• Germany's news in English
 

The chilly off-peak perks of Rügen prove a treat

Published: 10 May 2013 11:04 GMT+02:00

Sprawling over 900 kilometres, Rügen hangs off north eastern Germany's Baltic coastline and, thanks to its endless beaches, is popular among natives for summer holidays.

Colder weather lends the island a post-apocalyptic hum. Caked in snow and with temperatures lingering far below zero, tourists were scant on the ground and almost everything was shut.

There must have been other gaggles of families and friends passing the weekend holed up in houses nearby, but being there out of season made the island feel an awfully long way away from mainland Germany.

Thanks to its popularity in the summer there are lots of beds up for grabs on Rügen, meaning finding a place for nine people to stay wasn't too much of a problem. For this weekend, trusty accommodation website Air BnB proved fruitful, providing a refurbished post office in Neuenkirchen, 300-person hamlet towards the north of the island.

It takes just under four hours to drive from Berlin the north side of the island, a great base for taking in some of the region's tourists attractions. For those who fancy a weekend away without a car, trains run to harbour town Stralsund, a UNESCO site perched on mainland Germany. From there, Rügen is a short bus or regional train-ride away.

The island is dotted with quirky hotspots and top of our list was the biggest of them all - Prora, an enormous abandoned Nazi summer camp.

The crescent of eight huge buildings erected on Hitler's demand between 1936 and 1939 was intended as an affordable place to escape for up to 20,000 of Germany's working class. It should have been, in essence, a Nazi Butlins.

Yet it was never used, overtaken by the start of World War II and afterwards abandoned. The massive structure dominates that part of the coast, yet it is infused with sadness and disappointment.

Most of the buildings were, as far as we could see, tightly boarded up. More dedicated explorers would probably be able to get in by climbing up a tree or pipe – judging from walls covered in graffiti inside, many had done so before us.

But we filed through one of the only open doors and out onto the beach just metres on the other side. Snow-covered sand and a completely deserted beach completed the atmosphere.

Most of the building is for sale, but walking around it was hard to think of a profitable use, given the remote location and unreliable weather. A youth hostel in one corner looked pretty bleak, and apart from that there was nothing.

Moving on from faded fascist glory, Rügen's chalk cliffs in the Jasmund area are another popular site and easily located thanks to sign-posting. After marching along said cliffs, sturdier walkers can drop down onto rocky beaches and walk over the tail-ends of landslides.

The island's crumbling edges have seen bits of cliff dropping off at almost alarming frequency and tangled trees lie dead on the shore after daring to grow too close to the edge.

Admittedly there wasn't a great deal to do in Rügen's coastal towns other than to scope out quaint, empty guest houses and stroll down the promenade. But in a largely landlocked country, smelling the sea, marching along the coast and feeling salty wind is a treat. Going there in the cold means the beaches are empty and the experience even more bracing.

Jessica Ware

jessica.ware@thelocal.com

twitter.com/jesscware

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Trabi project aims to electrify 'Ostalgia'
A Trabant being converted into an E-car. Photo: DPA

Trabi project aims to electrify 'Ostalgia'

Its chuntering motor and belching exhaust once heralded the coming of the communist utopia. Now the east German 'Trabi' is leading a new revolution, and this time you won't hear it coming. READ  

Gun maker denies problems with army rifles
A German soldier aims a G36 rifle. Photo: DPA

Gun maker denies problems with army rifles

Update: Weapons manufacturer Heckler & Koch denied on Monday evening that the G36 rifles it supplied to the Bundeswehr (German army) lose their accuracy when they are too hot. READ  

Merkel urges Germans: Give Greece a chance
Chancellor Merkel speaking in Helsinki. Photo: DPA

Merkel urges Germans: Give Greece a chance

On a visit to Helsinki on Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel showed a patient side to the German government as the Eurozone continues to wait for a new list of economic reforms from Greece. READ  

Germany, France, Italy want Euro drones
An American Reaper drone. Photo: DPA

Germany, France, Italy want Euro drones

Germany, France and Italy plan to push forward with plans for a European-made military drone, the German government told MPs on Monday. READ  

Energy prices drive return to inflation
Photo: DPA

Energy prices drive return to inflation

Inflation in Germany crept higher in March, driven by rebounding energy prices, preliminary data showed on Monday. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Lufthansa questions 60th anniversary jubilee
Photo: DPA

Lufthansa questions 60th anniversary jubilee

Germany's national airline is reconsidering plans to celebrate its 60th anniversary on April 15th following last weak's deadly crash of a plane from subsidiary Germanwings in the French Alps. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Prosecutor: co-pilot had suicidal tendencies
Photo: DPA

Prosecutor: co-pilot had suicidal tendencies

A spokesman for prosecutors in Düsseldorf said on Monday that Germanwings flight 4U9525 co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had been treated for suicidal tendencies in the years before obtaining his pilot's license. READ  

Minister promises “shredding-free” eggs
Photo: DPA

Minister promises “shredding-free” eggs

Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt hopes to end mass shredding of male chicks in hatcheries in the next two years, he announced on Monday. READ  

Düsseldorf police set up special 'Alps' unit
The site of the Germanwings crash in the French Alps. Photo: DPA

Düsseldorf police set up special 'Alps' unit

A new police unit, which will go under the name “Alps”, includes 100 officers whose task it is to identify victims of the Germanwings crash and to investigate the background of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz. READ  

Presented by the Croatian National Tourist Board
10 surprising things you didn’t know about Zagreb
Zagreb is a hot spot for tourists from Germany. But why? Photo: Shutterstock

10 surprising things you didn’t know about Zagreb

The Croatian capital is the latest trendy destination among Germans seeking warmer weather. So what’s the lure? The Local investigates ten reasons why the Deutsch are flocking to Zagreb. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Germany
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
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
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
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

7,039
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd