The white chalk cliffs opposite the viewpoint.
On the first weekend in October I went on another trip with my mum, just one month after our trip to London. I had given her a trip to the island of Rügen for her birthday and Christmas a few years ago and we had wanted to go there in 2012, but then she broke her leg, and then I needed to finish up my PhD, went to Singapore, and ultimately we never managed to fit the trip in. But now it was time!
My mum flew into Hamburg on a Friday night and we drove to Rügen by car on Saturday morning. It is about a three hour drive from Hamburg. The first surprise for me was the size of the island. Our hotel was in Baabe in the east of Rügen, and once we had crossed the bridge onto the island it was still another 45 minutes to get there! I had imagined it to be a lot smaller. Our hotel, Solthus am See
was beautifully located at Selliner See, a saltwater lake that has access to the sea. All of the rooms have balconies overlooking the lake, the restaurant has a huge window and terrace facing the lake, and
The white chalk cliffs just below the viewpoint.
the hotel even has a library in very classical style.
We had coffee and a piece of home-made cake in the hotel before starting to explore the island. We first drove south into the area of Mönchgut. There are some charming old villages with old churches and cemeteries and with beautiful houses that are thatched with reeds. We took things slowly, drove from village to village, parked the car, went for a stroll, then continued to the next village. We went all the way to the south to Klein Zicker, a village in the far south of Rügen, surrounded by a nature reserve, and enjoyed the view of Groß Zicker on the other side of a little bay. Then we drove around the bay into Groß Zicker, a picture book village with wonderful houses, including for example a huge house for the local vicars’ widows. This shows how, in the old days, vicars and their wives were held in high esteem.
For dinner we drove into Binz, the famous coastal resort on the island. It turned out to be almost impossible to find a place to eat because the town was so full of tourists. We were close
to starving and so we ended up in a so-so Italian restaurant. Thus my recommendation is: definitely make a reservation when you are there during the season, at least for dinner.
On Sunday morning we slowly made our way up to the Northern part of the island. We drove past Binz and stopped in the village of Prora where there is a huge and extremely ugly building that the Nazis had started building as a holiday home in the 1930s. It was part of the Kraft durch Freude (KdF) movement, a Nazi organisation dedicated to bringing into line people’s leisure activities. I cannot possibly imagine how one could recover in such an ugly place!
From there we went on to more pleasant areas: to Königsstuhl, the famous chalk cliffs in the northeast of the island that are a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, located in the Nature Reserve of Jasmund. One has to park the car and either walk or catch a shuttle bus to access the top of the cliffs. We caught the bus since my mum could not walk too well because of a sore knee. There is a visitor centre where one can learn about the cliffs
View from the pier towards the kurhaus.
and their surroundings, and from there we walked to the top of one of the cliffs. From there we had a wonderful view: The white chalk cliffs looked amazing against the blue sea and sky and the surrounding green and yellow trees. We spent quite a bit of time there in the sun before returning to the visitor centre and catching a bus back to the car park.
We continued to Kap Arkona, a cape with more white cliffs in the very north of the island. Also here we needed to park the car at a central car park and had to catch a tourist train to get to the cape and the lighthouse on it. From the lighthouse (quite a few steps to climb, I can tell you!) I had a fantastic view of the island. There was also a walk to the cliffs that we took, but the view was not as spectacular as from the Königsstuhl. We caught the train back to the car and drove on along the west side of the island, caught the ferry in Wieck, and continued our loop around the island. We stopped in Putbus, a village that has a little
Beach baskets on the beach, view from the pier.
palace. There the architecture is a bit different, not so much brick Gothic and houses thatched with reeds, but rather in classicistic style. We had a hot chocolate and something sweet before returning to our hotel in order to get changed for the evening.
We had a fantastic dinner in the restaurant Freustil
in Binz (I had made the reservation a few months in advance!). They only have two different menus that one can select, and the food is local and seasonal produce, combined and prepared in novel and unusual ways. It was very special and very tasty and we enjoyed the evening there.
The next morning we checked out of our hotel and went for a walk along the famous beach promenade in Binz, had a cup of coffee there, and then left the island to have some time to stroll around the town of Stralsund. We spent the entire day until the late afternoon walking around town, saw churches, old houses, the city wall, and the famous Gorch Fock, a sail training ship used by German Navy. And then we had to go back to Hamburg since my mum flew back home on Tuesday morning and
Solthus am See I
View from our balcony with a sailboat.
I had to go back to work.
I really liked Rügen, it is a beautiful island with lots of wonderful nature and beautiful old villages and towns. At times I even forgot that I was on an island because it is so huge. The only downside is that it is really touristy, which makes being spontaneous a bit difficult at times. But other than that I found it to be a great place to relax and recover.
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