So after feeling supremely landlocked in the central/western part of Germany for the last four years - albeit, fantastically located for travel to other European countries - realizing Berlin was mere hours from a beach was almost reason enough to make the move. The phenomenally unseasonable weather we were having last week, coupled with my husband's forced vacation time, meant the time had come to make a break for the sea. I was just along for the ride, oblivious to where we were going (somewhere near the border with Poland, I was told...) and thinking only of the blue paradise that is the Baltic Sea, or Die Ostsee as the Germans call it, awaiting us at the end of our drive. When we showed up in the picturesque town of Ahlbeck, a resort town located on the island of Usedom, I was surprised at how charming and welcoming it was, even in the winter time. Sure, it looked as if most resorts and restaurants were closed up for the season, but the town itself was incredibly clean and well-cared for (it is Germany, after all), and we were able to find one open cafe for some drinks, snacks and some sun-soaking from inside the charming Strandkorbs (best. invention. ever.) on its patio.
Perhaps even more starved for sand and surf was our poor California-born-and-raised dog, who grew up romping on the beach and paddling around my mother's pool. While we had been to the seaside last summer in France, Bailey had not been able to indulge her aquatic sensibilities, other than at the shore of the industry-lined Rhine river in Wiesbaden, since leaving the States. We did the very un-German thing and took her out on the regular beach, regardless of the posted 'no dog' signs, as it was nearly empty and we kept her close so as not to bother anyone. When we did discover a sign pointing to a dedicated Hundestrand, we laughed at the distance noted, as it conveniently appeared to be exactly how far to the border of Poland. Well, we did take her to Poland and she romped and splashed and played and ingested enough sand with her stick-fetching to poop sand castles. The excitement on her face was worth any repercussions for German (or Polish) laws we might have been breaking. At the end of the day, we headed back to Berlin exhausted, still warmed from the seaside sun and dreaming of returning on even warmer summer days in the future.
Oh, and another highlight of our trip? A bag full of Polish groceries - including beer, candy bars and not-to-be-found-in-Germany American classics like Cheerios and Cheetos - that we discovered after doing the conversions, cost us less than 10€. Next time we head to the coast, we'll be sure to pack more grocery bags for stocking up!