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WANDERFREUNDINNEN — WALKING TOURS AND TIPS IN BRANDENBURG FROM TWO OUTDOOR PROS

WANDERFREUNDINNEN — WALKING TOURS AND TIPS IN BRANDENBURG FROM TWO OUTDOOR PROS

What better way to use all this time during lockdown than by connecting with the land around you? Well Brandenburg natives Ulrike and Laura have done just that: the two hikers have been documenting their countryside walks and bike rides on their Wanderfreundinnen (“hiking buddies”) Instagram channel, giving advice on where to go and sharing beautiful images along the way. The pair have been friends for 12 years, and between studying hotel and tourism management and working in the music business, the two have made it their mission to show everyone how beautiful Berlin’s neighboring state really is. To accompany their page, they have a Komoot profile where they share all their routes with distances, times, locations and images. Ulrike and Laura’s favorite destination is Märkische Schweiz, a starting point for various routes that are suitable for all different fitness levels and interests.

One such trail is the Höhenweg, a 22km hike that takes about six hours and includes a nature park, the beautiful Schermützelsee lake and a path through fairytale woodland. Other recommended routes include the Schlaubetal valley and the beech forests of Grumsin. Besides routes, the pair are full of handy advice to help you make the most of the countryside: always plan your route, try to make it a circle, give yourself enough time for breaks (don’t forget the all-important snacks) and – crucially – wear comfortable shoes. The page is full of positivity and inspiration and is enlivened with personal insights and striking photographs. In sum: the perfect guide to getting out in the greenery.

Text: Lottie Mac / Photos: Wanderfreundinnen

Wanderfreundinnen

@wanderfreundinnen

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A DAY OF HISTORICAL DISCOVERIES — THE GARDENS AND CHURCH AT SACROW

A DAY OF HISTORICAL DISCOVERIES — THE GARDENS AND CHURCH AT SACROW

Looking for an easy escape from the big city? While Potsdam is probably one of the first places that comes to mind, if you stop 4km before you reach the Brandenburg capital you will find a lesser-known place that really does fit the category of hidden gem: the parklands and church at Sacrow. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, the park is home to 26 hectares of tree-lined paths and handsome gardens that all look out onto the Havel river. The gardens are officially part of the Schloss Sacrow, an elegant but rather understated country house that was acquired by Kaiser Frederick William IV from a Swedish nobleman in 1840. The kaiser commissioned his architect Ludwig Persius to build what is now the star of Sacrow: the Heilandskirche (Saviour’s Church), an evangelist chapel finished in Italian style that juts out into the water like a ship at dock.

The church’s bell tower – or campanile – is a particularly unusual feature, giving a touch of Tuscany to the Havelland scenery. As you follow the yellow brick and blue tiled walls round as they curve towards the water, you are led to a perfect place to sit and enjoy the view as the sailing boats and water taxis float by. But underneath the tranquil vista is a long and often turbulent history: between 1961 and 1989 the site was stuck in a no man’s land between the GDR and West Berlin on the other side of the Havel, with border guards using the campanile as an ad-hoc watchtower. After the Wall came down, the then-derelict church was restored to its former glory, including the interior which you can now visit. Having explored the church site, you can continue your trip with a walk or cycle around the gardens, which offer endless spots for a rustic picnic with views out onto the river. Before you go, there is one last stop that is worth a visit: the giant English oak tree that stands 150 meters from the Schloss and is – amazingly – thought to be over a thousand years old.

Text: Benji Haughton / Photos: Savannah van der Niet

Park Sacrow, Krampnitzer Str.34, 14470 Potsdam; map
You can reach Sacrow by car (free parking is available here) and on the 697 bus (limited service).

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PARTNER YOGA FROM SOUL Y LUNA — RECONNECTING THROUGH (ONLINE) GUIDED MOVEMENT AND TOUCH

PARTNER YOGA FROM SOUL Y LUNA — RECONNECTING THROUGH (ONLINE) GUIDED MOVEMENT AND TOUCH

Your partner is somebody you see all the time. But when was the last time you really “saw” them? Taking a moment to genuinely connect with your loved one is precisely what the partner yoga sessions from Soul Y Luna are all about. As you come together on the mat, you and your partner support, touch and move each other through an hour or so of shared asanas that gently encourage openness and closeness. Guiding you through the class are two healers: San Francisco-born yoga teacher Flor and her real-life partner Yazan, a dancer and massage practitioner from Damascus. Even over Zoom, you feel the pair’s own intimacy when they invite you to join them as they move together in their Potsdam apartment. Although yoga should never be goal-oriented, there is a clear, simple intention behind Yazan and Flor’s sessions: “Feel your body, free your mind”. In one of the exercises, you are asked to stare straight into the eyes of your partner for an extended period. The experience feels awkward, funny – and deeply emotional.

The couple started the project at the beginning of 2021 with the goal of giving people an opportunity to reconnect. “It can be really difficult to make space for intimacy when you’re busy with life and work,” says Flor, who views yoga not as a sport but as a tool for exploring ourselves – whether it’s our strengths or traumas. The duo plan to offer in-person sessions as soon as conditions allow, but until then you can join them for digital drop-ins every Saturday at 11h starting in April. If you are worried you need to be in a relationship to join in, don’t: partner yoga is just as beneficial when done with a friend or flatmate. Whoever you choose as your companion, you both end the session feeling calm, aware and curious – and what more could you want in a relationship?

Text: Benji Haughton / Photos: Rhys Anderson Media & Artem Podrez

Soul Y Luna – Yazaan and Flor will hold online partner sessions on Saturdays starting 03.04.2021, 11h–12h15.

To book a place and to enquire about private classes and massages, send an email to soulylunayoga@gmail.com

@soulyluna_living

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HOLISTIC FITNESS TAILORED TO YOUR NEEDS — OUTDOOR PERSONAL TRAINING WITH MICHAEL SCHALLER

HOLISTIC FITNESS TAILORED TO YOUR NEEDS — OUTDOOR PERSONAL TRAINING WITH MICHAEL SCHALLER

If, like me, you feel your body isn’t in as good shape as it could be, it might be time to begin working on your fitness – or as Michael Schaller puts it, learning “to move as freely and lightly as possible.” The Berlin-based personal trainer studied sports science at the Technical University of Munich and spent time giving athletic coaching to young basketball talents – experiences which led him to focus on a broad repertoire of movements that anyone can do. For me, the term personal trainer has always seemed a distant concept with “Hollywood” connotations. But as I balance on one leg in a Prenzlauer Berg field trying to dodge Michael’s dangling tennis ball, it becomes clear that this is not about living the Beverly Hills life.

As I begin to move, I realize that my regular cycling practice uses only a fraction of my muscles: it turns out there’s strength in places I didn’t even know existed (hello, sore muscles). The work allows me to (re)learn my body and understand that I still have a long way to go to develop a better “vocabulary” of movements. But that’s no matter, since the training is actually lots of fun! If like me you had clichéd images of personal training in your head, a session with Michael will set you straight. He doesn’t stand over you and drill you until you drop, and there are no endless squats. Instead you are led through a whole range of movements, from “knee-washing” (knee exercises) to a meditative practice that reminds you of Qi Gong and challenges both body and mind. And while there are times when the little control freak in you takes over and makes you want to give up, by the end of the session you feel great satisfaction at what you have achieved. The learning doesn’t stop there though: the idea is to integrate the exercises into your daily routine and develop a personal movement vocabulary that supports you. As Michael puts it, “the urge to move accompanies us throughout our lives – a life without movement does not exist.” Amen! 

P.S.: Michael usually holds his sessions in a fitness studio in Mitte, but due to current rules you can train with him outside (with distancing) or via Zoom. 

Text: Nina Trippel / Photos: Savannah van der Niet

Michael Schaller personal training can be booked via email and phone

@michael.schaller

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BUCHER FORST: NATURE-FILLED HAVEN FOR PEACEFUL WALKS THROUGH MEADOWS, WOODS AND MARSHES

BUCHER FORST: NATURE-FILLED HAVEN FOR PEACEFUL WALKS THROUGH MEADOWS, WOODS AND MARSHES

A lush oasis offering 1000 hectares of greenery to explore, Bucher Forst is home to woodlands, meadows, lakes and marshes all accessible via well-maintained, dog-friendly footpaths. The starting point for your countryside stroll is the town of Buch, 14km from Berlin’s center. This part of northern Pankow is known not for its nature, but its historic sanitoriums. Built between 1900 and 1920, the hospitals once made up one of the biggest medical sites in Europe and feature architecture from famed municipal planner Ludwig Hoffmann that survives to this day. A 20 minute walk from Berlin Buch station brings you to the forest’s main entrance – from there you can take any path you like for a short stroll or even an all-day hike through woodland that extends well into Brandenburg.

Part of Naturpark Barnim conservation area, Buch is home to 360 species of ferns and 66 species of breeding birds, and if you are lucky you might even spot highland cattle and Konik horses grazing the fields. For an alternative starting point, head straight from the village to the Bogensee lake (around 30 minutes on foot), which actually comprises three bodies of water that are home to water fowl, grey herons and, on summer evenings, bats. After some birdwatching on the viewing platform – where you will find a handy pictorial guide to the local ornithology – you can continue on a short loop around the lakes that brings you to the northern part of the forest where endless leafy footpaths await. Oh, and before you head back to the city, take a walk or drive past the former clinic buildings for a glimpse at Hoffmann’s majestic pavilions and columns. It’s the ideal way to wrap up a day of fresh air and tranquility.

Text: Benji Haughton / Photos: Savannah van der Niet

Bucher Forst can be reached by car or with the S2 to Berlin Buch.

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