Apparthotel Am Schlossberg
Elbstrasse 6, Bad Schandau, 1814, de
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coffee and cake
dessert (another day)
Travel Tips for Bad Schandau
The magnetic bastei
It was so enticing. I'd seen the brochures, photos on the internet and, most tempting of all, I'd gone past on the train, unknowing at the time, en route from Prague to Berlin.
Once seen, never forgotten and it gnawed at my soul. How those odd shapes beckoned me from afar. This time I was going to see them, and I'd already just visited Konigstein, the standout castle along the train route.
Alighting at Oberrathen there's a small problem. There's a river between you and Rathen, the village at the southern end of the Bastei. Little did I know that most people come to the Bastei from the other end where there's also a sealed road to the top. Fortunately there's a ferry across the Elbe. Now, as I come from a country with the world's slowest river and the "major" one that flows through my town spends 40% of its time going backwards under tidal influence, I tend to have a little trouble when I come across real rivers that actually do flow and see ferries at about 45 degrees trying to make some headway against the flow. Frankly, it fascinates me.
What really shook me the second time I visited was that the ferry had no motor! Indeed, it was tethered to something or other upstream and simply used the incessant force of the current and a huge rudder to move from one side to the other - amazing!
Once across, I knew the way to go since I'd visited the previous year and it was just over five minutes later when we left the village of Rathen and soon after started the climb (pic 2).
A streetcar of desire
There's a tram that travels between Bad Schandau and the Lichtenhainer Wasserfall, along the river Kirnitzsch. It's a distance of 8 km and the yellow historical tram stops at several places from which you can start your walking tours in the national park.
Also, you take the so-called "rafts-men path" in the Kirnitzsch valley. In former times, the men who used rafts had transported wood on the river Kirnitzsch and used this path to take care that the wood didn't get stuck in the river. I'll never forget the squeal as the trams ground around the corners. It was disconcerting at times so loud was it.
Another thing that amused me was the heating beneath the seats and the fact that these streetcars still ran....I loved it!
The waterfall at the end of the ride is nothing to get excited about but some of the walks leading out are fairly special.
My first recommendation for a hiking tour is very popular among both locals and tourists: the path to the top and along the crest of the so called "Schrammsteine", a massif of sandstone rocks parallel to the Elbe river.
Starting point is either Bad Schandau, or closer, the restaurant "Schrammsteinbaude" (walking distance almost an hour). From the restaurant (also bus stop) the hike starts with a passage of a narrow and humid glen called "Lattengrund". Soon you approach a bizarre sandstone formation called "Grosses Schrammtor". Pass right through this "gateway", a couple of minutes later the ascent (wooden and iron stairs/ladders) to the top of the "Schrammsteine" begins. Soon you reach the great viewing point "Schrammsteinaussicht", offering fantastic panoramic views. Follow the signposted and marked path along the crest until you reach the descent (again stairs) called "Heilige Stiege" which you take down to the village Schmilka (Or shorten the hike by going down the first descent back to "Grosses Schrammtor").
The hike takes about 3 hours from the restaurant, excluding stops for photos and picnic.
In Schmilka take the ferry across the Elbe and then the train (every 30 minutes) back to Bad Schandau.
I had to learn the hard way that what I call a relatively easy hike can be very challenging for other people - especially if they are suffering from fear of heights. Thus the warning: Not only the views from the top might be uncomfortable for those people, what's even worse is that the iron ladders sometimes are (almost) insurmountable barriers. Mea culpa!
Elbleitenweg - getting high
It started out as a walk along the Elbe from Bad Schandau to Schmilke. The weather was initially unkind but, by the time we settled into a hot chocolate at the bar in Schmilke, it hadn't snowed or rained for about half an hour so I made a decision to try for the heights and leave Rosemarie to catch the ferry and train back.
I had seen the sign so I knew where to start. An inconspicuous beginning between houses leads you up the first of many stairs you'll have to ascend.
Your first goal will be the lookout (pic 4). It offers nice views along the Elbe but, if you want to take a photograph you will really have to pick your time because, for most of the day, you'll be shooting into the sun. I would recommend very early morning or very late afternoon.
At times the trail can be so littered with leaves that it disappears beneath them and you have to guess where each individual step is but you won't lose the overall trail.
View point Emmabank
The view point Emmabank can easily be reached from Bad Schandau – Ostrau and offers a fantastic view on the Elbe river and the rocks nearby. We started at our hotel in Bad Schandau – Postelwitz and walked up the so-called Wolfsgraben. Before we reached the houses of Ostrau, we went into direction Emmabank and there enjoyed the view. We continued our walk over the fields to Ostrau and had again some nice views on the Schrammstein range and landsacpe around. We then went into direction elevator, but did not take but instead took a path down to the spa gardens in Bad Schandau. In Bad Schandau near the promenade, there's a map of the area around that shows insteresting places and trails around Bad Schandau, that's where we got the information about Emmabank.
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