I keep mentioning, that I live in Berlin Suburbia. Which is true, as Berlin basically starts on the other side of the road. But Berlin is a federal state in itself. All its sourrounding areas are in Brandenburg – the federal state completely enclosing the city-state of Berlin.
And whereas it is true, that the belt of small towns around Berlin – like the one I live in – are fast growing Suburbia and being slowly swallowed by the Moloch the city has become, it is also true, that the rest of Brandenburg is kind of empty.
Mostly flat land, not very densly populated, to say the least. In German, there is a phrase we use for this: “viel Gegend” which literally means “lots of area”, but you might propably call it “fly-over-country”.
There exist, in fact, a few other, thriving cities in Brandenburg, next to Berlin – which is located right in the middle of the state – like Brandenburg’s capital Potsdam. The town is quite close to Berlin to the South-West of it. Potsdam once was “the” weekend destination for generations of Prussian Kings/German Emperors. Thus, it had to be reachable by horsecart from Berlin proper within reasonable time. Today, it takes you maybe half an hour to get there by car from Berlin center. From Berlin’s south-eastern corner you just cross a bridge and a village and you are there. Potsdam is filled with palaces and parks, very representable and lovely. Which is also true – to a much lesser extent, when it comes to pomp and circumstance – for Oranienburg at Berlin’s North. A weekend and summer dwelling for the Queens/Empresses, mostly. These monarchs knew, how to keep marriages going 😉
In the very East of Brandenburg, right on the border to Poland is Frankfurt a.d. Oder (which stands for “Frankfurt on river Oder – as opposed to Frankfurt a. Main- on river Main- in Hessen, the financial center of Germany), with its own history of a border city. Part of town is still in Poland – Slubice – and a nice bridge leads there. There is also a University and an Opera House in Frankfurt a.d. Oder. Other cities in Brandenburg big enough to mention are Cottbus (South-East) and Brandenburg on river Havel – the namegiver in the West.
The rest is pretty rural. Or, better said: Everything else is pretty. And rural.
I love the countryside: a huge lake district, open, rolling fields only parted by long, majestic alleys and much woodland. Farms and little villages here and there. But many deem Brandenburg boring, dumb, a drive-through (or fly-over) country.
This year, with Covid-19 raging everywhere, the tourist office of Brandenburg has turned the vast overhang of countryside to it’s advantage. The government has a campaign called “Es kann so einfach sein” (It can be so easy), promoting holidays at home, at a time, when travel is difficult. All the ads deal with the fact, that the country is basically empty, so wherever you go: no danger of infection. I thought this brilliant.