Monday, September 12, 2011

Erik O'Brien- Kiel, Germany- Adventures on the Island of Sylt

This summer I got the chance to travel to Kiel Germany for a summer semester abroad. While Kiel is an incredibly interesting town with lots to do, I would like to shine a light on a small 3 day excursion I made to Sylt. Sylt is a tiny island off the coast of Germany that is almost in Denmark. It took between 2-4 hours and 2 trains to get there. The whole train ride I was envisioning the beautiful beaches (something we don't have here in Utah) and sunny weather that would make for the perfect outing. When we finally arrived it was just that. The sun was shining, and a cool but delightful breeze swept through the air. Once off the train we made our way towards our living quarters. Sylt is known for its beaches as well as lavish lifestyles, it was hard to bike down the street without seeing someone speed by in a sports car. Our living quarters were not comparable with the surrounding million dollar homes. Our room held 12 people, separate beds of course, and a table in the middle. I am not complaining, I just wanted to illustrate the difference between where I was staying and what the area around us was like. We spent that first day fighting the wind with our bikes followed by exhaustion and sleep. The second day I awoke to harsh wind and rain, the sunny island I had envisioned was now a gray cold mess. At least, I thought so at the time. Despite the undesirable weather we ventured out to the east coast of the island (the island is so thin its about a 5-10 minute walk from one coast to the other). The east coast was not a sandy dune beach but rather a muddy one, with sheep grazing by it. Now most people would think that a gray and muddy beach is somewhat undesirable and most of the time it is. However the east coast of Sylt is very special. When the tide goes out, it goes ALL the way out. I'm talking 1-2 miles, it was incredible. We walked on the sea floor and found crabs and snails and if you did not watch out you could fall into some of the mud pits and you would be up to your waste in mud! I never thought something seemingly so ugly could be so beautiful. If spectacular mud beaches are not your thing, that's ok. On the west coast Sylt has gorgeous sand dune beaches that are more in line with what most people think of when they here the word "beach". We flew kites and swam in the ocean even though it was cold. We ended that night sitting on the beach watching the sun set, something I will never forget. If you are ever in the neighborhood I encourage you to take the train to Sylt, it is something you will never forget.

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