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Week in Dresden part 2

For my second trip, I got the train to Pirna and then the bus from there to the Bastei. The buses aren't very frequent so make sure you check times using the local VVO transport website. I was impressed by the views from the Bastei although on a warm September weekday it was still very crowded. Some of the most spectacular ones were too vertiginous for me to try to get to, but I enjoyed myself.

I had planned to get a private bus that ran from the Bastei to Bad Schandau, but I hadn't been able to find any fare information online and couldn't find out from anyone at the Bastei who I asked. I saw a sign saying that it was a thirty minute walk from the Bastei to the town of Rathen, which has a railway station and decided to attempt it. The walk turned out to be fine even for someone with relatively low fitness and a fear of heights. It was mostly in the shade, not very vertiginous, and the steeper sections all had steps fitted. I wouldn't like to have done it in the upward direction, although a lot of people seemed to be.

I got the train from Rathen to Bad Schandau because I particularly wanted to see one of Germany's few remaining country tramways, from that town to a beauty spot called the Lichtenhainer Waterfall. The views were pleasant but nowhere near as spectacular as elsewhere, but I found the tramway interesting. It's one of only a couple of places in Germany where they still use old four-wheeled tramcars, because the curves are too tight for anything more modern. One thing I noticed was that it was a single-track, meter-gauge tramway where the cars didn't get much above twenty mph, and they still used tokens for the three single-line sections. It makes it even more shocking that the line where there was that terrible crash in Italy a few weeks ago was still running trains on a single line using only telephone conversations between the signallers to ensure that there was only one train on the track at a time, something that was banned in Britain before the end of the nineteenth century as too dangerous.

I then took the train back to Pirna and had a look at the preserved old town there, which is low-key but very much worth a look. The railway line between Pirna and Bad Schandau, and on across the border into the Czech Republic towards Decin and Prague, has spectacular views of the Elbe valley even if you don't do any further exploring.

A few restaurants I enjoyed:

Lila Sosse in the Neustadt: does tapas-type small dishes in the current hipster fashion of Kellner jars instead of plates. Very tasty, though.
Sophienkeller: very touristish but good food. I was a bit apprehensive given the suggestions of live entertainment, but all that happened was one guy with a guitar singing a couple of drinking songs, one about beer and one wine.
Der Loewe: Place at the top of Neustadt Hauptstrasse doing local food - I had a very nice pork and vegetable casserole in Radeberg beer sauce. It also did Bulgarian food, but I didn't experiment.

Posted by
7204 posts

I had relatives from Dresden that left on the last U.S. ship to leave Hamburg before WWII began. At that time, Dresden was the most beautiful in Europe and the museums and art were absolutely incredible. The bombings at the end of WWII were for retribution for the attrocities the Allied forces were discovering.
It's taken up until now for the treasures of Dresden to return home, and many of the buildings to be rebuilt. The museums are now really something, and it's now a great city to visit.
And as you've touched on, the Saxony mountains East of Dresden are very, very beautiful.

Posted by
3371 posts

Thanks for the report Philip. We've been to Dresden a few times over the years but only for day trips or passing between Berlin and Prague. I'd love to go back and spend some extended time in the region like you did!

During our first visit in 1998 we wandered around the Frauenkirch which had the few original numbered stones sitting on scaffolding waiting for their turn to be installed when the replacement lighter stones reached their level. Fascinating.

RE trains, we just came back from the Bodensee/Lake Constance where they have a lot of single track connecting the town's right along the lake. I was so surprised to see one train person in a little town near Friedrichshafen throwing big (2-3') switches/levers by hand to allow the tracks to come together so the correct train could leave the station when two were parked briefly going in opposite directions.

I'm enjoying your reports, thanks.

Posted by
487 posts

Philip, great report. This is the kind of trip report I really like to see, where people are travelling to interesting, but less touristed (at least by Americans anyway) places.