake-like geography proved to be a blessing, as we were able to cycle home from the beach, indulge in a leisurely lunch at the apartment, and swan back down to the seaside later in the day.

Your comments about this article

16:32 June 17, 2011 by Simon_Kellett
Turing or Turning?
18:01 June 17, 2011 by ChrisRea
I spent the Pfingsten weekend there. I was however not very happy of how many algae were on the beaches. Water did not look very appealing anymore and the smell was quite strong. The rest was pretty good.

There are actually two supermarkets - Netto and Edeka. Many Sanddorn specialities, from honey to icecream.
18:32 June 17, 2011 by willowsdad
The Baltic coast is one of my favorite places. I ilke those little beach bars in Binz on Ruegen and the night-blooming jasmine in Zinnowitz on Usedom.
Today's headlines
Sudeten Germans give up 'right to homeland'
Sudeten Germans practising traditional dance at a gathering in 2014. Photo: DPA

Sudeten Germans give up 'right to homeland'

The Sudeten German Homeland Association has given up its claim to the group's former home in parts of the Czech Republic, quieting one of the final echoes of the Second World War. READ  

Minister draws fire over wage transparency plan
Families Minister Manuela Schwesig. Photo: DPA

Minister draws fire over wage transparency plan

Families Minister Manuela Schwesig confirmed on Sunday that she wants a new law allowing women to compare their wages with men doing similar work, provoking angry reactions from employers. READ  

Police wind down Bremen terror response
Heavily-armed police on patrol outside Bremen cathedral. Photo: DPA

Police wind down Bremen terror response

Police in Bremen said that the risk of a terrorist attack had been reduced in the city after they arrested two suspected arms dealers. The city remains under high alert, with special protection for the Jewish community. READ  

Germany's Schäuble softens Greece tone
Photo: DPA

Germany's Schäuble softens Greece tone

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said Sunday Greece's new hard-left government needs "a bit of time" but is committed to implementing necessary reforms to resolve its debt crisis. READ  

UK Pegida rally dwarfed by counter-demo
Photo: DPA

UK Pegida rally dwarfed by counter-demo

An estimated 375 people turned out for the Germany-based PEGIDA movement's first demonstration in Britain on Saturday, but were outnumbered by a 2,000-strong crowd of counter-protesters, police said. READ  

Greek PM vows to 'start working hard' after vote
Photo: DPA

Greek PM vows to 'start working hard' after vote

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras vowed Friday to "start working hard" to implement vital reforms in the stricken eurozone country, after Germany's parliament approved a four month extension to its bailout. READ  

Ukraine: troop deaths 'serious breach' of truce
Photo: DPA

Ukraine: troop deaths 'serious breach' of truce

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared the killing of three government troops by pro Moscow rebels a "serious breach of the ceasefire", during a telephone call Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, her office said. READ  

Man wins court battle over loud footsteps
Trouble at the top. Photo: DPA

Man wins court battle over loud footsteps

Germany's highest civil court ruled in favour of a man who swapped the carpet in his new apartment for parquet flooring, incurring the wrath of the retired couple who lived below him over his loud footsteps. READ  

Teachers to strike nationwide from Monday
Photo: DPA

Teachers to strike nationwide from Monday

Teachers all over the country are expected to stike starting Monday, German education trade union GEW said, after negotiations with the wage commission of the federal states (TdL) failed to achieve results. READ  

EU court deals blow to US Iraq objector's hopes
Andre Shepherd at the European Court of Justice in June 2014. Photo: DPA

EU court deals blow to US Iraq objector's hopes

American soldier Andre Shepherd, who applied for asylum in Germany as a conscientious objector against the war in Iraq after going AWOL from his unit, saw a judgement by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) go against him on Thursday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
Sponsored Article
Tourist or lifer: what sort of expat are you?
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Sponsored Article
Are you an American expat? How to face FATCA
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,157
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd