It was as soon as I boarded the train that I realized just how much I had needed to get away. Berlin, I love you but you’re bringing me down. As I climbed the stairs to the upper deck of the Regionalbahn train car – northbound, destination Chorin – and took my seat as the train began to pick up speed, I could feel a palpable sense of joy mounting in pace with the outside world rolling by on the other side of the window; first slowly, then faster and faster. Very soon, much sooner than expected, the cityscape gave way to pastoral green. Brandenburg.
When it comes to “getting away,” every little bit counts. A few weeks’ holiday on an island somewhere may be everyone’s dream, but in a pinch, a quick weekend away can still do wonders. And the thing is, when you live in Berlin, it doesn’t take much effort at all to get out of town. Less than an hour on the S-Bahn or Regionalbahn is enough to grant a major change of scenery and land you in some serious “getting away from it all” countryside.
After the 45-minute train journey to Chorin, it was a peaceful albeit bumpy 7-km bike ride through the forest to Brodowin, a charming and bucolic little village in the middle of a UNESCO-protected biosphere reserve where some friends had rented a holiday house for the weekend. It’s not only nicknamed “the village of the seven lakes” – which means local swimming spots are plentiful – but also classified as an “Ökodorf,” or eco-village.
Don’t know what they had to do to earn this distinction, but from what I could tell, it means beautifully restored old farmhouses and lush yards filled with vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and clucking chickens. A giant storks’ nest stands tall right in the middle of the village, three majestic birds poking their heads out the top, with signs down below lovingly listing the birds that have nested there over the decades. A few doors down is a little Ziegenkäserei selling its homemade goat cheese. On Sunday, the village’s busiest traffic was comprised of tractors and combines.
At the edge of the village is the Demeter farm and dairy that produces those fancy bags of organic milk that Berlin’s Third Wave coffee shops like to use. The on-site organic market and café is a nice stop on the bike ride into town. By this point, you’re already so deeply entrenched in countryside mode that the ripe smell of cow and manure is charming, not off-putting — promise.
Good company, good food, and (luckily) good weather. Nothing quite like cooking over an open fire and then getting pleasantly tipsy around said fire as the stars come out in full force in the inky night sky. The next day, I was so relaxed that I dozed off on an inflatable raft while bobbing around on Brodowinsee, and have the sunburn to prove it.
Sunburns fade – but the warm glow of a perfect weekend away lasts much, much longer.