Monday, September 26, 2016

Bohemian Switzerland Day 5: Bad Schandau

The last day of our journey wasn't strictly specified in our plan. We could choose from a couple of places and in the end decided to see Bad Schandau - a small German city on a way back home. Since this was our return day, we calmed down a bit and reduced the attractions for the day. Bad Schandau is well known for two things: 1) a historical tram that goes all the way up to natural reserve (the only tram that is allowed into a natural reserve) 2) a viewpoint tower. We decided to go check out the tram and miss the tower. The track led up very slowly through a forest and stopped at a very small waterfall. There were a couple of short walking routes around but we didn't have a sling this time and were tired of walking with children so we just hanged around the final stop a bit and returned to the village. The ride itself was pretty pleasant because the view on the trees and rocks was nice. After the ride and a small walk around the city we packed the kids and came back home. This was a really nice get away trip that filled up my batteries. Time to plan the next one :)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bohemian Switzerland Day 4: Jetřichovické skály

How could we spend time in mountains without a full day of proper hiking? Impossible :) So we took our two little ones and set out to see the walls of Jetrichovice. I chose the most popular route around and I wasn't disappointed. Of course, there were quite many people, but all in all it was bearable and the route was very pleasant. We shortened the original distance we were supposed to do but it was still enough to see the spotlights of Elbe Sandstone Mountains.

The path (rather easy when it comes to technical grade) led through a series of little peaks / view points / towers. So there were: Marina Skala, Vilemina Stena, Rudolfuv Kamen and a couple of more. We didn't reach Saustejn which is supposedly fun but with two little ones and my stomach starting aching (after surgery I shouldn't be doing any sports in at least 3 months so I pushed it a little bit) we decided we had enough for the day.

What we both really liked about the Elbe Sandstone mountains is that they offer an Alpine-ish look. I mean that the rock formations scattered around make the area look rough - more like mountains rather than hills. Which is good and we enjoyed it. Of course, 700 m is not really an alpine elevation but as for such little mountains they offer very versatile surroundings.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Bohemian Switzerland Day 3: Bastei and Königstein

Ok, time to explore a bit of Germany too. The most famous place at this side of the border is by no means Bastei which is a complex of beautiful paths, beautiful sandstone rock formations, a bridge, Elbe river and a neighbouring resort. As you see, a lot to explore :) Unfortunately, we weren't the only ones who had this idea and there were swarms of people! I mean it, there were so many it was actually irritating. I didn't expect that at the end of September but apparently it is a very famous place and on top of that easily reachable for elderly, families with children or even handicapped.

At first we headed to Schwedenlocher which is a trail of 900 steps situated in a lovely environment of rocks, woods and boulders. Sometimes it gets really narrow. I was lucky enough to have checked the route earlier and we made it going down. Of course, later on we needed to regain the elevation but the path up was a bit milder than Schwedenloche. Plus, we visited Rathen resort before going up, so refreshed after a meal and a beer, we were able to climb up straight to Bastei bridge from where we had a view on Elbe river (one of many this day) and stunning rocks at the other side.

It was a cool place but I was relieved to leave it. Simply too many people to enjoy it properly. Another attraction of the day was a fort named Königstein. We decided to visit it mainly because of the magnificent view it gives on the Elbe river (see the first photo). I'm not particularly into military history but the view was worth seeing. Plus, Wojtek enjoyed the cannons scattered around the place.

Another good day! See you tomorrow!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Bohemian Switzerland Day 2: Pravčická brána and Soutěsky

The next day we headed to Pravčická brána - a rock forming an arc - or a gate as it is called. It's the largest natural sandstone arch in Europe and makes a great impression on every tourist. An XVIII century building is standing right next to it and adds a charm to the place. Except for the inn and the gate, the view around is spectacular. You can see the whole area together with the neighbouring rock formations. Tourists are not discouraged by the fact that you really need to hike to visit this place. There are various ways to reach Pravčická brána, we started from Hrensko, first by a road, then by a forest and up to the inn.

At the gate we made a longer pause (yep - beer pause but not only - you must eat knedliki when you are in Czech - you simply must do it!). Except for trying local cuisine, we also made a walk around as there are many walking paths that give view on the gate and around from different angles. The view was really great!

From there we headed to Soutěsky (a ravine). We were not sure if we would make it on time but decided to head forward and see what the day brings. The path continued through a forest and led to a little town (Luka) where we made an ice cream break (that was Wojtek's idea). Then we continued through yet another forest (this time flat) that seemed a bit fairy-like with its densely growing trees with naked chunks and lots of green moss. This forest smoothly turned into a ravine and by no means it was the most beautiful place of this sort I have ever seen. I know I sometimes fall into exaggeration but I swear it's not this time. And when I try to put in words what I saw I don't find anything that would give justice. I mean, there was nothing special - a stream, small rocks, moss, trees - you can find that in many places. But somehow it all added up and created a special mood of this place. Spectacular!

The route continued up to a place where there was no possibility to build a suspended path, nor to pass with dry feet. And that was another attraction of the place - a boat ride guided by a raftsman. It was great because we just sat down and admired the beauty of the surroundings while the guide told stories about the history of the place as well as gave us various interpretations of the rocks. I liked it a lot.

Oh yeah, I forgot - there was an artificial waterfall. Quite an oddity - won't you say? Anyway, I enjoyed this day a lot and I have to say, I was super surprised we managed to do this we 2 little children. Endomondo showed us the distance of 22 km. Of course, there's always some margin of error but still it's quite a walk. And our kids were so great it was a truly pleasant day!