With the exception of a short visit to the magical Sacred Ground Festival in 2016, I’d never been to Uckermark before, despite its imperturbable reputation as Brandenburgs finest and most idyllic region. So when Drivy asked me to test their new carsharing community for professional and private car owners in Berlin, I used the opportunity to escape the city’s heat and explore “the Tuscany of Germany” (swear I didn’t come up with this one) on a roadtrip for a weekend.
I booked a comfortable and new Hyundai i20 via the Drivy mobile app a week in advance and picked it up on the Friday of our journey, only 300 meters from my workplace (now is as good as a time as any to tell y’all that I’m working a real job with real people – goodbye self-employment). The great thing about sharing private cars on Drivy is that it works, if you want it to, like a real rental: full insurance and you can open the car via the smartphone app. What a time to be alive! The cars are obviously also available for short trips through the city or one day journeys (and much less expensive than the car-sharing programs that count miles or minutes).
The idea was to be as flexible as possible with a one time fee – so no hidden costs, and all kilometers were included.
GutWolletz holiday homes
Already on the way we were teased with long, winding roads that sloped across the hilly countryside – a dream itinerary for a roadtrip. Around 90 minutes after leaving Berlin, we arrived at our lovely weekend hideaway GutWolletz, a holiday home which had outlived its former life as sheep-keep. The sleek but comfortable little apartments are spacious and graceful, with ceiling windows and gigantic kitchens – ideal for people who want refuge without any lack of comfort.
Wolletz, the quaint little village where we were based and name-sake of our stay, has its very own lake right in front of the door – popular among locals and tourists from the region. We took a sunset stroll to the nearest access point and were nothing but mesmerized. The spectacular views were already enough to fuel our excitement for the next two days.
On Saturday, we woke up to 32°C and a grumbling stomach. We hadn’t brought anything to cook up in our kitchen except for life-sustaining coffee, so our first stop was at KaffeeKonsum (practically 3 minutes away from GutWolletz and a popular stop for bikers and hikers). Unfortunately for us, the GDR-style café only offers burgers and no lighter breakfast options, so we decided to hop back into our car and head further into the Uckermark (the Uckermark? Just Uckermark?) landscape to find something to eat.
(A short interjection: I love driving, and the Uckermark is perfect to cruise around. The country roads are wide and the eyes can feast on the enthralling landscape all arounds. The manifold shades of blue, green, wheat and – during sunset – the captivating hues of pink and purple and orange become truly a spectacle to witness.)
With our hands reaching out into the cooling breeze we journeyed through the beautiful little villages. Brandenburg being so sparsely populated, there’s almost no traffic. There are also almost no supermarkets, no gas stations or any other convenience stores, so be prepared. Instead, the landscape is lined with the glistening blue of fresh water lakes (completely abandoned). You can literally stop anywhere and hop into water. A godsend feature to a roadtrip during a heatwave.
Café zum Löwen
Back to our breakfast mission: one of the most ubiquitous recommendations in terms of restaurants in the Uckermark (on- and offline) is without a doubt the Café zum Löwen, founded by Japanese woman Ayumi Saito, who has a knack for art and good coffee. Other blogs have written about how Gerswalde has become the most popular exile village for Berliners, and when you see Café zum Löwen and its corresponding restaurant in the big garden behind it, you’ll know why: it’s absolutely instagram-ready. That being said, the whole region still feels deserted. Nothing – not the cool hipster spot, not the lakes and no roads are ever really crowded. In the magnificent and huge garden of Café zum Löwen, we had a most wonderful lunch of mixed curry and rice and handmade onigiris, accompanied by a fresh rhubarb juice (from the garden, of course), and a heavy but delightful matcha cheesecake. It was so bizarre, really, to be in this literal no-mans-land in the midst of Brandenburg and still feel urban and in the middle of it.
Café zum Löwen shares their space in the garden with Glut & Späne, who sell smoked fish and other fish specialities for lunch and the according white wines to go with it, and in the evening the open bar Paradieschen sets up to share good drinks with its patrons.
After our little lunch excursion we hopped back into the Drivy and sped on to a lake we discovered on our way: Petzigsee. This little gem is smack dab in a little hidden spot on the road between Wollitz and Gerswalde, and although ideal and beautiful, it was also only sparsely populated that day (remember: 32°C). We lounged in the sun for a while until we got hungry again and sped on to our next meal.
Dinner and Apfelwein at Gutshof Kraatz
You should know that the Uckermark is known for its slow food movement, not only because it’s a trend but because of its main economic focus on agricultural economics. Gutshof Kraatz is known for its produce and food, but definitely stands out in their apple wine production.
Apple wine – not cidre, but perhaps you’ve known that already – is originally an iconic Hassian product, but elevated to a refined level at Gutshof Kraatz. We were smitten by the light and creative menu, accompanied by various speciality apple wines of different flavors. I ate roasted cauliflower with capers and raisins (local, of course) and it was the perfect thing for a hot day like that, while the bae had a rather classical dish composed of game sausage (look, I have no idea if ‘game’ is the actual translation of “Wild”, and I have no intention to find out).
As we had had a very early dinner and it was still sizzling and sunny outside, we continued our drive from Gut Kraatz to a nearby lake we had discovered early on the map. The Naugartener See is in a tiny village called, surprise, Naugarten. We parked our car on the main road and hopped right into the lake – again, pretty much all by ourselves. I never knew how much of a luxury it could be to be spoiled for choice like that.
To finish off our exciting day, we drove straight back in the direction of the ecological farm Gut Kerkow. As it happened, we had picked the annual weekend of the “Brandenburger Landpartie”, for which all the farms and country estates open their doors to visitors. Gut Kerkow is known to throw the biggest party, presenting organic foodstuffs and local specialities. Unfortunately, we arrived a little too late to the game – there were still a few people scattered, but most of the food market was already closed down.
We were still pleased with our spontaneous itinerary and, tired from our incredible day, finally headed home to get a good night’s rest back at GutWolletz.
The beauty of the Uckermark
The next day – having learned nothing of our breakfast dilemma – we again set out to find a place that would feed us. Knowing that we’d be in good hands (and feeling like taking another road trip), we ended up heading back to Gut Kraatz to enjoy their breakfast menu. On the way, we stopped to pick cherries on a random side street off the trees, waded through a green bean field, picked flowers and thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Uckermark landscape. Throughout our journey, our car became our mobile home, and when the heatwave finally broke and it started raining and storming, we were merry and happy NOT to be on bikes in that moment.
All in all, I can definitely recommend a roadtrip through the Uckermark. We finally decided to leave as the rain became more intense, but not before skinny dipping in another lake on the way – because why not?
Carsharing with Drivy
If you feel like taking the same trip we did, I can strongly recommend checking out Drivy. Their service is a very convenient option for short- or even longterm car-rentals, right in your neighborhood. If you have a car and don’t need it on the weekends or while you’re on vacation, you can advertise it on Drivy and let people share your car (abiding to your own conditions, of course).
All you need is a valid driver’s license (duh) and an account with Drivy (video verification for the win!) to get started. I loved the convenience and the price, and if you’re German like me: don’t worry, there’s also full coverage insurance if you want it.