In May 2023 I got an assignment that brought me to Emden for 3 days. Emden is located in the German East Frisia region on the river Ems. My knowledge of the area was limited to being the location of an interesting lightship ... and that was it basically ...!
So I decided to go explore on Google Earth as a preparation first and then just explore in real life when I was there ... it turned out to be a very interesting area full of history!
I booked a room in the local Ems hotel (https://www.ems-hotel.com), the service was fantastic with breakfast included and free parking, conveniently located right next to the ferry port.
I especially liked this assignment as this would be the first major road trip with the new car and I had prepared as good as possible ... considering that most of my stuff was ... and still is ... in storage as long as my new house hasn't been built.
The assignment was the delivery of another street dog from Egypt to her new home in Germany, the dog this time was deaf but very sweet, cuddly and ... big! Making this a challenge as the drive would be about 450 km.
So I decided to do things slow and easy as I had the whole day to actually get there, I installed the dog in the back of the car as good as possible with a secure leash attached to the hooks inside the car so she could never escape when I opened the booth and left late morning for a long drive towards Germany. Of course I stopped a few times to have some lunch, walk the dog, refuel etc. before finally arriving at the location to drop off the dog late afternoon. I was pretty tired now and needed to reorganize the car as the dog had left a lot of ... hair ... in the back of the car, so I went to the hotel and reorganized my stuff, took a shower and a nap.
After all this I wanted to end the day with a good walk and a meal so ... first things first ... food! The hotel owner recommended the Hafenhaus (https://www.hafenhaus-emden.de/startseite/#!/) and he was right, a very good place next to the water right at the edge of the city center of Emden with a good selection of local and standard dishes and friendly staff.
Different fields of interest: From here I will divert from my regular way of writing and instead explain different fields of interest separately.
Lighthouses and lightships
Anyone who has been following me for a while, knows about my love for lighthouses and lightships, this region in Germany is home to some interesting ones. On the first evening I decided to go out for one last walk after dinner and the destination was Pilsum lighthouse. This strange lighthouse in the form of a barrel design was built in 1891 and survived both world wars, although inactive for a very long time. It is now restored and reactivated, the area is wide open and perfect for a walk on the dike, you can spot many coastal birds and flowers around it.
The next day would start with lighthouse hunting, if that is even a sport to start with ... lol! I started at probably the most iconic lighthouse in this area ... Campen. Another strange lighthouse as this one has been built in 1891 as well and not exactly in the traditional way, instead it has a very narrow tube structure all the way to the top that houses the staircase and power supply, the rest of the tower is an open skeletal structure, giving it the nickname "Eiffel Tower of the North Sea" and this is understandable because the tower is an impressive 65 meters tall and dominates the landscape. The tower is open to visitors and there is a small café and gift shop, the area around it is also perfect for a long walk and picnic.
Next on the list is the more modern lighthouse and harbor control tower at Knock. This multipurpose tower was built in 1970 and replaced the old small lighthouse that had been there since 1888 but was demolished in 1970 when the new tower became operational. This 55 meter concrete tower is less interesting and not open to the public, but there are some informational panels at the parking area.
My last lighthouse of the day would not be more interesting but nevertheless worthy of a small stop on the way back to Emden, the 18 meter concrete tower at Wybelsum. Built in 1971 and closed to the public as well, the area is nice for a walk but no facilities or parking areas are provided. At the moment I was there, the area was under reconstruction in some ways but I managed to take some decent shots.
As for lighthouses, this was all I decided to visit, but there was something more to see, the 1915 built Amrumbank lightship, permanently moored as museum and restaurant in Emden in front of the Rathaus and painted with the title of its historic location at Deutsche Bucht. I photographed this lightship from all possible angles but did not get inside as the museum was already closed for the day, so instead I decided to at least have dinner onboard as the restaurant was still open. The dinner was very good and service great, and it did give me the chance to at least step onboard this great looking ship for a while. This ship is more or less the main view in the center of Emden and this makes sure it is well maintained en kept open to visitors. I really recommend this place to eat out and will definitely return for a more extended visit.
The city of Emden isn't very big and a good walk will show you most of the interesting things to spot, so I decided to take a walk in the evening and photograph most of the landmarks and subjects on my way, from the water tower to the old steam locomotive near the station to the outskirts of the city and port. Starting at the Car park near the Hafenhaus restaurant where the historic research vessel Ems (website) from 1934 is docked, I walked on towards the famous Hafentor, the door to the old port of Emden and arrived at the central dock opposite the Rathaus where the former SAR-boat Georg Breusing (website) and the lightship described in the lighthouse section are docked.
This is probably the best view in the center of the city and well known with tourists. I continued my walk trough the shopping streets and on towards the old city moat, the road lead me to the small Chinese inspired Chinesentempel, the water tower and the station with historic steam train and miniature railway. From here I walked trough the residential areas of Emden back to my car. All in all, Emden is an interesting place to visit and because of my short and inconvenient time I wasn't able to visit some other places in the city, so next time I will hopefully visit the lightship and SAR-boat in more detail, and see the many museums as well. The outer port should also be pretty interesting but I wasn't able to find a good way to get to the port entrance and photograph the local ferries. The ferries towards the islands (https://www.ag-ems.de) are another interesting field of photography and will certainly be one of my subjects another time.
The area around Emden is pretty flat and the natural floodplains are rich with wildlife in the form of birds, seals and other marine creatures, mankind has used these areas for sheep and cows of course and throughout time, dikes were built to protect the people from major floods.
The number one bird on my visit was a bird that has eluded me for a long time, being extremely fast and agile, this is a bird that is very hard to catch on photo ... it's the Swallow! In this case the most common Western House Martine (Delichon Urbicum), being late May, this was the time when they build their nests with clay and silt found in the floodplains of the area, the location was the engine room and main entrance of the Campen lighthouse site where several birds were flying on and off to find material to build their nests, this gave me the best chance I got to photograph these small and fast creatures. The area is of course also very good for long walks near the coast and to see stunning sunrises and sunsets.
World War 2
The next and last field of interest is one of the darker chapters of history ... War! World War 2 is arguably a major conflict in recent history and thousands of books can be read and still written about this subject. Emden was in that time a German port and had to be defended as well, so of course some remnants can still be found. The unique thing about Emden is that some of the largest bunkers, the so-called luftschutzbunkers are still intact. These bunkers were for the protection against air-raids and were built very large and very strong, one of them was still intact right where I parked my car, just a bit south from the Hafenhaus restaurant.
Another one is still intact right opposite the train station and around it you can find the miniature railway and a historic steam locomotive.
When walking back from the station to the first bunker where my car was parked, I followed part of the railway and right next to it I found the remains of some other bunkers in the Fürbringerstraβe.
These were small bunkers with a different purpose, they were built to protect the railways and had small firing holes in them. I am certainly not an expert in bunker technology and history but find it fascinating that some of these structures still survive after the defeat of Germany in 1945 and the passing of time ever since.
Anyone who follows the cruise industry will certainly know the name Meyer. The Meyer Werft in Papenburg (www.meyerwerft.de) is one of the worlds leading builders of passenger ships and already exists since 1795. This shipyard can be visited to see the ships under construction in their giant shipbuilding hangar. Unfortunately I didn't have the time to really do the complete tour but there is also a viewing platform with sitting area provided free of charge to view any ship being fitted out or when a ship gets floated out of the giant hangar. Upon arrival I immediately noticed a large cruise ship at the fitting out dock and upon closer inspection I saw that this was the new Silver Nova of Silversea cruises (website). I managed to get some decent shots of the ship under construction, waiting to be finished and delivered. By the time of me writing this blog, she is already cruising on her first voyage.
All photos can be found in the album of Germany in the Album section.