Monika and Inge are two fun-loving sisters from a small city in Thuringia. Together they are over 130 years old, way to young for an organized tour group.
I had to turn 65 before finding the landscape of my life. Koenigsstuhl, you take my breath away!
It‘s 5 am and just a hint of spring can be felt in front of the main square in a small city in Thuringia.
The two sisters, Monka and Inge, are the first to arrive with their luggage at the „Sonnenschein” tour bus office.
Monika is the younger and funnier one of the two sisters. Even at 65 years of age and after working in sales for many decades, she is full of energy and drive. It was Monika who had the idea to take a bus trip to Ruegen Island in early December.
The two sisters had always wanted go on vacation together to the Baltic Sea. But somehow something always got in the way. Inge was an art and history teacher and could only get away during school holidays. Now they are both retired, the children are out of the house, and their husbands have plenty to do in the garden. This was the chance for the sisters to finally travel to Ruegen.
Slowly the other passengers arrive. All seem a little tired, but make an effort to say a friendly hello. Monika and Inge are first in line when the bus arrives. A nice driver with a Hamburg accent greets everybody and helps load the suitcases. As the bus driver lends Monika a hand getting onto the bus, she recognizes a large anchor tattoo on his arm. She whispers to her sister „Look Inge, the captain‘s on board already“.
They have been on the road for five hours. Monika and Inge made good use of the time to re-read their guide books. After hearing so many wonderful stories, both sisters are especially looking forward to the chalk cliffs. „Dear passengers, we are now crossing over to Ruegen Island and should arrive at the hotel in Sassnitz in about 45 minutes“ proclaims the captain’s voice over the loudspeaker.
Having arrived in Sassnitz, they have no time to loose. They want to head directly to the famous chalk cliffs.“We can drive right up to the Koenigsstuhl,“ the bus driver tells them. The bus creeps up a narrow winding road leading through a dense beech forest. Inge explains „The forest was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011“. Monika thinks to herself, „Once a teacher – always a teacher.“ As the branches of the Ancient Beech Forest brush against the bus, she wonders whether she really just saw an elk with a huge rack in the shadow of the trees?
The group receives a warm welcome from a ranger at the KÖNIGSSTUHL National Park Centre, „Welcome to Jasmund National Park! Please follow me.“
Even though there are three other tour buses on the car park, everything goes smoothly. There are no long lines, everything is timed perfectly.
Toilets, a souvenir shop, and benches to catch one’s breath: Nothing is missing. Monika and Inge feel as though they have finally arrived after their long journey. The captain also takes a moment to relax with a mug of steaming black tea in the bistro. He winks at Monika and Inge and asks, „Have you been to the cinema? You definitely have to see the film. It tells of the migration of the Ancient Beech Forests. The beech forest in Jasmund National Park is unique. It belongs to UNICEF or something.“ - „Well, something like that, it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site,“ corrects Inge.
Not even the observation platform is crowded. Students stand in awe of the beautiful view. The brilliantly white chalk cliffs go down almost 120 metres to the beach. Precariously balanced old beech trees hang on by their roots from the eroding cliff. At the foot of the cliffs, the Baltic Sea silently laps on the shore. Towering clouds accumulate at the horizon. Monika and Inge are overwhelmed: What a fascinating landscape! What spectacular nature!
„I‘ve been looking everywhere for you girls! I guess you can‘t get enough of the view. Hurry up, the others are in the bus already.“ „Aye Aye Capt’n - we are on our way“.