The country tranquility of Gut Boltenhof
And now I'm sitting in the VW bus and the first journey in 2021 begins. I feel queasy because somehow traveling doesn't feel 100% right, even though I only tested negative for COVID-19 before leaving and on a daily basis, and although I was looking forward to traveling so much, because after all I had to Missing it for too long - at least in my opinion - and now it should start again, or it starts right now, it has started, the first trip to an accommodation, only an hour's drive from Berlin, to the small town Fürstenberg / Havel in the north of Brandenburg. The closer I get to my goal, the more I slide back and forth in my seat and notice how the anticipation grows bigger and bigger. Turn once more and then I see it in front of me, the imposing manor house, the Good Boltenhof for a trip to the Winterlude.
The impressive first impression of Gut Boltenhof
Park quickly, take your luggage with you and walk along the long paved lime tree avenue to the staircase of the manor house, unlock the door and stand in the middle of the beautiful entrance hall. From the entrance hall it goes right to its own modern restaurant called GUTESS, on the left is the office where employee Jessica welcomes me, and straight ahead a staircase leads to the upper floor, where the six hotel rooms are located. The long corridor separates them from one another, the rooms that were recently renovated and those that have been rented out since the estate opened.
Design meets sustainability
At the end of the corridor is a guest room called the Schneckenhaus, in which I can spend the night. It is painted a light green, the old wooden beams can still be seen, as well as natural materials and well-chosen furniture. The comfortable double bed allows for a restful sleep. The wide fields and a multitude of trees can be seen from the two windows.
Regional farm shop
But the day is still young and I want to take a closer look at Gut Boltenhof. Because next to the manor house, a former cattle barn, which is now a farm shop, and eleven holiday apartments are part of the estate. Other guests have made themselves comfortable in front of the farm shop and enjoy a homemade fruit cake and coffee. The farm shop offers a small selection of organic and sustainable foods such as cheese, vegetables and eggs that come from the region. Selected travel guides and coffee table books as well as tips on Brandenburg can also be purchased there.
Gut Boltenhof is surrounded by water, cows and forests
Directly at the manor house there is a small fountain on the Sonnenhof, around which there are chairs and tables, where you can make yourself comfortable; and the large, lush green meadow invites you to linger in the garden chairs. From there a narrow path leads through bushes and trees, of course I follow it and because of the smell and the moo I can guess what I see a few moments later: cows that belong to the organic farm of Gut Boltenhof. But not only the cows make noises, also the many birds, such as the kingfisher known and protected for the region, as well as the first insects and bumblebees whirring past. And suddenly, as a city dweller, I notice how seldom I really consciously notice the noises of animals in my everyday life.
On the way back to the manor house I see a small, hidden roundabout where celebrations and events such as an open-air cinema take place during the summer months. On my tour of the estate, the host Jan-Uwe Riest greets me in a very friendly manner and gives me a few tips for excursions in the surrounding area. Of course, I would like to discover these and so it starts with the first tip from Jan-Uwe, the Capriolenhof. The drive there can be described as adventurous, because it's a good five kilometers through the forest, over a bumpy forest road, my van teeters and wobbles as it drives over tree roots. But the drive is worth it, when I get there I see a small part of the 150 goats I own, from which the owners of the farm make authentic goat cheese, goat cheese and even ice cream.
Kayak tour past kingfishers, ducks, beavers and swans
A little further with the car, and this time on real roads, it goes to Himmelpfort. The town is not only beautiful to look at, it is surrounded by four interconnected lakes: Sidowsee, Moderfitzsee, Haussee and Stolpsee. Jan-Uwe gave me the campsite Wild home Recommended when I told him I'd like to do a small kayak tour. The owners of the campsite Kristin and Martin are warm and allow a tour even though they actually wanted to close. After a short time I paddle along the Siggelhavel, past kingfishers, ducks, beavers and swans as well as lots of reeds and bank plants, through water lilies, all the way to the Havel (Stolpsee).
Back at the farm and in my snail shell room, I fall into the soft bed and sleep wonderfully until the blood-red sun wakes me up as it rises in the early hours of the morning. Of course, I didn't expect the sun to shine so brightly at the end of the horizon. But I don't want to miss the natural spectacle that can be admired every day in the country, so I stay awake.
Soon it will be time for breakfast, which I will have in the farm shop. I expect regional (milk) products that come from friendly farms or businesses, plus there is a cappuccino with oat milk, fruit and vegetables, specially prepared jam, muesli and spreads. I take my time and enjoy the morning quiet and watch the geese running across the yard.
A meeting place for many
After breakfast I have an appointment with Andrea, the hostess and wife of Jan-Uwe. Together with Jessica she leads me through the manor house, the individual rooms, the GUTESS with the associated three dining rooms and the winter garden. She answers my many questions and lets me know the plans for Gut Boltenhof. Because the hotel should develop more and more so that couples or single travelers book a stay or come by to co-work with high-speed internet. The estate can still be booked for weddings and other celebrations, Andrea is already looking forward to the upcoming one Open-air cinema evening. However, not least because of the pandemic, the hosts have noticed that they are happy when people stay longer than just a few nights and actively participate on the farm in all kinds of ways.
Speaking of collaboration, when I was shown the hotel rooms, I was particularly impressed by one of the individually furnished rooms: that Brandenburg room. Every single piece of furniture, accessory, picture or even the smallest detail was developed here in cooperation with product designer Bernadette Wüchner from the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences. For her thesis, the student contacted manufacturers and craftsmen from the region, and this is how the unique pieces were created, which have adorned the room since June 2019, making a piece of Brandenburg tangible for the guests.
Harmonious coexistence of humans, nature and animals
I find it remarkable how Andrea and Jan-Uwe breathed life into the estate again, how they were able to realize themselves there and at the same time give other people the opportunity to find their home at Gut Boltenhof. The harmonious coexistence of humans, nature and animals and the consistently lived sustainability have done it to me. I enjoy the remaining time at Gut Boltenhof to the full, go on excursions and enjoy my culinary delights.
I am going home happy, because the long weekend in nature was really good for me, I will quickly miss the country tranquility, I'm sure of that. Shortly after arriving in Berlin, I hardly hear birds singing, but cars and horns, and I am already looking forward to the next break in a manor, not far from Berlin, but far away from the noise. In my bed, with the window open, I hear the chirping of birds in my back yard and I fall asleep refreshed.
Photo credits: Cécile Meier