Sunday, April 24, 2011

Road Trip in Rural Germany

24 April, 2011

A new friend, a young Romanian woman who has been living in Germany for over a decade, took me on a road trip south from Berlin. I thought we were just "going to the lake" but it turned out that she had much more than that in mind!

First stop, about an hour's drive away, was a little town called Doberlug-Kirchhain.  Here we stopped for Kaffee und Kuchen at a small local bakery.  Just like everywhere I visited, there was an eagle monument.
The architecture was quaint and lovely, and some of the streets were still cobblestone.
This is the town square for Kirchhain.  I suppose the large open space must once have been the marketplace.
Contrary to the idea you may have from my photos, NOT every building in Germany is restored and maintained... here is a building with its facade falling apart.  Cute window shutters, though! :)
The next stop was at her house.  She purchased an old farmhouse in the nearby area for an incredibly low price, but she doesn't live in it (you will see why shortly).

The extension contains the summer kitchen, bathing room or storage area (?), and toilet, which were not part of the original 1938 house.
Looking from the bath/toilet area at the end of the building toward the kitchen.  On the left you see what is left of the wall that divided the summer kitchen from the storage/bath area. The wall appears to be made of a mud and straw core which was then covered with something else.  At the very rear, the long hole in the wall opens into the original kitchen in the original part of the house.  In the far right corner is the stove and its chimney.  The oven is on the left, covered by a circular wooden lid.  If the gratings were replaced this stove would be good as new.
Standing now in front of the stove looking back into the storage/toilet areas.  The toilet is in the far right corner - the thing that looks like a bench has a small round lid that one would remove, sit over the hole, and, well, you know.  The cylindrical thing is just a trashcan that was stored there.  There used to be walls enclosing this tiny corner and as you can see it had its own door.  The rest of the area must have been either storage, bath area, or both.
The water pump - carrying water is very heavy, by the way - and the overturned tin bathtub. 
A nearby house had this trailer parked in the yard.  At first I thought it was some kind of chicken house, but it turns out it's a giant mobile apiary (beehive).  Cool.
The road the house is on.  Nice view, huh?  Talk about quiet...
Here is what the other half of the town is named after, Schloss Doberlug.  Formerly a castle, then a treasury during the Prussian empire, and finally a monastery, which it remains today. 
It has a MOAT!!!!!!!  I don't know why the bridge was filled in, possibly to prevent collapse, but they have planted a nice lawn at the bottom and I can imagine in summer it would be a nice place for a picnic.
The church of the castle/monastery.  It didn't appear to be open and we didn't go in.
Here we are on the bridge over the moat, with the entrance to the castle on our right.  The building behind us, on the outside of the moat, is the refectory (where they ate, I think), and behind that is the church.
Near the gate of the castle wall is a nice little restaurant.  We had a meal here, but once again I forgot to photograph it before I started eating.  A basic meat and potatoes meal, but very attractively presented and delicious.
While waiting for the food, this family drove up and I couldn't resist snapping a pic of their little girl, with her explorer hat and miniature suitcase.
Finally, around 5:30pm, we make it to the lake in time to catch a few rays! 
She packed a massive amount of stuff to bring to the "beach" - blanket, ball, towels, bathrobes, lounge chair, cushion, badminton rackets and more.  I'm from California, I would have brought only the towel...
If I understood right, the lake is an old quarry that has been opened to the public.  It has only a handful of parking spaces, no facilities, and requires a short hike through the forest, so only the locals go there.  Perfect!
One thing to keep in mind when going to a bathing area in Germany, even if it's FKK (Frei Korper Kultur or nude bathing) - WEAR SANDALS AT ALL TIMES.  The national pastime of beer drinking extends to the out of doors, so  broken glass is on the ground and no doubt also in the water.

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