Spreewald, a destination full of pickles, canals and serene boredom

2 Jul ’15 by Sara Travel
Lovely Fousieh and I went to the Spreewald for a little escape to re-charge our batteries. We encountered weird Germanism and hypnotic boredom. And some cows. Many selfies were taken.

I needed to get out of the city, not for amusement, but to re-charge my batteries. My self-therapeutic measures (in a nutshell: a constant state of denial, combined with an overclocked CPU) can only last so long before I go completely crazy. The past few months were tough, really tough, but there’s still a long way to go before I can go on an actual, proper vacation. So my good friend Fousieh and I decided to escape for only a weekend, and we found that the Spreewald was a good option both in terms of proximity and relaxation.

The Spreewald was designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1991. It is known for its traditional irrigation system which consists of more than 200 small canals (called “Fließe”; total length: 1,300 km ) within the 484-square-kilometre (187 sq mi) area. The landscape was shaped during the ice-age. Alder forests on wetlands and pine forests on sandy dry areas are characteristic for the region. Grasslands and fields can be found as well. (I hate describing facts and I’m really lazy so I copied the whole paragraph from Wikipedia. Go ahead and sue me).

Since summer is as unpredictable as a grapefruit’s squirt, we wanted a hideaway with a Spa. Massage, sauna and pool, far away from the bubble of Berlin, an early dinner and lots and lots of overdue sleep were planned into our lazy getaway. For once, the weather conditions were perfect: it was hazy and rainy in the Spreewald (one hour ride on the train away from Berlin), so we had every excuse to sweat in the sauna, read and be mesmerized by the German idyll of Brandenburg.

Except… there’s the inherent awkwardness to a vacation in Germany.  We weren’t quite sure what it was at first, but after a while we realized that we’re the only not-German looking people. Ever since we’d stepped on the train, there was literally only Germans and germanlooking Polish tourists. Fousieh and I look more like Ali Baba and the 40 thieves than Hänsel & Gretel. While people were celebrating Rainbow-Pride all over the world that weekend, we were holding up the Kanackis-Fort. We weren’t treated differently. But the looks, subtle as they were, became more and more intrusive.

We were pretty unfazed though and decided to re-locate our regular grumpiness. Hating on everything makes us feel better because we can feed our egos with passion about other people’s wrongdoings without putting ourselves in danger. That’s the vacation I need!


The idyll of Spreewald is lacking a little bit of esprit, if you ask me. In the Mediterranean – or even at the Ostsee, where the sea is a distraction from all the other people – there’s this liveliness of summer, there’s fine food and drinks, and of course, people from all over the world who don’t care about social standards. They mingle, dance and laugh. In the Spreewald, nobody was laughing. Ze Germans, as usual, were really quiet. The only collective emotional expression that we documented was when the grande buffet ran out of dessert. Three Germans stood in front of the buffet sighing uncontrollably while saying stuff like “Och nee! Das ist ja doof!”.

Admittedly, the hotel we were staying at wasn’t the best, but we got a pretty cool deal out of it. Still, we wanted to see what the area around Burg had to offer, so we got on our bikes and visited another Spa & Hotel called “Zur Bleiche”. This resort is a precious diamond, and it’s just as expensive. We strolled through the open rooms and the grounds and were shocked by how big and beautiful this place is. We pinky-promised each other to return here in the winter. We hadn’t even seen the rooms to know it would be perfect.


Of course, there’s no Spreewald-trip without taking a Kahn-Tour through the countless Fließe. The Spreewald is an inland delta. Lots of water and rivers and canals and fresh greens and farms and stuff. This is what makes the area so popular among tourists and nature-lovers (not me, then). We were lucky with the weather again: as soon as we hopped onto our boat, the sun broke through the trees. I was hypnotized by the slow ridea and the riverbanks that sometimes looked like scenes out of a Vietcong movie (fern does that). It’s incredibly peaceful and relaxing, and a very pretty sight. That said, it’s also and most effectively VERY boring, so if you’re an impatient person who needs all-around action, you should probably rent your own canoe.



All in all, I probably wouldn’t do this trip again unless I was set up at the Bleiche. I’m not unhappy though: I did get to recharge my batteries. I am still sorry for Fousieh though, who actually had to watch me fall asleep by 7 PM every night. I mean, in total, we probably took around seven million selfies. We didn’t even play cards or pushed over cows. Sorry habibi – next time!


Three comments

  1. But the idyll, at least in its ancient and classical sense, has to be boring! The idyll imagines a wonderful glorification of an otherworldly place, where a simple, bucolic, unburdening life is still possible — a true Arcadia. But it is not an unreachable utopia, not just a mere dream. The idyll is the counterpart to the profane reality of the here and now, where amenities, needs and duties require a life in the sweat of his brow, in constant struggle and business. The idyll is within reach, but — and this is it’s easily overlooked, yet bitter sarcasm — this just takes some more effort. So, to be freed from all these exertions, the idyll must be void of any luxury, of any entertainment or excitement. It has to be boring, at least, that would be the right term, as long as its viewed from the other side.

  2. Honestly, I kind of feel like you all went to the wrong area of the Spreewald. I went to Lübbenau last summer, and while it may not have been thrilling, I found it and the nearby village of Lehde to be super cute and worth a weekend. Based on pictures, Lübbenau seems a lot prettier than Burg…

Other opinions

  1. […] It’s not just about the fam­ous Spreewald-Gurken. It takes about an hour to get to the Spree­wald, an arti­fi­cial forest and low­land that mainly con­sists of mead­ows and rami­fic­a­tions of the Spree. On a mild and sunny day, jump into a boat with up to 7 other people and enjoy the pas­toral atmo­sphere. Once you’re there, you’ll see that there’s a valid reason for why it’s the most vis­ited region of Branden­burg. A visit to the Spree­wald is espe­cially pop­u­lar dur­ing Easter, when the Sorbs start dec­or­at­ing the easter eggs in a ridicu­lous man­ner. That said, we got pretty bored on our last visit. Read more about it here. […]