Michaela Merz

The Northern bug

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Everyone’s driving south. Before the Gotthard there’s a 15 kilometres back-up on the way to Italy. I really don’t care, because I’m infected with the Northern bug and have driven to the North Sea.

This is not a vacation suitable for those who, to enjoy their holidays, need 30 degrees in the shade and luke-warm sea water that’s no longer refreshing. By the North Sea there is always a wind, the water in the sea is 18 degrees and the ebb and flood of the tides decide when one can go swimming at all.

It is also not a place for someone who prefers chaos, because in the far north everything, but really everything, is planned and organised with German thoroughness. The rubbish is separated meticulously, the beach is divided up by users – a section for dogs, another for sport, a section for kite-flyers, for nudists. What does a nudist fan with a dog who wants to fly a kite do? Give up!

A convinced re-offender I find myself again on the island of Föhr. In my case equipped for high summer and autumn. What the weather will be like, one never knows. The probability that it will rain at least once during the week is around 97%. But that doesn’t mean much. What this little island, which one can cycle round in an afternoon, has to offer, is simply overwhelming.

The ebb and flood functions like Swiss clockwork and reveals great stretches of land. On the sandbanks exposed in this way the seals bask in the sun and enjoy being admired from the passing ferries. Wandering through the exposed seabed is balsam, not only for the feet but also for the spirit. But never in my life would I have dared to take a trip at low tide to the island of Amrum without the company of a local guide. With the flood the water can return quicker than one thinks and in the cold North Sea currents even practiced swimmers have no chance.

I had always wanted to see the Halligen, tiny artificial islands with a few houses, where in winter the surrounding meadows are swallowed up by the water and submerged at high tide. I booked a flight and admired the unique coastal landscape from the air, completely fascinated by the play of colours and forms.

On the island one can learn how to make sweets, to shoot arrows, sailing, flying a kite. One can drive a go-cart, make a cemetery gate and decipher the speaking tombstones in Old German, which tell of the lives of the ship’s captains, who devoted themselves to whale hunting. One can play golf, ride, sail out with the fishing boat, visit the seal rearing station, attend concerts on the promenade of Wyk or in the beach bars.

What the children like and the adults gladly join in, is digging in the sand, building castles and everything possible in the sand, which will disappear with the next high tide.

But best of all is the light. In the far north at 9.00 pm the sun is still shining at full blast. The colours, the smell, the friendliness give off a mixture, which permits one to feel good. That is so on Föhr.

If you are looking for peace and quiet, variety, something different, Föhr would be the right Destination.

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