A Memorable Journey Through the German Countryside


In August 2021, I had the opportunity to visit my long-time mentor, Deborah, in a remote and peaceful neighborhood of Neuendorf am See, 100 kilometers northwest of Berlin. Deborah is from the USA but recently she has settled and made Germany her base. Every travel opportunity was a high for me and this time I was going to explore the proper German countryside. I was super excited.

I first met Deborah in Nepal in 2014 when she visited my college as a creative writing instructor. She was a big influence on me and instilled confidence in a teenager who struggled with low self-esteem. She has since been a great support for me, and every time I talk to her, I feel a sense of clarity in my mind.

Neuendorf am See

I took a train from Berlin, then a bus, and then another train until I reached Lübbenau, where Deborah picked me up along with her friend. It took us 25 minutes by car to reach her place. We drove through the forest until we reached a neighborhood with a maximum of 10-15 houses, and it felt like the neighbors probably knew each other well — something I was not yet familiar with in Germany.

Neuendorf is a small and remote village, with the closest grocery store at least 25 minutes away by car. The village is connected by public transport, but the buses are not that frequent. The lake (Neuendorfer See) is nearby and offers numerous soothing places for quiet and introspection. Coming straight from a bustling holiday in Berlin, the offerings were quite contrasting, but I was all up for an introspective trip.

Evening walk and the cooking assignment

That evening we went for a walk into the forest and to the nearby campsite by the lake. This region is called UnterSpreewald, which is located south of the tourist destination of Spreewald. We walked along the small canals and tiny bridges, carefully jumping over the water puddles as Deborah briefly explained the place and its history to me. There were many camping houses, as a lot of people had moved there to enjoy the summer. It was a lovely walk, the kind that makes you feel mentally satiated.

As soon as we went back home, we geared up for the cooking assignment. I had agreed to be the chef of the evening, cooking dinner for Deborah and her neighbors. They had just gotten back from a holiday in Amsterdam and could not join us, but we would deliver the food to their home.

I was scared. I honestly did not understand the cooking basics yet. I rarely tried to cook vegetables in the past, and it was only based on my fundamental cooking knowledge of ‘some time’. For instance, put the pan to heat, then put oil in some time, put garlic and onions in some time, fry them for some time, then put vegetables and fry them for some time, cover them for some time, and on and on. I could not identify the taste of the spices I’d use, the changes in vegetable textures, or any small nuances that make up the science of cooking. And if a little bit of smoke started to rise from the pan, I’d go into panic mode and quickly have a glass of water ready to pour. Then, I’d let it cool for some time.

I had mushrooms and broccoli to work with. I went on with my plan, unintelligibly putting in stuff and hoping the food would somehow turn out good. When Deborah asked if I wanted to put in some tomato puree, I was happy to do it, hoping it would spark some charm in this hopeless cause. The food turned out to be good enough. Deborah said she liked it, and her neighbors passed on their compliments as well the next day. I was honestly just happy that it was edible.

Berry-picking in German countryside

The next day I woke up at a reasonable time after quite a while. We made some omelets and coffee and had a chat about our lives and goals. Deborah has a way of having a conversation that helps you see things clearly and motivates you to take action and face your learnings head-on. That’s what she did with the cooking, taking a hands-on approach to teach me something. I honestly felt much more confident in cooking after that experience and started to cook more when I went back.

After breakfast, we picked up two bicycles and went berry-picking. The nearby forests had a lot of blackberries, and we could just go and pick them. There were a lot of berries waiting to be picked, but the thorns were also guarding them quite well. We carefully picked as many berries as we could while trying our best to steer clear of those thorns. No matter how careful we were, we couldn’t manage to do it without some cuts. It was a crazy adventure.

berry picking in german countryside
Half full or half empty?


Next up was canoeing. UnterSpreewald has tiny canals along the fields and forests that are perfect for canoeing. These canals follow the same stream as those in Spreewald, the famous holiday destination.

Deborah’s friend ran a holiday home in Neuendorf am See, and she had a canoe that we could use. Deborah and I pulled up the canoe and set it in the canal, with Deborah doing the heavy lifting. That was the moment I realized how well Deborah had been taking care of her health. She was super strong. I could barely move the canoe on one side while she took charge from the other side with strength and conviction. I was amazed and questioned my choices that made me so weak even in my athletic prime.

We were in the canals in no time. Deborah let me steer the canoe from the front as she took on more of an instructor role in the back. The person in the back has to control the canoe if the one steering in front makes bad choices, and oh, I made a lot of them. For a beginner, canoeing follows a basic rule: row left if you want to go right and row right if you want to go left. I thought, it’s simple, I can handle it. The serpentine canals did not make my task any easier. I was constantly forcing the canoe to hit the bushes while Deborah always had to stabilize it. And I was not helping by taking pictures here and there.

The journey back was more relaxing, and I felt a bit more in control of the canoe. Deborah explained it was because we were finally going with the current. Earlier, we had to row against the current, which had made the task more difficult. We took some breaks during the journey to just sit and enjoy the beautiful nature around us. It was a surreal experience, something I thought I’d do more of when I got back to Koblenz. But realizing that I have never touched a canoe since then kind of gives a clue about how our plans can be so fragile if there’s no action to support it.

Cycling around the Neuendorfer See

biking in german countryside
A countryside tribute to Amsterdam

Another adventure during my therapeutic holiday in the German countryside was cycling. We took our bikes and rode along the forest and then onto gravel roads, something that I was extremely familiar with and reminded me of the days I would cycle in the remote places of the Terai region in Nepal.

Deborah explained to me the significant histories of the places we encountered along the way. One that I still remember was a school that turned itself into a canteen to feed the kids during the Second World War. The place looked deserted now.

Deborah took me to her favorite place, a spot she said she would come to often during the COVID pandemic, finding peace in the calming effects of the lake. It was a spot in the forest with a clear view of the lake and the calming sounds of the water. I could imagine how she must have felt coming here, letting her worries be slightly eased by this solitary spot. There’s a non-negotiable sense of belonging we humans need in every phase of our lives, and we tend to find it no matter where we are. This little place of solace was such a home for Deborah. As she took a deep breath and gazed intently at the lake, I couldn’t help but think of the energies that this place must hold for her—her conversations with herself and the world, the things she dreamed of, the anxieties she may have endured, and the force of nature that calmed her. It was beautiful to observe her connection to this place.

We picked up our bikes again and continued our journey. We went through a wildlife reserve where we met some deer wagging their tails. They looked at me curiously for minutes as I tried to take their pictures.

We reached the main camping spot of the lake. There were many camping vans, families joining for picnics, and biking enthusiasts resting on the lake’s shore. After observing life for a bit, we made our way back.

The sun was slowly setting, so I took some pictures along the way, of the forests, flowers, landscapes, and more. We cycled a complete round of the Neuendorfer See, about 14 kilometers. It was beautiful.

My love for the German countryside

As we spent the second day with lots of adventures, it also brought me close to the end of my trip to Neuendorf. It was a very beautiful experience, to say the least. Deborah and her high energy have a way of making people around her energetic as well. I was full of energy these two days, and I can’t believe we were able to experience so much in such a short time. 

To experience the German countryside was a great experience for me. Someone who was just 3 months into living in Germany, I was still seeing new places through the eyes of a Nepali youth. This experience allowed me to observe life beyond the city in two vastly different countries, and still find some similarities attached to them. Neuendorf am See, though it might seem like a place in the middle of nowhere, offered me a calming trip and memories that I will cherish for a long time.

Location: Neuendorfer See

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I love traveling and I love writing about it. It's my sincere hope that through my content, you will find some helpful information and inspiration for your own travels. :)

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