In my last blog, I spoke about the winter holiday we took to Juist, on Germany’s North Sea coast. In this blog, I’d like to share more of that wonderful winter holiday to this very special island – also known as Töwerland, meaning wonderland.
On two feet or two wheels?
During our Juist holiday, we were lucky enough to have fantastic weather – plenty of cold, crisp winter days with beautiful sunshine. So, we made the most of it and spent a lot of time walking along the beach, through the dunes and around Lake Hammersee. It’s the biggest fresh water lake on a North Sea island and was formed by a storm surge in 1932. The whole area is a Nature Reserve and an important habitat for a variety of species.
Pit-stops are a must
Whenever we embark on any outdoor activities – whether it’s hiking in the mountains, walking along the beach or cycling, we always like to have a destination in mind for a pause. Knowing that we’re food lovers, it usually entails a café or a restaurant of some sort!
One day, we hired some bikes and cycled to Domäne Bill, on the west side of the island. This popular café is actually a former farm, and serves traditional food like pea or lentil soup and the best freshly baked raisin bread in the world! So, 300 calories off by cycling there and at least 500 gained! Never mind, it’s what holidays are about!
When we came out of the café, we were treated to a true WOWW moment with the most impressive sunset. It completely transformed the marshland into a golden, almost artificial, landscape. So, it’s no surprise why so many artists are drawn to the sea to capture fascinating moments like these. Our cycling trip back to our hotel only took about 30 minutes and we were left feeling wonderfully refreshed.
Time for wellness
After spending the day outside in the cold, it always felt good to return to our cosy hotel just before dark. We would then grab a book or a magazine and head off to enjoy the warmth of a sauna or steam bath. I can think of nothing better than chilling out in a beautifully scented relaxation area, enjoying a massage or just having a snooze. If you’re a parent to young children, it makes it even more essential to find a little me-time. When I return home, I always feel recharged and ready to tackle daily life again.
Christmas and New Year’s Eve – a very special time of year
As I’ve said before, the atmosphere on these North Sea islands are very special around Christmas and New Year. I’ve heard the same about the islands of Amrum, Sylt and Föhr, which are located further north.
It’s quite usual for many of the cafés, restaurants and shops to be closed between November and February for renovation work or for the owners to take a break themselves. However, if you’re travelling there just after Christmas, the islands are very busy, but in a good way.
When we were on Juist Island during the Christmas and New Year period, we were delighted to see that our two favourite cafés, the Lütje Teehus (literally meaning the little tea house) and the Loogster Stuv were open. They both have open fireplaces and are tastefully decorated in a design that reflects the East Frisian style. Perfect to enjoy an Eierpunsch (a hot alcoholic drink similar to egg nog) or a typical East Frisian tea, in addition to some local specialities and homemade cakes and waffles.
New Year’s Eve festive dinner and after party
For our New Year’s Eve dinner, we were spoilt to a wonderful 7-course meal at the Pabst Hotel. It included salmon, seared scallops, turbot, lobster, beef filet and a creative winter dessert.
In Germany, it’s traditional to put our coats on at about 11.45pm on New Year’s Eve and go outside to wish everyone a ‘Happy New Year’. And that’s not just reserved for the people you spent the evening with. So, we did the same on Juist island and walked towards the beach where many other people had headed off to. Unfortunately, it started to rain, so we decided to go to the Hohe Düne Bar where they were playing party music and everyone was in high spirits. We joined the party and enjoyed watching the fireworks while sipping on a glass or two of champagne. It was a lovely start to another New Year!
New Year’s Day walk to blow the cobwebs away
Luckily, on New Year’s Day, the hotel served breakfast until 1pm. After an extended breakfast or rather brunch, we were ready for another walk in the fresh air. The sun was out, the air was cold (5C) and everyone we met along the beach was in a friendly and happy mood. It was a lovely, quiet day where we reflected on the events of the previous year and started to look forward to new adventures in the coming year.
Every time we leave Juist, we always feel a little bit emotional. We have simply fallen in love with this hidden spot on Germany’s North Sea coast. As the ferry leaves the harbour, they always play a particular piece of music called Biscaya’ by James Last, which often brings a tear to many visitor’s eyes (including myself). I’m a real softy and often get emotional over the smallest of things.
Luckily the weather was on our side and the ferry left for the mainland at the allocated time. However, a few days later, some ferries had to be cancelled due to icy conditions. So, you may just get a chance to stay a little longer on this little gem of an island. After all, it could be worse!
Outlook for 2019
As you know, we’ve been to Juist Island many times in the past, and in all seasons. In 2019, I’ll give you an insight into this special place for a family summer holiday as well as another very special trip for two at a different time of year. So, look out for these upcoming blogs or sign up here for my weekly newsletter (sent out every Sunday) so you don’t miss them.
Only two sleeps until Christmas! Well, it’s only one for us as we Germans celebrate Christmas on 24th December. I wish you a calm and relaxed Christmas with your family or close friends that is filled with love.