Rügen – the Baltic Pearl


The pier at Göhren

Last month, we took advantage of an off-season deal to spend a long weekend on Germany’s biggest island, Rügen. Ilka had been wanting to take me there for almost as long as I can remember, waxing lyrical about its beauty. In fact, we had visited the island before – on our way home from a summer holiday in Sweden a couple of years ago. We had planned to stay overnight after taking the ferry back from Trelleborg, but the weather had been so poor the whole time that we were all fed up and just wanted to go home. So my first view of Rügen was from the driver’s seat, and it consisted mostly of half-submerged fields – not quite the paradise Ilka had made it out to be.

We had much better fortune with the elements this time around – although it was very windy on the Saturday, when the picture above was taken, the sun shone for most of our time there. We stayed in Sellin, a resort town in the island’s south east, which has plenty of pretty villas in the German resort architecture style lining the main street. It also has lovely sandy beaches, though of course it was far too cold to swim.

The beach at Sellin, looking north

The beach at Sellin, looking north

My highlight was a trip on the Rasender Roland (Rügen Resort Railway), the island’s steam railway. Unlike the enthusiast-run steam railways we’re fond of visiting in Yorkshire, this line operates a daily service all year round on its 24km route from Putbus to Göhren. We could see the line from our apartment, and I was surprised to notice that they had several locomotives in service every day. This is the one that took us from Sellin to Göhren – it celebrates its 100th birthday this year.

1914 Vulcan locomotive

1914 Vulcan locomotive

The train was absolutely spick and span. I loved the fact that the carriages still have coal-burning stoves – the conductor came to stoke the one in our carriage. We were grateful it was there – although the sun was shining, the wind was gusting up to 90mph that day, so it wasn’t particularly warm.

Train stove

Train stove

We had lunch at a lovely small family-run restaurant next to the station, which smokes its own fish in the traditional manner. This is a common feature of many German Baltic Sea resorts – here’s the fish smoker checking that everything is in Ordnung:

Smoking fish

Smokin’

The beach at Göhren was lovely, but the wind meant it wasn’t much fun, so we decided to beat a retreat. True to form, we were taken back by a different engine on the return trip – as you can in this picture at the station in Sellin:

Sellin station

Sellin station

A weekend isn’t nearly long enough to get to know Rügen properly. It did whet my appetite though – I’ll happily go back to discover more. I’d also like to visit its next door neighbour, Hiddensee, which is famous for having virtually no motor vehicles at all. That will have to wait for a while though, as we’re planning on going south for this year’s holiday, to sample the delights of Bavaria.

2 Responses to “Rügen – the Baltic Pearl”

  1. Paul Says:

    Never went, wanna go now!

  2. Giles McCormick Smith Says:

    I can hardly believe it. I got a legitimate comment, and didn’t approve it. *hangsheadinshame*
    Thanks for bothering, dude!

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