The Spreewald

Travel time: September 2001  |  by Anne Pofcher

My 2001 trip to Germany, in particular the protected biosphere called the Spreewald. This trip also included Naumberg an der Saale and Eisleben, particularly my overnight at the newly rebuilt Kloster Helfta.

The Kahns Can't

I had been so excited about journeying to the Spreewald, a protected area of natural beauty located approximately 60 miles south of Berlin, Germany. What I read beforehand intrigued me. There are very few roads; with the residents mainly traveling to their destinations by small boats or punts called Kahns. The area is a conglomeration of shallow waterways that lead from one town to another. Even the postman uses a Kahn to deliver the mail.

Unfortunately, since I arrived in Berlin's Templehof Airport three days previously, it had been raining. Technically it was still summertime, but the air was cold and the sky was mostly overcast. The weather was strangely flirtatious. For a moment that sky showed a large patch of blue and seemed as if it would further clear up. Instead the clouds would return and it would rain harder than before. By the time I reached the Spreewald town of Lübben, a nasty, depressing wind was sending the rain sideways so that the oversized drops could better smack into my face. My umbrella was killed instantly. I checked into my hotel and exhausted from the cold, drenching rain I fell asleep.

I slept for about an hour and waited for the rain to let up. When it finally did, I walked down to the Kahn pier, ready to take the next boat going out, or at least booking a trip for the next morning.

Instead I was greeted at the ticket booth by a woman who told me there were no Kahn trips because of the heavy rains.

I harp about the weather actually not to complain but to explain how I found out about the Freizeitbad!

Oh great, I thought, I'm in a nature area but can hardly go outside. I hoped the next day there would be an improvement but one look outside revealed otherwise.

In the hotel I noticed a poster for a Kur and Freizeit Bad. I had absolutely no idea what this was, but thankfully I asked about it. I decided I had nothing to lose by checking it out. I put a bathing suit in a bag, called a taxi and took the ten mile ride to Lübbenau.

I've been studying German since 1988, but that doesn't mean I was fluent. It made the trip more of a fun challenge, and I could communicate pretty well, never mind that the occasional native burst out laughing at my sometimes lame attempts at speaking the language. Still I had my moments of brilliance and enjoyed many quality conversations with train passengers or the friendly person in a restaurant, or even on the street.

The taxi driver and I chatted all the way. When he dropped me off at the Kristallbad I didn't know what to think, except to go on in.

No one could have been more lost than I. I paid for an all day ticket but didn't know that I had to rent towels, maybe a robe and those rubbery thongs. The changing room was like a maze and I couldn't even figure out how to exit. I was like a toddler playing with a busy box and I played with the knobs that locked both sides of dressing cubicle. I eventually made it to the swimming pool.

In the center of the pools was a literal whirlpool that whipped you round and round specially spiral shaped walls.

After a while I tried another room, which was decorated in a Roman motif, complete with sculpted busts and ancient style pillars.. The pool was octangular and filled with warm salt water. It was heavenly.

It was when I went to the sauna section that things got interesting.

© Anne Pofcher, 2003
You are here : Overview Europe Germany Germany: The Kahns Can't
The trip
Start of journey: Sep 05, 2001
Duration: 15 days
End of journey: Sep 19, 2001
Travelled countries: Germany
The Author
Anne Pofcher is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 21 years.