Friday, 21 August 2020
The rough and picturesque sandstone hills of Saxon Switzerland did not only inspire painters and componists of romanticism, but have been valued for centuries by both, alpinists as well as walkers and ramblers. Located at the border to the Czech republic it takes an urban train ride from Dresden (or a bicycle tour along the Elberadweg cycle route) to get here, either for a wee day out in the countryside or for a vacation inside the
If you get off the S1 urban train in direction Schöna at the
stop Hirschmühle Schmilka, and take the ferry to the Northern shore of the Elbe river you'll reach the village of Schmilka which, to a large degree, has been developed into an organic resort during the past years. The ferry is operated on demand, so simply go down to the landing stage and wait until the coxswain will see and fetch you.
The nucleus of the organic village is Hotel Helvetia which you will find, turning West (i.e. to the left), after a five minutes walk along the river shore. Its organic cafe and restaurant dubbed Strandgut ("stranded goods") serves both, the high quality no-frills salad for passers-by on a bicycle or walking tour as well as fine seasonal food drawing from both, the kitchen traditions of the region and the mediterranean. Both, vegans, fish and meat lovers are catered for with care, and if you are in the mood for a dessert, try the "Kalter Hund" ("cold dog") pudding made from cookies and chocolate, a children's favourite in former East Germany (though back then made with inferior ingredients). Unfortunately the cafe does not own a real Italian coffee machine, so the quality of the Italian-style coffee drinks is not as good as one would expect for a hotel in this category. If you stay overnight the hotel bar will however be able to provide you with a fully organic nightcap. However, due to renewal of the kitchen and restaurant facilities bar and restaurant will be closed until somewhen in September, 2020.
Usually the hotel reception serves as check-in for all
eco-friendly overnight options in the village, among others
Villa Thusnelda next to the ferry stop with its luxury rooms, but until the refurbishment will be finished, the check-in is at the street corner just across the road.
The villa itself houses historical Café Richter with the air of a classical spa coffeehouse, offering dinner from 5 am while the Strandgut restaurant is closed.
A sign at the cafe will guide you to the
village's operating water mill, the Schmilk'sche Mühle further up the road in the direction of the forest, with its rustic mill restaurant, the Mühlenstube of Gasthof zur Mühle at the right hand side. Hearty local stews and soups (one vegetarian, one omnivore), pizza, bread and cake from the artisanal organic bakery opposite and tasty, heavy beer from the Braumanufaktur brewery which you cross on the way from the river are served here, either inside or in the beer garden. Depending on the weather and season you will have to order at the bar inside or from the outdoor food stall. Here you also can buy beer, bread and cakes to take home when the bakery next door is closed.
If you stay overnight in one of the rustic and lovingly restored rooms at the mill -- they have double rooms as well as family appartments -- you will have your breakfast at the Mühlenstube.
The bakery opens at dusk, and what hasn't been sold on closing time will be sold by the Mühlenstube. Due to covid-19 restrictions there's now an open air sales booth a few meters up the hill which also sells (conventional) whipped ice-cream when the weather is nice. Opening hours of the brewery are restricted to the guided tours on Wednesdays and Sundays. If you stay within the resort a small tour inside the mill and the brewery is included in the package.
- Cafe Strandgut, Schmilka 11, Bad Schandau, probably from mid of September, 2020 again daily from 12, closing time depends on weather and season
[Dresden, Bad_Schandau, Schmilka, Saechsische_Schweiz, Saxon_Switzerland, organic, vegan, coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, restaurant, pub, cafe, bakeries, breweries, hotel, accommodation, Elbe_cycle_route, Elberadweg, corona, covid]
Monday, 26 August 2019
Forget about sushi, pizza, pasta, burgers, curries and other globalized commonplaces -- in Dresden it's much easier to find hearty home-cooked dishes made from locally sourced ingredients rooted in local and regional food traditions. This does not necessarily mean German -- mind you that the borders with Czechia and Poland are close, so many menus reflect influences rather from Eastern than Western or Southern European cuisines.
Many dishes include meat, yes, but all the places I am covering here have a decent selection of tasty vegetarian options readily available.
Old town and university campus
The most sophisticated ones in town may be had at Lingner restaurant on the premises of the neoclassical German Hygiene Museum ("Deutsches Hygienemuseum") marking the Western end of the 1x2 kilometres spanning inner-city park areal of Großer Garten ("Great Garden"). While you can step by for an Italian-style coffee drink (made with organic milk) and organic cake or a snack after a visit to the medical museum this is ways from the usual low quality self-service refectory to be found in many museums. They serve simple but decent lunch, all meat and meat products come from a local organic butcher's, the bread (though not the ice-cream which isn't organic) from an organic bakery in town, and many veges are also locally sourced and organic. Dinner starting at 5:30 pm is more sophisticated, and often thematically extending a current exhibition at the museum. While the outdoor terrace is popular during the warm season, dinner time during the winter season featuring a stylishly presented all-you-can-it buffet is perfect if you prefer it less crowded. When it comes to drinks
both tea, milk, juices and some soft drinks as well as all spirits printed in dark-green font on the menu are organic.
There's however no organic wine on offer (although a good selection of local ones).
Due to the somewhat remote location call in advance if you plan to arrive after 9 pm.
About ten minutes brisk walking from Hygiene-Museum will lead you to Cafe Aha (just across Kreuzkirche) which is covered here. Even longer west, facing the modern building of the University of Music in Schützengasse you may be surprised to find a small island of baroque buildings with a wild garden, housing the city's environmental centre, and a great disappointment: The cosy rustic wholefood restaurant on ground flour dubbed Brennnessel ("stinging nettle") once used organic ingredients and still can be found listed as an organic restaurant, but alas! -- no more.
South of the main train station however, on the campus of the Technical University the fully organic students' refectory
Biomensa U-Boot ("submarine") offers
one vegetarian and one omnivore meal at a very competitive price -- as a guest you pay 3.20 € on top of the student's price which -- depending on the dish -- ranges from 3.50 to 6.50 EUR. All food and drinks are also certified organic.
During the warm season outdoor seating is available. The bad news: The place is closed on weekends.
For rustic food and surroundings head for one of the oldest independent pubs in town, the Planwirtschaft ("planned economy") in the Neustadt neighbourhood, popular since its beginnings as an illegal pub in the late GDR. On mezzanine level they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as coffee and cake while the basement houses a pub which opens in the evening. When it comes to their supplies they focus on buying from local farms and enterprises as the (unfortunately not organic) independent butcher's directly across the street or a tea shop next door from which they also source the organic teas on offer. The goat cheese is always organic. They used to have an organic meat dish (which was marked as "bio" on the menu), but unfortunately no longer. Have a tasty organic apple cider (no more organic beers at my last stay), and ask about organic ingredients.
Young German kitchen is the promise of the Lila Soße ("purple sauce") gastro bar within the eccentric
Kunsthofpassage with its small boutiques and lovely places. Apart from daily changing main courses (most of them meat or fish) you can order German "tapas" to your liking -- warm, cold and sweet -- served in a glass as well as dips and bread. None of the courses are fully organic, but many ingredients are, and chances are high that you can combine cleverly if you ask.
Out of town
If you take the urban train number 2 from the Neustadt train station, either on the way to the airport or to a stroll in the woods of Dresdner Heide, get off Bahnhof Klotzsche (one stop before the airport) and have breakfast, lunch, tea or a snack in its 110 years old railway station. Since the folks of Vorwerk Podemus took over and restored the historical building in 2015 it has been home to a bicycle shop, an artist's studio, an organic supermarket, and the now fully organic station restaurant dubbed Bio-Bahnhofswirtschaft with its pleasant beergarden.
On Friday evenings from 5 pm the place also serves dinner or, May through September, a barbecue. Make sure to arrive well before 9pm as the kitchen keeps closing at this time. Travellers and ramblers may be glad to hear that they can fetch an organic breakfast or packed lunch on the go, though
unfortunately not on Sundays as the restaurant is closed that day.
The vineyards on the slopes of the river Elbe around Dresden form Europe's smallest, most northern wine region, and fortunately the Saxon state winery of Hoflößnitz in Radebeul turned organic. The small town located west of Dresden on the northern shore of the river is famous for the writer of travel fiction, Karl May and its Museum of North American Indian Culture and can be reached easily, both by urban train, tram no. 4 and bicycle. Follow the Elberadweg cycle route on the southern shore, cross the bridge at Niederwartha and turn back east on the northern shore cycle route through Radebeul until you find signposts pointing to the vineyards on the hill.
The Hoflößnitz winery has a small self-service restaurant, the Hoflößnitzer Weinschänke, with an outdoor seating area shaded by horsechestnut trees from where you have a great view over the grapewines and the valley while tasting the local wines. All wines, but not all the food are organic: Your best choice is the "Winzerplatte" -- home-made white bread with pickles, a little salad and a number of spreads of your choice of which the bread and the vegan spreads are organic.
There's also a small museum with information on all Saxon wineries and a wine shop where you can buy their products, mainly white and sparkling wines. Stick to Hoflößnitz for organic ones.
The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:
Lilisou, Louisenstr. 58 (vegetarian, burgers, soups, curries)
ElectricLotus, Louisenstr. 58 (vegetarian, ayurvedic, Indian)
- Abutheke, Alaunstr. 68a (Middle-Eastern)
- roots, Hauptstr. 35 (vegan fast food)
[Dresden, Radebeul, Elbe_cycle_route, Elberadweg, Neustadt, organic, coffee, lunch, dinner, snacks, restaurant, pub, wine, beergarden]