London, United Kingdom
September 15, 2002
Travemunde is where the Trave river meets the Baltic. The shore along the Trave is a marina, with all the bustle and tackle associated with boats. Along the Baltic shore is the beach. Rough, white sand stretches below a promenade and is packed with beach chairs which can’t have changed much in over 100 years. They are made of wickerwork, shaped like the gondolas on a big wheel, with hooded roof, back and arms, lined with cushions, and fit at least 2 people sitting side by side. They are drawn up in straggly rows, all aligned precisely towards the sun, like some field of exotic plants. Where the 2 shores meet is the monstrous 30-floor Maritim hotel.
The water isn’t clear like the Mediterranean, but a thick nutritious grey-green soup full of wildlife. As I swam I could feel the seaweed touching me lightly, sizing up whether I was weak enough to pull under. I also felt other things which I didn’t want to identify. But it was one of the best swims I’ve had in years – invigorating, refreshing, exhausting. I think bracing is the word.
There are wooden piers running into the water that have prominent notices forbidding jumping, diving, or any other kind of indecorous behaviour. I wondered what they were for until I tried walking directly into the sea from the beach. The shore along the water’s edge is packed with small stones, mussels and other shellfish; their sharp shells pointed upwards to catch anything passing in the waves. There are sea birds everywhere, sitting on the sea or the piers and railings, crying in the air, and parading along the beach, giving the shell-fish a hard time, and keeping a weather-eye open for people. Mainly seagulls, but there were also larger birds I didn’t recognise, as well as ducks and swans. I’ve never seen swans at sea before, but they were hovering along the waterline, preening their wings, just as if they were in any municipal park. I wasn’t sure about swimming alongside them, knowing their aggressive reputation on land, but wherever I swam, they always seemed to be going in another direction, and I had no trouble.
Along the landward side of both shores are shops and eateries, serving everything from cold beer (or sekt) to every conceivable kind of sausage and fish. Behind the shops are parks and gardens. There are plenty of play areas for children, ranging from miscellaneous plastic objects scattered in the sands to a proper skateboarding arena. In the first week in September the place was deserted, apart from a handful of hardy pensioners. But this is essentially a beach for locals, and as such a great place to visit.
From journal First impressions