Northern Germany has much to offer traveling couples, but this is one experience we never imagined: riding on water! The morning before our adventure, our good friends in Cuxhaven, Germany, took us down to the seaside and said, “Tomorrow we are going to take a horse ride across the sea to the lighthouse.” We thought that something might have been lost in translation. German is one of the languages where certain words take on different meaning in English. Nothing could prepare us for the next day’s adventure.
In the morning. our wonderful hosts said, “We are going to the post office to pick up our horses.” We chuckled and said we were game. We bundled up as it was a brisk fall morning expecting the worst. As promised, we arrived at the Wattwagen Poste (loosely translated Mud Wagon Post.) The wagons double as tourist carriers and delivering mail.
We met our wagon master. He was a chipper fellow and he instantly had all on board that spoke German in stitches laughing the entire trip. Those of us that were Germaniclly challenged, just nodded and smiled. I need to work on my Deutsche. We climbed up the yellow elevated carriage and wrapped up in woolen blankets. With a whistle and a snap of the whip, our driver encouraged our two steeds onward. We crested the dike and lo and behold, the tide was out…letting us travel across the sea on dry ground!
Our yellow wagon train headed across the sea! The horses loved traipsing through the water puddles and little tidal streams. There were bundles of sticks set every so often to mark the best path out to our destination, a lighthouse in the distance.
Along the path, there were elevated cages. Our friends explained that these are rescue pods for the high tide. If the water starts to rise and trap you between the island and the shore, you simply climb up one of these. You have two options…wait it out or send up a flare. Option two comes with a stiff fine and fee as a rescue boat is send out to deliver you back to terra firma.
Our journey across the water ended at the island of Neuwerk. Population 39. Is it really an island, if you can take a carriage to it? The focal point of the entire island is one of the most quaint light houses we have toured. For a small ticket (5 euros) you are allowed to climb the circular staircase up to the top of the lighthouse. What is most interesting, the lighthouse…and the entire island for that matter is officially a part of Hamburg, Germany (the city is 75 miles away). Technically the lighthouse which was built in 1367 is the oldest surviving building in Hamburg. For its age, the entire lighthouse is in very good shape. The views from the top show the sea and Cuxhaven.
During the summer, you can walk around the island and see the farm. There is also a nice museum that explains the ecology of the area. After we had milled around for a time, our wagon master mustered us up again, we boarded our yellow carriage and headed back to the mainland. It was a great day trip.
Cuxhaven and Neuwerk are wonderful off the beaten path locations to visit as a couple.