Two Days on Hallig Oland
Posted on August 17, 2014
Both Suzi and I, vowing we’d be coming back to Hallig Hooge some day, nonetheless looked forward to our next adventure, Hallig Oland. This is a very small Hallig, under 300 acres, with only one Warft.
About 20 people live in its 15 buildings. That’s it — but several residents rent out rooms or vacation apartments. It is connected to the mainland (5 km, or 3 miles) by a rock causeway and narrow gauge tracks.
But no trains use these tracks: since there is no ferry to this Hallig, the inhabitants use wondrous contraptions, called Loren, to get to the mainland for their groceries, banking, visiting, and to pick up their guests and take them back. The tracks then run the length of the Hallig and another 2.5 km through the Wattenmeer to neighboring Hallig Langeness, the largest of the Halligen.
The Loren were originally intended to be used by the workers who to this day seem to have steady employment, on account of the frequent floodings, tending to and repairing dikes and rails. But now the residents of the Hallig can each build and own one, too; hence they are not quite as isolated as they were years ago. These little trams are registered and regularly certified.
To reach Oland, we first had to take a ferry from Hooge to Langeness.
At the ferry landing we met a driver who took us in his van to the Lore “station”, 10 km to the east.
There he dropped us off and telephoned our landlady on Oland who readied her Lore and came to pick us up.
Before she got there, we had time to look at these little homemade, or at least home designed, trams. They were hilarious — and very creative. Most of them were open vehicles, but some had a roof for wind and rain protection. Here are some examples:
Our landlady, Claudia Nommensen, picked us up, loaded our baggage – and us — onto the Lore and off we went on a thrilling ride.
For a couple of miles we negotiated the tracks over the open sea. It seemed the people weren’t very concerned with straight, smooth tracks: rusty and bent in places, they nonetheless worked just fine. Speed limit was 25 km/h but, Claudia told us, “we go 30!”
The tracks went along the backside of the Warft, and we stopped at her house.
Time to unload and get settled in our pretty room. A family with two daughters was occupying Claudia’s other rental, a one-bedroom apartment. We marveled at what we saw from our window: a cluster of the cutest little houses, beautiful flowers everywhere, a lovely garden belonging to our house, and the open grassland and water in the background. We thought we had found Paradise.
Since we had no kitchen facilities, we took all our meals at Claudia’s. That first afternoon she served Kaffee and homemade Kuchen on her shaded patio. Great beginning, and many delicious meals followed. The other guests were wonderful table companions, and we had a lot of fun and stimulating conversations.
Of course we had to circumnavigate this island, too. That wasn’t hard, it being so much smaller than Hooge. We started at the small harbor which lay below our house.
The post marking various heights of high waters and floods was fascinating.
The clouds were dramatic and always changing, but they were just putting on a show. No rain fell.
The Halligflieder was in bloom here, too.
Sea and grass fill our view.
We were never far from the Lore tracks. Here we are looking towards the mainland.
Looking the other direction: Oland’s stone dike with the Lore tracks and connection to Hallig Langeness in the background.
We had fun watching a Lore or two approach and zip past us.
Suzi thinks the tracks are for relaxing.
Oland is home to Germany’s smallest and only thatched-roof lighthouse. Claudia’s husband is the keeper.
This one-Warft island has everything: Behind the lighthouse is the Church.
And here is the bell tower. Note the rope: every two weeks, when the preacher comes to the Hallig, a designated person rings the bell by hand. We heard and saw her do it on Saturday evening — it looked like it was a lot of work — even though services were not until the next day. We were told that was to remind the people!
Next to the Church is a building which serves as community center, meeting hall, art gallery — and if and when there are children living on the island, as a school. It has been closed as such for some years because the children live and go to school on the mainland. But the law is: should a family move in with children, even one child, the islanders HAVE to hire a teacher.
There has to be a cafe/restaurant, too. Yes, there is, but it is only open when the owner and chef decides to come over by boat from the mainland, usually because a tourist group on a day’s outing has called ahead.
There is even a Post Office. I suppose the mailman comes over by Lore to deliver and pick up the mail. Then he re-sets the day on the mailbox, indicating which day he will come next.
Need a good book to read? Just make sure you come on Mondays or Thursdays, from 4:30 to 5 pm.
After a good walk around the island, how about a little rest? We have walked around the entire Hallig.
Then came the sunset. And what a show it was! On our last night the tide was out and we were going to have our own Wattwanderung. For more on this very popular activity in the North Sea region, you’ll have to wait till the next post, but in short, it means walking on the ocean floor during low tide.
Only the edge of the Watt was muddy, the rest turned out to be much firmer and cleaner.
We went way out — our Warft got smaller.
Then the sun and sky gave us a fiery farewell to this magical Hallig.