Saxon Switzerland National Park

Tuesday 9th September

After yesterday we were better organised to catch an earlier train up to Karort Rathen in the German part of the Bohemian/Saxon Switzerland National Park. On our arrival we joined the throng heading to the ferry across the Elbe to the side with all the interesting rock formations we had seen each of our previous times to this area. After purchasing some food from the local bakerei we started our walking for the day. Firstly we went to the small lake called Amselsee where a few people had hired boats and were rowing. It didn’t look that great so we started our upward journey to the Bastei. The path is well paved and the steps are pretty evenly spaced so although it is steep we are able to make good progress.

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At several points along the way we stopped with quite a few others to take photos. About thirty minutes into the walk we meet a German couple coming down who tell us we are quite close and that it is a wonderful place to see. They lamented that for all the years Germany was split they had been unable to come here so we are mindful that we are quite fortunate to travel so freely. We continued the upward climb. When we reached the Bastei Bridge we were certainly not alone! It is a very popular spot and with good reason.

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Nearly everywhere we stood there was another fantastic view of this rocky landscape. There were a few points which were really popular and we queued to get to the prime position for the perfect photo. A few other obliging tourists took photos for us so we could both be in them. There was one section that was fenced off and you had to pay a fee to enter. As it was only 1.50 euros we joined the queue and soon had entered an area with extra special viewpoints. It was signposted as we went. It seemed as if this had previously been a fortress. After spending some time in this area we exit, happy with our spectacular morning. It would be hard to take a bad photo here!

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We continued on the upward path only to find yet another excellent photo stop, this time complete with the inevitable restaurant! We were following a longer route with the intention of going back to Stadt Wehlen, a place we had stopped at on our cycle trip. The path mostly took us downhill through the forest which showed off a broad selection of shades of green and brown as autumn already appears to have started here. After some time we stop at a seat and eat our picnic lunch at the edge of the forest near fields with freshly made hay bails lying in them. After lunch we finished off the downwards journey to Stadt Wehlen in about fifteen minutes, the last part taking us steeply down past houses with excellent views of the river valley and rocky cliffs.

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Cafe Richter beckoned and we ordered Karen one more hot chocolate! This time she asked for less cream! I too spoilt myself by indulging in an apple strudel. Next we followed the signs past the local primary school steeply uphill to an alpine garden.

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Karen was still hoping to see edelweiss growing somewhere during this trip. Even though the garden resembled a mini botanic garden edelweiss is still not observed. We walked back down to the ferry and took it across to the other side and caught the train back to Dresden. This time first class has to be shared with a couple from California who have taken a river trip to Bad Schandau and are now returning by train. Later on a local businessman joined us. He spoke excellent English and chatted to us about the resurrection of the old buildings in Dresden. Another enjoyable interlude ended when the train reached Dresden Neustadt station. We disembarked and walked up to the supermarket where we purchased food to prepare another lovely home cooked meal to end a truly memorable day.

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