I say Germany, most people say Oktoberfest, Lederhosen, Wurst, Bavarian beer, mountains, snow, Schnitzel, Berlin, the Black Forest. At a pinch, perhaps images of the Pfalz’s vineyards, or Dresden’s architecture, spring to mind. Likely enormous castles, or age-old Kloster breweries, and rolling green hills. But what about beaches, seafood, sailing and water-sports? Harbours and ports, the fjord, the coast, tug boat trips to beach villages, Strandkörbe, herby northern bier and strange seafood dishes? Marzipan, Hanseatic cities, naval history, seagulls, and cruise ships to Scandinavia? Instead of ski holidays in Austria, what about beach breaks in Denmark?
Those things have come to define my Germany, as an honoury Kielerin. I love the north of this country, for how very different it is to the general understanding of Germanness, and how it has expanded my own understanding of what it means to live in, belong to, and come from Germany. I seem to have absorbed the pride that pulses through the North Germans (if not the love of tiny North Sea crabs) and have come to see everything south of Hamburg as, essentially, ‘south Germany.’ The Baltic and the North Sea have joined the Pacific in my veins.
For a while I have been playing with the idea of starting a blog about this region – an English speaking blog. There are some great German blogs out there that show off my Heimat, and its neighbouring cities, but a bit of a dearth of English-speaking material for curious travellers or fellow Germany lovers. And the big guidebooks do an appalling job of covering this corner of the country – Kiel gets an awful rap a lot of the time, with seemingly no one going past its severe, 70s-esque city centre and into the old neighbourhoods, finding the beautiful parks and cobblestones, or slices of history.
But, you know, time. This blog receives the bulk of my writing, which is it purpose, and beyond that, time and energy for bigger projects are regrettably scarce at this point. So I have started a little smaller. Over on Instagram, you’ll find Geh nach Norden, which I plan to fill with pictures of my favourite pockets of this city I call home, and its surrounds. I’ll be snapping, and captioning the beach culture, the city, the booming coffee scene, the food, the gardens and markets, the water and the villages that are so tied to it. The aim is an interesting, informative feed that does justice to this neck of the woods, for armchair travellers, and those planning on coming to Germany, but with little idea of what’s on offer up here. It’s also a feed for those who live in Germany and have never been up here. And to that, I say, hääääää? Go north!