2011/10/08

Prussian Paradise – The Peacock Island


Last Tuesday I took advantage of what I assumed to probably be one of late summer's last warm days to venture forth to Berlin's famous Lake Wannsee, and, in particular, the “Pfaueninsel” or “Peacock Island”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Peacock Island – view from ferry boat

To get to the island by bus you might want to start at U Theodor-Heuss-Platz and take number 218 (goes every hour) right to the terminus. From there you take the small ferry boat departing every 15 minutes. Every other hour you can have a bumpy ride on the vintage bus with its overstuffed benches, just as comfortable as grandma's sofa. I strongly suggest you try this.

 

After a chequered history in which figure a wendish village in the island's northeast, rabbit breeding and an alchemistic glass foundry, King Frederick William II (Friedrich Wilhelm II.), King of Prussia, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg and sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuch√Ętel, nephew and successor of famous “Old Fritz”, aka “Frederick the Great” took over the island that had lied fallow for over 100 years.

Already as a young prince Frederick William had spent many precious and romantic hours with his beloved mistress “Wilhelmine Encke”, daughter of a chamber musician at Frederick the Great's court.
Now he installed a dairy farm in the island's east and built the white palace serving as love nest in the west. The interior of this palace survived two world wars and has been almost completely preserved until today.

The place holds a good deal of magic for kids, if I want to trust the various reviews from "ex-children" on the Internet.










They seem to be very fond of the palace which to me – quite frankly – looks like the imitation of a bouncy castle without the fun the latter might provide. For kids it might look like a real fairy-tale castle, though.


Anyhow, I went there to take some pics for you, gentle nature loving reader, and so I spent two rather boring hours walking around in this natural preserve, shooting photos and never being able to get anywhere close to the Lake Wannsee.

It is strictly forbidden to leave the official paths and they make sure visitors do not infringe those provisions by securing the bank slopes with electrified fencing. Ouch!

As the island is a natural preserve, visitors are not allowed to bring animals or bikes onto the island, neither is it permitted to lie down anywhere else than on the one lawn referred to as “Liegewiese”.
Liegewiese = lawn for sun bathing




Smoking is forbidden as well and passing gas might be somewhere down the list, too – if you care to take a closer look.
 
Now, as I mentioned my boredom with this idyllic island, it is only fair to state that I'm not exactly a fan of virgin landscapes or wildlife, but rather of tutored lawns (like the Liegewiese, I admit), well-groomed hedges and insect free environments. I know ... I know …

They have that really extensive lawn for sunbathing.
What I didn't understand was why the hell they don't have a playground for children there, too.
Altogether I think it's a beautiful little island.

You might be interested in watching this little film by Stefan Wirth on Youtube.




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