Just a few miles from shore in the Wattenmeer is a small Hallig (the name given to an island unprotected by a surrounding dike), inhabited by about 120 residents and often inundated during vicious winter storms. Blessed with keen survival instincts, the locals have learned how to cope with the realities of bad weather. On this tiny Hallig, just about a mile wide and two miles long, dwellings, barns, a store and a church have been sited on mounds of earth (called Warften), built up by man’s labor over the centuries, along with dikes, to ward off the dangers of inundating water. If you ever want to get away from it all, this is a good place to go. It’s Eva and Suzi’s third visit and they insist that I join them this year.
A great place to relax. This Warft is where we stay for two weeks.
As this is the last stop on our three month vacation, we turn our car in in Hamburg and catch a train and bus to the ferry landing.
Comfortable fast train whisks us through beautiful countryside.
First rate ferry
Too calm for any seasickness
Food truck came on board to deliver goods to the small Edeka grocery store.
We seem to be under attack by a pirate boat. Somehow we survive.
Tourists are met at the ferry landing by horse-drawn covered wagons which take them to one or another Warft where tourists spend the day. For us, our hostess picked us up in her SUV. Tourists are not allowed to bring their car, but residents usually have one.
Horse drawn conveyance for the tourists
Our hosts Henriette and Sönke make us feel so at home.
The Hallig is flat, very flat
We walk all the roads while many people ride their bikes.
We enjoy the frequent colorful sunsets.
Sometimes the weather is stormy. We walk anyway.
Many herds of cattle are brought over from the mainland to feast on summer meadows. Calves as well as lambs are born here. The cattle return to the mainland before winter. Occasionally they are caught by an early flood and are driven up to the Warften for protection.
Many herds of cattle keep us company.
I guess we are curious Americans to this herd.
Hey, get me in the picture!
These horses pull the tourist wagons, but these have the day off.
We walk 15 minutes to the grocery store every day or two for bread that is baked on site, and for fresh veggies and meats. They carry everything we need at mainland prices. And the clerks are so nice, too.
A small Edika grocery store provides basic provisions for residents and visitors.
There is always a lot to do in a low key kind of way.
We love to swing.
Our hosts tend their sheep. In a few days the sheep will be off to market.
Too cute to become lamb chops
One of the main attractions that is almost unique to this area is the effect of the daily tides. When the tide is in, we see a number of islands in the area. But when the tide is out, the water drains away and it is often possible to walk the mile or so to the next island (with a guide). Young folks, old folks, everybody does it. Suzi and Eva have a ball on the four hour outing.
What a way to have fun
Off goes the group at low tide to Norderoog.
Looking back from Norderoog to Hooge. Would you want to do that?
One of the fine attractions of Hallig Hooge is the abundance of birds. They flock here by the millions during the migration seasons and some are yearlong residents, such as oystercatchers, terns and ducks.
Oystercatcher with young ones
Oystercatchers at the north dike
Butterfly enjoying an abundance of wildflowers
One day there is the annual fair at the tiny yacht harbor, with lots to eat and drink and a variety of children’s games, along with yacht racing.
A tug of war
A cute onlooker
Haying season calls for heavy tractors.
Hay ready for winter needs
One Warft has the store and a museum, others have restaurants. One has only a church and cemetery.
Many centuries-old buildings are really picturesque
The church on a Warft by itself, with a cemetery to the side
Interior of the church, where we attend a concert.
Only long-term residents can be buried in this cemetery.
Fresh fish, delicately cooked – what could be better? With a side of latkes (potato pancakes)
When the weather is inclement, we can dine indoors.
The gals like to sit in the Strandkorb, usually found at the seashore to ward off wind.
Who can resist a good dessert?
Will Suzi really eat this freshly caught crab?
Many dwellings, some more than 200 years old, have thatched roofs.
This is our local beach, so to say, visible when the tide is out.
When the tide is in, our beach and pier are quite under water.
Too soon our time is running out and we must leave Hallig Hooge.
We have had sunny days, cool days, rainy days and many great sunsets. And we have almost worn out our shoes walking the endless roads and paths through and around the Hallig. Now it’s time to say Auf Wiedersehen.
A final sunset to a fine vacation on a tiny island in the North Sea.