The Erzgebirge, Ore Mountains. Have you ever heard about them before? At the border between Germany and the Czech Republic on the way to Prague, you can find this stunning mountain range that still hearts ist traditional roots. Most people know the region for its utterly charming Christmas spirit with the iconic German Christmas pyramids and frosted pine wood forests. But what is it like in summer and what should you do, eat and see? I had no idea and so I teamed up with Erzgebirge Tourism and checked exactly that out.
Racing Down the Slopesinto the Fog
I wasn‘t very lucky with the weather. As usual. It seems this year‘s German summer didn’t very much deserve its name but that didn’t matter. I was scheduled for a ride up with the gondola and a race down on a monster roller – like a bigger kid‘s scooter with giant wheels. As you probably already know from my outdoor adventures in the Harz I can be quite the scaredy cow. A big one. And so I was kinda scared of using a scooter and rolling downhill. Needless to say, I made ample use of the brakes.
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- Also read: Austrian Alps, Cows and Lots of Food
But as always, it wasn’t so bad. It was quite fun actually and I loved to start in a sea of fog. At first slow, then racing through the damp Erzgebirge underground with pebbles jumping aside whenever I whizzed along. It was reassuring to know that even though I had a trusty guide by my side and the paths were well maintained, I could take advantage of the complimentary app. It was able to tell the route, show where I was and it could even send a help signal in case I needed it. I didn’t need it. Instead, I enjoyed the views that started to clear half way through the race and presented me with a stunning view over the spa town of Oberwiesenthal.
Lost Again – But not Entirely My Fault
Thoroughly refreshed I stopped by the K1 sport hotel and restaurant. This is where I got my monster roller in the first place and where I dined on a big burger. Bonus tip for all those who are lactose intolerant, they even have a big selection of milk free ice cream that was devoured in bunches by the passing school groups. I had already spent too much time with my burger and had to race off to the train station just to get lost halfway through. Consequently and way too confidently I asked a nearby family – obviously tourists like me – for the way and was promptly sent back.
I ended up where I had started and asked a local, who declared that I was already there. I was at the gondola, not the train station. Note: if you are asking for the ‘Bimmelbahn’ (an old fashioned train with a loud bell) in German and people send you to the ‘Schwebebahn’, you have been accidentally fooled. And so I literally waved my train goodbye and stood left at the station. The next one was due in 90 minutes. Blasted. So I had a ride into the village of Neudorf (a popular German name), where I was due for two museum walks.
Christmas Candles in Summer and Hundred Year Old Soup Stuff
Number one was an incense candle workshop. Based on the traditional way of making these, you can book a session and learn how to DIY your own scented candles. To Germans and especially people from the region, incense candles are a must at every Christmas. But of course, you can get non-Christmasy smells as well and mix them to your liking. (I instantly bought an insect repellent candle for summer!). You then take the small cone shaped candles after a sufficient period for drying. Then you hang them in tiny metal ovens or put them into wooden figurines.
Now that I have seen and learnt how to make these candles myself, I headed across the street to learn more about soup. And general kitchen habits in Germany over the last hundred years. It was unbelievable to see with what DIY kitchen utensils and cool inventions women had to prepare food. Crates filled with straw and hot stones, twirls made from old Christmas trees and stories of how Neudorf received its nickname of ‘Suppenland’, soup town. It is the only of its kind in Germany and genuinely quirky. You can even try your hand at soup bowl wrestling.
One of a Kind Train Ride and Cake by the Trail
Then something crazy happened. I was the only one to board the train (which I had earlier missed) and the train staff apparently recognised me from taking photos throughout the day. They invited me into the front of the train! I actually stood next to the coal oven and it was a super tiny space for the usual two people who are in it all day. My respect for old timey train drivers has dramatically risen. I spent the rest of the day, walking over the fields, dining at Kiwis for some New Zealand remembering.
The next day, I woke up fresh at my hotel with a view, Schanzenblick, with typical German breakfast before heading off to a hike. That is a must in the Erzgebirge. My choice was the Schwarzwassertal. But I had another intention besides breathing in the sweet forest air: I wanted cake. During weekends, the local legend Kaffee-Kurt sets up tent and sells self baked cakes and cookies along with hot cocoa and coffee. I was sold!
And that was my Erzgebirge adventure. Tell me, have you ever visited this region of Germany? Would you like to and what would you want to see first?
I would like to thank Erzgebirge Tourism for putting together and funding this trip. As always, my opinion is entirely my own.