Giant Mountains

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Giant Mountains
Iron ham

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Giant Mountains

Giant Mountains
Little giant

The Giant Mountains, located on the Polish-Czech border, are only 40 kilometers long and 25 kilometers wide, but there is so much to discover all around by motorcycle.

Gerhard Eisenschink

08/27/2004

The pass road from Jacuszyce leads through the purest postcard idyll: bright sun, blue sky, on the left the Jizera Mountains, on the right the Giant Mountains, in front of me a narrow strip of asphalt. Suddenly fog comes up. I park the Sachs Roadster on the side of the road and look at a few oddly shaped rocks that peek out from the surrounding spruce forests like goblins. Here, so the locals say, the Rubezahl empire begins. A capricious mountain spirit that can spread a blanket of fog over the landscape from one second to the next, so that unsuspecting visitors sometimes lose their bearings.

On the way to Szklarska Poreba the haze lifts as if by magic, and reality surges towards me. A couple of Polski-Fiat are chasing up, lowered, wide tires, neon yellow sports rims, flashing interior lights, spoilers from the rear to the roof. Rap rhythms boom from loudspeakers, the wattage of which can only be achieved with a second alternator. Szklarska Poreba, a popular winter sports resort with barely 10,000 inhabitants, is also hip in summer. The streets are teeming with skateboards, kickboards and inline skates. Mountain bikers scurry out of the forests around the almost 1400 meter high Szrenica Mountain, where the allegedly longest and most winding ski slope in Poland is located: ?? Lolobrygida ??.

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Giant Mountains


Iron ham

Rubezahl is the landmark of the Giant Mountains.

In search of my pre-booked accommodation, I direct the Sachs past tiny pubs and open-air restaurants through the streets. It takes a while to find my way around and signs like ?? Objazd ?? no longer think of Polish national dishes, but of what they point out: ?? diversion ??. A short stretch of forest, then it appears: the Pension ?? Lyzyrzepa ?? ?? in German: Rubezahl. Warm welcome from the landlady, who kept the dinner warm especially for me. Only one looks grim: Berggeist Rubezahl, who is enthroned as a meter-high wooden dummy on the sideboard.

On the way to Jelenia Góra, extensive grain fields line the road, behind which the gently curved silhouettes of the mountains rise. After the Alps and the Carpathians, the Giant Mountains are among the highest peaks in Central Europe, but they are not quite as big as their name suggests. The densely forested mountain ridge stretches from west to east for just 40 kilometers. Right at the top, like the hump on the back of a dromedary, the bald, 1602 meter high summit of the Schneekoppe is enthroned. One look at the map, and I swing from the main route to the barely thread-thin street above Jagniatków. A kilometer-long avenue emerges, with little traffic and many potholes that can hardly be avoided. Behind it a field of vegetables that is currently being tilled with horse and harrow, isolated farms, cackling geese, a family who sells mushrooms they have picked themselves on the roadside. The idyll of the new Middle East.

Giant Mountains (2)


Giant Mountains


Iron ham

Rubezahl is also omnipresent in the forest.

The supermarkets and hardware stores on the outskirts of Jelenia Góra look like from another world: Real, Obi, Intermarche. But next to the souvenirs of the new EU membership, the plaster of gray house facades is crumbling. The Sachs bumps roughly over cobblestones, in the corner of the eye flower-laden balconies and window ledges pass by. That much is clear: one more geranium tub and all the splendor collapses to the ground. Towards the center, the building fabric appears more stable, the houses more colorful, hammering, drilling and restoration are taking place at all corners. Finally, the colorful old town appears, which has already had its wellness treatment behind it. I park the motorcycle on the market square. Now strolling is the order of the day, between splendid baroque and rococo town houses, chic boutiques, picturesque arcades and street cafes.

On the way out of town, my motorcycle is discovered by a four-man moped gang. Appreciative looks, a difficult dialogue: ?? German motorcycle? Yes. PS? 58 centimeters? I beg your pardon??? After a while all questions are cleared up, and I chug with my 800-centimeter-high-three machine on deserted roads in the direction of the Giant Mountains.


Giant Mountains


Map: Renate Maucher

About 550 kilometers in two to three days.

It is only in Karpacz that it becomes clear where all the Sunday excursionists have gone. All parking spaces in the village of 6,000 people are occupied, and groups of hikers roam the streets and up to Schneekoppe. I take a look at the chairlift, but prefer to take the serpentine pass road through the middle of the village up to Górny. From the top of the pass I get to the highest point of Karpacz and the Wang Church via a cul-de-sac.

Rubezahl is already there. At the souvenir stands in front of the medieval stave church, which stood by an idyllic lake in southern Norway until the 19th century and was then relocated, he sits in all variants: made of plush, ceramic or wood, optionally equipped with a Viking club or morning star. In between is a young man with a mask and a shaggy turnip costume: For three Polish zlotys you can get a snapshot for your photo album? Arm in arm with the mountain spirit. I turn around, rush over the pass road down to Kowary and duck into the solitude of the woods on highway 368.

Giant Mountains (info)

EU membership has made traveling to Eastern Europe much easier. At the same time, pristine landscapes, quiet streets and still low euro-free prices ensure real joy of discovery.

getting there
It’s about 300 kilometers from Berlin and about 200 kilometers from Dresden into the Giant Mountains. From the north-west you get to Cottbus and the border crossing at Forst via the A 15, then continue towards Jelenia Góra. If you arrive via Dresden, take the German-Polish border crossing at Gorlitz or Zittau. From the southwest it is best to drive via Prague, then continue on the E 65 towards Turnov and Hacharow.

formalities
Since Poland has been an EU member state since May 1, 2004, the entry formalities have been considerably simplified. In the meantime, an identity card and national driver’s license as well as the green insurance card are sufficient to cross the border. However, children under 16 years of age require a child ID card. Customs controls no longer take place, the EU regulations also apply to the import and export of goods, and the speeding regulations are similar to those in this country. The only striking difference: the alcohol limit is 0.2! More information at the Polish Tourist Office (see below).

Travel time
The Giant and Jizera Mountains are known for their harsh climates. Winter usually starts in November and lasts until April ?? what makes skiers happy. The months May to October are therefore suitable for motorcyclists. It is particularly beautiful from September to mid-October when the forests shine in autumn colors.

Stay
We found the family-run Pension Liczyrzepa (Pension Rubezahl), ul. Slowackiego 8 in 58580 Szklarska Poreba, phone and fax 0048-75 / 7173400, very cozy. One person pays 55 zloty (around 15 euros) for an overnight stay with breakfast and 70 zloty (around 19 euros) for half board. The Hotel Rezydencja, ul.Parkowa 6, 58540 Karpacz, phone 0048-75 / 7618020, fax 7619513, Internet: www.hotelrezydencja.pl is about twice as expensive, but very chic. Bed and breakfast costs from 110 zloty (around 30 euros) per person, half board from 148 zloty (around 40 euros). The guarded parking lot is charged extra with 10 zloty (around 2.70 euros).

literature
You are well equipped with the 272-page travel volume “Discovering the Riesengebirge” by Franz Schuttig. Published by Trescher Verlag for 13.95 euros. The DuMont art travel guide »Silesia«, 288 pages, price: 25.90 euros, also provides a lot of interesting background information. The general map of the Czech Republic, sheet 2 “East Bohemia, West Moravia”, in 1: 200000, which also shows the Polish part of the Giant Mountains, provides good orientation. The leisure map »mapa wakacyjna Sudety« available in the country on a scale of 1: 250000 can also be used. On the back of the card there is a list of the most important sights for the respective places (Polish and German). Available at petrol stations and in bookstores for 5.80 zloty (around 1.60 euros).

information
General information, proof of accommodation and a list of the most important cultural events and sights are available from the Polish Tourist Office, Marburger Strabe 1, 10789 Berlin, phone 030/2100920, fax 21009214, e-mail: info@polen-info.de, Internet: www. polen-info.de. Information on the Czech part of the Giant Mountains is available from the Czech Tourist Board in Berlin, phone 030/2044770, Internet: www.czech-tourist.de. The current daily rate of the zloty can be found on the Internet at www.bankier.pl or www.portfel.pl. One euro is roughly equivalent to 3.6 zlotys.

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