There it is: an isolated wooden house painted red, in the garden chard, tomatoes and thyme are growing besides flowers, happy sheep are jumping around in their enclosure while the chicken doesn’t let disturb herself in her picking routine. The evening sun brings the adjoining field to glow .. and bsssh … a mosquito’s bite again.
And in the sun room of the little, cozy furnished cabin lightened by a chain of lights we sit in this Bullerbü-like scene, sip a glass of wine, cut off slice by slice of the cake Carola made as a welcome gift for us. We feel home here from the very first moment and immediately regret to have booked only two nights at the Libellenhof near Alt-Zauche, in the middle of the biosphere reserve Spreewald, to be precise at the border of the Innerer Oberspreewald.
The friendly lady in the nearby village shop sells Spreewald gherkins, mosquito repellent and we order buns for breakfast that he picks up the next morning after a short walk along the road from our little Bullerbü to the village. Cars don’t pass, solely a farmer on his tractor is on the road this morning.
We have also booked a paddle boat for this day in the Spreewaldladen. The husband of the lady is renting them.
Carola warned us: Paddling isn’t as easy as it looks, and most couples have some quarrels on their way through the labyrinthic network of streams of the Spreewald…
After we manage to bring the Nordflies stream behind us crisscrossing it from one side to the other we enter the Hochwald. Through streams seamed by trees we slowly move forward, nearly have found our rhythm when we meet a boat and the driver shouts to us: “Keep away from the river bank there on the left. A pack of wolves with pups is resting there.” Did he say WOLVES?! Which “left” did he mean? His or ours?! Quietly we do our best to stear our canoe right in the middle of the Flies, watching the banks until we are sure we have passed the area he was talking about. More wildness than expected! We reach the sluse where already a helpful elderly man expects us and greets us with rhymes and songs – a tradition in the Spreewald, tips welcome. “Mach was Schönes aus diesem Tag…” – we struggle as we have a look on the map and realize how far or not far (!) we had come in 3 hours… And after some quarrels – Carola you were so right – we decide to head back. The sausage with gherkins at the inn at the canoe station is well deserved, we are curing our sore hands and swollen mosquito bites. A trip with many insights 😉
We’ve also visited the Spreewald towns and villages of Schlepzig, Lübben and Berg. All of them picturesque in their own way, all of them characterized by this unique nature that determines life at the water networks of this inner delta of the river Spree.
Besides Spreewald gherkins in culinary terms this region is famous especially for their linseed oil, that is grown and milled locally. A traditional dish – actually a poor people’s food – is Quark with linseed oil and herbs, served with jacket potatoes. Not only recommended for poor people!
We also learned at least a bit about the minority of the Sorbs (one of four officially recognized minorities in Germany), a west slavic ethnic group that lifes mostly in the Lausitz and Spreewald region. Some of the regional traditions or bilingual street signs are traces of this mulitcultural heritage. In Straupitz, a village that got kind of by chance a church drafted by the famous architect Schinkel, you could f.ex. read the Lord’s Prayer in Sorbian language.
Sadly we already had to say good buy to the Spreewald, the dragonflys and our little cabin at the Libellenhof. But we were expected…
… Goethe and Schiller, and many other German writers, philosophers, musicians were waiting for us in Weimar. After days of remoteness in nature, in the Spreewald as well as in Saxon-Bohemian Switzerland, it was time for culture.
A special experience definitely was to visit the Roccoco hall of the famous Anna Amalia library – such an important place for our literary and cultural memory, such a great collection of antique books, lots of them unique! Since 2004 the library has a second story to tell – and it tells it in an informative exhibition: The story of a devastating fire that destroyed parts of the building and the book collection, the story of the long process of saving and restoring books that were damaged by fire and water (50 000 volumes were destroyed for ever).
But Weimar isn’t only the so called Weimarer Klassik. It’s also the origin of Bauhaus that brought modernity into German arts and crafts – with international resonance. A heritage that can be traced not only at the Bauhaus university.
Although it is nearly impossible to escape Goethe in Weimar, we stayed at a place where Goethe was never: the Design Apartments – Hier war Goethe nie. Instead, all of the apartments that can be rented are inspired by this other Weimar line of tradition – Bauhaus design combined with modern interior designs of young designers – partly graduates from the Bauhaus university.
A great concept so far – even better: You can buy most of the design items in the shop that Marc, the enthusiastic design lover, runs as well. You can order them online or visit the small concept store Designwe.love at Schillerstraße 22.
And, as if this wasn’t enough, Marc lately also has published the – well designed, of course – city guide Inside Weimar, that leads you to the cool and sometimes hidden places of Weimar.
Without this guide perhaps we wouldn’t have found the hidden Cafe Caroline and the Herder gardens – an oasis in the middle of the city.
Actually, Weimar has a lot of nice cafés to offer.
… and even Vietnamese food: Pho Co – I wish we had a place like this here around.
And again we had to say good bye to another beautiful inspiring place – here in the East of Germany.