TQE | That Queer Expatriate

Expatriate, not ex-patriot: I'm a progressive liberal and queer American in Berlin, Germany. My roots in include 18 years in Denver, 6 in Laramie, Wyoming, 6 in Bloomington, Indiana, and 6 in Weimar, Germany. Sense a pattern? Don't want to leave a comment on this blog? Email scintillatingme at gmail.com, username "elmadaeu"

S-Bahn, U-Bahn, Trams, and Buses … what have I forgotten? Ferries!

Paule III arriving at Spreeweisen

The Paule III (a rowboat operated BVG route F24) arriving at Spreeweisen, as seen from the other end of the route, Kruggasse.

BVG Map of SE Berlin

Map of the area in question.

Saturday I finally accomplished one of my longer wants – I took a ferry.

Actually I took two.

And neither cost me a cent – at least nothing beyond what it costs me to take public transportation in Berlin.

I’d been vaguely aware that BVG (the public transport provider) offered ferry service for awhile, but I’ve never bothered to figure out where – there are no significant bodies of water in my part of town and I’m personally not interested in boats.

Actually I tend to find boat rides really tedious (at best) and sickening (at worst) if they last more than about an hour.

Last October, however, I had a minor change of heart regarding intra-Berlin ferry services when I some how found myself on the Wikipedia page describing BVG provided ferry services when I read that, “the F24 is operated with a rowing boat.” Further enchanting me was the Wikipedia report that:

The timetable with one departure every 60 minutes for the F24 is necessary to be found in the journey planning software and to fulfill legal restrictions stating that all public traffic needs to have a timetable. In reality, it drives as often as needed reducing the frequency to about every 5 minutes, if necessary.

And with that I was ready to ride.

Except that I couldn’t: the ferries only operate in the summer and I’d made this discovery way too far into the fall. It would have to wait until this summer.

I finally forced it onto my calendar for this weekend and refused to move it, thus meaning that I would miss the march concerning GLBT rights in Russia.

Spreewiesen

Every BVG stop is properly signposted. Even ferry stops.

Getting out to the F24’s starting point, and I chose to start from the Müggelheim side of the river, takes about two hours from where I live. It’s possible to do it in 90 minutes, but that involves a lot of changing, where the two-hour route involves only changing twice. Once leaving the final bus stop for the X69 (but not every x69 goes to this particular stop, Odernheimer Str.), there’s a 10-15 minute walk through the woods and then a collection of small weekend houses until you arrive at the dock for the F24.

Spreeweisen

The Spreeweisen dock. There was a very nice bench next to the right, making for an idyllic setting.

I arrived at the stop, Spreewiesen, at about 10:30 and found the rowboat waiting for me.

Paule III at Spreeweisen

This is the Paule III at Spreeweisen; note the life-jackets. I was not asked to wear one, nor was a safety briefing given (unlike ferry rides in the US or UK, where safety briefings are given).

Seriously.

It was real.

After awhile the, uh… what do you call the person who rows a boat that also happens to be a public ferry? Captain? Oarsman? Conductor? … this guy came out, asked me if I had a ticket, and then let me board the boat – I also then was given a short talk about how the ferry line is under threat from the government, which wants to cut it and would I sign the petition.

Yes, I would, and why not?

Protest Sign

Signing informing about the threatened cut of the rowboat ferry line.

During the ride I had the opportunity to ask one question – which is all there was time for – about how many people rode the ferry any given day. The answer: when the weather is bad, maybe 10; but on a nice day upwards of 200 people.

And with my question answered, I arrived at Kruggasse, the stop on the Alten Fischerdorf-Rahnsorf side of the river.

Paule III at Kruggasse

The Paule III at Kruggasse — it’s a really short ferry ride.

Given that I was already in this neck of the woods, I decided to partake of ferry F23 as well, a ferry that would take me to Müggelwerderweg. From there I would walk to other nearby public transport and make my way back to the city center.

Fähre III

The Fähre III, arriving at Kruggasse.

The F23 was a pleasant ride along the waters of the Müggelspree – it was nice to see into the backyards of people who like living along water and own boats.

F23 - Müggelwerderweg

This is Müggelwerderweg, the last stop for the F23 ferry.

Certainly not my lifestyle, but a nice adventure for a day.

If you want to follow in my footsteps, do note that the ferry is not year round, so make sure it’s summer, plus it doesn’t run on Monday. The F24 pretty much runs on demand, but the F23 is only once an hour, leaving Kruggasse at xx:25 during mid-day hours. And, if it’s 2014 or later, you might want to make sure that the ferry hasn’t been outright cancelled, because the government is threatening to kill it.

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