File this under: Amazing Adventures in Virtual Travel. A German tourist visiting St. Peter-Ording, in northern Germany, wandered out onto the frozen North Sea to get a better look at what must have been a captivating sunset.
But the man became disoriented in the deepening twilight, and couldn’t find his way back to land. He began snapping his camera fitfully in the hopes that someone onshore would notice and interpret the flashing light as a distress call.
Well, someone on land did see the flashes, just not someone in town. A woman in southern Germany happened to be watching the sunset via a webcam set up in St. Peter-Ording. She contacted the police when she saw the flashes, and local cops guided the man to shore by flashing their headlights. Temperatures at the time were below freezing, and police say the man could have easily frozen to death out on the icepack, or fallen through the ice.
The man reportedly received a lecture about wandering onto the frozen sea at nightfall. The AP reports that “locals are well aware of the risk of disorientation as darkness falls and the beach becomes hard to identify, but vivid sunsets over frozen landscapes often draw people away from the shore.”
Obviously walking out onto a frozen sea in the dark is a poor decision, but you have to admit there’s something endearing and true about this. The feeling of being drawn toward something beautiful or unique is the essence of why we travel, and I can sympathize a bit with the man’s ill-advised choice to get that perfect shot. He shouldn’t have done it, but hey—it’s freezing in northern Germany this time of year, so you might as well make the trip worthwhile, right? Right?
That said, bad decision! And you probably shouldn’t do what this guy did. (But I won’t judge you if you do.)