Do you know that strange feeling when you look yourself in the eyes and realise that you’ve been completely out of touch with yourself and your body for way too long? The latter might somehow be functioning because it always does and you go about your daily business, or businesses. It may be when you step out of the shower, put sun screen on your legs and it all feels very mechanical. It may also be when you catch yourself having the odd outburst of sudden emotion or when you’re friends look at you and say things like “You seem a bit imbalanced at the moment.” These are all signs that maybe it’s time for some serious me-time, for taking some time off work and maybe for taking off some time. See what I did there? Time is key, time is the most precious thing of all and time is also the best and most effective cure for when you’re stuck.
Six months into 2017 and I realised that none of the plans I made in January actually worked out. And while I’m pretty used to my life not being predictable, the 9th email containing news I didn’t expect caught me off guard and made me reconsider just about everything. Now I’m working freelance and thankfully have the privilege of pulling myself out of the city to go into the woods. I initially thought I needed three days of writing my diary and pondering about life and future stuff but realised, two hours in, that sometimes all you can do is come to terms with yourself and then make decisions from that place and not vice versa. So, I cleared my diary, locked my apartment in Berlin and walked to the train station. The place I picked for my little trip to myself had been on my bucket list for ages and I knew it would be the perfect place for the job.
The whole idea
Bleiche is unlike any other spa. It’ll inspire your body, your taste buds and your mind endlessly, and that’s not just because it’s located in the famous Spreewald forest in Brandenburg. The first thing that caught my attention was the hotel’s very own book store with a library. Young creatives regularly get a chance of receiving a literature bursary which allows them to stay at Bleiche for a few months and do readings for guests. I took part in one and absolutely loved it. The atmosphere and overall design is extremely unique and stylish without overdoing it; it’s the perfect mix between cozy and elegant, all while sticking to regional and natural elements like water and the forest. You’ll feel that immediately upon entering. So without any further ado, here are the different elements of my the little holiday from reality.
Getting active – physically and mentally
I know, exercising might not seem like the best idea when you want to chill but guess what: it is. I got up super early in the morning (7am is ridiculously early when you’re on holiday, right?) and swam outside for 30 minutes. When you think you’re tired and you’re lacking energy, getting active might do the trick. This is still something I need to adopt when I come home from a crazy long work day. When swimming isn’t enough for you, there’s also a huge variety of vintage-style gym devices to swim, run and train those abs. My highlight though was a combination of Freeletics and yoga. I sweated my heart out for 30 minutes while doing the classic exercises and then went upstairs to a lovely gentleman who guided me through meditation in an all-white room. Needless to say, that was an almost spiritual experience. If the trip to Spreewald reminded me of one thing, it’d be that mind and body aren’t only connected, they are one, so treat them as one and sometimes, in order to calm down you need to speed up a little and move your body right. Or just move it, really.
There is something almost transcendent about spending nearly the whole day in the sauna. Your body will feel so deeply and thoroughly cleansed, from the inside out and your pores will love you for it. I packed a stack of books and magazines to read between the different infusions, left my phone on flight mode for pretty much the whole day and learned to listen to my body again. The latter proved toughest because I’m terrible at taking it easy, I love action and I love being on the move constantly, but sometimes that’s not exactly good for me. Taking deep breaths and being conscious of how the warmth travels through your body will leave you relaxed in a way that having a lie-in never could. So, more spa, more sauna, more sweat! There is a variety of different saunas at Bleiche including a Turkish Hamam, a reading-room type sauna where it’s not too hot to flick through a magazine and then of course a Finish sauna where it’s all about cleansing those pores, all while having the most beautiful view ever: the forest.
Guess what, it gets better. Unlike any other hotel I’ve stayed at, you can have breakfast at any time you want here. Most products are regional and extremely fresh, there’s a variety of vegan and vegetarian options and you can eat in eight (!) restaurants, you can choose between rustic, green or elegant – or maybe you don’t have to choose at all and just try every single one. For dinner, you always get five courses, with some of them freshly prepared in front of your eyes. Still, my favorite place in the whole hotel was a little pantry with more salami and cheese than I could ever wish for. My sweet tooth basically consists of… salami. And I’m not ashamed. Childhood dreams can come true and the first time I spotted the little cave, I knew I would come back.
Picture this, you come out of a 90°C sauna and step out onto the grass, no need for a cold shower, the fresh air will do its job. You can take a little walk towards the water or sit next to the outdoor pool in a fluffy blanket and enjoy being in the middle of nature. There’s a huge outside area to talk a walk, cycle through the famous Spreewald or get on a Venice-style boat trip. You’re next to a little stream where you can rent out boats. The area surrounding Bleiche is so big and green that you almost don’t have to leave the premises in order to be stepping into the actual forest. And that sense of nature in combination with the feeling of being completely calm and at peace the state of mind Bleiche will help you get into for a few days. Thank you for the ride, I will be back for sure!
Disclaimer: Caroline was invited to stay at Bleiche Spreewald
for two nights. Opinions are her own.