As I step off the train into Märkische Schweiz, I feel more or less at peace. Last weekend, my feelings of contentment (of accomplishment) stemmed from my ability to navigate the Spree River alone, order a beer, and read a book to myself, completely unperturbed and doing it all for the sake of itself. What I'm trying to say is this: Having never traveled outside of the US (except to France when I was ten, that doesn't count--I was ten, and it was only for a week or so), I initially found great difficulty in finding my place, of feeling comfortable in a completely foreign country.
This is to be expected, sure, but it was something I knew I had to shake. And so, after about a week of being in Berlin, the jet lag still among me like rain-drenched clothing, the feeling of comfortability was a welcomed feeling. The two hours spent at this waterside cafe, book clutched firmly in hand, was a wonderful--if not mundane--sensation. Why I had picked this cafe in particular, I cannot say. Perhaps it was the perfect vantage point from which I could see the Fernseherturnm, or perhaps it was the way that this particular stretch of the river had a calm, predictable pattern of tossing wakes against the bank. Again, I can't really say, but I'm glad I decided to throw my bag in one chair, and then myself in another. Anyway, my accomplishment for that day and that week was this little excursion.
The next weekend, if you'll remember, is in Märkische Schweiz, a little village in Buckow, which is a part of Brandenberg...which is basically a suburb of Berlin. So many different land divisions, it could drive someone crazy. It certainly made me crazy, considering I missed about three separate trains, so beholden as I was to finding the exact right name of the stations. Turns out many of the stations represent more a general idea of location, which only furthered my frustration.
But finally I'm in Brandenberg, about two hours away from the metropolis that is Berlin. Again I am removed from my comfort zone, a zone that had only very recently become comfortable. And keep in mind that it only really was comfortable because of a beer and a book. To put it bluntly, Brandenburg is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. The architecture is not unlike something you might expect to find in southern France, or Italy, or anywhere but here. The weather was so perfect you could just about scream. But I didn't. I was alone, I had finished my book on the train, and I wasn't particularly craving a beer. So I made due with my own two legs, walking down cobble-stone streets and observing (window shopping, really) the different summer resort homes that hid away among dense trees and along deep blue waters. It was a sight to behold, and I did end up feeling thirsty enough for a beer at one of the many local cafes. In this way, I was at home once again. I just have to stock up on reading material for the future.
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<p>George Lubitz is a senior at Skidmore College with a major in Creative Writing. He has a minor in German and is spending the summer of 2016 in Berlin. He enjoys writing short fiction, some of which has been featured in publications like Gravel Magazine and The Adroit Journal, among others.</p>