Paddling on the oker around the city center of braunschweig

Paddling on the oker around the city center of braunschweig

At Rimpau's garden it begins to drip, and already it rumbles from the gloomy sky. Thunderstorm atmosphere over Braunschweig. Cancel? No, not yet, the rubber dinghy is launched, in the rain it's now going north on the Oker's floodplain. It's the most beautiful day of the year.

Because against every rain radar it becomes immediately dry again, the sun breaks through, everything breathes, the light flashes, sparkles, refracts itself. And suddenly I become a landing pad for fantastic creatures: dragonflies buzz around, buzzing and buzzing millimeters close to my ear. This is their weather, they hold still – for my photos.

I paddle up to a fresh oak trunk, which has broken off somewhere and fallen into the Oker, wait – as I did for hours today – for a streetcar, which drives over an Oker bridge up there just for me. Suddenly it puffs and blows close to me, a small yellow beak pecks at the paddle. A moorhen tells me in this way that I have invaded its territory. I understand – and troll.

The Oker is not only a recreational paradise, but also a natural habitat worthy of protection.

This little story shows that the Oker is not only a leisure paradise, where – as now again – boats, kayaks, rafts and excursions are on the move en masse in summer, noisy and noisy, city dwellers flocking to the water, no, it is also a natural space, a habitat, an endangered one at that.

It is a conflict of goals, but one that can and should be solved with consideration. In this summer of 2020, the Oker River in downtown Braunschweig has finally become a bubbling biotope for species of all kinds, thanks in part to the many exciting objects on the light trail. There are swaying boat crews on the way, singing pop songs at the top of their voices, fine citizens sipping coffee cups and champagne, children romping in the Oker again, water sports enthusiasts in sleek kayaks, stand-up paddlers in an upright position – and water birds, insects, fish, rare plants, the whole fascinating program of an urban nature that absolutely needs protection and consideration.

And then a strange bird in a rubber boat with camouflage paint, sunk around the Oker Umflut paddling gradually, on this wonderful day finally enraptured, a wondering, skeptical observer of this crazy time. But it is also clear: The hell, that are the others. You yourself never are.

Thus entangled in thoughts, it is of course again one of these super-fit water sportsmen from the Braunschweig Canoe Club who retrieves me. "We call that a rubber snuffle, what you're doing there," Helmut Hoppe (75) calls to me cheerfully, a man who looks like he's right out of a double-heart commercial, darting through the water in his streamlined kayak.

Come on, rubber snuffle, now let's have a look at some really fancy houses. The Oker floodplain is also a parade of magnificent villas like pearls on a string. The hustle and bustle on the water on some days is followed there rather frowning, sometimes the sounds of piano and harp come out of the windows. One of the most impressive of these buildings is the Buchler Villa on Lowenwall, built in 1898, where the great photographer Kathe Buchler (1876 – 1930), a native of von Rhamm, also lived.

Or the white beauty on Jasperallee just behind the Theaterbrucke, planned in 1898 by none other than Konstantin Uhde. Once the chamberlain von Kutzschenbach lived there, later the factory owner Tenzer bought it. A millstone at the top of the wall with the inscription "Walkenmuhle 1897" apparently comes from Walkenmuhle Eisenbuttel.

This used to be a village at the height of today's Heinrichshafen and the weir, which has long since disappeared. It all makes sense, because in Eisenbuttel there were several ancient mills related to cloth making, including one for fulling (forming) cloth, leather, felt.

Jewels of the Oker flood – the bridges. Many are long since monuments.

And these bridges only! Gloomy in the rainy morning still the Lohengrin swans tied up under the busy roof of the Ottmer bridge, grimly ready to go off. A monument the Leonhard bridge from Wilhelm-Gymnasium to the Magniviertel with the city lion as keystone in the apex. The Steintorbrucke (museum bridge) with the fairy-tale castle-like turret house in the background, in front of which we would have liked to see a Wagner swan as a motif, but none came along at the moment.

The theater bridge with the congenial light installation "Evocation in Red" by Yvonne Goulbier under the canopy, which sparkles mysteriously even during the day in the grisly light above the water surface. The Fallerslebertorbrucke from 2011 with the signature of Meinhard von Gerkan, probably the most famous German architect who studied at the TU Braunschweig – and that's where we're headed now.

Now it's getting academic. We paddle our way to the north. First of all we greet film producer Marisa Mohrke (26) from Stuttgart, who gives her dog Kalle a little cooling on the banks of the river Oker. She visits friends, studied media management at the Ostfalia in Salzgitter-Calbecht.

And then cheerfully waving and shouting into the Botanical Garden of the TU, where people stroll dressed in summer and form a bit. It is now Saturday, early afternoon, a kind of rush hour on the Oker river. Now and then I swerve clumsily when the big raft pots come, once it gives me a nudge, whereupon I circle around myself a bit again.

No matter, because now comes my favorite piece, the bridge Pockelsstrabe, university bridge since 1871, designed by Constantin Uhde, the legendary architecture professor and master builder of the Collegium Carolinum. Nothing dressed up, everything open, what wears and holds. A riveted iron arch with a roadway made of wooden planks, fortunately closed to cars since 1998, a bridge that this time, for once, we pass under and marvel at instead of strolling over and looking down.

The Oker skyscraper of the TU comes into the picture, on which in the light course the paddler from Hannover strives skyward, but that is at night and another story. Now we're heading for the Wendentor bridge, a capsized boat appears there. No, not me, just the artwork "Kieloben" by Victoria Hermesmann from the Institute for Architecture-Related Art at the TU.

This boat has not reached its destination. It capsized – and failed with everything it intended to do. Shattered dreams. And at the same moment, up there on the bridge, my streetcar finally rumbles by for that picture without which this day would not be perfect. Because I have already discovered the most suitable exit point for today. It is Braunschweig's most beautiful study place – directly at the river Oker, a blue wooden bench. Well deserved.