Sylt – the Northern Star of Germany

Travel

As my time in Germany is limited, I am trying to make the most of it. In between wrapping up things, I decided to do a few getaways to incredible places around the country using only train and public transportation. In April, I’ve visited Weimar and I still have Dresden on my list. This post is about a two-day trip I made to Sylt, the Northernmost island of Germany on the North Sea.

You can clearly see me wearing the winter clothes and sunglasses at the same time – I think it’s the best metaphor of the weather in Schleswig-Holstein all year round. Beginning of May I had quite a lot of luck not to get too much rainfall, but the freezing 50 kmph winds that almost blew me away from the dunes.

It is fairly easy to get to Sylt from the capital: 6 hours of train drive (29,90 EUR if you’re early enough to book) with a connection in Hamburg, and you can reach the capital of the island: Westerland. To prepare you for the dramatic weather, you are welcomed by four sculptures facing the wind. Germans are pretty serious about warning you about the dangers I guess.

While Westerland is the biggest town and has some life going on (at least off season Sylt seems to be mostly a destination visited by the schoolchildren groups and the elderly), it is the nature what is the most breathtaking and worth exploring while on the island. On the Southern, ‘the sunshine’ tip of Sylt one can hike around on truly beautiful beaches, or take a boat trip to see the varied sea life of both North and Wadden Sea (Wattenmeer).

The phenomenon of the tidal flats of the Wadden Sea is the biggest in the world and Sylt is one of the places on the North Sea when one can experience the mythical ‘walking on the water’ at least once per day when the current is receding.

My favourite part of the island was the North: around the List harbour. Watching abundant and rare bird wilderness, walking through the hiking paths alongside free range sheep and cows was a bliss.

In this part of the island you can also experience the most unusual lagoon and bay formations between the Wadden and North Sea.

Even though I was one of the very few visitors at this time of the year, I loved the solitary experience – probably the island turns into a completely different place in the summer. On the way back, I could not help but looking into the rural, flat landscape of the Northernmost region of Germany – including the endless dunes, Wadden Sea flats and North-Baltic sea canals.

Portuguese bairro in Hamburg

Travel

Spring equals travels to me – and this year I am very curious to explore different German cities. After my Easter trip to the East Baltic Sea (called ‘Ostsee’ = ‘East Sea’ in German), the next destination for the long weekend of May 1st was scheduled for Hamburg. I met people originating from Hamburg and some who just lived there for a while, but all of them were speaking very fondly about the city. I followed their great tips and during 3 days I explored the highlighted parts and much more. The major surprise was finding the ‘Portugiesenvirtel’ aka Portuguese bairro very closely to the city centre.

  Portuguese district is located very near Landungsbrücken – a bridge separating the centre and famous alternative St. Pauli. I was lucky enough to arrive there during the time for almoço (lunch). Even though I plan a trip to Lisbon in Azores in only one month, and I often eat out in a Portuguese restaurant in Berlin (which happens to be steps away from my workplace), I got myself into saudade-mode. Not only the taste of vinho verde and excellent carne alentejana, but the fact, that for a moment I could only talk and think in Portuguese, was just a precious surprise.

So what’s the story behind? Quite obviously, the Hanseatic city of Hamburg being Europe’s largest port since centuries, attracted also famous Portuguese sailors. First settlements of the Portuguese families date back to 16th Century, while the country was a growing colonial empire.

Just one afternoon, and my soul felt very contented. I also learnt a simple poem displayed among different Portuguese items in the restaurant, very relevant for the forthcoming Mother’s Day (quite different date in different countries: but happening tomorrow in Germany):
“Com três letrinhas apenas
Se escreve a Palavra Mãe
É das palavras mais pequenas
A maior que o Mundo tem”