In our area of Germany, which is relatively flat, any place with some hills gets named after Switzerland (in German: Schweiz). And so we have places such as Märkisches Schweiz, Mecklenburgische Schweiz and Sächisches Schweiz (Saxon Switzerland), which I wrote about previously. The Elbe Sandstone mountains with their wonderful rock formations formed by ancient seas extend across the border of Germany into the Czech republic, an area that was thus named by the Germans “Böhmisches Schweiz” (Bohemian Switzerland). In Czech it is called České Švýcarsko (Czech Switzerland).
Sächisches Schweiz was introduced to me by a South African friend who also used to live in Berlin, and I still think of it as her special place. When she came to visit recently we decided to take a hiking weekend on the other side of the border in České Švýcarsko. We stayed in a lovely wooden house run by a Czech lady in a village in the mountains called Jetřichovice. Arriving late at night, we could already see that the woods looked lovely in the moonlight, but opening the curtains the next morning we found a view straight out of a fairytale.
After a large breakfast for only 2 euros at the guesthouse, we set off for our first hike, starting in Mezní Louka. It was raining a little bit but this only enhanced the colours of the autumn leaves. The routes in Czech republic are nicely marked with a simple system of red, green, blue and yellow trails, with symbols painted on trees or rocks.
Our first main stop for the day was at a famous stone arch in the area. Most of the restaurants there were not open because it was after the end of the season, which runs till the end of October, but there was still a little shop open that sold some hot drinks, including grog. Near the arch are a series of viewpoints with beautiful views of the surrounding forests. We stood for ages watching the mists swirl around the forested hills with all their autumn colours. Then we continued the hike on towards Hřensko, a town near the border of Czech Republic and Germany, where we had an early dinner before walking back to Mezní Louka.
The next day we did another one of the many other hikes in the area, starting in the village of Jetřichovice and walking through countryside and forest until we reached a wonderful traverse on top of the stone cliffs. Along the route are many points of interest, with rock formations that you can climb and scramble up with the help of metal ladders and steep steps. This is worth it for the adrenaline rush and great views at the top.