How it all began...

It was an unforgettable day last year when we spontaneously decided to go to Sylt and spend a beautiful day there that felt like a real vacation. The thought of repeating it has not ceased to haunt us throughout the summer. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, there was no "real" vacation for us, apart from a few trips with our gravel bikes around Hamburg and a tour to Lübeck. But my longing for the North German coast and the sea, for the fresh salty air and the feeling that spreads through you when you are by the sea, grew and grew.

However, the total train ride of about 6 hours had proven to be a bigger obstacle this year: Did we really want to be on a train for that long? How could we travel "most safely"?

But finally, on September 19, the time had come - thanks to FFP2 masks, we were able to start our long-awaited trip to Sylt. We got up in the middle of the night, so we could take advantage of every hour of the day and at 4:55am we were on the train to Westerland, Sylt, with bags full of snacks, bars and fruit. We experienced sunrise on the train and watched the sky turn a beautiful shade of red as we approached the island. The weather was on our side as sunshine and pleasant temperatures were forecast.

Finally arrived

I was frozen through and could hardly believe that I had finally arrived in Westerland when we got off the train. With the fresh and freezing air coming in through the open windows, the long train ride had chilled me out. But as soon as we arrived in Westerland, we immediately swung onto our bikes because we really needed to get moving to warm up and get away from the crowds.

Our first destination was the southern part of the island, Hörnum. Unfortunately, this part of the island was not particularly exciting or particularly beautiful for us because the route led us almost continuously directly along a road. The few beautiful places were actually rather hiking trails, and mostly you were not allowed to ride a bike there. But we were grateful that the sun gradually came out and warmed us up.

Next time we will certainly adjust our route a bit to see if the south may have something to offer on other routes.

After reaching Hörnum, we immediately set out to explore other parts of Sylt. Our path took us along the Rantum Basin, a nature reserve (a brackish water lake) about in the middle of the island of Sylt south of the towns of Westerland and Tinnum.... Here we saw dikes, sheep, and flatlands stretching as far as the eye could see. And of course, the Wadden Sea.

But we were not the only ones exploring the beauty of Sylt: There were also numerous tourists on e-bikes crowding the streets. Amidst all this technology, we almost felt like the last of the adventurers as we made our way to Morsum on our bikes without any technical assistance. Don't get us wrong, we have nothing against e-bikes because every person on an e-bike is one less person traveling by car. Still, this was an interesting and new experience for us.

The surface on our route was actually pretty much everything from asphalt to gravel and plenty of small rocks, so this time we were happy not to be riding fixed gear or single speed bikes and narrow tires like last time.

The Morsum cliff: A highlight for nature lovers on Sylt

Neither of us knew the Morsum cliff yet, and Björn in particular was taken with the beauty of the place. The cliff is one of the oldest nature reserves in Schleswig-Holstein and is located in the east of Sylt. It is 1,800 meters long and 21 meters high and consists of different types of rocks that are geologically unique in Europe. Unfortunately, due to our bikes, we could not discover the full beauty of the place, but we are certain that it would be worthwhile to visit the cliff on foot. We observed the imposing nature and enjoyed the beautiful view over the Wadden Sea. We were particularly impressed by the varied shades of the ground, which had something special about them. They are caused by the different layers of earth: dark mica clay, red limonite sand, white kaolin sand and brown-yellow boulder clay.

We rode past Keitum, a village with traditional charm that delighted us. With its picturesque farm gardens behind stone ramparts and narrow streets and alleys lined with old trees, Keitum was truly beautiful to behold. From there we continued north and straight through Kampen, probably the most expensive place on Sylt. But since there were exclusive boutiques and high-priced restaurants there, the place didn't really appeal to us. Instead, we just wanted to eat fries and see more nature.

French fries, pandemic and lack of perspective: an odyssey through List

Despite a few snack breaks, our stomachs (especially mine) started growling, and we had planned to eat a portion of fries, as mentioned earlier. We focused on the harbor in List, where there are numerous restaurants, snack bars and stores. Unfortunately, this plan quickly turned out to be a nightmare.

It almost felt like the entire island had gathered in List to celebrate and enjoy. People were standing and sitting everywhere, eating, shopping and enjoying themselves as if the pandemic didn't even exist. We felt out of place and were appalled by the lack of concern we perceived around us. Pandemic 2020? Obviously, it didn't exist here. The crowds around us and the fact that we felt stressed even by the prospect of a portion of fries made us realize how strange and unusual this situation was.

As we made our way through the crowded streets of the harbor, we desperately looked for a way to get something to eat quickly. Hungry stomachs had long since made them growl. Suddenly, we spotted a snack bar with a huge "To Go" sign on the wall. Finally! But when we tried to order a portion of fries, we were dismissed coolly by the staff. Instead, we were told that there were no "To Go" orders that day, and we would have to sit down and order, which would involve a long wait. We didn't give up and tried the next booth, but there too we were simply ignored. Our odyssey to get a portion of fries seemed hopeless.

We escaped from the crowded port to get a few minutes of rest and distance from the crowd, but even the food from our supplies could not ease our disappointment. We hoped to find another opportunity soon to eat something warm and fill our stomachs.

When we made our way to the northernmost point of Germany, the so-called "elbow", we knew that there we would again encounter breathtaking nature and fewer people. When the weather is nice and clear, you can see the Danish coast from here and even feel a bit lured by the Danes. I mean, when you already receive a "Welcome to Denmark" text message ...

But we weren't just impressed by nature. On our way there, we spotted an old U.S. caravan trailer with a chrome look that looked like it had traveled straight from the 1950s to our modern day. We just couldn't resist and stopped to take a few photos of it. It was just too beautiful not to take advantage of. The trailer contrasted perfectly with the picturesque landscape and gave the photo a special atmosphere. I "posed" for a few cool portraits in front of the trailer and enjoyed the beautiful nature around us. For me personally, the north of the island is one of the most beautiful parts of Sylt. As we rode on, we had the pictures in our heads and couldn't wait to share them with our friends.

Wild beauty and naked truths

When we reached the western beach of List, we immersed ourselves in the wild beauty of the dunes, which rose to 30 meters high. From a distance, we could already see them, but only when we were in the middle of them, we realized how breathtaking they were. For a long stretch we followed the path through the dunes, passing a beach sauna in a beautiful dune landscape.

We reached the Red Cliff and admired the octagonal beacon (lighthouse) in the dunes northwest of Kampen. The rust-red boulder clay that gave the cliff its name got its coloring from the oxidation of ferrous constituents. (Yes, stupidly, we forgot to take a photo out of admiration for the beauty of the place...)

About 1 km west of the center of Kampen lies Uwe Dune, which we passed on our way. It is the highest elevation of the North Sea island and is not surpassed by any natural elevation within a radius of about 40 kilometers, Uwe Dune measures a proud 52.5 meters. Supposedly, one should have a breathtaking view of the island and Kampen from the viewing platform - but to carry our bikes up the 109-step wooden staircase, we had rather spared ourselves. We just didn't feel like making the effort and climbing the stairs, only to be potentially disappointed. So, we decided to move on and take the risk of missing something. Maybe next time we visit the island.

When we reached the stunning beach between Wenningstedt and Kampen, we immediately felt captivated by its beauty. After a quick trip to the colorful restroom, we made our way to the turquoise blue wooden huts, which were bathed in a magical light from the low sun. We couldn't help but take a few photos of this beautiful sight.

While we were sitting there, we noticed some naked people in the distance. Apparently, there was both a dog beach and a nudist beach nearby.

As we set out, we were excited about what lay ahead. We followed the hiking trail that led us over the Red Cliff on a wooden footbridge. Here, according to locals, should be the most beautiful view of the North Sea.

Our hearts were pounding with excitement, not only because of the breathtaking view, but also because this time we had decided to lug the bikes up the steep wooden stairs. As we puffed heavily up the steps, we cursed perhaps a tiny bit at the route planning.

When we reached the top and enjoyed the view of the North Sea, all the sweat and effort was forgotten. It was truly an unforgettable experience.

But our adventure continued. When the boardwalk ended, our path took us through the picturesque village of Wenningstedt along the Lornsenweg on our way to Westerland.

French fries and the magical power to turn exhaustion into happiness

There was one last item missing from our happiness: the fries we had been looking forward to all day. Fortunately, we found a kebab store near the station, whose owner turned out to be our hero of the day.

We entered the store and were greeted in a friendly manner and asked what we wanted. We ordered our fries and sat at a high table outside while we sniffed the aroma of fried potatoes.

It wasn't long before our fries arrived - hot, crispy and with just the right amount of ketchup. We munched on them hungrily and enjoyed every bite.

Finally happy and full, we boarded the train to Hamburg, completely exhausted, while already looking forward to future adventures.

Our route