Saturday, 11 April 2009

All The Gherkins You Can Eat!

After yesterday's trip to Cottbus we took another Brandenburg ticket on the regional railway back to the Sorbian Spreewald area. This time there were just the four of us, and we travelled to Lübbenau (Lubnjow).

The region is criss-crossed with canals and channels amongst the reeds, making it something like the Norfolk Broads (England). Unlike the Norfolk Broads, you can't hire a motor-boat to cruise the waterways, but you can ride on a punted boat:

Some of these trips along the canal-ways last seven hours, but we didn't have the time, or the stamina. Instead we hired a four-person kayak and rowed ourselves around for a very enjoyable hour. Here's a typical thatched cottage backing up onto the canal which we slid past on the still water:

Afterwards we revived ourselves in a Biergarten by the waterside, where the main items on the menu were all the various dishes you could concoct out of pickled gherkins, cucumbers, and boiled potatoes with linseed oil. Indeed, my Beloved had a gherkin platter with six different kinds of gherkin, and was still tasting them two days later! I settled for the safe option of pommes (french fries), which could be either 'rot' (red) or ' weiß' (white). I wondered if this referred to the type of potato, but oh silly me, it just meant whether you wanted them with (tomato) ketchup or mayo! Anyway, washed down with a delicious schwartzbier we were ready to explore Lübbenau and the curious village of Lehde.

Everywhere in Lübbenau seemed to be selling pickled gherkins. Senfgurke (mustard gherkins), Gewürzgurke (dill pickles), Salzgurke (pickled cucumbers), Pfeffergurken (pepper gherkins), Knoblauchgurken (garlic gherkins) . . . anything gherkin-related in fact. There was even a Gurken-Radweg cycle path, sign-posted with a gherkin riding a bike. We were heading for Lehde and, joy of joys!, we noted that they had a gherkin museum:

(the sign on the stall of this 'king of gherkins' says 'visit our gherkin museum in Lehde'. Wow, can't wait!).

Lehde (Sorb: Ledy) turned out to be a most intriguing village of many islands amongst the water channels, connected by high-backed bridges which reminded me of Venice. Unlike Venice, there is an unsophistication, a living with nature, a simplicity that is pure German Romanticism.

The wooden houses were very distinctive, and with the lack of cars in the village, you almost expected to come across a horse-drawn buggy carrying an Amish family. 

Actually, we didn't find the gherkin museum, but there was a Freilandmuseum Lehde:

The flood meadows between Lehde and Lübbenau were full of golden-headed marsh marigolds and the distinctive hay-stacks of the region. It was all really idyllic and other-worldly:

It was so strange, that you could expect anything. Even a giant nest of Easter eggs!

Another excellent excursion, made all the more enjoyable by the company of our fellow explorers, and like the pickled gherkins, I think we will be returning again and again.

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