Have you ever had the feeling like you’re home when you are actually thousands of miles away? You could be stationed here like I am, whether you’re in the military or a DOD civilian, and you miss things about home. Yes, it’s fabulous here in Europe, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be so close to so much history and beauty BUT you still think about home. Talking about and visiting the lakes and rivers described below almost made me feel like I’m home.
For family vacations when I was a child, we visited my grandmother in a small town in Minnesota, right on the lake. We would sit at the kitchen table, sip our coffee and just watch the lake. It was different every day, every moment. Loons would call to each other and an occasional moose would swim by. My love of the water started there, in my grandmother’s kitchen.
When I arrived in Germany almost a year ago, I was afraid I would never see the water again, unless I drove 6 hours west (the North Sea) or even farther to the north (the Baltic Sea). I have been very pleasantly surprised to find lovely water relaxation possibilities right here in the KMC and outside our area just a little bit.
Big Island (Saarbrücken)
In Saarbrücken, right in the middle of the downtown area and theater district, you’ll find Big Island. On my recent visit there, I discovered that it was either a bit too early in the day (10 a.m.) or too early in the season (May) because the beach that I found, near Bismarck Bridge, while lovely, was deserted. This could be heaven for some people but I do prefer a bit of company. For the record, there were dozens of chairs, a couple hammocks, tables, and some shacks that were clearly set up to sell drinks and snacks. I will visit again at the height of the summer and a little later in the day and I bet it will be at full capacity. Just keep the umbrella drinks coming and I’ll be happy! I was pleased to realize that access to this beach is free, which fits nicely into my budget. Big Island is located at An der Bismarckbrücke 1, 66121 Saarbrücken.
If you had told me there was ever a volcano in Germany, I would have said, from a point of ignorance, that you couldn’t possibly be correct. I would be wrong and not for the first time. This Maar is only an hour-and-a-half from the KMC area and what a beautiful setting! There are three separate trails around the lakes (craters), one of which may require that you be in reasonably good shape. When you’re done, enjoy a drink at one of the cafes in the village of Schalkenmehren. You will find this treasure north of Trier, somewhat near Cochem Castle. To get there punch Pitt-Kreuzbergweg 8, 54552 Schalkenmehren into your GPS.
Km 689 Cologne Beach Club
In Cologne (Köln) there are “beach clubs” situated right in the city on the river and in other locations. One club, the “km 689 Cologne Beach Club” is rated as “very good” by one of the travel rating groups and there is a restaurant on site. Admission is only 6 euro. Rheinparkweg 2, 50679 Cologne.
Strandbad (Otto-Maigler-See, Hürth
Near Bonn, northwest of Frankfurt, is an amazing lake with all the amenities you would search for in an organized beach experience. Boating, skiing, sunning, beach volleyball, and so much more. They even have event space for weddings. On Aug. 5, there is a Yoga Beach Festival. Admission is 4.50 euro per day for adults, 3 euro for kids and parking is 3 euro per car per day. Well worth it for a day of playing in the sun, shade, and water. To get there use Schnellermaarstrasse, 50354 Hürth, for your GPS.
Gelterswoog is very close to Kaiserslautern, just south of Hohenecken, where you can enjoy a sandy beach, grass, boat rentals and a playground for the kids. Gelterswoog, 67661 Kaiserslautern.
When I visited Bostalsee (near Nohfelden) I felt I had found that piece of home I was missing and it was a big, wonderful piece! Surrounding the beautiful lake, there were beaches, a marina, restaurants, and quaint beach houses. I grew up in southern California where ocean villages were commonplace. I spent the last 20 years in the Puget Sound area of the Pacific Northwest where beaches are abundant. I didn’t know how much I would miss the water until I could no longer see it every day. Then I drove to the Bostalsee, the largest recreational lake in southwest Germany, and I felt it again; the calming air that surrounds a huge lake. “See” at the end of a word means “lake” so the Germans just say “the Bostalsee,” not lake Bostalsee. Whatever you call it, there were sailboats, paddle boats, and a “boat” that looked like a swan! All kinds of water vessels were at home on this lake. It was a beautiful sight.
To enjoy the around-the-lake trail or to just sit on a bench and enjoy the view, there is no charge. For a real beach experience it is 3.50 euro for adults and 1.50 euro for children for the whole day. There is a large parking area very close to the beach for a nominal fee. This includes a large grassy area for sunning, a long strip of sand, and an area with a water slide for the kids (or for you)! There are at least three food vendors serving pizza, ice cream and more.
You’ve probably enjoyed many lakes or river beaches in your life. Swimming, sunbathing, fishing, skiing and other water activities that everyone loves. Bostalsee, which will challenge your past ideas of the most beautiful lake you’ve seen, is only 30 to 45 minutes away from the KMC! You can take your partner, spouse, kids, friends, or even just yourself. Want to learn to sail? There is a sail school as well as a wind-surfing school. Other amenities include not one but two sandy beaches, a place for beach volleyball, mini-golf, and a place to rent pedal boats, electric boats and more. There is camping and you can also rent family cabins. There are modest guest houses in the area for less than 50 euro with a large selection between 50 and 100 euro per night. If you want to splurge, the Hotel Seezeit Lodge has absolutely everything a complete spa offers; swimming, relaxing, massages, taking a sauna in the outdoor sauna village, having a facial, or using their special serene meditation areas. There is also a renowned restaurant with the finest cuisine. You will be lacking nothing. Read more about Bostalsee on page 16.
These are a few of the many opportunities we have here in the KMC – some close, some far, but none more than 2.5 hours away. Many of them have web sites where you can glean much more information than I have space to share with you here. You really can have your beach vacation right here within your reach. You don’t need to get on a plane or take a tour bus for hours and hours. You can be here in the Rhine-Palatinate, in Saarland or North Rhine-Westphalia enjoying your own piece of paradise!