THE SCHARMÜTZELSEE, A LAKE in Brandenburg approximately halfway between Berlin and the Polish border, was a frequent destination for those seeking spa treatments and relaxation during the DDR era. While the thermal baths of Bad Saarow (at the oblong lake's northern edge) were and remain the most popular destination, the forests around the lake are dotted with villages, garden colonies, and resorts.
On the lake's eastern shore, south of the village of Radlow, are the ruins of a former cluster of vacation homes. The identical a-frame huts just west of the road each have the same layout: a concrete "porch" in back, a basic ground floor with a small bathroom and kitchen, and a set of decaying stairs leading up to the former bedroom.
The eastern shore of the Scharmützelsee has numerous still-active rentals and hotels, many of which were likewise built during the DDR years, and display the era's trademark blend of utilitarianism and kitsch.
Exact location: 52°13'23.2"N 14°02'44.4"E
To get there: Trains run regularly between Berlin and Bad Saarow, and buses circle the lake fairly regularly during daytime hours.
By bike: Bikes can be brought on select trains or rented at various spots around the lake. The time required to circle the lake ranges from less than an hour on larger roads to 2-3 hours on forest trails.