Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Seeing Stars (Part 4)

 Sunday, Sunday!

Sunday morning came and and I did actually role over and sleep a while longer- those of you that know me, will also know how tired I must have been for that to happen! Of course, this happened at 6am and I was wide-awake again at 7am! And those of you that didn't know me so far... know me a little bit better now! Yes, I am an early riser and sure enough, I got up and showered and out of the house and set out to search for coffee and breakfast with the natives...

...but the thing is that at this time of year, there are fewer natives than there are visitors- at least that is the way things seem! Passing a hiking group and exchanging more "moin-moin's!", the inevitable questions were posed as to where we all came from. I was there from Frankfurt, some were there from "nearby" Hamburg, a couple from Paris, a young family from France and even a group of English students- all congregating before the sign for one of the many hiking trails across the moorland and dunes of Rantum. 

I soon forgot the coffee and breakfast and decided to go hiking and chat with this interesting group, the wind and sea air blowing away any cares or stress and the feeling of being away from it all infectious. No, Sylt is not a land of breathtaking landscapes, but of gentle, green hills, densely scattered flowers such a the wild seaside hedge roses- the same ones that we gathered for Söl'ring Hof and wild herbage, grazing sheep and cattle and huge bails of hay in well-tended meadows... it is a modest and charming place. 

All Roads lead to... Home!

I hiked in a loop which brought me back towards the hotel, and soon enough, my phone began to ring and it was Oliver, suggesting we meet for coffee or a bite to eat, ahead of the rest, who were still getting themselves ready to face the day. I asked him where and he mentioned the name of a street I had seen, very close by... Sylt is only a small island and Rantum is but a small town... so I followed the signs back and just 5 minutes later, there we were!

I found the style of the street signs on Sylt rather intriguing- to me they seemed almost Native American in their appearance... I guess the carved wood reminded me of totem poles! I loved the quaint, maritime touches such a star fish and sea gulls that decorated them and just the way they were so different to anything I had ever seen before... I like that!

So it was a brief hug and hello and we marched off towards some stores, cafes and small restaurants in a part of town I hadn't seen before. Off to a different promenade and a fun little restaurant called the "Strandmuschel". There was a bracing wind still so it was nice to be inside where it was warm and cosy and Oliver recommended I join him for a "Pharisäer" which is a hot, strong coffee spiked with rum and cream- the national drink of North Friesland. So that was decided! 

It was good catching up and getting to know each other... of course he wanted to know all about what had been going on with me and we spent the whole time looking at my pictures... and letting the rum go to my head! We had decided to skip breakfast as we needed to meet up with the others, Miriam, Martin and their kids Merlin and Maud, so we knocked back our drinks and hiked on down the way, past more beaches and greenery, ready to get together and to get going!

We all met-up in a small fashion boutique- shopping is a big-deal for Sylt visitors and there are no end of possibilities to spend lots of money on wonderful things! Whilst the grown-ups shopped, I got to know the kids and we soon warmed to each other. Maud, 9-10 yrs of age, delightful, smart and sassy and Merlin, 18 and already with plenty of kitchen experience, having completed an internship at a major Frankfurt restaurant- I was impressed!

I was even more impressed, when we got into their large, 6-seater vehicle, only to discover that he was going to be driving us! So, our first stop was to be Westerland, for more shopping of course! Westerland is ground-zero on Sylt- it is where the action is, the stores, restaurants, discos and nightlife. This was something else entirely to Rantum! Of course, as I was the guest, I tagged along whilst they did what they had to do, but the banter was jovial, the mood relaxed and the weather was warming up gloriously!

5 o'Clock Tea... at 3!

Our next stop was to be Keitum, where we all wanted to have traditional North German waffles with red berries and cream... and a nice pot of tea, at the Kleine Teestube, or "little tea-house", which is quite an institution on the island. It was crowded with happy people... but not that crowded that we had too much difficulty getting seated- just 5-6 minutes after arriving we managed to garner the best seats, right in front of the house, where we could see and be seen- which is also part of "what it's all about" of course.

The men all chose to have the "5 o'clock English Tea" which we were relieved to discover, did not only get served at 5 o'clock! Especially me... by now I was a little tipsy from the rum, on an empty stomach... and starving! Fortunately, the portions were ample, the food was delicious, and we went on chatting, joking and enjoying the hospitality. The Austrian waitress that served us was sharp as a knife with her near enough 70 years of age and kept us all laughing, and we left feeling happy and full... but somehow thirsty...

I'll Be Back...

No, it wasn't only The Terminator that said this, but also I... as I left Johannes King's Genuss Shop on my first visit. I had promised to bring my friends with me and return on my day off- and that is exactly what I did! It was so nice seeing Selina, Felix and the girls again and introducing my friends! This time I was able to sit at the front, with all of the other guests, drinking chilled white wine and chilling accordingly! We ordered "Curiosity Cola" for the kids, which is one of the great, exclusive products that I have only ever seen at the shop- and I was glad that they loved it as much as I had done when I tried it. We nibbled on the wonderful candied orange peel and other small snacks and I did a little package design consulting with Selina as I had a couple of ideas for a couple of their products... it was just a good time for all! I was so happy that my new-found friends were as enthusiastic and delighted as I was and this little part of "The King's Empire"... and I was proud to be part of his kingdom, if only for a short while...

Sleeping on an Empty Stomach...

...was of course not an option! 
By the onset of evening, we were all hungry... and I was positively ravenous! As it was high-season, it was not easy to find seating for 6 with no prior reservation, but we found a traditional, down-to-earth place with a friendly atmosphere and made ourselves comfortable. Beers were ordered, bread was nibbled with olives, pates, spreads and other welcoming appetizers and food was ordered- plenty of it! None of the "haute cuisine" offerings I had been used to creating, just plain good food, which we all shared amongst us as the conversation became ever more jovial as the beer disappeared, followed by wine and ultimately by a fine local liquor before we decided to call it a day (or night!). This was when it became apparent what the great advantage of having our young driver was- it was good that at least 2 of us were fit! Thank goodness for the children- haha! Of course we had not had that much to drink, it was still perfectly light outside... and the amount of traffic on the island is blessedly low. It made for a nice calm, relaxed and peaceful drive back home and an end to a lovely day with sweet and charming people. We said our good nights, I gave my thanks to one and all... and went back to my little room happy, content... ready for bed- for another day... and another adventure!

Tomorrow I would be heading to Morsum and the gardens in which all of the wonderful herbs are grown, where honey is produced in a wonderful large bee hive... and where so much more was yet to be seen and done! But first some deep, deep sleep... and I am sure I fell asleep smiling!

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