Last week I went for a small trip of four days to Ostfriesland. A girl asked me if I could leave it all behind me and be really away for that time being. I answered yes I think I can, but the question still lingered on in the back of my head.
For this trip I had quite a set route and places I wanted to visit. Therefore I could easily have my mind set on the trip itself. I wanted to explore the region I wasn’t that familiar with, but not that unknown either. I have been in Aurich and Wilhelmshaven before but that’s been ages ago. I wanted to explore Ostfriesland more than that.
Furthermore, I knew when I would be back and the things I had to do the coming week. So I ‘just’ parked that in the back of my head and enjoyed the cycling through Ostfriesland with the sun on my back.
When you cycle you have all the time in the world to ponder on things. So, of course you think about things you have to do, you want to do and make new plans for different kind of things. And that isn’t bad, quite the opposite, apart from the fact that you cannot not think about anything (at least I can’t). It is very refreshing to be away on the bike and your primary concern is the route and in the afternoon a place to stay. That isn’t difficult in Germany where you have good cycle routes and plenty of fields to camp. In those four days you have all the time to philosphize about everything, since you don’t have to bother about other people or work or whatever. The same goes for a longer period of time when the one difference is is that you have more days to wander, wonder and ponder. Sure, to be away for a longer period of time is more adventurous. But if you want to clear your head or just reload yourself, a microadventure of a few days is more than enough. You don’t need to cycle to the Nordkapp just for that.
Now a few words about the trip itself. As I already mentioned, I had quite a clear goal where I wanted to go. The Upstalsboom at Aurich is where the old Frisians used to gather in a socalled ‘thing’ which we know from the Vikings. It was a kind of folk gathering from all the Frisian regions and where they kept court as well. So, an old place and it was seen as a sacred place which the oaks are proof of. The site is important for the Frisian history and it still is, since on the third day of Pentecost there is an assembly of the Frisians from the Netherlands, West-Germany (Ostfriesland) and the northern part of Germany with the border of Denmark (Nordfriesland).
The language that is spoken in that part of Germany isn’t Frisian anymore, but is Plattdüütsch (Lower German), which is still very much alive, since you hear it all around you and shops have signs in that language as well (I’m a lousy reporter since I haven’t made a picture of it). I knew Plattdüütsch is still common, but when you see and hear it anew you come to realize again how normal it is.
What I kinda have forgotten is the fact that they really see themselves as Frisians since I saw the sign of ‘Eala Frya Fresena’ (hail free Frisians) in a seamingly quiet town of Ogenbargen on a Landgasthof. Later on the same sign on a house. I should go back again and then really talk to the people to do a little survey. Would they feel more Frisian in the countryside, so in small towns as Ogenbargen or Hooksiel? More than in Wilhemshaven or Norden or Emden? And what about the islands?
After Jever (where I drank a Jever of course) and which is a nice town in itself I doubted if I would go diagonal to Hooksiel and visit more small towns on the way or go to Wilhemshaven and after that harbour city up to Hooksiel and take the western route alongside the coast. I chose to visit Wilhemshaven, but came to regret it actually. The town had a lot of tourists due to the beautiful weather and wasn’t that interesting. It was just a harbour, to be quite frank. But I stumbled upon a ‘Friesenbrunnen’. Again a sign of the strong Frisian history is still alive and kicking.
The cities of Norden and Emden I found much nicer. A friend of mine said that Emden could have been as nice as Harns if it hadn’t been bombed during WWII. But still it’s a nice little harbour city and apparently it is quite thriving since there was a fair going on in that weekend. I haven’t experienced it, since I was there in the early morning.
Landscapewise the East-Frisian region is quite the same as our Fryslân. Rural, Waddensea and islands. But there are also the characteristic socalled ‘sidewing landscapes’, relative small pieces of land with trees around them you see in a specific region of Fryslân, the region where I’m from. And you even have placenames that are the same.
In short I can highly recommend you to get on your bike on such a microadventure and visit Ostfriesland!