• 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.

Don't miss...X
Left Right

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
German of the Week
'Now I can grow cannabis at home'
Günter Weiglein. Photo: DPA

'Now I can grow cannabis at home'

Günter Weiglein is one of three men in Germany who is allowed to grow his own cannabis thanks to a court ruling last week. But he tells The Local he’s not celebrating just yet. READ  

Germany tops penis enlargement table
Do your wurst, doc. Photo: DPA

Germany tops penis enlargement table

Germany is the world’s leader in penis enlargements, with five times as many people in the country undergoing the procedure than anywhere else in the world. Globally, Germany carries out the fourth highest amount of cosmetic surgery operations. READ  

The Local List
The best words in Austrian German
Which one is the Austrian word for tomato? Photo: APA/dpa

The best words in Austrian German

If you’ve lived in Germany, or you learnt Hochdeutsch at school, you may be surprised by some of the language differences between Austria and parts of Germany. READ  

Turks in Germany vote for first time
Voters at Berlin's Olympic Stadium on Thursday. Photo: DPA

Turks in Germany vote for first time

Germany’s large Turkish community headed to polling stations on Thursday to vote for the first time in a Turkish election. The Local visits Berlin’s Olympic Stadium which has been turned into a giant voting booth. READ  

Ice Age lion gets its head back
The lion with the missing half of its head. Photo: Hilde Jensen, Universität Tübingen.

Ice Age lion gets its head back

A 40,000-year-old figurine of a lion has been reunited with its head, more than 80 years after it was first found in a cave in southern Germany, following an extraordinary discovery. READ  

German jobless rate rises in July
Photo: DPA

German jobless rate rises in July

Unemployment in Germany rose in July to 6.6 percent, the Federal Employment Agency said on Thursday, blaming the increase on "seasonal reasons". READ  

Your lottery numbers are 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13
The winning numbers in Wednesday night's lotto. Photo: DPA/Lotto

Your lottery numbers are 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13

Three lucky Germans will take home a six-figure prize after an extremely rare lottery draw. The lucky numbers on Wednesday night were 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 37. READ  

Germany denies 'land for gas' deal with Putin
Merkel with Poroshenko and Putin in June. Photo: DPA

Germany denies 'land for gas' deal with Putin

UPDATE: Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been working on a secret peace plan for Ukraine, The Independent newspaper reported on Thursday. The report was later denied by the German government. READ  

Space ship brings special cargo for astronaut
A cargo compartment on the ATV. Photo: ESA

Space ship brings special cargo for astronaut

The last European space freighter blasted off to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, carrying a special treat for the station’s German astronaut. The launch of the German-built supply ship marks the end of an era. READ  

World Cup victory makes Germans thirsty
Beer sales abroad and during the World Cup were behind the rise. Photo: DPA

World Cup victory makes Germans thirsty

Germany’s World Cup victory was also good news for the country’s brewers who saw a welcome reversal in the long-term trend of draining beer sales. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Five reasons to visit Oktoberfest (and five not to)
Photo: DPA
Society
Huge Bavarian crop circle puzzles crowds
Photo: DPA
Analysis & Opinion
Have Your Say: Should Germany legalize cannabis?
Photo: DPA
Education
Germany's students fail to graduate in time
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Hamburg harbour lit up in blue
Business & Money
JobTalk: 'Application process is failing'
Photo: Bundesarchiv/Bild 183-S45825
Culture
Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online
Photo: DPA
Society
This man wants to give all of us €12,000 a year
Photo: DPA
Education
Top university switches master's courses to English
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The Local List: 12 best words in German
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
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

3,250
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd