Another great weekend is behind us and once again, Germany seized to surprise not only me, but this time also Gin! We drove off Friday morning and had 3 days time to spent on the northern coast – we chose Cuxhaven as a base. It was one of those spontaneous decisions, we booked a place to sleep only a few days prior to departure as we were not sure about the weather at first. We decided to risk it and in the end, we won – 2 days of pure sunshine and one day of rain ;).
HOW TO GET THERE
We made a little over 550 KILOMETRES which is no big deal for Germany. We are used to drive long distances in short time and if you are lucky and don´t get stuck in traffic everything is possible. This is a perfect extension of a holiday in Hamburg or a PART OF A ROAD TRIP IN NORTHERN GERMANY. If you want something less touristy (there are many German visitors, but almost no other) this is the place to go. The boat to Helgoland had no English speaking persons on it ;). Bremen has an international airport with many Ryan air connections if you wish to fly in directly.
WHAT WE SAW & DID
On the way we made a stop in Bremen, the 10th biggest German town, as we were both long time not there. I visited it only once before if I´m precise and I kept it in good memory. There are quite a couple of parking garages in the very centre, near the “Dom” so visiting the old town is quite easy if coming in with your car. Bremen is a former HANSEATIC CITY which together with Bremerhaven comprise a “Bundesland” (the state of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen).
All the major tourist attractions are concentrated in the Old town and alongside the Weser River – you should not miss the MARKET SQUARE (try to catch the food stalls, which are not there every day), the St. Peter´s Cathedral just next to it, the TOWN HALL (which is also the seat of the President of the Senate of Bremen, today there is also a restaurant inside with a huge selection of great wines, the building itself is under UNESCO), the statue of BREMEN ROLAND (city´s protector), the famous bronze sculpture called “STADTMUSIKANTEN” (“Town musicians” – a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster standing on top of each other and come from a fairy tale of the Grimm Brothers) and many more.
One more thing not to miss is the BÖTTCHERSTRAßE which was transformed by local artists in the 1930´s – look up and you will see the ringing porcelain bells on the GLOCKENSPIEL HOUSE!
If hungry or thirsty do take a stroll down the SCHLACHTE, the old harbour of bremen (the new one is further downstream) and take a seat in one of the many Biergarten restaurants on the green riverside boulevard. It reminded me of Ljubljana, my hometown!
Of course there is much more to see – many museums and galleries, but we did not have time for everything this time. We had a great brunch and a walk around the town, passing by all of those attractions listed above and afterwards decided to drive up to the coast for some afternoon beach time!
After about an hour drive we were in Cuxhaven – our little wooden house we booked was mor ein the suburbs lets say, in Cuxhaven – SAHLENBURG, so we chose to make a stop at the famouse loooong sandy beach in Duhnen, which was just a couple of minutes car drive from our place. Since we´ve been on island Rügen at the beginning of May, we have not seen the beach so running around in the sand between the yellow “STRANDKORBS” was soooo great! And there was a pirate playground close by, which was great for Lu.
The beach itself is nice but the sea – well, how to put it, I´m not very keen on swimming in it anyway so we like to visit the coast before the main summer season and just use the beach for walks and play in the sand. The area is also a part of the UNESCO World Heritage with its intertidal zone, WADDEN SEA. That´s why the bottom of the sea is very muddy, but the water itself is clear though. There are many birds and little sea creatures to watch and you can take also guided tours where a guide will explain all about it.
One of the most popular half-day trips from Cuxhaven is the HORSE CARRIAGE RIDE THROUGH THE WADDEN SEA to the island Neuwerk! It takes 4 hours all together and it gives you 1 hour free time on the island. As we have already done a “Wattwanderung” (a 6 km hike over to an island) with Gin before, we rather did something else here. We did sea the wagons on the way to the sea on Sunday morning as we were leaving. Due to the worse weather on Sunday this looked not like much fun but I can imagine on a sunny warm day it has to be a great experience!
It was getting a bit chilly because of the wind and it was time to check out our home for the next 2 nights – it had everything one needs, even a garden and a bbq, situated in a very peaceful neighbourhood. Sometimes something like this is much better than a hotel (which will cost you also more money).
Although we were on the move the whole day already, Lu showed no signs of tiredness so I promised him we would check out the BEACH which should be just a 10 minute walk from our house. Gin went to buy some food for the dinner and Lu & me were off exploring. Well, we did not find the beach because we forgot to take a turn at one point, but we ended up exploring something even better! We´ve had beach today already anyway. We discovered the so-called “KÜSTENHEIDE” – a larger area covered in heather plants which were already starting to turn a bit purple. There was a CIRCULAR PATH you could take and we did a part of it, because it was getting really late and we were hungry, but I was really happy to miss the beach and walk around here instead ;).
New day new adventure – Saturday was the highlight of this 3-day trip. None of us was ever on island HELGOLAND before and this was the perfect opportunity. There are ships from Cuxhaven and 2,5 hrs later you dock on the island and have around 4 hours time before you return to the ship. Ours left Cuxhaven at 10:15 which gave us just enough time to walk around the “ALTE LIEBE” harbour and the beach after breakfast. The beach here is nothing special I would say, after all it´s one of the biggest towns around here. If you want sand it´s better to hang around in Duhnen, wehere we were the day before. The most recognizable feature is the old tower called “KUGELBACKE”, which was guiding the seamen to the port.
This wild island with its RED SANDSTONE CLIFFS on which thousands of birds found their homes and nesting places really blew us away! That´s why it deserves its own post and if you have not read it yet, you can do so by clicking on the button below.
We returned around 19:00 and were really tired! Besides, our heads were a bit dizzy from the waves (although they were really harmless), so the evening was soon over after dinner and a beer ;).
Last day we woke up to a rainy morning and left soon after breakfast. A good half an hour later we made a longer stop in Bremerhaven, which has a beautiful modern marina / port with lots of things to do nearby. As it was still raining we first visited the famous KLIMAHAUS.
This is an amazing place – it takes you on A JOURNEY AROUND THE WORLD. Following the 8th DEGREE OF LONGITUDE you visit 8 destinations – Switzerland, Sardinia (Italy), Niger, Cameroon, Antarctica, Samoa, Alaska and Germany, discover the climate and learn more about how people live in each of those places. This is not an ordinary museum, its simply one of the best posibilities to really experience the DIFFERENT CLIMATE ZONES. And, it´s not all just “invented”, there is actually a person who did this trip and took notes and movies and photographs. He started his way right here, in Bremerhaven. We went through the rainforest (at 38ºC and pitch dark, Lu loved that), through an ice tunnel with actual ice walls at minus degrees, we walked on hanging bridges over lakes and rivers, milked a cow (okay the cow was not alive, but there was fluid coming out!), learned a bunch about the changing climate problems and really had a great time! We spend between 2-3 hrs inside, that says it all. It´s great fun for the kids also.
There is a restaurant and toilets after the 4th destination (kind of like at Ikea). It´s pretty new and really nicely done. You are not allowed to use flash at the camera inside and you need to leave a backpack in the wardrobe (I suggest you leave the jackets also, because once you enter the rainforest zone you will sweat. You can take handbags but they need to fit into a certain box. They will check that at the entrance. ENTRY FEE is (only) 15€ for adults, children 4 or under go free. This is really worth going!
You can also go to the ZOO, visit the “AUSWANDERER MUSEUM” (dedicated to the time where many Germans crossed the Atlantic in search for a better life in the USA), walk around the MARINA, do some shopping and spend a night at the sail-shaped hotel. Since it was still raining a bit, we just walked around all of these sights but were kind of not in the mood to visit them – plus there was a very important soccer match in the evening which we did not want to miss, so we headed back home after another yummy fish sandwich!
What a great weekend indeed! If you live in the near or are doing a northern German road trip these are the places not to be missed! Next time we will see the beach it will be in Croatia, can´t wait ;).
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