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Flight Free Autumn Escapes

Despite the reality that summer in the city has drawn to an end, we’re currently embracing the cinematic arrival of autumn: blue skies, crisp mornings and dining al fresco unaccompanied by armies of wasps. Even so, this congenial start to the season won’t last forever, and pretty soon we will be inhabiting the darker side of autumn, the side that prompts you to do a quick online search to see where a cheap airline can whisk you away to for a budget burst of sunshine. We’re all guilty of this from time to time, but in the spirit of reducing your carbon footprint whilst still indulging in an escape from the city this autumn, hu! are on hand to inspire you to unearth the adventures situated a little closer to home.

There’s no escaping the fact that flying is bad news for the environment. Not only do planes produce more greenhouse gases per passenger mile than any other form of transport, they simply allow people to fly far greater distances than would otherwise be possible. Often conveniently overlooked by the short-haul regulars, shorter flights even are more harmful to the environment per mile flown than their longhaul counterparts; due to higher numbers of empty seats and because taking off and landing burn more fuel than flying. A couple of weekends ago I ditched the yellow plastic seats of Europe’s favorite airline for a greener kind of travel.

The timeless potential of the trusty bicycle is often overlooked by us city folk. We limit its use strictly to journeys within the parameters of the city centre and, with the days getting ever-shorter, we’re dutifully resisting the increasing temptation to lock it up in favour of taking public transport. Infact, your steadfast wheels represent a speedy and cost free exit route out of the city.

Some friends and I geared our rusty city bikes up for a longer ride and headed to the forests and lakes north of Berlin. Despite a couple of emergency bike repairs along the way, highrises were soon outnumbered by pine trees as we wound our way through the forest; destination not entirely known. Arriving in the dark at a guesthouse on Liepnitzsee, we had stepped several decades back in time, to an era when leaving the keys on the doorstep for potential latecomers like ourselves was wonted. The cosy lakeside accommodation was inexpensive, and the guesthouse owners were incredibly hospitable and keen to share their knowledge of the vicinity.

Having bikes at hand when exploring a new area invariably leads to discovering spots off the beaten track, and this trip was no exception. We scouted out idyllic lakeside hangouts, picnic spots and rustic taverns, and stumbled across abandoned buildings glistening with ancient charm.

If you decide to head out to the countryside this autumn, profit from seasonal specialities and scope out local foraging spots and stock up on wild berries, chestnuts and mushrooms to take back home. And, if pedaling your way to a rural retreat doesn’t sound like your kind of break, do not despair; hop on a city train and get your cheap, quick and easy fix of fresh air in a more leisurely fashion.

text: Matilda Lucy

photos: Matilda Lucy