In one hour by train from Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof, you reach the village of Lubbenau in the Spreewald, a unique area of streams and rivers coursing around tiny island settlements. A cruise from Lubbenau in a flat- bottomed open boat poled by an oarsman is a popular outing for Germans from the East. Unless you speak German you won’t understand a word but it’s such a good-natured, jolly procedure you’ll be included in the collective bonhomie anyway. Boat rides come in 2, 3 and 8-hour versions.
The Spreewald is the cultural home of the Sorbs and Wends, a Slavic minority with distinctive language and customs. The picturesque open-air museum at Lehde, made up of three 18th-century farmsteads, displays their traditional costumes, pottery and furnishings. Medicinal plants and herbs are grown in the museum garden. On the 3-hour boat ride there’s time to disembark for a short visit. The museum is open from April through October, daily.
More information on the area: www.spreewald-web.de
From Lubbenau train station, it’s a short walk to the harbour from which the boats go out every day in any weather, March to October, from 9 am until dark.
Schloss Lubbenau, a castle in its own parkland near the harbour, is an elegant small hotel, restaurant and spa- with a history. The castle had belonged to the Counts of Lynar for 300 years when, in 1944, the family were dispossessed by the state. The expropriation followed the failed attempt on Hitler’s life in which Count Wilhelm Friedrich zu Lynar took part and for which he was executed. Some of the property was returned to his children in 1992; the castle was exquisitely restored and opened as a hotel. . Book online at www.schloss-luebbenau.de or email firstname.lastname@example.org