Visions of the Spreewald

Bicycle-Tour Dresden - Sächsische Schweiz- Spreeradweg
Route Table (Itinerary)

Copyright Spreeradweg 2001

One of our bike magazines some time ago has announced: "Neue Hoffnung an der Spree" (New hopes at the Spree). Moreover one can buy the bikeline -brochure "Spree Radweg, Von der Quelle nach Berlin" . May be I must explain that the Spree is a river from the south-eastern Germany to Berlin where it flows into the Havel and this finally flows into the Elbe from the east side. Near Berlin there is a famous swamp area named Spreewald and we wanted to visit this region since years. And this time we can go, my wife Heidi and me.

So let us start to the Spree bikepath. This begins near the fountain of the Spree at a region named Oberlausitz. To get there we can absolve another attraction: Dresden and the Sächsische Schweiz . We can travel to Dresden from Braunschweig by an IC train within three and a half hours without a change. So on this Saturday we leave the train and wipe our eyes at Dresden Hbf at 11 am. The sun shines bright and we have booked two nights at a hotel at Bad Schandau, 50 km from here.

Saturday, 15.8. Dresden - Bad Schandau. 50 km

Of course an inspection of Dresden is obligatory. At first we roll on the busy Prager Strasse towards the Elbe. The historic center of the city was destroyed by the bombs of the war, meanwhile huge hotel buildings dominate the scene. Finally at the shore of the Elbe we find some tradional remnants which have been rebuilt or presently are under construction.

Restauration of the castle at Dresden

Many tourists follow a guide who is equipped with something like a broomstick that his listeners do not loose him. We do hard to push our loaded bikes among these crowds. We do our duty and dip into Schloß, Semperoper and Zwinger.

Zwinger at Dresden
In the courtyard of the Zwinger Heidi is highly impressed and says that she never has seen something like that. And this is true, for she never was at Dresden before - I have been there once in 1995. At that time they just had started to rebuild the Frauenkirche. This is a giant 3D-puzzle and we admire the huge cube built by a net of pipes wrapped over the whole project. The restauration of the castle is under construction as well. So we can return once at a later time to look at the restauration results. Heidi has a side view to the Semperoper at these imaginations.


Due to the fine weather we are of course eager to cycle now. We leave the Elbflorenz and pass a paddle steamer and a swimming hotel. We decide to ride on the right shore (the left, if you look downstream). Three years ago I had problems on the other side. Now we come along a flea market but resign to add a floor lamp or antique chaiselongue to our luggage.

Manor houses

The route is beautiful through the river meadows of the Elbe. On the other side of the river there are glorious manor houses like castles. Now we must change some clothes for it gets warm. It is not so easy, because a steady stream of cyclists is cruising along. You can hear the hum of the crosscountry tires of the mountainbikes and look at the lycra suited helmet heros. "Full Suspension" is up to date if you know what I mean.

Blaues Wunder

Near Zschachwitz

Without full suspension we reach the Blaues Wunder as well. This is a bridge from Loschwitz to Blaseweitz or vice versa and you can admire one of the oldest steel constructions of Germany. At Klein Zschachwitz we pass a construction site along a wooden board path, and then we enter the waiting ferryboat to cross to Schloß Pillnitz. Two ladies who were a short distance behind us are not so lucky and miss the boat.

Schloß Pillnitz

On the other side we walk up a ramp, besides us someone tries to cycle and energetically pedals ahead. But then a crunching sound is to be heard and the man shouts "Huch!?". The pedaleur stands disconcerted with his bike between his legs. And the chain worms on the ground like a snake. Before Heidi can suffer from an outburst of laughter we have already reached the Schloß Pilnitz with a scaffold.

At the shore there is a secret landing point with some steps of stone. You must know, that this castle was a donation of August der Starke to the Gräfin Cosel. And it is said that this was not without consideration. The patio of the castle is restaurated already, we watch a group of tourists with their heads bent back.

We continue quite close to the waters and find ourselves on a narrow sandy path ending in a meadow. Fortunately we can push left back to the road. We better ask a couple for the way and they say: "Thereover is a secret path for mother and child". We are somewhat perplexed, do we look like those? But no, they mean the traffic sign for pedestrians (with mother and child in Germany). We ignore this sign cycling but the path gets more and more narrow again and the slope on the right side down to the Elbe more and more steeper. Heidi starts to waver and then jumps off her bike. So we finally reach the main road to Pirna - walking.

We come along a large bathing area. The most of the bathing folks don't need any swim suits. So unvoluntarily we are peeping cyclists on this passage. We resign to visit the town of Pirna for we have yet to master a nice distance this afternoon.

Stadt Wehlen
But sometime later another desaster. I use an old DDR-map of the Sächsische Schweiz which I bought at the flea market years ago. This is why we blindly stay to the road at the location Mackethaler Grund . Though the road leads steep uphill we nearly reach the village Zatzschke. But this was not in our mind. We meet another cyclist and ask him for advice. He verifies that we had missed a fork which looks like the entrance to a courtyard.

From here the route is very beautiful between small houses and gardens. We find a shadowed bench for a rest. May be this spot is "private" - some people look curious from the house as we consume our cheese sandwich. We trust on so much hospitality.


We reach the next small village named "Stadt Wehlen". We change the shore again by a ferry. And then - not far to ride - the most attractive sight of this section. We enter another bench - this time public I think. At the road there is a Pension, and we think they have long speculated about a name and finally found out: "Basteiblick". We relax and watch the scene. The Bastei is the "Loreley (Rhine area) of Saxony" - the most famous rock formation of the Elbsandsteingebirge. It is well known by the airy bridge between two rocky towers. The visitors of the Bastei are to be seen small as ants. As we awake from our meditation we detect that the next group stands behind us and waits for the free place.

Near Königstein
Soon in front of us the mighty Lilienstein appears. But we have to stop in front of a closed gate of a railway. In spite of the other waiting persons one of us feels a certain urgent nature's call. Fortunately a proper bush is nearby. Time for the other one to study the map. As the gate opens we are together again, but no, the bush must be used another time. As we are together the second time ready to continue, the gate just closes again...

We then pass Königstein footed at the citadelle with the same name. We resign to change the shore once more for we will prefer the direct route via the main road. This is a mistake due to the uphill and dense traffic. At last we cross the bridge and reach the market place of Bad Schandau. All of the traffic between Dresden and Prag and vice versa hits this place. The noise is enforced by a group of trike drivers who sit on their engines like on a sofa.

We enter our "Parkhotel Haus Carola". The main building is very elegant but the Haus Carola aside not so much. But we have a room to the riverside and will not be bothered by the traffic noise. And now we cannot imagine what to do the whole day tomorrow, but we will see...

We end at the Elbterrassen with Sauerbraten and Weissbrot, Knödel are used up, Schweinekamm and Sauerkrautpuffer, a Saxonian speciality (excuse me to use the German words - better you come here and try yourself). And the bill for the beer is a little bit higher because we sit so comfortable. One of the historic paddle ship comes up. A jazzband intones "Mississippi Riverboat". From a bar nearby the sounds of "Zillertaler Hochzeitsmarsch" or "Ole, ole, Gran Canaria" come over. We enjoy to be in Saxony.

Sunday, 16.8. One Day at Bad Schandau

As we did not know yesterday what to do today we can betray in advance: we will use this day in an optimal manner.

Elevator to Ostrau

Bad Schandau and Lilienstein
Opposite to our hotel there is curious building. It is an iron frame tower with a cuspid roof. This tower is used as an elevator to the upper quarter Ostrau. So we go up there and enjoy the view from 50 m height. At Ostrau we find many wooden houses named "Umgebindehäuser" in the tourist guide. Moreover there is a Reha-Hospital, it is likely that they live very quiescently up here.

We then climb down the Lutherweg to Bad Schandau. Near the central park we hit on the next attraction: the Kirnitzschtalbahn. This is a kind of historic tram line leading about 10 km up the valley. We check in and get the last seats. At a signpost is to be read: 22 Sitzplätze, 83 Stehplätze (22 seats, 83 standings). We wonder how this will work. We travel up a picturesque valley with steep rocks and swamp meadows with nice flowers. The train ends at the Lichtenhainer Wasserfall.

There you should join the numorous passengers who rush uphill. This is the direction to the Kuhstall, a gate between some rocks, 45 minutes from here. We need 40 minutes. At the Kuhstall the crowds press around, enjoy the view and shoot fotographs. Heidi keeps distance to the fence near the abyss, resigns to climb up to the Himmelsleiter and rather tends to visit the restaurant. But I find out, that the Himmelsleiter consists of a steep iron staircase in a nearly dark crevice. Up above there is another fine view. Then I jump down again and hit the restaurant.


Viewpoint Himmelsleiter

We go back down to the tram station. There should be an artificial waterfall but may be this has turned to be dry. Finally we ride back to the town, feel tired and have a nap. In the afternoon we have refueled enough energies again to start for a boat tour to Schmilka at the Czech border. This is just one hour with a coffee snoozing in the sun surrounded by a beautiful landscape. We overtake a Czech freight ship transporting trunks of pine trees towards the Czech Republic. On the other hand we watch a train at the shore transporting trunks from the Czech Republic to Germany. This is named Import and Export.

Back at Schandau we choose the restaurant Elbgarten (Grillteller and Riesenbratwurst). We observe three paddle steamers named: Pirna, Meissen and Gräfin Cosel (the lady of Schloß Pilnitz with the consideration). And of course the suitable song from the neighbourhood: "Mihischischiiippi, you are on my meiheind..." (Pussy Cat). On the way back we see a group of cyclists at the shore with a crate of beer. At the next morning we will find them sleeping in their sleeping bags.

After an eventful day and hunting for some snakes we have a good sleep.

Chapter two: Bad Schandau - Spremberg
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