by Mathias Vef & Thorsten Kadel
North of Rostock, on the Darss, the Baltic Sea is still as it has always been: Quiet, natural and even a tad gay.
Escape the hustle and bustle, leave the big city, do not have a typical gay holiday and just relax. The right place is often closer than you imagine. Why not go swimming in Germany? It is only two hours by car from Berlin or Hamburg to the most beautiful beaches of the Baltic Sea, and with a little luck you get a 29 Euros saver ticket that allows you to travel from any city in Germany to Rostock.
Rügen and Usedom are no longer insider tips, but the Darss, whose name derives from the Old Slavic word for thorn bush, appears to be an ideal place for a few days off between work and exhausting Prides. The peninsula stretches from Rostock into the Baltic Sea in a north-easterly direction and can be reached via Fischland, a land connection between the coast, Darss and Zingst. Ahrenshoop would probably have been a popular destination for gay travellers as early as the 1920s, as artists from Berlin and Dresden settled here. Since the end of the 19th century, the village has developed into a colony of artists – and has remained so to this day. Everywhere there are exhibitions, concerts, a jazz brunches and fashion shows. Quite a few people are talking a walk along the narrow main street, dressed a bit more upmarket than elsewhere. The two gentlemen, holding hands, do not stand out at all. You might still be surprised to discover a few other gays in the afternoon.
The Darss is not cheap, you either rent holiday aparments, houses or small, but comfortable hotel rooms. On the northern beach near Prerow there is also a campsite with the inviting name Regenbogen Camp (rainbow camp) – which is no hint to the sexual orientation of its users. Unfortunately. The artists’ lodge Seezeichen is one of the most beautiful hotels on the Darss. Here you find a lovingly and individually managed hotel with modern art on the walls. Breakfast is served until 1 p.m. – very important for late risers – wherever you want: in your room, in the cosy restaurant, on the terrace or in a beach chair. Apart from the wellness area, the restaurant is definitely worth a visit. The lesbian chef is a real virtuoso. The better the food, the better you are prepared for nature hikes in National Park Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft.
No matter if you ride a bike through the light forest, ride on horseback over dunes and through marshland or simply walk along the kilometre-long western beach. The coast becomes more and more lonely to the north and you almost feel as if you were in southern France in this forest, whose gnarled trunks reach over the dunes. The smell of pine and sea gives you such an instant holiday feel that you want to jump into the sea. You can too. Whether in swimwear of in the nude – if you can cope with relatively low water temperatures and do not feel the need to impress any other lads around.
Then go for a run along the beach. A coffee and fresh strawberry cake in a beach chair will warm you up further. After a visit to the sauna in the evening, enjoy a glass of red wine in by the fireplace. What could be nicer? The pure relaxation that you have felt on the Darss just flies out of the window a few kilometres south in Rostock’s suburb Warnemünde. The first surprise is the beach: extremely wide, white sand and people everywhere, especially youngsters. The north-east German youth seems to go to the gym more often than their counterparts in souther Germany. A lot of 20-year-old guys walk around topless everywhere, sunbathe with their girlfriends and sip cocktails or eat ice cream. The feeling now has turned from southern France to Ibiza. The regular beach ends at beach entrance #26 in the west, and – like almost everywhere in the world – at the far end of the nudist area, the gay beach can be found in the most beautiful spot.
At entrance #34 near Stoltera, naked gays populate the scenery and your brain switches completely from relaxation to Pride mode. After a delicious dinner in Rostock consisting of a lot of fresh fish and a summer’s day full of eye candy, the gay appetite for discovery awakens: the bars b sieben and Klönstuv there are at least two places to go to in this Hanseatic city. Rostock doesn’t have any gay clubs, but there are some party series. Schizophonic attracts indie boys with electro and rocky beats. The schlager-heavy Pink Party in Bacio Lounge is completely different, and in Moya the motto is “gay” – to say the least. The party Nacht-GAY -Flüster (Nightly-Gay Whisper) rises there every Saturday – and why not? Not only for Pride or Hansesail, when Rostock and the neighbouring beaches are crowded with tourists, the clubs are full, the also get pretty busy at Christmas. The gays who left for the big cities then return for a family visit and have to dance off the high-calorie Christmas roasts and puddings.
The region of the Baltic Sea develops its own charm in winter. It is then simply quiet: sauna, wellness, sitting by the fireplace, snow on the beach. If you really want to take a leave from busy gay life, winter days spent here here will do the trick.
(Published in Spartacus Traveler 03/10)
Official homepage of tourism Mecklenburg-Vorpommern providing diverse information on holidays on the Baltic Sea.
HOW TO GET THERE
Rostock and Berlin are linked via motorway A19 in less than two hours by car. The same applies to Rostock and Hambug via motorway A20. If you carry on to the Darss you have to add another 30 minutes. Leave the A19 at exit 6 (Rostock Ost) and take the B105 in direction of Ribnitz-Damgarten, then take Baderstrasse L21 in direction of Prerow/Fischland/Darss.
Rostock, Warnemünde and Warnemünde Strand can be reached by train, the closest railway station to the Darss is Ribnitz-Damgarten.
Special fares offered by DB, Detusche Bahn start at 29 Euros, one way.
Germanwings serves Rostock- Laage airport 4 times a week from Cologne/Bonn and 3 times from Stuttgart, Lufthansa flies directly from Munich, Helvetic Airways from Zurich.
Künstlerquartier Seezeichen (Dorfstraße 22, Ahrenshoop) Small, family-owned, very quiet gay-frinedly hotel with a good restaurant and spa, www.seezeichen-hotel.de
Yachthafenresidenz Hohe Düne (Am Yachthafen 1, Rostock-Warnemünde) Resort, featuring Germany’s first Private Men’s Spa, www.hohe-duene.de
Intercity Hotel (Herweghstraße 51, Rostock) Known as gay-friendly hotel in Rostock, www.intercityhotel.com/rostock
Regenbogen Camp (Prerow) Campsite with spaces for camper vans and tents. Tents can also be rented. Holiday homes directly on the white beach of Fischland-Darss-Zingst. Regular and nude areas inside the camp, www.regenbogen-camp.de
The most beautiful part of the beach in Warnemünde by the end of the nude area (Entrance #33).
Nudist beach half-way between Rostock and Darss housing a lot of sexy guys (that do not necessarily have to be gay).
Beach and gay metting point east of Rostock between Markgrafenheide and Torfbrücke.