Sächsische Schweiz – Saxon Switzerland National Park

This lovely gem is located around the Elbe Valley, just about 45 minutes outside of Dresden and it’s a true gift of nature and history. I had first planned to go on my birthday with a few friends but I found it quite hard to pull off because it’s too far away from the homes of the people I invited and because of unpredictable Aprilwetter. So now, two months later, we finally made it!

My goal was to see the famous Bastei Bridge, but that just wasn’t the highlight of our hike. And here’s why:

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There’s no entrance fee to Saxon Switzerland National Park and it’s open throughout the year, 24 hours a day. We started our tour at Kurort Rathen, which may also be reached through a 30-minute train ride from Dresden. We came by car, and a parking lot for visitors was close by (4 € day rate). First thing I did was go to the Tourist Information Centre right outside the train station and ask for tips on where to begin. I told the guy behind the counter that I wanted to see the Bastei Bridge, most importantly. He was very helpful and picked out a trail that he thought was most suitable. He took out a small map and elaborated more on the best attractions along the way.

It began with a ferry ride to the other side of the Elbe river. From there, we walked on and took a left turn, as told by our map, and walked up a flight of stairs.

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It was an easy hike, but we made sure that we had enough to drink and took breaks from time to time. It’s suitable even for families with small children and for dogs as well. We were at the summit at probably 45-minutes’ time and it was the most wonderful experience.

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Felsenburg Neurathen

Then there was this open air museum that we entered for an entrance fee of 1,50 € each, and from there we had an even better view of Bastei Bridge and of the rock formations of Elbsandsteingebirge.

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Bastei Bridge

After that, we headed for the bridge, which was of course full of tourists.

Right by the other end of the bridge, there were restaurants and cafés where you may grab a bite. We shared a small snack and walked on.


Schwedenlöcher

The next attraction on our route was Schwedenlöcher. We walked through a forest an then walked down a few flights of stairs, going deeper and deeper into the woods and passing through narrow paths between rocks. It was a perfect cool down from the hot weather that greeted us when we just started.

 

Amselfall

An optional attraction that was 10 minutes going the other way was the Amselfall (Amsel Waterfall). For 0,30 €, you may activate the torrent, which I wasn’t able to take a photo of because I was just so mesmerised by the sight.

 

Amselsee

And to end the tour, we walked along Amselsee (Amsel Lake) and watched people on their pedalos and canoes. We found our way out by walking down the road and it lead back to the ferry. There are plenty of souvenir shops there, too.

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Rakotzbrücke in Rhododendron Park, Kromlau (Saxony)

The great thing about new friends is that they bring new energy to your soul.

Shanna Rodriguez

 

Brief back-story:

Your Humble Blogger has made a new acquaintance just by browsing through WordPress tags. We met last week and she brought a friend. They belong to a group of nurses who came all the way from the Philippines to work and live here in Berlin. So we got into talking about the places we all have yet to see and started planning. About a week later, the wife and I met them at around six in the morning on a Saturday and hit the road.

But, first things first. Before we headed to the highlight of this trip, the wife had to go to school (which is in Cottbus) and finish her paper, taking a couple of hours. I kept them busy by showing them around Cottbus Altmarkt, which in this time of the year is covered with small huts for Weihnachtsmarkt. To be honest, I try as much as possible to avoid this town ever since we moved out, but it was exciting to see my companions’ curiosity about this place that is all new to them.

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Which then made me appreciate some of its beauty as well.

So after the wife has checked school off her to-do list, we went straight to the good part. It’s only about a 30-40 minute drive away from the old home but nobody ever bothered to tell us about this exquisite old bridge, hidden in the depths of small villages in Saxony.

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Dear Reader, this is Rakotzbrücke of Rhododendron Park in Kromlau, Saxony. A perfect circle from any angle. It was built in the mid 1800’s, and it’s also known as “The Devil’s Bridge”.

 

We were in luck because we didn’t expect such great weather in December. But luck has run out quickly, because we then went to Dresden – which is, as many already know, gorgeous – but it was so crowded (thanks to Striezelmarkt and Christmas shoppers). I am not even going to bother with pictures but it at least gave us a reason to go back another time, when it’s a little quieter.

During the drive back to Berlin, we were just so exhausted. Having to wake up so early, sitting in the car for hours, then walking into a crowd full of people can really get to you. But I am tired in a really, really good way. Being in good company can do that to you, and I have no regrets. 🙂

This critter came up to us while we were viewing the bridge. She just posed there like she’s been doing this for a while now. I wish I can get my cats to sit this still more often so I can take cute photographs of them. I mean, look, this cat should have her own blog, don’t you think?

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A rare occurrence: A decent photo of the two of us – because when it’s just the two of us traveling, we don’t have anyone to take photos. 🙂

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There’s something about being with a bunch of nurses that can make you feel really safe.