ISLAND HOPPING in GERMANY

While international tourism to Germany is increasing, visitors rather stick to the clichés like beer and Lederhosen at Munich and a cruise on the river Mosel; or they hang out at the hip capital Berlin.

I guess that might be the reason why many people believe Germany is landlocked and don’t think about long coasts, two seas, and about 80 islands.

Beach on the island of Borkum

I think this is not the first image that comes to mind when talking ’bout travelling Germany.

However, that’s exactly what Germany’s north has to offer – and many fascinating phenomenons like the tideland that comes with it. As a matter of fact, Germany’s shoreline is longer than the Portuguese one.

So what are you waiting for? Join me on my island hopping…in Germany!

 

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HAMBURG – gateway to the world

(Updated January 2020)

Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city, prides itself to be the “most beautiful city in the world”. While this, of course, is just a highly exaggerated catchphrase, it actually is alluring with views that make you yearn for undiscovered shores – Germans call it ‘Fernweh’ (loosely ‘aching for distance’) – lots of maritime charm and its historic openness to the world.

Sailors at the Port of Hamburg

For ages, sailors from all over the world anchored at the Port of Hamburg.

Hence the other slogan – “gateway to the world” – takes it already much closer to its real assets.
Whereby the city owes this description rather to the fact that Hamburg is Europe’s third-largest industrial port and has connected it with the rest of the world over centuries.

 

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Coming to America: From Northern Germany to the “New World”

In the 19th and 20th century, millions of people left Europe via the North German ports of Hamburg and Bremen respectively Bremerhaven in search of a better life in the “New World”, mostly the USA.

sculpture called Die Auswanderer, emigrants, is standing on the shore of the river Weser and remembers the seven million passing through the port of Bremerhaven.

This sculpture called Die Auswanderer, emigrants, is standing on the shore of the river Weser and remembers the seven million passing through the port of Bremerhaven. Actually, this statue by Frank Varga was donated by the German-American Memorial Association.

As a counterpart to the arrival halls in Ellis Island, several museums in German cities remember the adventurous journeys of the emigrants in transit.

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The Island of NEUWERK – where the way is the goal

“So, by which ferry did you get here?” asks the chubby little lady and her accent gives her away as Southern German. “Well, I came here walking”, I beam at her, still thrilled by my hike from the mainland to the island of Neuwerk.

 

Hike on tideland from Cuxhaven to Neuwerk
To Neuwerk – this way! You cannot blame people if they don’t believe that you came to an island walking.

The lady looks over the rough sea where the huge waves are rolling towards the shores of Cuxhaven. She frowns and shakes her head and is, obviously, thinking I’m trying to tell her a cock and bull story.

Little does she know: Visiting the island of Neuwerk, the way is the goal; definitely.

 

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CUXHAVEN – walking on water

“The sun reflects strongly off the puddles, so don’t forget to put sun protection on your knee pits”, orders Ute pointing at my bare legs. I already did, but under her strict eyes, I repeatedly do as I am told. I do everything Ute marshals: The next four hours, she will guide me together with about two dozens other hikers into the tideland off the shore in Cuxhaven. My life will depend on her knowledge and sense of orientation.

 

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Crossing the mudflat from Cuxhaven to the Neuwerk island. About twelve kilometers laid ahead of us.

We will be sort of walking on water – so I better listen to my leader.

 

Mud

 

I was raised in Northern Germany and like any kid that grows up there, almost every school field trip meant going to the North Sea and….nope, not hanging around on the long beaches that end somewhere on the horizon, chasing after boys while being chased by humongous seagulls for any kind of snack we held in our hand.

Nope, a field trip to the North Sea always meant learning about the rich and fascinating phenomenon of the tideland – including far too long walks wearing ugly yellow gumboots. We were sliding on the disgusting slush of the mudflats and squeaking hysterically as the Arenicola Marina, or more rustic: sandworms, ejected mud that hit our calves. This wasn’t by any means alluring: All we yearned for was the water to come back and end those stupid walks so we could just hang out on the beach chasing and being chased.

 

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Each of these little heaps of mud was ejected by a sandworm.
The land in the backdrop is Sahlenburg, a neighborhood in the outskirts of Cuxhaven from where most of the tideland wanderers start their tour.

Today, many decades later, I still enjoy hanging out on the beach, but I also totally appreciate the fantastic phenomenon of the tides, created by moon phases.

 

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The water is gone so that we can see the fascinating micro-life on the ground of the tideland.

I’m grateful for the slimy, smelly slush that actually is full a life and more important for our atmosphere than the rainforest. I’m awestruck by the tiny, practically invisible creatures that are there in incredible numbers. And I’m thankful for what they are doing for our planet.

 

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Algues and mussels – making sure that we are living in a good atmosphere.

 

Wadden Sea

World’s largest Wadden Sea stretches in the North-West of Europe from the Netherlands along Germany all the way up to Denmark and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven - Neuwerk
 The Lower Saxon Wadden Sea can be crossed walking or on a horse carriage. All the way in the back you can spot big freight ships. So there, obviously, did the water go.

The Lower Saxon Wadden Sea National Park is a major part of this area and spreads over 1,335 sq mi. It was established in 1986 and consists of the East Frisian Islands, mudflats, and salt marshes.

 

Flying

The National Park is home to about 10,000 species from flora and fauna such as mussels, fishes, and mammals like seals. In addition, every year, 10 to 12 millions birds are taking a refreshing break.

 

This is just a fraction of all the international fowl passing through.
(Photo: Jürgen Hamann, Zugvogelstart Norderney Nationalpark Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer, cropped to 7:5, CC BY-SA 3.0)

On their long trip between the breeding habitats of Siberia, Scandinavia, and Canada and their wintering grounds in South West Europe and Africa, they feast here on worms, fishes, clams, and snails.

 

Hiking

But also wingless visitors enjoy the diversity and beauty of the mudflats: As soon as the water is gone, you can see people observing the ground for worms, crabs & co. Or just strolling around enjoying the squishy mud between their toes.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven - Neuwerk
When I was a kid, we used to wear gumboots in the mudflats. According to recent findings – respectively to my guide Ute – you should wear shoes that are tight around your ankles otherwise the mud just sucks them off your feet.
We also used to walk barefoot. This is not recommendable because you might cut your foot pretty bad on some of the shells and oysters. This is a rather new phenomenon and due to the climate change that has a negative impact on the mudflats.

For longer hikes, a guided tour is recommended. Firstly, you’ll get tons of information on all the incredible phenomenons you cannot see just looking around. Secondly, it’s dangerous venturing on the mudflats by yourself.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven - Neuwerk
This basket is actually for people who do not listen and think they can just wander around the tideland as they please and believe the water doesn’t come back that quick. Well, it does. And they have a chance to save their butt climbing into these baskets. Then, the coast guards come to rescue them – they should call them cost guards since this service starts at about 500 €uro and goes up to thousands. Nope, just waiting for the next low tide is not an option; you are dealing with forces beyond your ken (I’m referring to the water, not the coast guards).

The term ‘mudflat’ is misleading since the ground hardly ever is really flat: There are tidal creeks whose courses are not always clear and might change pretty fast. As the water comes back, these creeks fill up really quick and entrap lost wanderers. Faster than you think the vast, empty mudflat turns back into an ocean with high waves.

 

Crossing the Ocean

The most spectacular walk on the mudflas can be taken at Cuxhaven, a small town located about 100 km / 62 miles either from Hamburg or from Bremen. Here, you don’t have only the chance to meander along the shore, here you can actually cross the mudflat and walk all the way to an island.

 

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Swing low sweet chariot: Getting ready to cross the ocean.

The tours start in the districts of Duhnen or Sahlenburg in the outskirts of Cuxhaven and they take between 2.5 and 4 hours depending on how many stops your guide makes to explain things and, of course, on the walking speed of your group. But don’t worry, these experienced and prudent guides get you across the ocean on time before the water comes back.
Just so you know, the distance is 12 km / 7.5 miles from Duhnen and 10 km / 6.2 miles from Sahlenburg.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven - Neuwerk
Ute’s license to guide us across the tricky mudflat.

Obviously, the schedule depends on the tides and trips are canceled if the weather gets really bad; some drizzle is considered liquid sunshine…. Clearly, the tour guides cannot wait for guests who run late: It’s the water and the water alone that determines the program.

I took the guided tour with

Wunderwelt Watt
Brandentenweg 2
27639 Wurster Nordseeküste
Phone: + 49 – 173 – 734 15 19
Email: kontakt@wattwandernneuwerk.de 

They offer different tours, just walking or combined with a boat trip; no horseback riding or carriage trips. The guides are very experienced, knowledgeable, highly passionate and make the trip a wonderful experience.

There are basically three means of transportation to cross the tideland: By carriage, on horses, or using your own feet.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven - Neuwerk
Whether walking…..
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven - Neuwerk
…..or on a horse carriage…..
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven - Neuwerk
….or a horseback: The trip across the tideland is educational, great fun, and a good exercise.

Going by carriage or riding allows you to make it to the island and back within one low tide. If you choose to walk – and if you are not lame or footsore, you should definitely do the walking, it’s amazing – you have to go back by ferry. And this is what determines the number of participants: The ferry, obviously, can go only during high tide, spaces are limited to one trip per tide, so when the boat is full, the boat is full.

Before you start, you should pack sun protection and a hat, a change of clothes since you do not want to spend the rest of the day soaked in mud and slush in case you slip and fall. A pair of shoes for your stay on the island: Mind on the tideland you will be walking in mud, but also through more or less deep tidal creeks – your shoes will be soaked (on Neuwerk, you can leave them in front of the Information Center to dry a little, nobody will take them).

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven - Neuwerk
According to Ute we were very lucky that on the day of our trip the good people of Neuwerk came to the tideland with their Watt Oase, their mudflat oasis: A beer stall (to the right) and a mobile toilet (to the left).
Nice, but not necessary: One more hour and we set foot on Neuwerk, anyway.

Possibly a bottle of water – and on the other hand, make sure to go to the bathroom before you leave, it’s up to four hours and there are no bushes or trees to squat behind.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven - Neuwerk
To watch the grass grow in comfort – like here on the levee, you can leave your stuff at the Nationalpark-Haus. They are kindly providing free lockers for the island’s visitors.

Depending on the schedule, once you reach the island, you have between one to three hours to relax and refresh, visit the information center Nationalpark-Haus for more information, eat fresh fish and homemade cake, watch the ocean, the seagulls, or the grass grow.

It’s calm. Very calm.

 

Neuwerk Island

This calm spot amidst the rough Northern Sea is called Neuwerk. 39 people share 3,3 km² / 1.2 mi². Interestingly, although from here it’s about 120 km to the city, Neuwerk belongs politically to Hamburg; which even many Hamburgers do not know, though. I spare you the details of the changing history why Cuxhaven and Neuwerk used to belong to Hamburg; and latter still does.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven - Neuwerk
To Neuwerk – this way! These signs don’t help you much when the tideland fills up again.

It’s sort of a North German Gibraltar and the 39 people have the same rights as any other citizen of Hamburg: In Germany, there is compulsory school attendance and homeschooling is illegal. Therefore they had to send a teacher to instruct both the two pupils that are currently living on the island.
Every small child in Hamburg is entitled to a place in daycare. Therefore they had to send a kindergartner for the younger sibling of the two pupils.
It probably won’t surprise you that the teacher lives at the school and the kindergartner at the kindergarten?!

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven - Neuwerk
An old farm in front of Neuwerk’s most important sights: The lighthouse, built in 1310 and one of Hamburg’s oldest buildings and gave the island its name: Neues Bauwerk (new building) over the years became Neuwerk. Today, there is a guest house on the upper floor and even if you’re not a guest, you can enjoy a wonderful view from the observation deck.

The parents of these three Neuwerkers – along with the rest of the islanders – make their living from tourism: Many houses have guest rooms, many homes run cafés and restaurants; and the pupils’ father has a cute little souvenir shop where he sells really cool stuff – mostly designed by himself.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven - Neuwerk
Probably world’s smallest badge of souvenir Ts. If you want one, you have to look for the small souvenir shop next to the school building.
By the way, Watt is German for tideland.

So after you had time to recover from the walk and get to know cozy little Neuwerk, it’s probably time to hop on the ferry and head back to Cuxhaven.

 

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The MS Flipper is waiting for today’s day trippers. Just like everything else around the mudflat, the schedule is adjusted according to the tides.
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven - Neuwerk
Incredible that only a couple of hours ago we were walking here.

Another 90 minutes to just sit back, relax and awe at the wonders planet earth has in store.

 

Cuxhaven

So you’re back to Cuxhaven, to the port called Alte Liebe, Old Love. From here, you can take either one of the city buses or a shuttle bus back to where you started from.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven
The harbor Alte Liebe with the old lighthouse Hamburger Leuchtturm, built between 1802 and 1804 and used until….2001! These Cuxhavians really tending their stuff well.

Cuxhaven – while the trip to Neuwerk is undoubtedly the most unique attraction in this coastal town, there actually is more to explore.

First of all, the ocean also fills up again so that you can spend the day on the beach doing everything people do on beaches around the globe: Playing, swimming, sunbathing…possibly in a typical German Strandkorb, a wicker chair, invented 1882 in Rostock. This chair provides shelter against the sun but also against the wind so that you can enjoy the beach regardless of the weather conditions. It is cleverly designed with little foldout tables and lots of storage room in the extendible footrests. Actually, I don’t understand why the good old Strandkorb never became an export hit – it’s such a genius invention.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven
On German beaches, you can rent your personal Strandkorb per day, per week, or for the season. Actually, it’s like a very comfy yet small beach cabana.

However, it’s Northern Germany so, despite the fact that it’s a beach destination, the weather gets often more bitchy than beachy. The clever Cuxhavians have provided for the days of liquid sunshine by building the SPA and thalassotherapy center with the silly name ‘ahoi!’.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven ahoi
Relaxing on these deck chairs after your schwitz will make you feel like sailing on a luxurious cruise liner. Please note the freight ship in the background – what an idyllic place!

While the name is tacky and old-fashioned, the facilities are very spacious, beautifully decorated and state of the art.

Besides about eight different saunas, a steam bath, various jacuzzis, and pools in the SPA area, they have a huge and fun swimming pool and on the hour for about five minutes, there are huge waves – a great alternative to the sea outside.

Besides this super-fun wave-pool, they have two smaller pools with all sort of water jets massaging your entire body.

Add the inviting lawn for sunbathing and you’ll understand how to spend an entire day at these great facilities – and already be looking forward to coming back as soon as possible.

I’m a huge SPA-expert – and this place is probably the nicest I’ve ever visited.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven ahoi
A sauna for all senses – even for the eye: Overlooking the beach and the North Sea adds to the relaxation.

If your guesthouse doesn’t have a sauna – most of them do, though – it’s also a great place to relax these tense muscles after a hike across the tideland.

Thalassozentrum ahoi!
Wehrbergsweg 32
27476 Cuxhaven
Phone: 04721 404500

The Center is open daily from 9 a. m. to 9 p. m.

Before Cuxhaven became a popular German beach destination, it was a mediocre town, living mainly off the fishing industry. Like I already mentioned, it belonged to Hamburg till 1961 and the land the new harbor was built on even till 1993.

There are still remains from these times to be found around the city which I personally find pretty charming.

Chronologically incorrect, we start at the harbor. There is the part called Alte Liebe, Old Love, where you cannot only take a ferry to Neuwerk, but also to Helgoland, Germany’s only deep-sea island, or to Hamburg cruising along the river Elbe.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven Alte Liebe
The Alte Liebe, a wooden pier and jetty, built in 1733.

There are a couple of restaurants and souvenir shops, but nothing special. Later it gets much better, I promise.

 

This red beauty can be visited.
(Photo: Ra Boe, Cuxhaven 2006 – ELBE1 – Bürgermeister O’Swald (ship, 1948) by-RaBoe, cropped to 7:5, CC BY-SA 2.5)

Wanna visit a really special ship? Right next to the Alte Liebe pier docks the Feuerschiff ELBE 1 which is a museum ship, but it’s quite a mobile museum: Formerly Germany’s largest lightship, built in 1948, is still carrying passengers back and forth between Cuxhaven and Helgoland.

 

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The terraces of the cafés can hardly be spotted behind the levee.

Walking from the Alte Liebe towards the city center, you’ll spot a quite high levee to your right and at the end actually floodgates; they are not for decorative purposes, believe me.

 

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Elegant buildings housing exquisite restaurants: There’s a reason Cuxhaven is a popular holiday destination.

As you make a sharp left turn practically back towards the sea, there are old cobblestone streets between the canals. Here you find an unbelievable number of excellent fish restaurants – many of them have a store where they sell their fresh goods so you can prepare it at home as you wish. Don’t worry about the smell, firstly, fresh fish doesn’t smell much and secondly, they are really handy packing it tightly.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven
Fish – freshly from the cutter.

You will notice – and it won’t surprise you that this area is undergoing some gentrification because it’s actually a prime location.
Today, Cuxhaven’s industry is taking place elsewhere: Cuxport, the modern industrial part, is located about a mile down South. Here, fish is being canned and made into fishmeal.

 

In 2017, almost half a million vehicles were transshipped via Cuxport.
(Photo: Ra Boe / Wikipedia, Cuxhaven 2015 by-RaBoe 111, cropped to 7:5, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE)

Also, the entire car trade to and from Great Britain is proceded via Cuxhaven, on the huge parking lot you see all these BMWs with the wheel on the wrong side and Rovers that just were shipped in. Yes, the key is in the ignition – so this is a high-security area.

If you are really interested in this aspect of Cuxhaven, I suggest you join a CUXLINER tour. It is a hop on hop off bus tour that takes you to all the points of interest. If you don’t feel like hopping, they offer the same tour for only 13 instead of the regular 16 €uro.

The CUXLINER also stops at the next two points of interest – where a visit is highly recommendable.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven Windstärke 10
A museum on the power of the sea and life along the shores. The glass building in the center used to be a street – as you can still see.

 

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Shippes that were wrecked by the fierce North Sea are a central topic at the Windstärke 10-museum.

Already the building of the museum Windstärke 10, storm force 10 – that would be a heavy storm, that was opened only in December 2013, is spectacular: Not only did they remodel two former fish market halls, they also integrated the street between them by constructing a fantastic glass structure.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven Windstärke 10
Struggling with the forces of nature was their everyday job.

 

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Agreed, she’s not in danger, but I doubt that it is great fun to fumble together Rollmöpse day in day out. What a Rollmops is? It’s a pickled herring wrapped around a pickled cucumber and sometimes a piece of onion. It’s a hearty breakfast after a long night out.

The exhibition is very informative and grasping, using all sorts of modern media. And life with and from the sea is not sugar-coated here: It starts with a wreck – focusing on the struggle and hardship, the tough jobs on the fish trawlers, the danger of wreckage and much more. It’s very vivid, complete, and actually exciting. In one word: a must-see (actually it’s two words and a hyphen).

Windstärke 10
Wrack- und Fischereimuseum Cuxhaven
Ohlroggestraße 1
#27472 Cuxhaven
Phone: + 49 – 4721 – 700 – 708 50
Email: windstaerke10@cuxhaven.de

The museum is open from April to October daily from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. and from November to March from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a. m. to 5 p. m.

The next one is not as spectacular – anymore, but has a rich history that somehow connects the world: Cuxhaven’s Amerikahafen was one of the ports from where emigrants sailed to the New World. As I explained in my last post, the highest number left via the port of Bremerhaven.
Cuxhaven, belonging to Hamburg at that time, was an important port of embarkation since that way the big ships didn’t have to go from the North Sea along the river Elbe all the way to the port of Hamburg.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven Hapag-Hallen
The Hapag-Hallen were opened in 1902 so that passengers were able to get on board closer to the sea than at the port of Hamburg. Hapag, by the way, stands for Hamburg-Amerikanische Paketfahrt-Aktien-Gesellschaft, Hamburg-American Shipping Corporation and was founded in Hamburg

There are still the old Hapag Hallen. These were the waiting halls for the passengers coming by train from Hamburg.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven Hapag-Hallen
In the 19th century, people left Europe for very different reasons – and to many different destinations. The passage to Canada was very popular.

The Hapag-Halle can be visited on occasional guided tours.

But on the second floor of the terminal building on the pier Steubenhoeft is a permanent exhibition which doesn’t look very spectacular – compared e. g. with the award-winning hands-on exhibition at Bremerhaven and at the Ballin-Stadt in Hamburg, too – but however, if you take your time reading the panels, it’s very informative and touching. Definitely worth the visit.

Hapag-Halle / Steubenhöft 
Albert-Ballin-Platz 1
27472 Cuxhaven
Phone: +49 – 4721 – 39 65 460
Email: info@hapaghalle-cuxhaven.de

Yes, most of the activities around Cuxhaven are related to the sea. But not exclusively. Coming from the harbor into the city center, pass the train station, walk down the Große Hardewiek and you’ll get the Schloss Ritzebüttel*, a castle from the late medieval times.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven Schloss Ritzebüttel
Medieval from the back,…..

In the 18th century, a baroque porch was added. The castle together with the administrative building was an exclave of the city of Hamburg from 1394 to 1937. The, however, ever-changing history can be traced on a visit to the castle.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven Schloss Ritzebüttel
….baroque from the front: The Ritzebüttel castle.

The garden surrounding the castle is not only a serene green oasis in the center of the city – whereby Cuxhaven is not exactly Manhattan – but also has a nice collection of modern sculptures.

Schloss Ritzebüttel
Schlossgarten 8
27472 Cuxhaven
Phone: +49 – 4721 – 721 812
Email: schloss.ritzebuettel@cuxhaven.de

The castle can be visited Monday to Thursday from 10 a. m. to 1 p. m., Tuesday to Thursday also from 2 p. m. to 5 p. m. Weekends from 11 a. m. to 3 p. m.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven Schloss Ritzebüttel
More buildings of the old castle area: The former guardhouse to the left, the yellow-painted officers club straight ahead – today they call it the garden house since eventually it was inhabited by the castle gardeners. Behind you can spot St. Martin’s church.

*Note: In this article, I’m writing out some of the German names and places and you will notice that there are letters that might not exist in other languages. First of all, there is the letter ß that exists only in the German alphabet and it’s by no means a B – it’s a ‘sharp’, double S as in kiss. When writing, you can actually replace it by a double S. Then there are three more vowels, ä being the easiest one since it’s pronounced like an open e as in head.Ö and ü are tougher, ö being pronounced more or less like the e in her and ü as the u in huge.

In Hamburg sagt man
Tschüß*:

So for the summer season of 2018, this was the last post on Northern Germany. I hope I introduced you to some new places and unique and interesting attractions.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven Schloss Ritzebüttel
The sun goes down over the tideland. It will be back tomorrow with another wonderful day.

I’d be happy if I inspired you to check out a more unknown part of Germany, far from Oktoberfest and cuckoo clocks.

Let me know what you think – e. g. in the comment section below.

* Meaning ‘At Hamburg they say Tschüss’ – it’s the title of a local song.


Extra: 
Subscribers to my Monthly Calendar Sheet (i.e. newsletter) will get a complete packing list for a hike across the mudflats. If you want one – as well as informative and fun information – please subscribe to my blog by either using the pop-up form or sending me an email. As soon as I get your subscribtion, the list will be automatically sent to you.

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Disclaimer:


I deeply appreciate that the Nordseeheilbad Cuxhaven GmbH generously supported my blogger trip by supplying me with various tickets, booking the hike to Neuwerk and a visit to the Thalassozentrum ahoi! as well as a hotel room for me. 

However, all opinions on these services are mine and weren’t by any means influenced by my cooperation partner.

Living Room Love

Every time I introduce my friends Kati and Thomas to someone, I’m looking forward to the moment when I drop the sentence “They initiated Living Room Love” – and the other person also drops something, namely their jaw. Actually I call it by its German name “Wohnzimmerliebe” which doesn’t make it less kinky.

byemyselftravels
Wohnzimmerliebe November 2015: Actress Eva Engelbach, Organizer Kati, Actor Marcel Weinand, Organizer Thomas. Engelbach & Weinand performed “Taschenhonka“, a morbid chamber drama about the ripper Fritz Honka, killing mainly prostitutes at Hamburg in the 70s.

Of course this is just a silly joke because although these two fantastically creative and ingenious people indeed did initiate the Living Room Love, it’s not kinky at all, but a very good and quite successful cultural project: they organize lectures and song recitals and jazz concerts – whatever tickles their artistic fancy.

And it goes like this:

Their first – and basically only – investment was the purchase of twenty five black IKEA folding chairs and two embroidered pillows. In October 2011, they placed these chairs for the first time in neat rows in their friends’ living room – a venue was founded, even though only for a couple of hours. The audience of this premiere consisted of their friends, and they had the pleasure to hear Musical singer Stefanie Köhm singing songs from the (tragic) musical “Wenn Rosenblätter fallen” (“When Rose Petals fall off”). The initiators, the host, the artist, and most of all the audience – everybody was delighted and agreed to do this again as soon as possible. And they sticked to this plan, since already two months later they organized a dramatic reading with texts by Victor Hugo,
David Forster Wallace, Jon Kalman Steffansson und Herman Melville, read by the actors Kerstin Pietsch and Mirko Thiele, and this time the hostess with the mostest Kati took part in the show singing, accompanied by Ralf Lehnert’s accordion.

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Sweet Remains Trio” has remained in our memories since April 2016 

It’s not only for the fantastic performances and the really special atmosphere where you have a glass of wine rubbing shoulders with the evening’s star; and often you literally do rub shoulders because not every kitchen is made for 30 people. Talking ’bout the kitchen – another charming side effect is that you get to see many different apartments and styles of living. Looking for the bathroom, you accidentally open doors to closets and bed rooms. You get a really good glance at some stranger’s life. Of course like at any other cultural event, most people talk about the performance, but you hear also conversations like “…and how much is the rent for this?” or “Wow, where did you get these darling wine glasses?”.

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To this day I’m remembering with envy the Wohnzimmerliebe taking place in May 2016 – when we had the chance to admire the host’s roof top terrace overlooking Hamburg and the river Elbe.
(bye:myself with Thomas and Kati before the show (right to left))

You can help yourself to wine and water that Kati and Thomas bring to the show – you pay by putting 1 Euro per glass in a piggy bank – and the respective hosts offer whatever they please. It can be bread and butter, cheese and crackers or even a variety of delicious homemade spreads on home baked bread. That’s always a nice surprise for the guests. And the guests are a nice surprise for the hosts who sometimes have a flat full of people they’ve never seen before.

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Having a drink with the organizers, hosts, and artists at someone’s kitchen

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Although the first events were mostly advertised through their circle of friends, today their mailing list consists of around 300 addresses, thus the ‘ticket sale’ is similar to a Robby Williams concert: If you don’t answer Living Room Love’s invitation email right away, all twenty five folding chairs will be taken.

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Theater Company EAT.PLAY.LOVE performing at a Living Room in February 2012

To grant the hosts’ privacy, only the confirmed guests get an Email with the respective address 24 hours beforehand.
Welcoming them, Thomas always reminds the audience that whose cell phone rings during the show, she or he will host the next event. Although this hasn’t happened once, they never have a problem finding hospitable people. Many love opening their home to such a special event, and if I had enough space, I would volunteer my place in a wink of an eye.

Before the artists begin, Kati announces an important detail: the top hat that goes around during the performance so everybody can pay their gratuity. The money goes of course to the artist, the host gets a nice gift from Kati and Thomas like for instance a CD by that evening’s singer or the book the respective play is based on or something of this kind. With this concept, everybody wins.

By this day, over almost six years, 27 distinctive acts have taken place in 27 different living rooms in front of 27 varied crowds.
This is a lot considering the fact, that the Living Room Love is very enriching ideally and artistically, but it doesn’t pay in the sordid but necessary material way. So Kati and Thomas have regular jobs to bring home the bacon, and since 2013 their little son Julian to look after.

So there are enough spaces available, there are many artists willing to perform – time is the only factor that holds Kati and Thomas back from making Living Room Love more often.