Elbe Sandstone Mountains

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Elbe Sandstone Mountains

Elbe Sandstone Mountains
Perfectly shaped

In the east of Germany the Elbe has formed a unique landscape ?? Table mountains, canyons and striking stone pillars. And through the middle there are routes that are made for motorcyclists.

Sabine Klose


Once on Route 66? Or along the Panamericana? Or … Sure, there is no shortage of interesting travel destinations. But often at the time. And often with the money too. It does not matter anyway. Or at least almost nothing. Because you don’t always have to go out into the big wide world to return with a head full of new impressions. For example, a trip to the east of Germany, to Saxony in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, is enough. Everything on a slightly smaller scale, but with a little imagination it looks like in the southwest of the USA, where table mountains and canyons determine the picture. The kawa is groaning in the still fresh morning air, Frank and I are leaving Rathen. The motorcycle has barely warmed up when the first point appears for a short break. The bastion, a lookout point, can only be reached by a few steps on foot. But you will be amply compensated for the break in your journey. We are speechless when it comes to the view. A panorama of the extra class. Here bizarre rock formations, there narrow gorges, a little further in the background angular mountains. Far below us, the Elbe shimmers in the haze. Only a lonely inland barge pushes against the current. Otherwise no movement. It is hard to believe that primeval times, this sluggish body of water was able to shape the rugged landscape, to eat its way so deep into the rock. Wind and weather did the rest to create this impressive backdrop. Shortly after Bad Schandau, we aim for the Kirnitzschtal, which meanders towards the Czech Republic. Left and right of the route threateningly converging, rugged rock faces. Amazing that there was still room to build a road, and even more astonishing that a tram was also housed here, which ?? hard to believe ?? partly operated with solar power. Finally, due to a detour, it becomes single-lane, and we roll across the country on this mini-road for quite a while. Chickens cross the lane, children playing, and a dog runs alongside us, barking and snapping at our boots. A quick turn of the gas is enough, in the back seal I can still see it taking up position at the roadside. We reach Sebnitz, the last town before the border. The Czech Republic begins a few meters further on. We think about it for a while, but postpone our visit to the neighboring country until tomorrow and roll back again, now getting to know the detour in the opposite direction. A rough gravel road that invites you to dusty, but unwanted off-road fun. Definitely a great route for an enduro; In contrast, hardly any pleasure in the saddle of an athlete. When we finally have tar under our tires again, we set course for Pirna. A route with strict speed restrictions and a conspicuously high number of police checks. Measures against illegal street races by so-called crash kids, which are very much in vogue. And unfortunately claim numerous victims. Fast? or better at a reasonable pace ?? further. To the Zschinrstein, a massive table mountain whose angular shape can be seen from afar. And who doesn’t want to fit into the landscape in this country, but rather into that of Arizona. We enjoy the harmonic left-right-left combinations that don’t want to stop and take us further and further towards the Elbe. Konigstein Fortress, a never conquered bastion of the Saxons, towers high above the river. In times of crisis, the state treasures were stored there, and at times the mighty walls served as a prison. Here, for example, sat Johann Friedrich Bottger, the alchemist who was supposed to fill the king’s sack with “home-brewed” gold, but who “only” invented porcelain. In the early 18th century, a reason to put the poor guy down for a year. When we look over the edge of the wall from Konigstein, we notice the Lilienstein opposite. An ideal place to watch the early sunset. We set off through an avenue lined with poplar trees, with the red-colored sky in front of us. The next morning begins with a ride south to Bohemian Switzerland, which is in the Czech Republic. We have no problems with our euro number at the border behind Hellendorf. But the nice but determined customs officer asks a Kawasaki ZX-7R driver in front of us for a D-sign. He should go to the next gas station and buy an adhesive D there. In the Czech Republic countless food stalls line the street, bargains and inexpensive prices are for sale everywhere. Scantily clad Eastern European women smile with theatrical anticipation at every vehicle with Western license plates. It’s good that we will soon be on a small side street where the fox and the rabbit say goodnight. And where is it ?? which is the most noticeable ?? There are no more guard rails and there are no markings on the surprisingly flawless asphalt or there are no more boundaries next to the road, but curves at its best, barely a meter leads straight. The almost car-free route winds in a serpentine shape through rugged rock formations, then leads through such dense forest that hardly any light falls on the road. We rush through the landscape almost as if from our senses, rushing up the great route to the viewpoint on the 722 meter high Schneeberg ?? and of course down again, are completely enthusiastic about new panoramas that open up around every corner. We rarely pass small villages with proper wooden houses. The Czech place names are ineffable for us; at each turn it takes a while to get our bearings on the map again. But after some names there is usually a German in brackets. Hrensko used to be called Herrnskretschen, or Janov was better known as Jonsdorf. At least until the end of the Second World War, when mainly Sudeten Germans lived in this area. We drive the Kawa to Sznezna, past the Kaltenberg, which is actually called Studenec. An unbelievable number of curves, only rarely more than the first three gears are necessary. Horse-drawn carriages come towards us, smoking cars of Russian origin, a couple of Trabbis that have been used for years. Behind Mikulásovice ?? or Nixdorf ?? we are approaching the border again. In Saxony we are greeted by crash barriers, road markings ?? and potholes. Via Sebnitz we make our way to Hohnstein, perhaps the prettiest town in the region. Also because an old castle towers over the place. An imposing structure, no question about it; but unfortunately with a dark chapter in its long history: During the Second World War it was misused as a “protective custody camp.” The gloomy thoughts are quickly dispelled on the last few kilometers to Rathen, which we take on in a very sporty way. The sun, like a huge ball of fire, lets the rugged landscape shine in a thousand variations of shades of red. A Grand Canyon couldn’t seem more impressive, we are both firmly convinced of that.


The Elbe Sandstone Mountains are one of the most bizarre landscapes in Germany ?? You won’t find table mountains and rock pillars on every corner.

Take the A 4 to the Dresden-Altstadt exit and continue on the B 172 to Pirna. The town on the Elbe is a good starting point for tours to the Saxon Switzerland National Park (via Bad Schandau), or for tours to the Czech Republic (via Konigstein and Hellendorf). Accommodation: Motorcyclists are particularly welcome in the Hotel »Erbgericht« in the health resort of Rathen, phone 035024/70454, overnight stay with breakfast from 70 marks per person. The boss drives his motorcycle himself and leads groups to the scenic highlights. There is also a prepared route. The federal state of Saxony has a very well-designed website on the Internet that provides information about the country and its people and, in addition to numerous events and leisure activities, also names accommodation in every city (www.sachsen.de). Further information and brochures: Tourism Association of Saxon Switzerland, Am Bahnhof 6, 01814 Bad Schandau, phone 035022/4950, fax: 035022/49533, e-mail: sae-schweiz@imedia.de. Worth seeing Saxon Switzerland is rich in natural spectacles. Be sure to plan a detour to the Bastei viewpoint near Rathen. No less exciting: a short circular hike from the village of Wehlen to the Wehlergrund, then follow the signposted path to the Teufelskammer and the Heringshohle. A great tour through a grandiose rock landscape. It is also worth taking a trip on the »Quitsche«, as the tram in the Kirnitzschtal valley, which is partly powered by solar power, is called today. Today’s museum railway has been running since 1898! Literature A very good guide comes from Reise Know-How: “Saxon Switzerland” by Detlef Krell. Price: 19.80 marks. With this work, nature and hiking fans will get their money’s worth. You can even find a reading sample from this and other travel guides of the publisher on the Internet at www.reise-know-how.de. The ADAC travel guide »Saxon Switzerland« by Bernd Wurlitzer, published by ADAC-Verlag for 19.80 marks, is also highly recommended. A very good map comes from Marco Polo: “Saxony”, sheet 12 of the general map in a scale of 1: 200,000, for 12.80 marks. This card can also be used for trips to the Czech Republic. Time required: three days Distance covered: around 350 kilometers

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