The first stop on our journey to these extraordinary houses is the East Frisian island of Wangerooge. The West Tower, the island's landmark and the heart of Wangerooge Youth Hostel, greets us from afar. The tower rises 56 metres above the ground. "From up here you have a fantastic view over the island, the mud flats and the sea," says Sylvia Kampe, who is a guest at the youth hostel with her family. "In the evening I read exciting sailor stories to our children. There's hardly a better place for that. And during the day we explore the island and the Wadden Sea, build castles on the beach and let the sea air blow around our noses."
Back on the mainland we continue to Bremen. There at Ponton 8, a very special accommodation awaits us: "Die Weser", the guest ship of the Bremen Youth Hostel. Have you always wanted to spend the night on a ship with your family or students? Then you've come to the right place. The maritime atmosphere on board the faithfully recreated Weser wheel steamer is a special experience for young and old sailors. "The Weser" offers a total of 30 beds, 26 of them in two separate areas in the midship and aft. Four people can sleep in two double cabins. There is also a coffee kitchen on board, because what would a real ship be without a galley? And then it's time for a shore excursion. It's great that "Die Weser" is anchored right in the centre of Bremen. Thus it is an ideal starting point for discovery tours through the old Hanseatic city, a stroll through the Schnoor quarter, a visit to the Überseemuseum or an adventure day in the Universum Bremen.
The Dahme Youth Hostel on the northern side of Lübeck Bay also offers nature-oriented accommodation. Here you have a view of the summer house, called "Maulwurfshügel" because of its appearance. And really: The "mole Grabowski" would have his true joy. In addition to its unusual shape, the earth house also impresses with its particularly sustainable heating concept.
On the way south, we make a stopover at Hannover Youth Hostel. Like all youth hostels belonging to the DJH regional association in Hanover, the hostel is supplied with green electricity by Greenpeace Energy, which saves around one million kilograms of CO2 emissions every year.
The next destination on our journey is the Lauterbach jungle life camp in Thuringia. If you want to be close to nature, you can choose between adventure overnight stays in a tree house or in a tipi village. But the programme offers are also unusual. "With us everything stands under the leitmotiv lastingness , explains chief Jacqueline Harting. "Our aim is to make authentic nature experiences possible and to make sustainability a tangible experience. To this end, we have developed the 'Nakundu - Adventure in Hainichland' project at the youth hostel - a unique gaming experience for 4th to 6th grade pupils.
From Thuringia the path leads us further to Plauen in Saxony. In the centre of the city is the "Alte Feuerwache" (Old Fire Station) - today the seat of the Plauen Youth Hostel. The interior is not only a colourful reminder of the building's history. Where the emergency vehicles used to stand is now the dining room. When the hunger is great, the guests can go directly to dinner via the sliding pole. The youth hostel picks up on the history of the building with experiential educational programmes such as "Tatütata - Fiery Family Fun".
Chemnitz Youth Hostel "eins" has also set itself the goal of bringing the history of the building to life. The historical converter factory is a unique testimony to industrial culture: a trolley and an "imported" flywheel half make history a tangible experience. But Chemnitz is also an insider tip for young avant-gardists and a "think tank" for innovations.
When it comes to unusual buildings, the Bett+Bike-certified building of the Konstanz Youth Hostel in the former water tower is a must. Built in 1929, the 40 metre high Otto Moericke Tower was also designed and used as a youth hostel from the outset. There are still seven residential floors above the ground floor. The water tank with a capacity of 300 cubic metres is located above it. Since 1990, the modern, restored building has been used exclusively as a youth hostel.
At the end of our journey to extraordinary houses we visit the Youth Hostel Köln-Pathpoint. The former Protestant church in the immediate vicinity of the main railway station and Cologne Cathedral is now a popular meeting place for young adults from all over the world.