Ruegen Beech Forests

The Island of Ruegen on a bike

Night sets in somewhere on a seashore on the north end of Germany, while we’re setting up our outer tent as  canvas for the bivouac spot, trying to limit the amount of sand that we’re going to take back with us to Berlin.

An almost fool moon lights an long beach, and somewhere in the distance fires we can see small burning camp fires, while on the horizon a ship floats quietly and the rhythmic sound of waves reminds us that we’re near the sea. Behind us the moon sheds it’s light upon the deserted ruins of a nazi beach resort which was never finished. Planned before the war, when the national socialism gained ground, it should have offered relaxing and cheap holidays to the arian workers. But then the war came, and after more than 70 years the ruins still watch over the sea and over empty beach, silent reminders of times which seem almost impossible to imagine.

A couple of hours later we’re in the warmth of our sleeping bags, watching the clouds glide over the sky, covering the stars from time to time. But still, when we wake up through the night we see the same sky which has fascinated so many humans through out history. For a while I though that you could have such a sky only in the mountains, where the air is clean and you’re a bit closer to them, but since then I’ve met the same sky in a lot o different places. The only condition is the lack of a light source which would hide them, and the remote beach we chose for our bivouac spot is perfect for that.

And thus as the night goes by, each time we open our eyes and each time we fall asleep we do it under the same porcelain sky. This place seems a world way from the Romanian beach resorts. At the same time it depends what are tourists searching for, if it’s parties, loud music and clubs the Romanian coast  might be better suited, instead for us the spartan beach is all that could have wished for.

When you are sleeping under the open sky, the sunrise will most certainly wake you up, even if only for a couple of seconds. This usually doesn’t happen during the actual sunrise, but almost half an hour before, when the twilight starts to replace the darkness of the night. The eyes sense the change and you will wake up, and you will have to choose between sleeping a bit more or starting a new day. It’s not hard to guess what we chose.


Bathing under the moonlight, on the deserted beach.

Our bivouac spot, and the sunrise.

Good morning sunshine!

Maybe I should say some things about Ruegen, a relatively large island which belongs to Germany (yes, surprisingly Germany does have some islands), with a contested history which is largely unknown if you didn’t grow up in Germany.

Probably the most fascinating period in the history of the island is the time when quite a few megaliths where built, spread throughout the island. Dolmens, which today seem unlikely stone mounds placed in unusual position, are older that the pyramids and maybe just as mysterious. Built sometime at the end of the neolithic in Europe and in Asia (they occur from north Ireland to Korea), the dolmens are especially fascinating as they didn’t have a clear destination which can be pinpointed. Some where burial mounds, some weren’t, some involve some astronomy, some don’t. What is clear is that many traces which could have told the story of the people which built them disappeared long ago in the humid European climate.

On the other hand it’s fascinating to think that 5000 years ago, people built these tings. And even though they looked just like you and be, they probably believed in completely different things and they had another world view. And after more than 200 generations, we have these stones, like a bridge across time, and when touching the dolmens you cannot help but wonder if other people ages ago didn’t do the same thing. Different people, from a different world and different time.

A dolmen, a gate to another world.

Now continuing with the history of Ruegen, what is know is that around the birth of Christ the island was the home of a Germanic tribe called the Rugii, from which we the name of the island. Only that an one point, probably tired of the life on a wind ridden island they packed their things and left for modern Hungary, where they also grounded a kingdom at one point.

The Slavs filled in the empty space so, and during the second half of the first millennium they grounded a kingdom here and they built cities and ports. A lot of the names on Ruegen come from this period. And they were skilled seafarers, so that in a period when the vikings ravaged the coasts of Europe their dominion didn’t include Ruegen for quite some while.

The slavic fortress of Cap Arkona.

But in the end they were conquered, and the island went from Denmark to Pomerania, and from here to Sweden, and then to Prussia for a while, and then back to Denmark, and then back to Sweden before finally becoming part of modern Germany. In the begging of the 20th century, probably in order to be sure that the island will remain in their possession the germans buit a 2 kilometer bridge which finally connected the island to the mainland.

In the island is also Germany’s most norther place, named Cap Arkona, which was before christian times the largest Slavic pagan temple from the Baltic sea. But the sea has gradually eaten from the island, and now only a small part of the old temple can be seen. The Jasmun national park can also be found where, where ancient beech forests meet up with white chalk cliffs and with the sea.

Riding through ancient beech forests.

The kings throne at Jasmun.

A detailed journal, written unfortunately in Romanian for now was written by Mihaela here.

In the middle of nowhere nr 9, equiped with a PO box.

The typical bicycle path.

No it’s not a south american general, but prince Wilhelm Malte, which transform Putbus into a beach resort.

Upside down with a new meaning.

Through young beech forests.

At the first dolmen.


And the most picture friendly dolmen. A photo which could be titled “A rock between rocks”.

The smallest ferry from Germany.

As a bike touring viking.

One of the typical sea bridges.

The road winds through ancient forests.

A small glimpse on how these forests probably also looked like thousand of years before.

Sunset fishing.

The dove, the sun and the ship.

Waiting for the sunrise.

Heading for the Koenigstuhl.

The kings throne from Jasmund.

Wandering through the chalk cliffs of Jasmun.

Going for a walk on the beach seems to be considered a bit unsafe by the germans.

The most northern piece of land from Germany.

The partial GPS tracks from the two days can be found here and here.




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