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During our recent Northern European vacation we were lucky enough to spend time on two beautiful beaches – one in Sweden and one in Germany, along with countless other rocky seashores; all were enjoyable and beautiful, but were quite different experiences!

On the most beautiful weather day of the Sweden leg of the trip, we headed up to Halmstad on the western coast. Located in southeastern Halland Provence along the Swedish Riveria, Halmstad is home to Tylösand beach. Several locals in Båstad had recommended visiting Halmstad for its beaches, and it did not disappoint! We parked for free at the Hotel Tylösand, centrally located on the beach peninsula. We got a map of the hiking trails from the front desk and also used the bathroom, complete with a baby changing area (zing!). From Hotel Tylösand, we admired the amazing view of the Baltic Sea from behind the hotel. To the right (north) is a 7KM beach stretching as far as you could see. The beach was not that wide (maybe 100 feet total). To the left was the rocky portion of the beach. Straight ahead was a small island, Tylö, 500 meters off shore. The island is a nature reserve and home to a lighthouse built in the 1800s. The view of this small, quaint little island was amazing; we must have taken over 30 pictures with the Island in the background!

Tylo Island with Lighthouse

Tylo Island with Lighthouse

Our 19 month old daughter had a chance to run around on the beach and we took some great pictures. It was perfect weather yet we counted no more than 20 people the entire time we were there! We were wondering about the crowds, as on the internet we read that Tylosand is home to 40,000 people during the peak season, and is a big party area during festivals. Today, however, it was just us. We walked about a mile to the south to the end of the peninsula where a sandy trail cuts between the now rocky section of the beach. We passed a group of older tourists having their morning coffee, a man getting his boat ready to take out, and a few hikers like us. Eventually we turned around and got some more pictures on the way back (including a miracle family shot using our timer where Indi is actually looking at the camera!), and by this time had taken our jackets off because it was actually a nice, warm day out in Sweden. It should be said that we were there from August 29th to September 2nd and it felt like October in the Northeastern United States to us weather-wise!

Tylosand Peninsula, Rocky Portion, and Red Houses!

Tylosand Peninsula, Rocky Portion, and Red Houses!

Family Photo on Tylosand Beach

Family Photo on Tylosand Beach

After our walk, we settled in at the Hotel Tylosand for lunch. After hearing from the front desk that it was the only restaurant open in the entire area (there were at least 10 others but all were closed for the season), we had no other choice, and the lunch was a set two course meal of shrimp salad and corned beef brisket, it was delicious! There was a conference taking place at the hotel so this, we presume, is the meal that everyone from the conference was getting. We were so surprised at how such a beautiful place could be so empty, on September 1st! Everywhere in America the beach season runs full throttle until at least after Labor Day, but here in Sweden many stores and restaurants were closed for the day, and some for the season.

Following our Sweden stay we returned to our adopted country, Germany for our last few vacation days. Once in Germany, following a brief stay in Denmark that left us with a cracked windshield… but more on that in another post from my wife once she forgives the country and flying rock; we took a spur of the moment visit to Saint Peter-Ording. This town and beach is located about 45 minutes south west of Husum, in Schleswig-Holstein, along the North Sea. We visited here because the Google Maps aerial view showed a big beach, and we had yet to see any big sandy beaches in Germany. Even in Halmstad, it was a narrower beach than one would find on a typical US beach. The Germans have a way of “hiding their water” as we like to joke about, basically it is difficult at times to see large bodies of water (lakes and seas) from the car, unless you actually walk paths to get there or stay on property somewhere physically on the water it can be difficult to have any sort of water view. We saw this at the Bodensee, Bostalsee, and along the North Sea. In Nordstrand, for example, the sea wall prevents you from seeing much of anything unless you physically get out and walk up to it, and most restaurants on that peninsula did not have a view. We found a beach restaurant on Trip Advisor in St. Peter-Ording so we headed there with the goal of having lunch on the water. Finding the beach itself was quite an experience! After a few wrong turns, we eventually parked where the “Am Strandweg” road ended and set out on foot with the stroller down the path, following the many beachgoers on bicycles and on foot. After ¼ mile came the information booth, which was actually code for pay me 3 Euros each to access the beach, so we paid our 6 Euros and walked toward the water. The first impression I had was wow…this is a real beach! It was wide and went as far as you could see in either direction, and actually reminded me of a US beach in Florida or the Southeast. The walk to the water and restaurant was at least ½ mile, which we regretted not taking the jogging stroller or Bjorn for it, and instead struggled with the stroller and had to carry it for part of the journey. After the long walk and stairs up the restaurant, we settled in and did in fact have a nice seafood lunch along the water…finally!

St. Peter-Nording Beach

St. Peter-Ording Beach

Two beaches, two lunches with views, but both with completely different experiences. The narrow Swedish beach was free to enter, nearly deserted, and had a lighthouse view and a rocky seashore. The German beach was all sand, completely flat, and nearly a kilometer deep, but it did cost money, and was more crowded.  Now we have two experiences to build on for future adventures on the European coastlines!

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