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Gut Neuwerk

Gut Neuwerk: Out to the countryside!

Self-sufficiency, family idyll and pure nature: in 2019 Sara and Michael Nieder turned their backs on Cologne city life and moved to the country with their children. Our author Ina has today's Good Travel hosts on Gut Neuwerk visited in the Eifel - and immediately felt at home.

If someone had prophesied to me as a teenager that one day I would write an article with a hint of melancholy in my fingertips entitled “Get out in the country” and by that I would mean the Eifel of all places – I would have laughed out loud. I grew up in the Hunsrück and went to high school in the Eifel. I know what it means when nobody is driving but the school bus. I maintained friendships by bike in wind, rain and the deepest darkness, longed for my driving license as the holy grail and when I was 18 I wanted one thing above all: out of the village and into the city. But that is a long time ago.

At home with the Nieder family

We are sitting at the table in the spacious kitchen. Outside a velvety darkness has settled over the estate, inside it is bright, loud and wonderful. In the next room, little Michel crows half angrily, half happily. Three-year-old Romy comes running into the kitchen every two minutes and whispers something totally secret into Mom or Dad's ear. Meanwhile, five-year-old Max spreads out his football trading cards next to me. With his black Sartre turtleneck, bright red football shorts and that cheeky grin on his face, the five-year-old stole my heart. And I'm almost ashamed that I don't share his enthusiasm for trading cards at all. But he still thinks I'm cool because when I'm not sitting here in his kitchen live on a boat. lucky!

Manor house and manager's house with lake
Look outside
With family planning, the longing for a different life germinated

When Sara and Michael met as young competitive athletes in Cologne, their training schedules and tournaments told them when to be where – they organized their relationship around it. But when at some point family planning was no longer just a dream of the future but became reality, the couple's willingness to make compromises changed.

"For me, the big rethinking came when Sara was pregnant with Max. We quickly realized that the concept of pregnancy was linked to social expectations that we hadn't expected at all. This is right, that is wrong, you can eat that, you can't eat that, you have to buy this, and you have to buy that too, and if you don't bring your child into the world one way or the other, you can pack up right away. We both realized that something wasn't right for us," Michael tells me. The couple increasingly wondered if a three-room apartment in Cologne should really be the environment in which they wanted their children to grow up. And soon began to look for a new home away from the big city.

Three wild plants in the country or: yoghurt with salt

With potatoes, salad, vegan mince and a delicious mushroom sauce, Sara and Michael tell me their story. They always react with affectionate composure to the cheerful heckling of their three blond wild growths. When Romy insists on stirring a spoonful of salt into her bowl for dessert – yoghurt with pureed mango – she is allowed to do so. And although she pulls her pretty face, she is firmly convinced that her yoghurt tastes much better than ours. Max just rolls his eyes and prefers to dig out his trading cards again. And Michel lives up to his Lönneberger first name and secretly paints the wall behind the kitchen cupboard. I like this one.

Gut Neuwerk was love at first sight

"Gut Neuwerk I discovered it on a flyer in a health food store. At the time, we had already looked at a few houses in the country – but we hadn't been looking for something that big, with holiday homes and so much land,” Sara remembers. But the old Eifel estate from the 18th century with its sparse deciduous forest, the reflecting lake and the meadows by the river was love at first sight. And the initially vague feeling of not wanting to live in the city anymore turned into an irresistible urge to move out into the country.

Detail shot of the lake
View of the lake
The artist studio

“The estate suddenly opened up opportunities for us that were much more profound than 'just' less street noise and more greenery. Our long-term goal is now to live here with our family as sustainably and self-sufficiently as possible - and at some point to no longer go to work because we have to, but because we can," says Michael. Today he works in sports management, Sara is a sports journalist and is also training to be a naturopath.

Corona: Better lockdown in the country than in the city

Sara and Michael have never regretted their decision against the city and for Gut Neuwerk. Especially not when Corona ripped our world out of joint just a few months after they moved. “In the beginning we were worried that only a few of our Cologne friends would visit us out here. But at the latest when the pandemic began, this concern turned out to be unfounded. What does a city in lockdown have to offer other than bad air? So it happened that many of them sought refuge with us - in the middle of nature, with lots of space, away from the crowds," says Sara. By renting out their three guest houses - the artist's studio, the manager's house and the guest house, the family also regularly gets to know great people from all over the world with whom they might never have come into contact in the overcrowded city.

Ina in the manager's house
Cozy atmosphere in the rocking chair
At the piano
Detail shot of the manager's house
Bathroom at Gut Neuwerk

Self-sufficiency at Gut Neuwerk - more than a utopia

“Of course we were naïve when we decided on the estate – we didn't realize how much work we had to do. But with the help of our families and friends and thanks to some very competent craftsmen from the area, we had achieved incredible things here within two years. Sara's parents have also moved in here - they are also a great help to us. We have now done away with the oil heating and replaced it with a combined heating system made from logs and pellets, installed a photovoltaic system and insulated all buildings with hemp. Our water comes from our own well, our furniture is mostly second-hand - new high-gloss furniture doesn't fit in with the old property, our budget, or our idea of ​​sustainability," says Michael. Sara manages a large garden according to permaculture guidelines and chickens, sheep, donkeys and cats are now part of the extended family.

The rooster in the basket
Happy in the snow: the sheep
Sheep also live on Gut Neuwerk

Flood disaster 2021: Gut Neuwerk was also affected

“We've learned so much since we've been here, taught ourselves so much, and received so much support and help at the same time. But there are situations that you are never prepared for,” says Michael in a husky voice. He tells me about that night in July 2021, when not only the Ahr, but also the Urft, which flows past the estate, burst their banks: "The flood disaster taught us humility - not only in front of nature, but also in front of the people who use it Well once built. Due to the water masses, we now have to completely renovate the artist's studio."

But the family didn't just have to worry about land. With the last of their strength and only thanks to the help of a friend from the village, they were able to save their sheep from the floods. Some chickens were washed away and drowned. “We also initially thought the rooster was dead. But when we opened the door of an old horse box on the morning after the high tide, we heard a faint, pitiful crowing from a corner. That was a great relief!” Sara recalls. Her garden, on the other hand, was completely destroyed, along with the greenhouse. A major setback – but no reason to give up.

Despite the flood disaster, ideas sprout at Gut Neuwerk

“We have found our little happiness here at Gut Neuwerk, and despite the flood disaster we are not running out of ideas about what else we want to do. We would like to learn to shear our sheep ourselves, and I would also like to grow my own plants in the future and then multiply their seeds - to produce less waste and be even more self-sufficient," says Sara, motivated. The freshly renovated artist's studio has just got its own small sauna, and in the guest house where I was allowed to stay, a cozy wood fire has recently been crackling.

I can fully understand Sara's and Michael's decision to call Cologne “Tschö” to city life and start anew here at Gut Neuwerk. If you respect and love nature, if you are looking for peace and at the same time inspiring people, if you like hiking, cycling or just want to relax and have a soft spot for old walls with style and comfort, you will get your money's worth here.

Incidentally, I gave up my youthful passion for country life long ago. In cities, I feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed by the many billboards, light pollution, noise and the large number of people. And I usually get everywhere in no time at all, but I usually don't want to be there at all. At Gut Neuwerk, on the other hand, in this hearty, uncomplicated family idyll in the Eifel, that's where I wanted to be - and preferably for a little longer.

Four tips at the end

  • Arrival: Before the flood disaster in the summer of 2021, you could travel directly to Urft via the Eifel route between Trier and Euskirchen with Deutsche Bahn. There will be rail replacement services until the route can be reopened.
  • fed up with nature: Wildlife parks, summer tobogganing, climbing park, cycling, hiking - outdoor fans and nature lovers will find endless opportunities to let off steam or gently relax in the immediate vicinity of Gut Neuwerk.
  • Meals: All apartments have a well-equipped kitchen. Within a radius of 10 kilometers there are supermarkets, discounters and an organic shop. If you get up early enough in the morning, you have a good chance of getting one or two breakfast eggs in the chicken coop. There are various restaurants in Kall, but also the pub in Urft - Schneider's Corner – is quaint and eggy. And to the nearby cafe "Em Höhnerstall“ It is only a 3 km walk from the estate.
  • Video tip: Can't wait until you can visit Sara and Michael yourself at Gut Neuwerk? Then look at the ZDF media library the 37 degree contribution "Our own farm" and gains insight into their journey to self-sufficiency.

More information about Gut Neuwerk

The cat followed me everywhere

Ina is a digital nomad and travels through Europe by land and sea. The journalist is always on the lookout for special places for Good Travel, philosophizes about travel in her column, takes photographs, makes music and writes articles on all kinds of environmental and sustainability topics.



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