What is Nils doing here?

Apr 2. Going to Nida.

DSCN0665_NM final


Apr 3. Photographed a not countable times before. And painted of course, too. They call it the “Italien view”.  Nice to see for Tourists who visit the Memorial museum of Thomas Mann. I stood there, took my picture an asked myself, what am I doing here? Why another picture? The I-was-here-thing. I had this quite often in the first two days. What I didn’t have so far – the feeling, that Thomas Mann or Jean-Paul Sartre could cross my way.



Apr 4. Another introspection. Writing was not easy the first days. The room: four beds, naked walls. So I went to the beach, startted collecting stuff. Stones, these typical flat stones. Sand. Flotsam.



Apr 5. Fascinating as a walk on the beach – going to the one and only supermarket. Found an interesting souvenir on the upper floor. A vase with a picture of “Tomo Mano namas Nidoje” (“Thomas Manns Sommerhaus in Nidden”).



Apr 6. Today the three of us were discussing the blog once again. Got a hint, very, very politely, that I may post too many photos here. Tried to explain that for me writing in English means doing scissor work with a hammer. Went out after that. Took some more photos.


PAULINA. This looks like the yacht “Dailė” (“Art”), that in 1989, during Lithuania’s strugle for independence, together with two other Lithuanian yachts, crossed the Atlantic Ocean repeating the daring act of “Lituanica” pilots of free pre-war Lithuania and commemorating the journey of all the displaced persons who had to flee the Russian occupation of 1944.

NILS. Is this story well known in Lithuania?

PAULINA. Yes, but might be forgotten. I was glad to see “Dailė” here.


Apr 7.



Apr 8. Went to the dunes again yesterday. Eerie – no sight, no sound. Before I came to Nida I read in Thomas Manns diaries that he had kind of a panic attack in the dunes one day. Easy to imagine. I for one stepped in a rain attack today. Including thunder and lightning. Found shelter at a closed bar. Enough for an online-diary called blog?



Apr 9. Who are these two? Looks like they don’t have to tell each other anything. Is this the image for the fictitious meetinf of TM and JSP?



Apr 10. Construction work is going on. Inside and ouside the Colony. I like the old lady. Wondering if she is running this familiy business as the foreman. As a character in a story she of course would be. Apropos – read today a little about Sartre’s visit to Nida. With him was not only Somine de Beauvoir, but also Lena Zolina. Sartre’s Russian interpreter, none-too-secret lover and  KGB agent. Also she was probably the main reason why he came here in 1965.



Apr 11. Paulina’s birthday. Happy barbecue.



Apr 12. Thomas Mann loved to ride the bycicle. But I guess when he was in Nida he didn’t do that. He walked. Or he took “das Wägelchen” (a small carriage) – maybe not unusual back then. Pretty unusual however: He and his family were the only one’s who had a beach chair in Nida. So you have to imagine all these summer visitors with their sand castles and blankets and Thomas Mann sitting there in his covered “sofa”, looking at the sea.



Apr 13. No one’s birthday. Happy Pizza anyway.



Apr 14. What I really like: early evenings at the Curonian Lagoon. The light is always different – and today suddenly the horizon disappeared. Actually I’m not the only one who comes out for Death valley. It’s something like the meeting point for the young ones over here.



Apr 15.



Apr 16.



Apr 17. Been to one of the artist’s studios. Looking at plants in bell jars, which will swim in the Baltic Sea soon. Listening to someone talking about oceanic feelings. Fancy diner later.



Apr 18. The tourist arrive on the island for Easter. Which means: you suddenly see people here and there on the streets and all checkouts in the supermarket are open. I don’t know exactly why – but I went to the harbour in order to take photos of a lonesome place.



Apr 19.


PAULINA. Our studios in Nida Art Colony… I have to admit, when I wake up at night that gaze freaks me out, but during the day it’s ok…

NILS. Me and a fly and – for a short while – another visitor were looking around in the Thomas Mann Sommerhaus. The fly was buzzing. The other visitor had his family waiting outside in the sun, eating sandwiches. I thought I couldn’t work here with tourists eating in front of my house and a fly in the room. But a lovely view of the lagoon – a flock of swans on the blue water.

CORINNE. I had some interogations when leaving the house –  I was too lazy to come back and ask the woman. Where was the kitchen? What about the bathroom? And apparently, Mrs Mann had a bedroom of her own…

I wondered how she felt with all the children around her, having to remind them probably: “keep quiet, your father is working!”

NILS. I think they had staff. To do the laundry, to cook and so on. And Mrs Mann took the children to the beach in the morning. Mr Mann joined his family later on to continue his writing in the beach chair.


Apr 20. Existentialism is a beach, as we all know. But after 10 pages of the story Intimacy by JPS I was not so sure, if his prose aged very well. Maybe the translation. Maybe the fact that the weather was simply too good.



Apr 21.



Apr 22.



Apr 23. Halftime. Didn’t left the Colony. Cut the story from 50 pages down to 38. The goal: 25. As one of the artists said during the Volleyball: “It’s possible.”



Apr 24. State of the art. Colonystas spending the morning on the camping site near by. To collect fir needles and birch greenery. In return we now can use the tennis court whenever we want. That’s how they play it here. Nice.


CORINNE. Seems we were not working too hard… I was looking thoughtfully at my feet on the previous picture…


NILS. So, Corinne: Think twice, do it once. Old rule. Good rule.

CORINNE. I do agree – being the kind of person who thinks three times and do nothing. Thank you Nils!


Apr 25. Got a rhythm. Start writing in bed around 7.00. Having breakfast around 9.00 and lunchtime around 13.00. Inbetwenn working at the table. Leaving the Colony for an excursion around 17.00. After that E-Mails. Blog. And late dinner. Not complaining.



Apr 26.



Apr 27. Left Nida. Went to Palanga. Martin Parr comes to mind. Kind of like looking at an accident – unable to turn away the head. The saddest moment was, when I saw this boy. Maybe 14 years old. Probably a little mentally challenged. He was wearing a football shirt and playing the flute. Well, he whistled random notes. Saw him twice within an hour. He whistled and whistled and whistled. (The music of Palanga.)



Apr 28. Spend the morning in Riga. Centraltirgus Market. Swedish Gate. Bastejkalns – from where I took the picture. Art Nouveau District. The whole time I had this limerick going around in mind, which I learned in school: “There was a young lady of Riga,/ Who smiled when she rode on a tiger./ They came back from the ride/ With the lady inside,/ And the smile on the face of the tiger.” On a postcard I would write: No tigers, but a real beauty. For sure much more than a famous limerick.



May 1. Returning after two days of lectures in Belgium to the Curonian Spit. It was almost summer when I left. Now I want my wooly hat back.



May 2. The blog is down.



May 3.



May 4.


CORINNE. Is the elk male or female? It has a beard –  this bunch of hair under the chin (male) but no horns. I really have a special love for these animals, and even bought the most touristic woolen blanket with elks in Nida. I just couldn’t resist. I’ll show you a picture of it in my next post. (though you can find it in every shop, actually!!)

NILS. I was told this elk is a she. Linas calls her Sofi. And of course you can tell me everything about elks – I will believe it. In fact it was a very touching moment, when I met this strange animal on my way to the beach. Can’t really explain why. These animals looks so bizarre and it was surreal seeing it standing next to the road, looking at me peacefully, almost bored and not running away. Maybe this was just it: a close encounter of a rare kind.


May 5. Another day out. Having a lecture at Klaipėdos Hermano Zudermano vidurinė mokykla – Hermann-Sudermann-Gymnasium Klaipėda. It’s located in a part of the town which reminds a little bit of my hood in Hamburg-Jenfeld.



May 6.



May 7.



May 8. Only one week left. Thinking this gives you a little stitch. And of course there is still some work to do. The story needs some final polish. And the blog is online again. Which means: I have to select photos of the last week. By doing this I find out that it was a fantastic week. I finished two chapters of my new novel, I met an elk, there was a staged reading of Paulinas play at the Colony and I had excursions around Nida every day, nice dinners with the others and always sand in my shoes.



May 9.


CORINNE. Hi Nils, is it a swallow?

NILS. A very wet one. Yes, I think so. It was raining the whole day, as you know. I like the sound of the birds infront of our windows very much.

CORINNE. Nice to read you and to see the pictures after some days. I had the feeling you kind of “came back home” from vacations…

NILS. In a way I was of duty, when the blog was down – and a little confused. Because it’s nice to have these pictures as personal reminders and the job of posting to structure the time of the stay.


May 10.



May 11. Playing Football with Oscar, Björn, Justin, Miguel and Linas. And some boys from Nida (not in the picture). See them all smile: Nice to be at the Nida Sport Colony.



May 12.



May 13. Tried to complete the story today. And got an e-mail from the office: “Hey everybody! We just received pasta machine in the Colony, so let’s try it tonight!!!!!” Both true: there was pasta, close to midnight. There was a complete story a little earlier. So now it’s possible to finish it soon.



May 14. Last day. A cloudy one. Was driving around with the bike. Found a beautiful spot outside of Nida: Vecekrugo Kopa. Lonely of course. Fantastic view. Thought: Maybe I should buy a summer cottage on the Curonian Spit.



May 15. Leaving Nida.



May 16. Saying: Ačiū!