Posted by: Jack Hope | Monday January 14, 2013

German Excursion 3: Nordeney

windmill modifiedSo I have arrived at my last write-up about my trip to Germany and even though the trip itself is now many months into the past, reaching the end of writing about it feels a little like the end of the trip again.

It’s a bittersweet combination of sadness that it’s over but incredible happiness and gratitude that I was able to go to Germany for those 9 days in September.

Our last few days in were spent in a road trip around the north end of Lower Saxony, the German state that contains Filsum, Ost Friesland, Leer and the many other places we visited.

Of all the destinations that we visited during this time, the one that stands out the most is the Island of Nordeney.

But no telling of the visit to Nordeney would not be complete without mentioning what went before, a fantastic day of wandering about Lower Saxony.

Village where we had supper.

Village where we had supper.

As you can see from the pictures we visited several interesting locations including the windmills, a reminder of just how close we were to the Netherlands and how the cultures overlap in this part of Germany.

Our plan had been to get a hotel room near the ferry terminal that evening and overnight there, then set out to Nordeney the first thing in the morning. Unfortunately for us, it seemed every hotel on the north coast was full.

Or closed. A lot of them after 10:00 wouldn’t unlock the doors for us.

We eventually had to quit and drive back to Filsum for the night, which wasn’t too bad, although it added about two hours of extra driving. But it was either that or the 200€ room and we just didn’t feel like it was worth it.

Back to the ferry terminal the next day and I have to admit, I was really dragging myself. The negative effects of the Effexor were hitting me really hard.

Maike on the Ferry with storms in the background.

Maike on the Ferry with storms in the background.

Still it was onto the North Sea for a brief crossing to Nordeney.

This was my first time to the North Sea and from what I could see, it’s really beautiful. There was a strong storm coming in and the wind was blowing hard.

For what is a relatively short crossing it takes a while to get there. The sea is quite shallow and so the ferry has to slowly navigate around various markers to avoid the various hazards.

Still we eventually arrived at the island, just in time to catch the spectacular storms.

Nordeney is a place that I had wanted to visit for a long time. When I was still in High School, for a creative writing assignment I had chosen the island (effectively at random, this was before I knew Maike) as the setting.

The Internet was still in its infancy at that time but I was able to get some information that I thought gave me a ring of authenticity. I seem to recall my teacher at the time didn’t think much of the assignment overall, but then I didn’t think much of him period, so I suppose we were even.

At any rate, the idea of this little vacation island on the North Sea had intrigued me for a while and I was not to be disappointed.

Disembarking from the ferry we came into a small area where cars could park. Private automobiles (with the exception of deliveries) are not allowed in the town or anywhere else except in the area immediate off the ferry. The only people to bring cars to Nordeney are those who live there and then just to store them at the parking lot. We had left the car (Maike or Sorën’s, I can’t remember which) at a parking lot on the mainland.

Since I’ve moved to Vancouver I’ve become very interested in urbanism and city planning and I’ve come to view automobiles, especially the way we use them in North America, as a destructive influence on our cities. Visiting a town without cars was an exciting prospect.

Storms as we walked along the beach.

Storms as we walked along the beach.

Setting out from the ferry terminal we decided to follow the path that runs along the western beach as we headed towards Maike’s Aunt and Uncle’s place in the town. Along the way, the storms continued to move in which, I allowed me to catch some spectacular pictures.

Sorën as we walked around Nordeney.

Sorën as we walked around Nordeney.

We were also hailed on. Apparently I cannot visit Germany without being hailed on.

Given that the weather was turning on us, we decided to cut off the walk and make a b-line for Maike’s Aunt and Uncle’s house.

By the time we arrived we were all soaked so we took the opportunity to relax and dry out for a few minutes. Maike’s Aunt and Uncle have a lovely home on one of the tiny streets in the town.

The town has a population of about 6000 people and its main business is vacationers during the warmer months. Hotels line a portion of the beach.

After drying out we headed to a nearby restaurant for lunch and afterwards we wandered into town to explore a little.

North Sea storm from the Island of Nordeney.

North Sea storm from the Island of Nordeney.

Walking the narrow streets of Nordeney I admired the row housing of the residents. There are no front yards, although many of them have small gardens in the back.

A cobble stone street on the island of Nordeney.

A cobble stone street on the island of Nordeney.

There are almost no cars to be seen and on the main streets you find everyone walking, even in relatively inclement weather (such as we were having) especially on the main shopping streets, which were full of people, visitors and locals alike.

Unfortunately the picture I snapped of the main street didn’t turn out.

The town occupies only a small portion of the island and it’s strictly limited in how much it can grow. The rest of the island is a nature preserve, which we didn’t get to see as much of as we would have liked.

But as I always say, that just gives me an excuse to come back one day.

Nordeney was also another opportunity to shop, this time for my parents. At the last-minute while we were waiting for the taxi to take us I noticed in one of the gift shops a birdhouse, shaped like a windmill with “Willkommen” written on it.

Another street view of the town.

Another street view of the town.

My parents are constant bird watchers and this wouldn’t be the first birdhouse I bought for them, but they are constantly adding new ones.

Ironically, they recently acquired a small vacation property at a place called ‘Dutch Creek,’ which matches goes well with the confluence of cultures in this part of Germany near the Netherlands.

They also celebrated their own wedding anniversary only a few days after Maike and Sorën’s own wedding, their 35th anniversary.

The bird house ended up making a perfect gift for their anniversary and actually ended up replacing another one I had purchased for them a number of years back at their new place in Dutch Creek. That one had inadvertently trapped a chipmunk and was brought back to the backyard of their house in Calgary.

The next day Mrs P departed early in the morning for her return to Canada. She had made the connection through Frankfurt via train, something I think I should have at least checked into.

Over the course of the day we got ourselves sorted and drove back to Hamburg as I was flying out the next morning.

The medication was unfortunately getting worse day by day but I wasn’t realizing it, just thinking it was the combination of jet lag and all the excitement of the wedding. I felt weighed down by it.

Nonetheless the drive back to Hamburg was a good chance for Maike and I to talk. Indeed I got to spend the entire afternoon and evening with her, as Sorën was staying behind to help sort things out at his mother’s house. Fortunately, he would be home in time to drag himself to the airport to help see me off.

Maike was also good enough to take me into the city centre of Hamburg which was fantastic, both because I think Hamburg is a fantastic city, but also because the last time I had been able to buy some nice clothes there.

She took me to the same big and tall shop where I got the best news I had heard in a long time: I was now too small for the big and tall shop.

Fortunately in Germany, the clothes in the normal people range actually includes clothing for people as tall as me. Maike was very patient and helpful, especially considering I knew how tired she was as well.

Supper, my last night in Germany.

Supper, my last night in Germany.

The next morning we all ended up  over sleeping our alarms a bit but I still made it to the airport on time to catch my plane.

It was time for me to say good-bye to Mr & Mrs Dreß.


I’d just like to end off this series of posts about my trip by expressing my gratitude once again to all the people who made this such an amazing experience for me:

All of the Twitter, Facebook and blog followers who supported my ambition to go, back when I just had $10 in a jar, no plan and only a “crazy notion.” Particularly bloggers treehugginvamp and mentalhealthtalk.

My parents who thought this was actually a great idea and supported me finding a way to do it.

Sorën’s family (particularly mother and brother) for their welcome and hospitality which made me feel at home and comfortable when I’m still experiencing a lot of difficulty around new people.

Mrs P for remaking my suit for me, an unexpected and fantastic gift that I will undoubtedly wear for many, many years to come, as well as being a terrific travel companion.

And finally, last but far from least, Maike and Sorën for inviting me to attend and be a part of their special day. And then on top of that hosting me during my stay and then touring around northern Germany, far more than I could ever have hoped for.

While I’m still struggling to move forward and I entered a very difficult period after this trip, this was undoubtedly an important turning point and confidence booster for me. It reminded me of all the great things that are out there and that are attainable if you just have the audacity to try to achieve them.

My favourite souvenir of the trip, one of the centre pieces from the reception. A reminder that sometimes crazy notions aren't so crazy after all.

My favourite souvenir of the trip, one of the centre pieces from the reception. A reminder that sometimes crazy notions aren’t so crazy after all.



  1. Glad to have all the peices of the story of your trip finally 🙂 it looks like a beautiful place and sounds as if the people are very nice as well. Thanks for the mention as one of your supporters. I always try my best to be there for my friends, whether virtual or in the flesh and am glad to be of some comfort and support to you. Also glad that you came out of your funk and are back to posting somewhat regularly. It really is theraputic to get this stuff out and get input from fellow depression sufferers, or, most importantly, knowing you aren’t alone. 🙂

    • Thanks very much! The support online was a big motivator to try and make this happen and I really believe it made a huge difference.

      I’m really hoping to keep up this rate of posting. It seems to help a lot to get it all out there. Hope you’re doing well too!

      • Thanks. I’m not doing too bad. Getting stuff done. My daughters had a bug since Friday. She’s going back to school today.

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