Today was the first day of our cycle tour and it was a beautiful day. We got up early to drop our car off in Dresden, and were on our bikes by 10am. The drop off point was in a commercial/ light industrial area, so it took us a while to find our way back to the Elbe river.
Once on the river it was very pleasant cycling with heaps of other cyclists, regular beer gardens and scenic river views. The whole cycle route is very well organised, there was even a marked detour where they were doing works on the cycle road at Pirna. At one stage we cycled through a bright green forest with spots of sunlight falling on the path before us.
We passed along some of the spots where we had been with Elsbeth on the day we went to see the Elbe Sandsteingebirge (Bastei). In fact it was a lot easier to find them with the bicycles, as the cycle route took us right past, where you couldnt go with cars, giving us a good view from the opposite side of the river.
We also passed along the river below the Konigstein fortress, a huge castle that covers an entire hilltop overlooking the river.
We crossed over a bridge at Bad Schandau, a very pretty resort town with a large spa. We crossed the river again at Schmilka, as we were told that it was more scenic on the other side by a local woman walking her dog. She also advised us to take this ferry, as it goes more regularly. The first time we took our bikes on a ferry – only E2 per person and bike.
We had an impromptu picnic with some of our leftover food on the other side. We noticed the Czech republic border on the other side of the river just after Shmilka, but we were still in Germany for a little bit. When we did pass the border it was just a sign in the middle of the cycle path.
The language and roadsigns changed immediately but the route remained scenic until we reached the immediate outskirts of Decan, which were littered with post soviet style metal works on the river banks.
We entered the Decan city across a bridge and at first it looked promising. However getting into the centre we found it a bit decrepit – even though there were some nice old buildings they weren’t well cared for. It was also quite busy and noisy with lots of people about. We rode around a bit looking for a tourist information office – there were lots of “i” signs but no office and we couldnt understand the notices. There was also a hotel in the centre but it wasnt very appealing. So Kris decided to take us out of town a little bit. We found ourselves going up a steep street with roadworks and traffic, also a driver doing a wheelie out of a side street. Kris spotted a supermarket alongside a number of high rise apartments and proposed buying some food. At this point I thought that we would be alright if we at least had some food, as we had the emergency tent with us and could sleep alongside the river.
I stayed outside the supermarket to guard the bicycles, as we have been warned by numerous people about theft. Interesting looking at the people going by – very different to the Germans – for example fat woman in track suit pants, and a woman encouraging a toddler to urinate on a patch of grass directly opposite the supermarket entrance (nobody turned a hair).
Kris spoke to some locals in the supermarket and found someone he could communicate with in German – they advised of a hotel a bit further up the road. We found it easily and were quite relieved when Kris could speak to the proprieter in German. The room is basic but clean and cheap (E47).
We are pretty tired after our first day but feel we have done well, covering 72km in all.