Where do you go when you live in the big smoke and find yourself a little overwhelmed by all the work and the deadlines that are piling up on your desk? In London, that place was Brighton. In Berlin, that place is the Baltic Sea. So last week when said deadlines were getting on top of me, I threw all books, magazines and electronics into my friend’s car and we drove up north. Within three hours, the bland (but beautiful nonetheless!) Brandenburg countryside will have made space for the seaside vibes of the North. We chose to spend three days on Rugen island because none of us had ever been there and working away on an island and taking little breaks for walks and seafood seemed like an exceptional idea. And it was. Here’s a little rundown of what we did apart from reading, typing and thinking (duh).
On the way from Stralsund to Rugen (and I have absolutely no idea where this was exactly), we passed through a little bookshop run by a guy who just couldn’t stop talking because he was so passionate for all the antique books piling up in his spot. He sells paperbacks for EUR1, hardcovers for EUR2 and then some postcards and pottery – that’s his business plan. His customers love the generous concept and apparently send him boxes and boxes of old books, some of his best customers live in bigger cities where such old books would easily cost a tenner. It says “BOOK SALE TODAY” on the outside but it’s book sale everyday. Cheeky! Anyway. Do stop by there if you can, it’s on the main road to the island.
Time travel: The hunting lodge in Granitz
First stop, an old hunting lodge. It rained like crazy when our old jeep made it up the hill, so we couldn’t have coffee in the sunshine and stare into the nearby woods. Never mind, Granitz is the most popular castle in the county of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern with a history that would will grab your attention in an instant, no need to hang around outside. Before the Nazis rose to power, the lodge was owned by the (very lucky) von Putbus family until 1944, but then the owner was imprisoned and dispossessed by the regime. Today, the castle is sill in state hands and used as a museum. And on to the most famous sight in Sellin: this pier.
The “Seebrucke” (pier) in Sellin looks as picturesque as on the postcards regardless of the weather. But it gets even better. Inside, a cosy restaurant serves delicious tarte flambee among other things and local beer to kick off your stay. A great thing about visiting Rugen off-season is that the beaches will be absolutely empty and you’ll have the wide open space all for yourselves. It’s quiet, cheaper and not necessarily greyer.
Binz is the poshest town on Rugen will plenty of villas and architectural extravaganza but it also the place to go for great food and your obligatory beach chair selfie. We had burgers at Peter Pane and they were among the best we ever had – nothing I’d ever say lightly! The whole place is dedicated to, who knew, Peter Pan. They play the audio book in the bathrooms (“But Peter, what if I fall?” – “Yes, but what if you fly?” ?), have heartwarming quotes in their menus and you’ll definitely come out feeling a little more encouraged and loved by Peter. And did I mention the burgers!?
If the weather’s good enough, pop by the beach! Nearly every restaurant on the Strandpromenade has its own entrance to the beach so there’s enough space for everything. Rent a beach chair for EUR3, grab a coffee and then stick your toes in the sand for the first time of the year. Bliss!
Bootshaus Binz is famous for its awesome fish and don’t you dare leave Rugen without a hearty salmon or cod lunch!
You can easily spend a day walking around the national park: You’ll find tiny lakes, endless and thick woods – and the famous chalk cliffs. Now there’s two ways of seeing them, the Konigsstuhl is the most popular. You’ll find a restaurant, a visitor’s centre and a museum there but the way more interesting path leads to the Viktoriasicht and it’s free too. Just watch out for the signs. Another path leads down to the beach and the view onto the cliffs was my favourite. Take off your shoes and dip your feet into the ice cold water, what’s not to love! There is the option to take a boat trip around the cliffs and the views are meant to be magnificent but we preferred jumping around the forest and playing with dogs there before going back to our temporary office in the middle of nowhere.
A few practicalities: We rented an Airbnb in Altensien because the hotels were crazy expensive and we loved being in the middle of nowhere. Although you can take a bus up to Stralsund, having a car was an absolute blessing because public transport on the island is a bit, er, rural, so I’d always recommend you to rent one or at least take your bikes in order to see as much of Rugen as possible. The weather is crazy, but you wouldn’t expect anything else from an island in the Baltic Sea, right!? We had sun, rain, thunderstorms, 25? – all in the course of two days and sometimes within one hour. So take a variety of clothes and be prepared that it might not all be sunshine and blue sea. Gotta love your daily dose of surprises…
Have you been to Rugen or any of the other German islands on the Baltic Sea? Let us know in the comments below.
All photos taken by Caroline Schmitt