Large Spreewald Harbour Lübbenau

Please note: The following text is an interview or story from a previous year. Please do not draw any conclusions from it about currently taking place events or statistics etc.


Spreewald Journal Issue: March/April 2017

Interview with Steffen Franke: "I often hear: like in the Spreewald crime novel".

The Great Spreewald Harbour in Lübbenau is one of the region's crowd pullers. All year round, boat trips depart from here into the flowing landscape of the UNESCO biosphere reserve. Incidentally, 160 years ago Theodor Fontane was the first prominent visitor to set off from there into the depths of the Spreewald and not return until the next day. Steffen Franke, chairman of the local barge cooperative, knows exactly what makes such an undertaking so appealing.

Mr Franke, the barge trip is a classic here in the Spreewald. What is the timeless charm of this experience? The Spreewald is a natural and cultural landscape where hard work was the order of the day. This landscape and the people who lived here aroused the interest of visitors who then took boat trips and discovered the Spreewald. Incidentally, 160 years ago Theodor Fontane was the first prominent visitor to set off from what is now the Great Spreewald Harbour in Lübbenau into the depths of the Spreewald and did not return until the next day. It is probably the special means of transport, the Spreewald punt, that made the punt trip a classic. Why should each of us have taken at least one punt trip during the summer months and one during the winter months? The punt trip paved the way for Spreewald tourism. It became popular at the time when the typical summer resort was becoming increasingly popular and more and more people were taking holidays. But the demands developed further and all the beautiful seasons became the focus of people's interest. And winter in the Spreewald, with or without snow, is beautiful. The trees have shed their leaves and allow deep insights. The peace and quiet is wonderful and still an insider tip. It is the difference that you have to notice. The summer season with its pulsating but nature-oriented tourism and the silence and tranquillity in winter. The Spreewald is also becoming increasingly popular abroad and the Great Port of Lübbenau welcomes international guests accordingly, as can be seen from the website and the brochures on site. How important is it for you to transport a piece of the Spreewald lifestyle beyond the country's borders? Very important. People who visit each other get to know each other. And I think the Spreewald attitude to life is a friendly and relaxed attitude to life. We can provide English-, Spanish- and Polish-speaking bargemen for the visitors. We have brochures available in English, Swedish, Danish, Czech, Russian, Dutch, Polish, Hungarian and soon also in Spanish. Is there a résumé from the guests after a punt trip that you perhaps don't hear for the first or second time? I often hear: "We'll be back", or "What a silence", "What a unique landscape", "Just like in a Spreewald thriller". In addition, the friendliness of the Spreewalders is often praised, especially by guests from beyond the Elbe who spend longer holidays here. The development of the Spreewald villages and the town of Lübbenau is also mentioned. The houses and streets are top, many things are new, the town is clean. I am very pleased about that. And finally, a tip: If you were to recommend a punt trip to visitors for the Spreewald premiere as well as to loyal Spreewald fans, which would they be? Well, we keep the 2-hour taster tour for newcomers, in the knowledge that they already find this long and would otherwise not get on at all. The returners know the region and know that the taster tour is only a sliver of the whole. For them, the lock boat trip from the Great Spreewald Harbour in Lübbenau is a real alternative. In a total of 5 hours, you will experience several lock passages, lots of greenery and nature, the village of Lehde, the hidden Wotschofska forest inn and one or two agricultural areas. In any case, plenty of peace and quiet and the incentive to experience the Hochwald Tour next time like Theodor Fontane once did, as a day tour past the Schützenhaus and Kanow Mill through the majestic Hochwald. Unique!