This has been a wonderful day. We arose early and took a train for Aussig on the Elbe. This busy town, with 30,000 inhabitants, lies at the influx of the Biela into the Elbe. Large factories and brisk coal trade occupy the inhabitants. The vast, brown coal seams of North Bohemia lie a little to the west, and thousands of cars of coal are brought daily and transferred to the large river barges at a special coaling harbor.
A bold rock on the right bank of the Elbe, 280 feet high, resembling the Lorelei on the Rhine, is crowned with the ruins of Schreckenstein. We went abroad one of the Elbe steamers and rode down to Herrnskretschen, the last Bohemian town on the right bank of the Elbe.
The banks of this river are very picturesque, and we certainly enjoyed the ride, which lasted about three hours. The constantly changing scenery and the many boats which we saw made us forget time.
At Herrnskretchen, we took a cab and rode through beautiful pine woods for about an hour. We saw the Prebischtor, a very peculiar formation of a rocky arch of imposing dimensions.
At Rainwiese, we took dinner, and, at 2 o’clock, we began the descent into the “Wilde Klamm,” a remarkable rocky gorge of the mountain stream called Kamnitz. The road leads along the wonderful sandstone cliffs and, in many places, a tunnel has been made through them, while, at other places, heavy iron beams have been let into the rock, and plank walks laid on them. In one place, the stream has been banked up so that it became deep enough for a boat to navigate, and here we had to get into the boat as the only means of passing through the gorge, the cliffs arising on each side to a dizzy height.
The ferns and wild wood flowers grow wherever there is a crack in the rock, and the pines seem to have rooted right into the rock. The birds sang, and now and then we could see a spreckled [sic] trout jump out of the water to catch an insect.
After a walk of an hour and a half, we suddenly emerged upon a plateau upon which the practicable German has built a restaurant, and here we found many a tired tourist enjoying a cup of coffee or a more substantial meal.
The German is a great lover of nature, but he takes good care to select his excursions to spots where he can get something good to eat and drink, too, so the enterprising hotelier erects restaurants in every pretty spot and knows how to display his wares.
I found neat little tanks with glass fronts let right into the wall of the hotel building, where passers by could see the spreckled trout swimming around and where he could select the one he wants to eat.
The trip through the Edmunds Klamm took another hour, and here we sat in the boat, surrounded by the great wonderful works of the Almighty, we became silent and gazed in awed admiration at the grand old rocks which showed the traces of having been washed by rushing waters for centuries past, when this deep gorge was filled with rushing water.
We emerged at the pretty village of Herren Kretschen and took a boat down the little mountain stream to the landing of the Elbe ferry boat. Crossing to Schona, we had to wait a short time for the train, and again the accommodating German has planted a Gasthaus in front of the R.R. track with tables and chairs out in the open where the tired tourist sits down and, eating and drinking, awaits his trains.
A short ride brings us to Bodenbach, the frontier town where we changed cars for Calvarienberg, a station of Mariaschein where we awaited the music band and Turners who shortly afterwards came marching up from the town and, amid great ceremonies, lit the bonfire. This is done by the Germans of Bohemia in memory of an old German custom. They have an organization all over Austria to protect themselves against the Czechen and Slavon who try to suppress the German language and turn Austria into a Slavonis state.
All around on the mountains, the fires were lit, and, singing patriotic songs, we retired to the city hall where the festival was continued until late. I formed the acquaintance of some very nice men. Late to bed.
Editor’s note: Intrigued by “Bohemian Switzerland,” my cousin Richard Jacoby did a little research, and this is what he learned: “According to what I found out Edmundsklam is a tourist spot in the Czech Republic and is known as the Bohemian Switzerland. In 1909 it was still in the Bohemian region of Austria-Hungary and, as Hermann points out, full of Germans.” Thanks for clarifying that geographical mystery, Richard.