Before we set off on our trip to the Czech Republic I had researched "Czech ferries". There aren't many in the country, but I did come across Dolní Žleb. I wasn't prepared lead my fellow travelers on a ferry-hunting tour around the countryside, but when we found ourselves in the area I figured a small detour was worthwhile. It was also a car ferry, so we planned our trip to drive along the Labe from Hřensko
, cross at Dolní Žleb and continue along the other bank, crossing back at the bridge at Děčín. We found the ferry without any problem, but when we got down to the water's edge there was an ominous looking sandwich board with a message chalked on it in Czech. Our Czech speaking friend confirmed the bad news No cars, bikes only
. A shame, but that's life. The printed sign with the price list included cars, so who knows—
maybe a temporary ban?
But it was an interesting ferry to observe. It's a reaction ferry, powered solely by the river current. Our local ferry at Île-Bizard
is also a reaction ferry, but is constrained by overhead cables, parallel to the direction the ferry moves. At Dolní Žleb the ferry is attached to a cable, several hundred yards long, supported by small buoys and attached to one bank upstream. So the ferry swings in an arc from side to side, back and forth across the river on the end of this cable. As we watched we could see the ferry operator spinning the wheel when he was ready to cast off from one bank, to change the direction of the rudders to let the force of the current drive the ferry in the opposite direction, back over to the other bank.
The cable was attached to the Dolní Žleb side of the river, so that when the ferry was on the Hřensko bank, where we were, the restraining cable cut diagonally right across the river preventing any boat traffic. I know the river is used by fairly large boats as I have a friend taking a music-themed cruise along this section soon.
The Czech-German border cuts inland from the river about a kilometre north of Dolní Žleb, meaning the village and both banks here are in the Czech Republic, unlike a little further downstream at Hřensko where the river forms the border. The village has a couple of restaurants and bars and another station on the same train line that passes through Schöna, where the ferry from Hřensko
See Wikipedia pages on
for more information (Czech only).