Tree bed, July 2014

Currently there aren't any interesting travels in the pipeline. So I decided to spend a weekend and do at least some sleeping in an odd place, namely a 'tree bed'.

Tree bed

But more about this a bit farther down.

To get there, I rented a car for the weekend. And it seemed like a good idea to have some stops along the way.

I noted that there were airplane museums in Cottbus and Rothenburg. And I like airplanes, so I decided to stop there.

Unfortunately, both of the museums were of the "what the air force left to rot" type.

A lot of the airfields in that area used to be military airfields and a lot of the planes that were in use during the Cold War got decomissioned soon after.

And instead of turning them into scrap metal, they made museums pieces out of them.

Which means that the selection of planes available is not so much determined by any historical value, but more by a "well, that's what was available".

So there aren't any real old planes around, but a lot of MiGs (mostly MiG-21).

And unless you are really, really interested in comparing the different Variants of MiG-21s close up, it is kind of dull.

Not that the museums are badly done - there are reasonably well made indoor exhibitions that accompany the planes outside. And it's good to have a little break from driving and walk around a bit for a while.

But MiGs aren't the most exciting things to look at.

Probably a MiG Another MiG... More MiGs

And a couple if Mi-8 helicopters, which also seem to appear in large numbers in museums.

MI-8 Helicopters in background

(At least I got a bit of a nostalgic feeling about them, since I once have been in one of these (the non-military version) back in 2008.)

There is an old joke about helicopters: "Helicopters can't really fly - they're just so ugly that the earth immediately repels them." This helicopter immediately reminded me of that joke - it must be the best flying helicopter ever built:

Ugly helicopter - Mi-24D Ugly helicopter - Mi-24D

While there were a couple of other planes (like a glider or a agricultural plane), they were the minority.

Stunt and glider planes Agricultural plane

Though there was a interesting 'peacetime use' of one of the planes - some bird had built a nest somewhere behind a loose panel of one of the planes...

Plane bird nest

The other museum (at Rothenburg) was similar - proud owner of seven MiG-21 planes.

MiG 21s MiG 21s

And (just in case you are really fond of MiGs) there was also a MiG 17.

MiG 17 F

Admittedly, there were also other planes and even a passenger jet, but in essence the selection was along the same lines as in Cottbus - a fair sample of planes that were flying in the 80's and were decommissioned a decade later.

No modern planes and no older ones either.

Fiat G 91

Time to move on.

The place where the tree bed was located is right next to the Polish border. The Neiße, a small river, denotes the borderline. As there are no border checks between Germany and Poland any more, I did a short afternoon walk to Poland.

The Polish border 'gate' is probably the nicest looking border crossing I've ever seen.

Welcome to Poland

At least it appears that way. Though the reality is kind of odd.

To take that picture, you have to walk around it and enter from the Polish side.

The reason for that? The 'gate' is on a bridgehead of a bridge that doesn't exist anymore (probably removed when the border was taken a lot more seriously). So you can't approach it from the German side directly, as there is no bridge that leads there.

Not a bridge any more

But that's just an odd quirk - the place is quite friendly and approachable and there is a new swimming 'bridge', which is also cute looking and fancifull.

Border crossing Germany-Poland Border crossing Germany-Poland Border crossing Germany-Poland

Although, officially, it is not a bridge.

For bureaucratic reasons, building a bridge would be complicated. Besides all the usual 'health and safety' stuff and formalities that need to be followed when building a permanent structure, a bridge would also be legally a border crossing, which needs to follow special administrative rules in both countries.

But this is not a bridge, it is (as far as legislation is concerned) just a couple of (admittedly oddly shaped) boats temporarily moored together, which, of course, is a completely different thing...
(And looks nicer.)

But now, on to the 'tree bed'.

The place I went to is basically an oversized kiddie playground at day, but also has a number of tree houses which act as a 'tree house hotel' at night.

Entrance sign Parking lot marker

Some of the tree houses are at the edge of a meadow, providing a good view of the scenery (and the 'technically not a border bridge').

Tree house Tree house Tree houseS

But they don't just have tree houses, they also have tree beds.

They are kind of 'wall-less tree houses'

Essentially, they consist of a platform, a round bed on the platform and a roof over it.

Tree bed Tree bed

Around the bed is a small walkway that has a little seating area on one side, where you can sit, write, have a drink and enjoy the view.

Tree bed veranda

The bed itself can either be used open (as there is a small pond nearby, that still means using the mosquito net...) or you can lower black canvas flaps, which gives a bit of wind protection and allows a bit longer sleep on summer mornings (as it already gets fairly light at 4 am...).

But then, it also takes the fun away of being outdoors. If I want to be shut away behind a bit of canvas, I might as well go camping...

Tree bed with dark flaps

There are six tree beds available, but I got the one with the best view.

The other five are within the main 'tree hotel' area and have somewhat limited view. Mine was on the edge of their external expansion area, so my only neighbour was the 'island treehouse' on one side and an open clearing and a forest on the other side.

So it had a nice 'wilderness camp' feeling to it.

Tree bed Tree bed Tree bed

I am not sure how long this tree bed will be 'at the edge', since there were some works going on nearby and groups of three trees were chained together at the top - so something might be planned for that area.

Forest works Forest works

But at the moment, the location is perfect.

The island tree house is also looking interesting (as do the other tree houses), but the tree houses were already booked during the weekends for the rest of the year. (That's why I ended up in a tree bed - they are not booked quite as much in advance.)

Island Tree House Island Tree House Island Tree House

The main area of the 'playground' featured a lot of odd wooden constructions with many opportunities to crawl and climb around. It's mostly kiddie stuff during the day, but as you can get in there as an adult during the night, there's nothing keeping you from using a headlamp and crawling through hundreds of meters of walkways and tunnels in the middle of the night...

Climb dunnel between two towers Climb the rhino? Climbing crawlways
The big 'castle' 'Secret' entrance under the ladder Another 'secret' crawlspace Climbing towers

This is one of the other tree beds - close to the trampoline (which looks at first like a covered pool).

Trampoline and in park tree bed In park tree bed

In a forest on the other side of the street are some 'ancient relicts' - as far as I can tell some buildings and objects that used to be part of the main attraction, but got replaced and were then just put somewhere in the woods, giving the place a somewhat 'forgotten world' ambience.

Derelict wood structures Derelict wood structures Derelict wood structures Derelict wood structures

But the primary reason for driving there was the 'tree bed', so here are some more pictures of it.

Tree bed Tree bed Tree bed
Tree bed Tree bed Tree bed Tree bed

One thing I didn't get (and didn't really expect) was a lot of sleep.

Included with the stay was a sort of do-it-yourself late night treasure hunt, so I didn't get into bed until way past midnight. And then I then I just listened to the sounds of the forest and wondered why people use words like "quiet and serene" when they talk about nature. Realistically, it's just another sort of noise than the one on the city.

And in summertime, dawn start around 4 am (with real sunrise about an hour later), which causes a lot of birds in the forest to get rather vocal.

Yes, of course this could be ignored by lowering the dark canvas shades and using ear plugs, but if you do that, what's the point of staying in a tree bed?

So I was enjoying the sunrise and the forest sounds and just relaxed instead of sleeping.

As the place is close to the easternmost point of Germany, I did a little morning walk to that point.

Easternmost point of Germany

It doesn't seem like the place gets lots of visitors in the morning - at least there was a fair amount of wildlife around that didn't seem to expect people. While walking there, I encountered a stork and a deer.

Stork in meadow Stork in meadow
Deer in the grass Deer in the grass

And, presumably, there will be some more rail traffic in the future - the rails reach up to the border on the Polish side (this time on a real bridge) and the corresponding part on the German side seems to be in the works.

Railway half ready Railway half ready

After the night in the tree bed, I drove down to Görlitz to walk around Berzdorfer See. It's a nice walk (roughly 15 kilometers to go full circle), though it is a bit dull, since most of the way is paved. This makes it popular with bikers and skaters, but it feels a bit over-civilized for walking and takes a bit of the fun of nature away.

Berzdorfer See path Berzdorfer See

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