hidden europe 26

Lakeside strategies: Bad Saarow

by Nicky Gardner


The hinterland of Berlin encompasses some of Europe's finest forest and lake landscapes - too often missed by visitors to the German capital. hidden europe makes an excursion to Bad Saarow, a lakeshore spa town east of Berlin, which was until 1990 divided by a wall.

You will surely have noticed that the world's media are gearing up for a feast of November frenzy to mark the twentieth anniversary of East Germany's quiet revolution in 1989 that presaged the demise of the Berlin Wall. Symbolic certainly, but life didn't change overnight with German unification, and many small towns in rural parts of eastern Germany are still very different from comparable communities in the west. hidden europe visits Bad Saarow. It is a sleepy spa town east of Berlin that was also divided by a wall - a barricade that separated the town's German and Russian quarters.

Black pawn to Queen's Bishop 4. The Sicilian Defence - though the freckled seven-year-old who hesitantly moves the pawn forward surely knows little about matters Sicilian. She takes remedial action to ensure that her King's Rook is not smothered by a cascade of soft vanilla ice cream from the unstable cone she holds in her right hand. "Your turn, grandpa," says the girl. But grandpa is distracted. An old man just enjoying the warm May sunshine and gazing across the lake with a flood of memories.

There is something special about spring days around the Scharmützelsee. Everything is that little bit quieter than usual. Voices are hushed. Folk tread lightly for fear of breaking the peace. In the crisp afternoon air, distant villas which have sat sullen in dull winter suddenly seem vivid and so very close at hand. Enjoy those views now, because in a week or two the lush enveloping folds of summer greenery will close in around every building. The villas will retreat back into the forest and Scharmützelsee will relax into summer. A sparkling gem of a lake deep in the Brandenburg countryside, a place where from June to September every day seems to be sunny, and wind surfers and yachts catch whatever breeze there is to plot their zigzag routes across the shining waters. But early May is spring - a time for democratic walks along the lakeshore promenade, reading headlines in the shade, coffee and cake by the pier and lounging in the steamy open-air spa baths for hours on end.

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