Hello to all,
It’s been a while since I last posted and that is because I have been on a little holiday to Saxony Switzerland which is in South East Germany, very close to the Czech border. If you love hiking, and canoeing, this place is a little gem and as I mentioned before is very budget friendly.
To hire our 5 person boat cost us €47 (for a whole day) and we took the train back to Koenigstein afterwards for €15. The hostel for 3 nights for 4 people came to €180, plus food, plus petrol. We ate out one night in Koenigstein in a very traditional German restaurant called “Schraegers Gasthaus“. The service was friendly and the food was quite regional and home-made. The canoe-team were also very friendly, as was the hostel owner and fellow-hostellers. It was my sister’s first time staying in a hostel and I was keen for her to experience the social atmosphere that you get with staying at a hostel.
I am waiting for her to send me some more photos, but for now here is just a little glimpse of the River Elbe (the same river that flows through Hamburg) and the tiny riverside hamlet of Rathen that I took on my phone.
The second day we cheated and took the old lift from the town of Bad Schandau up into the Saxony Switzerland national park. This cost us about €12 return all together and left us an easy paved climb to the village of Ostrau. That gave us a good head start on the hiking from my previous visit.
Had we have known it, we could have saved this money and instead drove to to a car park just on the far side of Ostrau, somewhere near here and set off from here. On the way back, we stopped in to this guest house to get some refreshments and tank up on some energy before making our way back. We were starving.
We had planned a half a day’s hiking and then half a day to visit the fortress in Koenigstein, but we were so tired after the hike (in a happy way) that we just chilled out and had a bbq back at the hostel.
One downside, and I have to mention it, is that because of the forthcoming elections, there was a more visible presence of the NDP party (Germany’s “Neo-Nazi” political party) from Dresden to Bad Schandau. They were displaying typical NDP posters, and I guess it is their democratic right to do this, but as a tourist, this wasn’t at all welcoming. When I lived in Berlin, the residents usually tore them down or defaced them promptly. I don’t see them at all where I lived in Hamburg, and I guess I had gotten used to not seeing them, but it is a reality. What a shame.
What I did notice that in the “outback” they were more extreme, for example, a picture of a blonde-haired and blue-eyed child with the caption “Naturally German”, while in Wolfsburg which is between Hamburg and Dresden (where Volkswagen cars are made), they were more toned-down messages such as “No to the Euro, return to the Deutchmark” and, shock horror actually, something I can identify with the NPD with ! “No to the monopoly of Temping Contracts – fair contracts for workers.”
The subject of a minimum wage is one of hot debate right now come election time. Germany currently has no set minimum wage, which is standard in most other European countries. In Ireland, it was brought into effect in the year 2000 and now currently stands at €8.65 an hour. “Eternal temping contracts” and “The long-term intern” and “one-euro jobs” and the “400 euro mini-job” are just some work practices that take advantage of people as I see it. I was at the receiving end of this for a few years, earning not enough to support myself with contracts that were too long and not leading to any promise of a full time contract. My heart goes out to people trying to get on the career ladder here, people who want to work, and I think action has to come from the government to protect them.
That being said, I would absolutely return to Saxony Switzerland any time to enjoy the beautiful landscape and wonderful culture and friendly people and not let a certain group put me off enjoying *my* right to be there :)