Weeks I’ve been in Germany: 6
Islands I’ve visited: 1 (more info to come)
Number of different forms of transportation it took to get to the aforementioned island: 4-5
Word of the week: verloren sein- to be lost :/
I was ready for a weekend away. The long hours at a desk pretending to do more work than I had were starting to wear me down. More so, though, the city of Berlin, with all of its parks and markets and fun things to do, is such an appealing distraction from any sort of necessary downtime, I felt I must leave. The city has a way, especially when the weather is nice, of beckoning you outdoors and into its streets. Which is amazing. But I am a girl who desperately needs downtime. I kept feeling guilty every I sat still for more than an hour (the UBahn, unfortunately, doesn’t count, no matter how many hours I spend there).
So, for a change of scenery, a group of seven of us American students decided to check out an island in the North of Germany called Rügen. It’s website boasted idyllic beach towns, scenic cliffs, and quiet countryside. What we didn’t expect was for it to be HUGE.
Me and one other girl booked an Airbnb randomly. We had no idea of the cool spots of the island, and it didn’t look that big on google maps, so we assumed anything near a body of water would work. We were definitely wrong. This place was in the middle of nowhere. And since we had no car, we were forced to call a taxi company (no uber here, my worst nightmare) and get a taxi to the nearest town, in order to then catch a bus to anywhere that wasn’t a literal cornfield.
I have to say, when one of the girls and I first arrived, we were freaking out. We had taken an early bus so we could go grocery shopping and settle in before everyone else (we wanted to claim the best beds, too). But when we got to the small cottage with a definitely overhyped Airbnb description, there were no nearby hiking trails to be found. The “just a few minutes walk to” water was stagnant and overgrown with algae, not very good for swimming or beach chillin. We sulked, got bitten by bugs, ate salad, and complained until the other 5 arrived in the middle of the night.
When they finally did, the weekend seemed to magically turn around. The boring cornfields turned into fields to run through. The 10 minute walk to our steamy pond “beach” seemed like nothing!
Saturday we decided to head into the not so nearby Nationalpark Jasmund, known for its white cliffs. With how our luck was going that weekend, we got on the wrong bus, so it took us around two hours to get there. But oh boy, was it worth it. These sheer cliffs and green forests made me feel like I was in the Princess Bride. Kept my eye out for any men dressed in black carrying swords, hoping they would transform into my Wesley. Surprising, the only men dressed in black were part of the wedding ceremony taking photos on the scenic cliffs. Good enough for me!
Just a tip if you ever decide to go to the Königsstuhl in Jasmund Nationalpark. When you get off the bus, there’s going to be a big sign that says “Königsstuhl here! €8.50 entrance fee!” Don’t go there. It’s a nature center, which is cool because it works to preserve the land, but if features absolutely no hiking trails and a limited view of the cliffs. Although it did have a pretty cool playground. Off the right, hidden in a corner, is an opening in the fence where the trails start. That’s where you want to go. The trails wind up and down the coast for a long time, and each view is more stunning than the last. It’s pretty scary, standing what seems like a mile above crystal clear Baltic water, but you’ll never see anything else like it.
After tiring ourselves out from hiking all day, we retreated back to our cabin, where we had one of the prettiest bug-infested cookouts of my life. We sipped Rose, grilled sausages, and made an attempt at cooking macaroni and cheese, while we watched Germany play Italy on the smallest TV I’ve ever seen. My anxieties melted.
Woop, nope, there they are! Realizing our checkout time was at 10, and our bus at 6, we had a day of schlepping our stuff around ahead of us. We decided to head into the town of Binz (which is where we should have stayed in the first place). There was civilization!!!
We sat on the real, oceanside, sandy beach and ate fish sandwiches. I waded out into the shallow, mellow, Baltic, found myself surrounded by tiny, brown jellyfish, and promptly walked back out of the water. The rest of the day was spent walking along the pier and window shopping for silly souvenirs. It was the calming beach day we deserved after having such bad luck all weekend.
And after a bus, a train, a cab, another bus, and then one more train just for good measure, we made it back to Berlin! I was exhausted, and had work the next day, but something inside me felt awakened, sparked. Traveling with only as much as you can carry in a backpack is one of the most freeing things. I’m excited to make more plans and see where the world takes me.
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<p>Hi! I'm Veronica, and I'm a communications/creative writing major from the University of Southern California. I love comedy, writing, and meeting new people! I'm a self-identified cat person, yet love dogs too.</p>