Stand-up Paddling and the Amazing Fehmarn Island (June 3-7 ’16)

​It was time to go up North. A totally useless night of heavy drinking in Hamburg signified that I had to be on the move and on Friday afternoon I’ve put one of the light houses in the North of Germany into my navigation and was off. When I don’t exactly know where to go I always go towards a light houese.

I was driving to Denmark but the final night before I dwell into Scandinavia had to be spent in Germany where I also needed to stock up on alcohol.
The night was going to be spent in Heligenhafen – a town stuck in its Soviet past. This is East Germany and it it the poor part of it and in all their wisdom the Soviets built this:

The situation was ever so bizzare because the town is full of nice houses, there is a beautiful coastline, yachts at the harbour and yet they built this utterly ugly estate! And people live there!

Heligenhafen just radiates USSR vibes. It reminded me of a trip to Russia I took not so long ago and I am not talking about Moscow. I don’t know what makes towns depressing, it must be a combination of factors like the architecture and how happy people who live there feel, everything must be tangled together.

I had a depressing walk along the harbour where I saw flocks of drunk locals, depressive immigrants and I thought… this is where some of the politics just does not make sense. Immigrants do not bring anything special to these places, they just add up to the grey landscape. The answer to these places’ issues is definitely not migration.

And then came the sunset and it changed everything! The “sinking” sun painted grey building into a million shades of beautiful orange! Everyone was smiling, pulled their cameras out if their pockets, surfers filled the beach bar and the pier! The thirds of June 2016 ended with a spectacular Caribbean sunset! A sunset like no other just a few hundred kilometers from cities like London, Brussels or Hamburg! Heligenhafen has fully revealed its secret self.

The next day I went to the Fehmarn island with a group of freelancers who travel and work remotely. One of them was Hannes.

Hannes does a form of IT and he does not own or rent a flat. Instead he lives in a Mercedes Camper van. But He is no camper – he carries a different ideology. Hannes likes surfing and kite boarding… and basically everything related to the beach lifestyle. He spends summers in Northern Germany and Denmark and for winters he goes to the South of Spain.

Other guys and girls were examples of less severe cases of people who are no longer willing to do office jobs. Startups, marketing – you name it. The difference is that we now have a class of highly educated and smart people who choose not to choose lives they’ve been being sold ever since they went to school. They are not downshifter white collars, they want to live and work at the same time. This is new and I am sure it is disturbing the current system!

So we went to a harbour at the island and did stand-up paddling.

We crossed the harbour which took us about an hour for which we were rewarded with the tastiest fish in the world served in a small family-ran tavern called the Aal-Kate. In short – you must go there!

Stand-up paddling is an amazing sport. I am writing these lines two days after I did paddling for 3 hours and every single muscle in my body hurts! Big tim! When you stand-up paddle your whole body works – from your toes to the tips of your fingers! Rowing is a bit of a commitment but stand-up paddling with its relaxed style is just right! Average speed: 1.5 km/h 😉

(By the way, there’s been at least 20 pictures taken and this is the only one where I managed to stand upright:)

The Fehmarn Island


The Fehmarn island is a popular holiday destination for people living in Northern Germany. It is also a transition hub between Germany and Denmark.

I noticed that it had two classes of tourists: active water sport people and old… seriously old people riding electric bikes up and down the island’s farmlands.

It costs you €2.1 to be there for a day and the money goes towards the island’s upkeep. And it can be seen! The beaches are spotless, there rubbish bins are kept tidy and things like soap in toilets are just always there. The locals complain but to me, these must have been the best spent €2.1 in the country!

Christiane.

None of this would have happened if not for Christiane whom I met at the pier of Heligenhafen. She was sitting there watching the sunset and I was walking back to my car after a shocking day of seeing the locals of Heligenhafen. And there was her sitting on the pier with a little bag and two empty beer bottles. I really wanted to take a photo of her in front of the setting sun, so I’ve approached her and we started to chat. We must have spoken for hours that night. 

Christiane was somehow special. For a long time I lived in the world where women fought for equality and rights but they would not get in a car alone to go further than 50km away from their house or spend over a month without a boyfriend… what am I saying, those women won’t even go to a bar unless they got someone to tug along with them. 

All that equality and women-empowerment is nothing but a fake. They blame more traditionalist countries like Germany for not being modern… but they’re wrong. Who’s truly independent and empowered are girls like Christiane but somehow politicians and the meadia ignore them and make us believe in what is effectively a false inmage of an independant woman.

Christiane is also no downshifter and has an office job. I really liked the fact that she comfortably resides in both of the opposite worlds, a white collar desk job and the world of windsurfing. I liked her smart face… you know when you can tell a person’s intelligence by lookiing in their eyes.

I really enjoyed watching Christiane brush her teeth. She had a posh electric tooth brush in an immaculate white box and that tooth brush was the only visible link between her beach-loving wind surfing self and the office worker who on any other day stands in front of a big mirror in her large bathroom before going to work to do… marketing stuff. I really liked that.

But Sunday was coming to an end, we went to the beach, someone stayed to illegally play golf at the golf field near the camp site, someone went swimming and Christiana went for a final stand-up paddle, although, she spent most of the time sitting on the board like seals with two other people:)

Then there was the final trip to Aal-Kate, sitting on the pier, saying goodbye to each other like it’s done among freedom-loving people – they don’t say the usual kind of a goodbye to each other, they know they will meet you again, maybe not you and not at the same place but they will meet someone just like they met each other this time and spend another great few days riding the wind.

Serge, 6 June 2016

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