Sarah and Katarina are two young women from Leipzig. They visited Jasmund National Park in the spring of 2014 and were initially planning only to hike along the chalk cliffs.
Dear unknown, I hope you enjoy out story. Naturally, the voice you hear is not really Brad Pitt‘s, but rather that of his German voice-over artist.
It was a spontaneous decision to come to Ruegen. I didn‘t want to spend my entire week off in Leipzig, and Sarah also needed a break from her bachelor's thesis. The perfect opportunity for a quick getaway for best friends. Sarah has been to Ruegen many times, but it‘s my first visit. The island is a dream, and I will most surely come back again! The water, the woods, the chalk coast ... three days are definitely not long enough.
On the first day we explored Sassnitz: the harbour, the breakwater – which is, by the way, the longest outside breakwater in Europe! – and the Old Town. I immediately fell in love with the small alleyways. The guidebook was right, they remind me of Italy, even though I initially thought that this was just a „little“overstated. We continued north, past the wonderful music pavilion and along the beach decorated with many small stone piles. We became a little anxious as the cliff to our left kept getting higher, but luckily the beach also got wider and we could relax and enjoy the view. There they were – directly in front of us, the majestic white chalk cliffs. I had no idea that they were sooo high and beautiful. No wonder everybody raves about them.
Today we plan to hike along the clifftop trail to the Koenigsstuhl. „And you are sure that you can make it for seven kilometres?“ Sarah‘s voice conveys a fair amount of doubt. „Of course. Not to worry. Why else would I have gotten up at 7:30?!“ As we passed the entrance to the National Park shortly before 9 am, I feel like an experienced hiker with my trekking shoes and fully stuffed backpack. The beauty is, my pack will become lighter every hour, because it‘s mostly filled with provisions: water, juice, sandwiches, apples and a few nuts. Sarah is carrying only half as much, but before I starve or, even worse, die of thirst, I’d carry rather a little bit more weight.
The sun is shining as we begin our hike and when the trail reaches the coast, we stop in awe: A layer of fog has settled over the water and the chalk coast looks straight out of a fairy tale! „This would be a perfect scene for Caspar David Friedrich.“ - „Hold on a moment while I run to town for a paintbrush and paints.“ I pretend to start running and we both break out laughing. I would really like to be able to paint, but luckily I have my camera. What a beautiful place to be!
For a long time we are alone in the forest and can fully enjoy the quiet atmosphere. The trail generally follows the coastline and I can‘t get enough of the beeches and the turquoise-coloured water. At the Kieler Brook, we take a detour to the beach where we find an inviting fallen log. „What do you mean, picnic?“ Sarah nods and I put down my backpack and twirl around 360 degrees. „One more time!“ shouts Sarah and pulls her camera out of her pocket. I laugh, spin around again and beam like the sun. Then I drop down on the trunk and unpack my supplies. Crazy, that it‘s so warm – and its only March. But we have already walked a ways, going up and downhill, and breaking out a sweat. On the other hand, the path really isn‘t that steep.
Early in the afternoon, we reach the Victoria Lookout, a small platform nearly a hundred metres above the sea. „From here, one has the best view of the Koenigsstuhl,“ I hear Sarah saying. „Look, there it is!“ I follow her outstretched arm and let my eyes wander to the famous chalk cliffs, which have long fascinated romantic artists. „Can we go up there too?“ - "Yes," replies Sarah. „There is an observation platform directly on top of the Koenigsstuhl. And right next door is the National Park Centre where we can get something warm to eat and visit an exhibition.“ - „What, an exhibition, I don‘t feel like going to a museum.“ - „Trust me! I have been there three times and each visit I was fascinated anew.“
I am not yet one hundred percent convinced. „And you are sure that I will like it?“ „Believe me, Katarina. This museum in not at all what you imagine. And if you really don‘t like it, I will take you out for an ice cream afterwards.“ - „Agreed. And if I like it, the ice cream is on me. “ Sarah shakes on the deal and two hours later we are standing at the entrance to the exhibition and have to make a choice. Sarah, the expert, informs me: „There are three different tours: Romanticism, Curiosity, and Adventure.“ „Which do you want?“ „Adventure. I am familiar with the others.“ „Good, then I will try the Romantic tour. You only live once“
I am greeted by two strangely familiar voices that proceed to lead me through the exhibition for the next hour. Sarah was right. This is no average museum in which you just look at stuff and read long descriptions. Here I can reach out and touch objects, try things out, and hear all kinds of interesting facts about the chalk coast and its origin over the earphones. With the help of the music, I really do forget the present and let myself in on a bit of „time travel“. I am transfixed by a model of a mouse burrow and watch the small animals running along the passages. Probably quite nice - a mouse‘s life, I muse. Oh no, Romanticism has gotten a hold of me.
When I leave the exhibition, Sarah is already waiting for me. „Well, how was it?“ With a spaced-out expression I grin at her: „You were right. The exhibition was great. Thanks!“ - „My pleasure! Did you recognize the voices?“ I shake my head, I have no idea who sweetened my travel through the ages. „Your tour was spoken by Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts.“ - „Wow! So I just travelled through time Brad Pitt ... Cool! Why didn‘t you tell me that right away?“ We laugh and I get us both an ice cream cone. Sarah certainly earned her reward.
Thoroughly satisfied, we leave the Visitor's Centre and head to the pebble beach one last time – to collect stones with holes in them. Sarah finds more than I do, but I also spend most of my time staring at the water and taking in the vastness of the sea. As much as I love Leipzig, the Baltic Sea is something very special. And I make a promise to myself: No matter what happens, next year I will come back to Ruegen! And to the chalk cliffs!