Trip to Pfaueninsel - A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Making lists is a favourite past time of mine. I cannot shake the habit and living in a city bursting at the seams with things to do, see, visit, try, eat or drink does nothing but spur me on in my list making ways. The Pfaueninsel (peacock island) had been sat patiently on my to-visit list since last summer. The peacocks had waited long enough.
In the run up to the big day, I had asked other experienced peacock visiting day trippers of their experiences. Surprised to hear a mixed bag of reactions, I was left doubtful and disheartened. Would the faff of taking a train, bus and ferry be worth it?
I ran the risk. The sky was painfully grey but the peacocks were calling. Or rather, beckoning me with a wave of their fancy feathers. Ready and raring to go, this Sunday outing was going full steam ahead.
You head south west to Wannsee on the S1 or S7, then hop on the 218 bus straight from the station exit. If you’re lucky, you’ll find yourself sat top deck on a historic old timer bus, complete with racing green plush bouncing leather seats. A swift but impressive scenic route takes no longer than 15 minutes to reach the island outskirts. In just over an hour you are surrounded by luscious forests, wide open water and bustling beer gardens.
The Pfaueninsel is a UNESCO world heritage site as well as a nature reserve for wild birds so you can safely assume you’ll be in good company when you visit. But our feet were no longer greeted with the hard concrete cobbled stone of the city. We had escaped the capital and were slowly adjusting to our new environment. My top tip? Speed up your city to countryside acclimatisation with a visit to the very German and very traditional beer garden. There you will find all the seasonal favourites with an overwhelming amount of Spargel of course.
Fuelled for the final mode of transport, we boarded our ferry at the cost of 4€ each. Somewhat pricey considering you can see the island is not more than a stone’s throw away but unless you’re up for taking the plunge, there is no other way of reaching the land of peacocks. Enjoy the ride and make sure your camera is at the ready for the wildlife that awaits you.
Every shade of green welcomes you after crossing the river Havel. And soon, so do the peacocks. No stranger to the limelight, these creatures strut their stuff proudly for the camera. Sadly, no feathers were fanned yet the detailed intricacy of their tails is truly stunning. They are beautiful birds and they know it.
Their splendour is mirrored not only by the architecture, but also the flora and fauna found on the island. Strolling around the island reveals all sorts of treasures such as the Lustschloss (castle), the Kavalierhaus (Cavalier house), a dairy farm and the grand column fountain.
If hunger or thirst should strike again, follow your nose to the wood cabin serving up hot grilled goods. A tranquil secluded grassy area invites you to linger in the wildness a little longer as you can pull up a bench and enjoy a Bratwurst.
Please don’t make the same mistake I did. It is a nature reserve and this means you are expected to stick to the clearly marked out paths. Do not get caught attempting to clamber up a fantastic tree by the island warden. Tree climbing is not allowed!
The last bus departs at 20.00 so you can really make a day of it. Take a picnic, take a blanket, take some wine and push the boat out. Just leave the bike at home as this is one place where cyclists are not welcome.
By Alice Higgins