A delightful dip in the North Sea
SHORNCLIFFE, QUEENSLAND THE East Frisian islands off Germany’s North Sea coast are popular with local tourists. Borkum, the largest, most westerly, most visited and most easily accessible isle is delightful. It has a rich maritime history and is endowed with many kilometres of beautiful white-sand beaches and lots and lots of wide- open space. It also has refreshing (as in gusty) sea breezes.
There are the normal beachside activities in abundance on Borkum such as swimming (yes, the North Sea is great for a dip and not too cold, at least during my autumn visit), sailing and wind and kite surfing.
Then there are the fascinating guided mudflat tours, which are led by guides who not only speak authoritatively on the variety of creatures living in the mud, such as mussels, worms and oysters, but warn visitors of the rapidly advancing tide.
The guides readily relate stories of non- guided walkers getting stuck in the mud and then drowning on the incoming tide.
More familiar to Australians is the presence of socalled surf lifesavers. Their standard uniform is a little different from ours (more like Arctic survival gear in colder months), but the swimming safety flags are the same colour and their equipment almost identical.
However, Borkum’s lifesavers do not have to confront sharks, crocs, stingers or, it must be admitted, even surf.
One big difference between German and Australian beaches is the presence at the former of strandkorbs, which are wicker basket-like affairs that can seat two people and protect you from the elements.
But be aware of a particular cultural sensitivity that Germans seem to exhibit on their beaches. Hiring a strandkorb entitles you to peace and quiet in the vicinity of your little bit of rented beach.
At least that is what I soon discover when my daughter and I are roundly chastised by a uniformed beach ‘‘guardian’’ for daring to laugh and frolic while building a sandcastle.
Not only are there few foreigners on Borkum, but none of the global brands such as McDonald’s, KFC and the like. Sounds like the perfect get-away-from-it-all holiday destination, ja? Send your 400-word contribution to Follow the Reader: travel@ theaustralian.com.au. Columnists receive an OSABrands Universal Travel Adaptor kit (total value $107.85) with two USB ports ($44.95), OSABrands Digital Luggage Scales ($32.95) and Tatonka RFID Protected Passport Pouch ($29.95). More: osabrands.com.