The Irish label it fómhar beag na ngéanna (little autumn of the geese) in Gaelic. The Croatians call it bablje ljeto (old woman’s summer). Old woman’s summer, Altweibersommer, is used by the Austrians and the Swiss, too. Other countries associate it with saints. Teresa of Ávila in Portugal and Spain. St. Martin in France and Italy. Bridget of Sweden in, well, Sweden. While you, probably now inappropriately, describe it as an Indian summer.
Regardless of the name, the short period of unseasonably warm, dry weather is one of your favorite times of the year. It isn’t guaranteed. It occurs between late-September and mid-November when it does happen. Plus it usually develops after a depressing, killing frost.
This year, you’re trying to time the Indian summer—make that Altweibersommer—with a trip to Germany. After a few days in Berlin, you’re heading two and a half hours north to Usedom. The 30-mile-long island, shared by Germany and Poland, lies along the Baltic Sea. It’s been a popular summer destination, thanks to the longest sandy beach in Europe, since German emperors started vacationing here in the 19th century. It’s also known as the sunniest spot in Germany thanks to an annual average of nearly 2,000 hours of sunshine.
In Heringsdorf, the largest town on the German side of Usedom, you find a picture-perfect seaside resort. Kaiserstrand (Imperial Beach) has sand so fine that locals claim it sings. The wooden Heringsdorf Pier, originally built in the 1890s, is lined with cafés, gift shops, and even a small museum. A unique style of resort architecture, Bäder, sits on the other side of the sand. So does Strandhotel Ostseeblick, a wellness hotel with gorgeous ocean views.
Strandhotel Ostseeblick was first opened in 1936 by the current owner’s grandfather. Don’t let the hotel’s long history worry you. Its rooms, restaurants, and spa have undergone major renovations for it to remain one of the best places to stay on the island. The colors—sand and wood tones with sunshine, sea buckthorn, and Baltic blue accents—in its 60 rooms mimic those seen from their large windows. Black-and-white photographs keep the focus on the view. While a bottle of sea buckthorn Prosecco is awaiting your arrival in your junior suite.
After cheersing your arrival on your balcony with the Prosecco, you head downstairs to check out the rest of the hotel. Bernstein Restaurant is considered one of the best restaurants in the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. It features a panoramic view of the pier and the sea. The Strandlounge is a relaxed living room during the day and a stylish bar at night. It serves afternoon tea and a gin-and-tonic menu. VINUM’s shelves are lined with wine bottles. The cellar offers wine tastings on Friday evenings. The MEERness Spa is a relaxing spot with a pool, hanging wicker loungers, and an array of saunas. Its treatments are made of local brine, chalk, honey, and more sea buckthorn. All of this is just steps from that gorgeous beach. You’re in no rush for this Indian summer to end.