Where Time Stands Still
I am, without a doubt, a city child. For most of my life, I have lived in big cities and I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. Once in a while, however, I feel the urge to escape from the noise, rush and hustle.
The last time I wanted to recharge my batteries, I went to Brandenburg, a mere 1-hour drive from Berlin, both my sister and my dog Milo in tow. Last weekend, the three of us even ventured further: to Stettin Bay, a lagoon in the Oder estuary, which is shared by Germany and Poland.
We rented a cottage in a small village called Ahlbeck, with a population of 726. As soon as I stepped into the house – first built 1757 and lovingly restored – I was in love; with the fireplace, the antique furniture, the box windows, the wooden patio and the spacious garden with the bench under the pear tree. Milo immediately fell in love, too: with the neighbor’s dog, a German shepherd. Separated only by a fence, they longingly gazed at each other for hours.
From Ahlbeck, it is only a short car ride to Rieth am See, a village located right at the border to Poland. Granted, the weather was not the best to explore – it was a typical foggy and gray November day – but at the same time, it meant that we were almost alone in the streets of Rieth. On the rare occasion that villagers crossed our path, they greeted us with a friendly and welcoming smile.
The romantic village seemed to be in a deep slumber; it felt like we had been transported into another time: from the rural church to the old school and the picturesque houses in typical Western Pomerania style, Rieth exuded a quiet, unassuming charm I have yet to encounter in other places.
The open, lush fields in the village stood in eye-catching contrast to the forest that surrounded it, and the vibrant colors of the leaves covering the ground enchanted us all, including Milo, who was happily exploring, sniffing and frolicking around – until he stopped short at the Neuwarp Lake, amazed at the endless amount of water that presented itself in front of him.
Another place in the area worth visiting is Altwarp, a fishing village surrounded by breathtaking nature: sandy grasslands, juniper heaths as well as pine, oak and alder forests transition into marshy meadows. From the beach at Altwarp, one can see its Polish sister village Neuwarp (or Nowo Warpno).
As the days in November are short and it gets chilly as soon as the sun sets, we didn’t linger – but it didn’t bother us at all because our home base in Ahlbeck, our wonderful cottage, was waiting for us. We cooked dinner, opened a bottle of wine, snuggled up in a blanket on the sofa, watched some TV and read a book while enjoying the peace and quiet around us.
Unfortunately, we could only stay for two nights but even though the visit was short, we returned to Berlin very much refreshed. The next time – and yes, there will be a next time for sure – we will have to extend the trip to at least three nights. Perhaps we can come back in spring or summer, so we can actually dip our toes into the sand and Milo can go for his first swim in a true lagoon.
If you are interested in renting a cottage in the Stettin Bay area, visit the TraumHaff website – their houses can accommodate between 2 and 14 guests.