German Winter Steam Railway Holiday
Raise the curtain on 2019 with a wonderful wintry adventure to the former East of Germany for snow, steam and schnapps! The Erzgebirge is a mountainous region on the Czech border that attracts hikers in the summer and skiers in the winter. Included in our seasonally sensitive itinerary are four sensational steam railways, trams, super scenery, two lunches (one in a brewery and one on a mountaintop), an evening meal out at a mill and a wealth of local flavour. These are the stops on the Erzgebirge Express…
We are off! Late morning Eurostar to Brussels and then change for the THALYS train across to Cologne by early evening. A short stroll sees us at the excellent Marriott Hotel.
Express and regional DB trains deliver us via Leipzig and Chemnitz to Annaberg-Buchholz and the Erzgebirge Mountains. To make the journey even more interesting we’ll take the Rhine route from Cologne passing river traffic, castles, rocks and vineyards on the way.
The overnight snow will have been swept from the front of the hotel allowing us to begin our local explorations. The Fichtelbergbahn runs in steam all year round and takes us to the ski resort of Oberweissenthal. Here we ascend the mighty Fichtelberg (highest mountain in the former E. Germany) by cable car (optional) for views across the Czech border. More forest steam follows at the Pressnitztalbahn among the pines by an ice-encrusted stream – what could be finer than taking the air on a carriage balcony in the snow-clad forest.
The nearest city is Chemnitz (nee Karl-Marx-Stadt) and here there be trams. We’ll play with the trains and the trams, have lunch in a brewery (yes it’s organised!) and end the day at Europe’s largest O gauge model railway. You will love this place – quality modelling of places you will recognise and naughty German humour!
Time to move on but more steam as we do. We’ll track across to Dresden and spend an afternoon with the Loesnitzgrundbahn. This is another “steam all year round” line that even has a schools service before it’s reasonable to be awake in the morning. From the suburbs, through the fields and past the hunting lodge that is Moritzburg Castle. Later, we check into the Pullman Newa Hotel before an optional, though included, scenic tram trip ending at the restaurant district.
Dresden is one of the most delightful cities in Europe. It boasts a wealth of fine buildings and new ones sit sympathetically alongside. We will criss-cross the Elbe on a city run-around that includes modern trams, buses and funicular railways. Time is allowed for the excellent transport museum and to brush-up before a finale evening out. S-bahn and then steam with the best of the lot, the Weisseritztalbahn all the way to Kipsdorf and back now it has reopened. We’ll also pause for a meal with our friends at the mill in Rabenau. Great food, great location and all topped off with a steam train run in the moonlit river valley.
A really easy journey takes us back across Germany by ICE to Frankfurt and then to Brussels where the holiday concludes with Eurostar to London arriving at about 20.00.
So climb aboard and join our Erzgebirge Express this February. Guaranteed steam, guaranteed snow and guaranteed guarantees about steam and snow – what could be more certain – let’s have some fun!
Marriot Hotel, Cologne
A Valentines Night treat awaits us at this International Class Hotel just a short walk from Cologne Railway Station. Luxury rooms, a modern bar and a convenient restaurant if you don’t fancy exploring the many dining options nearby. It’s almost a shame we are not here longer.
Hotel Wilder Mann, Annaberg Buchholz
We’ve three nights on the market square in sleepy Annaberg. An historic four star this place oozes character and charm. It has two good restaurants although there are dining options elsewhere in a town that boasts the largest Gothic church in the area and usually has an ice-skating rink in the square at this time of year – what fun!
The Pullman Newa Hotel, Dresden
What a contrast!. This classy four star hotel is close to the station in delightful Dresden and is both modern and unusual. It has a nice bar, a restaurant that serves a legendary breakfast and the rooms are something to behold with floor to ceiling windows and showers for exhibitionists!