View of Lübeck Bay from Travemünde Lighthouse

Beaches, for me, were places for kids, to build sandcastles. I outgrew them with my childhood. This English rose was never one for roasting and toasting herself in the sun by the sea. There was no sea or ocean I was particularly fond of. Until I discovered the German beaches on the Baltic. There’s something tremendously grown-up about German beach chairs. The hood and sides protect you from the wind, the leg rests mean you don’t get covered in sand.. The hood also provides shade from the sun if you need it. They are perfect little reading retreats!

On Timmendorfer Beach

There is a daily charge for using the beaches on the Baltic coast. As a tourist, I didn’t mind as the revenue pays for sanitation, cleaning services and rescue services. I’d probably mind if I was a resident though – this on top of my local taxes!

I was on the Buddenbrooks trail and so Travemünde which features in Thomas Mann’s novel was the first resort of call. It was quite busy on the day I visited. a couple of cruise ships had just docked and, well, the place was full of British accents! Not quite the evocation of Antonine Buddenbrook’s relaxing holiday I was expecting …

Like Antonine Rossetti and I returned to Lübeck, which used to be a separate city state until 1937 when it was incorporated into the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein. Despite changeable weather and the most appalling drivers in the whole of Germany (it seemed as though every driver ignored pedestrian signals!), the city charmed me and, if asked, I’d list it as my third favourite place in Germany (after Munich and Weimar, or is that Weimar and Munich – I just can’t decide.) Top of its attractions is, of course, the Buddenbrooks house, which I wrote about here. Günter Grass also lived in Lübeck and the Günter Grass museum is well worth a visit. Then there’s the singular talent that Lübeckers have with marzipan. Indeed what can’t they do with marzipan! Some of the creations in the marzipan museum defy belief. The recreation of the Holstentor almost as impressive as the city landmark itself.

Charms of Lübeck: Buddenbrooks House, Günter Grass House, Marzipan Holstentor

The medieval town centre is full of tiny boutiques and independent restaurants. My favourite place to eat though was a rice pudding bar. Rice pudding is big in North Germany and I love cinnamon rice. Lecker!

The top experience in Lübeck though was – wait for it – rubber-duck racing on the River Trave. It was a fundraiser for a children’s home, and we had a prime seating in a riverside beer garden. It was a great way to spend a sunny and dry afternoon.

Superstars!

The western dyke-protected coast of Schleswig-Holstein faces the North Sea, and has a completely different character. The tidal flats of North Friesland are more to the liking of mudhikers than sunbathers! My destination was Husum to see the area in which Theodor Storm lived. My write-up is here.

Just look at the contrasting colour palettes of the two coasts.

North Sea coast at Husum vs Baltic Coast at Timmendorfer Strand (June 2017)

From the coast at Husum we can cruise 686 km north-west to Newcastle. But I’m not in the mood to return to the UK just yet. Instead let’s cruise 190 km north-east from Timmendorfer Strand for Lizzy’s penultimate scrapbook entry ….

Recommended Reads from Schleswig-Holstein

There’s a reason I made my literary pilgrimages to Lübeck and Husum. Both Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks and Theodor Storm’s The Dykemaster are firmly fixed in my top 10 of all time.

Meike Ziervogel, known to most as the founder of Peirene Press, was born in Kiel, but writes her novel(la)s in English. Flotsam, her fifth and my favourite, takes place on the mud flats on the North Friesian coast.

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