April 2024
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Sunday In Germany: Sylt Vacation

By Ken Yeager

OK, the sun is shining and the temperatures are predicted to be in the 70’s, so for north Germany it is warm. Today we had lunch on terrace under our umbrella….white asparagus, boiled potatoes, a slice of cooked ham and a slice of katenschinken, melted butter, bottled water, a very nice fruity Saar Riesling and strawberries for dessert. Nice indeed.

This coming Saturday, we are off to the island of Sylt which, if you have read any of my idiotic early posts, is the northern-most part of Germany. Use Google Earth and enter Sylt, Germany and you will immediately see the island. Wikipedia (Sylt) also gives some good information about the island. If you look closely at Google Earth, you will see that the island is actually connected to the mainland by the Hindenburgdamm.  We will leave Grosshansdorf by car and it will take about 3-1/2 to 4 hours to get to Sylt, depending on the traffic and the car-train connection. Once on the island, we will head north to the little town of List where we have rented an apartment for two weeks.

My wife has been a fan on Sylt since her teenage years. The family of a girl friend of hers owned a small house on the island and Gisela was often along as a guest of her friend. Unfortunately, the small house has been sold. It is one of only two wooden houses on the entire island. When I was posted to Hamburg back in the late 1970’s, I made my first trip to Sylt with Gisela and thoroughly enjoyed myself. OK, now comes the interesting part. Each bathing area of the island has an FKK beach, FKK meaning Frei Körper Kultur or in English nude bathing. Now I wrote something about this before if you read any of my meaningless entries, but here is a sort of repeat. Nude bathing has been popular in Germany for many years (and mixed saunas as well) and no one, or at least very few, make a big deal out of it. The human body can be beautiful to see but it can be pretty awful as well (a radio announcer said yesterday on the air that Madonna [main trainer / manager for team Argentine] said that if his team won the World Cup competition, he would run around the main square in Buenos Aires nude…..who would want to see that?). Anyway, I digress. Yes, I have seen some lovely nude females, both young and old, on the beach. But with so much naked skin, it is far from sexy or exciting, honestly. Two stories – my first time on the beach was with Gisela. We arrived and linked up with her girl friend and her two children. Her friend (V) was nude and enjoying the sun. Did I look? Of course, but it got old quick. After about 10 minutes of the two (Gisela and V) chatting, Gisela peeled down and so there I was, all dressed and feeling a bit out of place. Finally, I said to myself, this is silly, so I peeled down and it never bothered me after that, except (and now comes story number two), while on a winter ski vacation, Gisela and I went to a sauna in the evening, mixed of course. About 8 PM, management announced that the place would be closing in 30 minutes so we exited the sauna and headed for the showers. I was under the stream of water washing myself when a young woman got in the shower next to me (no separations, just shower heads and controls) and started washing herself. At that point I had a rather odd feeling, being in a close situation with a woman I didn’t know from Adam. But I finished and left and that was that. Nudity is greatly over rated so I don’t understand peopling making a big thing out of it. I suspect that if more folks were exposed to nudity (children and parents, mixed saunas, mixed bathing beaches, etc.) there would be less concern…We all came into this world naked and for those who are religious, we are supposed to be made in the likeness of God, so what is the big deal, I ask you?

Moving along…..Our day starts with a quick look out the window to see what the weather is and which way the wind is blowing. Wind from the west means nice waves and a breeze but wind from the east means no waves, no breeze and the arrival of jelly fish. After breakfast, Gisela will fix muesli for lunch and then we will head to the beach. On the first day on the beach we will rent two strandkorbs near some friends of ours. The day will be spent just lazing in the sun, taking a walk along the beach looking for shells and white pebbles and perhaps a dip in the ocean, providing the water is warm enough. This time of the year, water temperatures is usually about 56 – 58ºF. Believe me that is cold. When I finally get enough courage to go in, my voice changes for a few minutes but once I’m it, it feels good to swim around. Then about 4 PM we will pack up our stuff and head back to the apartment or perhaps to the Alte Backstube for something to eat. Gisela has emphasized that she doesn’t want to cook during this vacation so we will be visiting some of our favorite restaurants. One of my favorites is the Konigshafen restaurant for some Kutter Seezunger or small sole (fish). Fortunately, it is located just across the street from out flat so I can have a couple of beers (Konigs Pilsner) with dinner and finish it off with an ice cold schnaps (Jubileums Aquavit is the preferred brand). Perhaps a walk after dinner over to the harbor in List and look at the crowd at Gosch, a touristy fish place (Gosch has booths all over Germany now and has made a fortune. It used to be a good place to eat, but now it’s only the touristy schiky-micky types that go there. Schiky-micky are the folks that want to be seen at an “in” place…ugh. Zanzibar farther south is another one of the schiky-micky places. Crowded and overpriced). Anyway, after a walk, back to the apartment and some TV and bed. And we will do this for the next two weeks, just changing places to eat in the evenings.

One day while we are on Sylt, my wife will have a birthday (can’t tell you which one or I get in deep kimchi). We have already made a reservation at a restaurant she picked out, one that I don’t think we have ever been to. Hope its good…it does have good reviews. I’ve already done my birthday shopping; just have to arrange for flowers and a candle.

For sure we will have some bad weather and those are days for dressing warm, putting on the Barbour jacket and either going for a walk along the beach or driving to Westerland (main town on the island) for some window shopping or maybe real shopping. We seldom go south of Westerland as the area is pretty boring. We will have our bicycles with us for riding and this year I want to go into the Watt (mud flats) with a guide and see what the seabed holds. Obviously one does this sort of thing when the tide is out and the guide shows the various creatures that live in the mud and gives an explanation about the creature and its part in the ocean environment (an explanation of which I won’t understand a word but it will still be interesting).

For all of the time we have spent on the island, it is always a fun time. The air is super clean and fresh, the beach clean and nice and the natives are friendly (of course, they want the tourist Euro). The two weeks will go by far too quickly and then it will back to Grosshansdorf for the both of us. And then one week later, I will be driving to Frankfurt for my three months temporary employment with the State Department’s Regional Procurement Support Office, my old office.

Thank you for your time.


3 comments to Sunday In Germany: Sylt Vacation

  • Ken – Be sure to take your camera (or smart phone) with you and send us a few pictures of your travels around the island – like Frank does when takes the students to Europe each summer. I’m sure everyone would enjoy a *cyber tour* of the island – LOL – 🙂


  • Suellen Oliver Campbell

    Sounds like a wonderful 2 weeks planned for you two. Happy birthday to Gisela. I’m sure it will be a memorable
    day with present, flowers and candlelight.
    Nude beach and bathing? not sure about that one. Likeness of God? Does that mean She IS a woman! I thought so!Enjoyed your tales, nonetheless.
    Have a safe trip and do send pictures. I live vicariously through other people’s trips.

  • brooks toland kasson

    sounds like a lovely beach time, ken. also, happy birthday to gisela. what a sweetheart you are to think of flowers and candles, too.
    commenting on nude bathing is almost boring to me. it’s so not a big deal. including older bodies. i find them interestingly lumpy. good shapes and lines. well, curves and dips. well. sags. yes, mine.
    we’re headed off to the gulf coast this weekend. i shouldn’t expect to encounter any BP oil because seadrift is bayside. we shall see what the scuttlebutt is, however.
    please send pictures. i’d love to see what sylt looks like.
    best to you both, and happy travels,

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