The last time I was in Kiel, it was March. Coming out of a long, hard Winter, I distinctly remember watching the temperature gauge on the dashboard of Significant German’s car and cheering loudly when it hit 14 degrees. I think I yelled something like, ‘suck it Winter, Spring is here.’ It was a high point. A yearned for light at the end of a cheek-bitingly, nose snappingly cold tunnel.
Kiel, at that time, looked a little like this:
We ended up, because we’re so spontaneous and free spirited, taking a little trip across the border to the lovely Danish seaside town of Sønderborg. It was fucking freezing. I ate a hotdog, lost feeling in my face and felt suitably Spring-like. Sønderborg looked a little like this:
This time around, the city of sailors gave us three solid days of bright, clear, Scandinavian-esque sunshine. It was the sun’s last hurrah before it disappears down-under to give my hemisphere brethren their most famed season. The daily temperatures were in the single digits – apart from the occasional midday peak of 10/11 degrees – and the nights were somewhat crisp. Bracing, some may say. This time, Kiel looked a little like this:
As you can see, I was celebrating in much drearier surrounds earlier this year. One’s mind is a funny thing.
We did the trendy thing of getting a coffee at a Campus Suite, where the Kielers who care to see and be seen, go to sip their brews. It was abysmal, burnt and bitter and I mistook cinammon and sugar for brown sugar, which rendered the entire beverage essentially undrinkable. We drifted down Kiel’s ridiculously long main shopping street (that has the bizarre honour of being the second-longest in Germany or something equally as unnecessary) brunched on the water and strolled down a pier, jutting out into the frosty water. The wind rolling off the North Sea was like a slap of mouthwash to the face. Because I am a wimp, I lasted about 4 minutes before I started begging to go back to the car with its highly effective in-built bottom warmers.
But mostly, like each time I have been in Kiel, I just enjoyed being by the water. Hearing the seagulls and watching them wheel out over that huge, comforting, blue blanket. And I enjoyed being amongst the people. The water does something to those who live by it and the Kielers are cheerful, friendly people who pepper their conversations with strange words like ‘moin’ and ‘yo!’ In Kiel, you’re walking upon Germany’s last bastion before Scandinavia, in all its frosty beauty, takes hold. There’s a different vibe in the sea air, and I always feel refreshed when I DB out of there and strangely, as if I am leaving something familiar and comforting behind, sad.