Thursday, August 20, 2015
Island Bliss . . .
For some reason, Baltrum is a thing you inherit from your family, like brown hair or black. My grandmother used to go, so did my mother when we were small, and now, I've taken my daughter, too.
There are no cars allowed on Baltrum, that's why you are projected into another world the very second you get off the ferry (which crossed the short stretch to the mainland in 35 minutes two or three times a day, depending on the tide). Things are transported with little hand-carts, or, if you indulge yourself, you hire a horse wagon.
There is one small supermarket where you can buy single rolls (!) of toilet paper, one small department store so you can stock up on sturdy sea clothing and bathing costumes, one books store, and a few knick-knack stores that you just need on a rainy day.
Besides that, there's the gym, which in summer serves as the local theatre. The actors are the inhabitants of the island who whiled away the cold, long winters by learning their texts. You can't imagine how thrilling it is to see the murderer of The Mouse-Trap, cycling past you on your way to the beach the very next morning. Twice a week, the gym also serves as the cinema, a one-man show, run by a man with bare feet who chases errant moths from the screen with a long broom before the movie starts.
A very German thing is the "Strandkorb". Translated, it means beach basket, and it's a huge sort of woven seat on the beach that you can use as your temporary castle to protect you from the wind, the sand, and the sun. Of course, you have to pay for it way in advance, or they're all booked out, but I'm a great fan of the Strandkorb as I tend to freeze easily (and the North Shore of Germany is NOT known for hot weather). But with a Strandkorb, you have nothing to fear.
Another attraction of "Ostfriesland" (that's the region Baltrum belongs to) is the very clear water which allows you to drink tea without that horrid black slime on top which can be found everywhere else. The "Ostfriesen" drink their tea with cream and white rock candy that makes delicious cracking noises when the hot tea comes on top. I drink gallons of tea whenever I'm on Baltrum.
It's all laid-back and wind-blown and sandy, and I love it. Every time I go there, I wonder if I would like to live there permanently, to write my books without distractions, but I don't think I could stand the lonely winters. I think you have to be born to bear that kind of solitude. How about you? Are you true island-people or summer visitors only?