• Germany edition
 
Summer in Germany
Turning the Baltic Sea into a swimming Poel
Photo: Jeff Kavanagh

Turning the Baltic Sea into a swimming Poel

Published: 17 Jun 2011 14:47 GMT+02:00
Updated: 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
The Local List
Which high school cliche is your city?
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock

Which high school cliche is your city?

This week's Local List takes a leap of imagination and finds German cities fit perfectly into high school cliche categories. Who's the class clown? Who's the nerd? READ  

'German' hand grenades paraded by Isis in Syria
A screen grab from a jihadist video showing the grenades. Photo: DPA

'German' hand grenades paraded by Isis in Syria

The German military was on Wednesday investigating reports that Bundeswehr hand grenades have fallen into the hands of the Islamic State (Isis) terrorist group after a video appearing to show captured weapons surfaced on the Internet. READ  

North braces for storms and floods
Early signs of flooding at the Hamburg fish market on Wednesday morning.

North braces for storms and floods

The remnants of hurricane Gonzalo have drifted across the Atlantic and are now threatening North German cities with flooding, forecasters warned on Wednesday. READ  

Indian schools drop German teaching
Indian pupils enrolled in German classes prepare for Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's visit to their school. Photo: DPA

Indian schools drop German teaching

Thousands of children in India will no longer be taught German after the country's education ministry allowed a contract to lapse. READ  

Syria-bound US teens stopped in Frankfurt
A passenger plane landing at Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA

Syria-bound US teens stopped in Frankfurt

Three teenage girls from Colorado were arrested by German police at Frankfurt airport after running away from home, reportedly on their way to join Isis in Syria. READ  

Tourists stranded on cable car over Rhine
Tuesday night's rescue operation Photo: DPA

Tourists stranded on cable car over Rhine

Six people, including a family and two American tourists, were left dangling 40 metres in the air over the Rhine for hours late on Tuesday after Cologne's cable car came to a halt. READ  

7:1! Bayern celebrate record in Rome
Arjen Robben celebrates the first goal against AS Roma. Photo: DPA

7:1! Bayern celebrate record in Rome

Bayern Munich were elated on Tuesday night after securing a 7-1 victory against Roma in their group stage Champions League clash. READ  

Nazi U-boat wreck found off US coast
A preserved World War II U-Boat on the beach near Kiel, Germany. Photo: DPA

Nazi U-boat wreck found off US coast

A World War II German U-boat and an American merchant vessel it sank in battle have been found deep in the ocean off the coast of North Carolina, officials said on Tuesday. READ  

Fourth time lucky for free Berlin WiFi?
Coming soon? Photo: DPA

Fourth time lucky for free Berlin WiFi?

Berlin's bid to set up a free city-wide wireless network has so far come to nothing. But city bosses are now trying for a fourth time - and hope to have the project running next year. READ  

Opinion
Do German unions have too much power?
Lufthansa passengers rush to change their flights at Frankfurt Airport on Monday. Photo: DPA

Do German unions have too much power?

Germany's pilots and train drivers are taking it in turns to bring the country to a standstill with strikes that have cost the economy tens of millions of euros in the last two weeks. Are unions abusing their power or standing up for their rights? READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Robbers blow up Berlin bank
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: Facebook
Society
German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: World's biggest erotic fair opens in Berlin
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The ten richest people in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
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

3,490
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd