Saturday, 18 August 2012

Somewhere above the Elbe River

It’s time to leave the amazing city of Dresden and keep exploring Saxony.

When Artur was born three years ago, I got two guidebooks – Poland with a child and Europe with a chilled. I browsed quickly through them and put them aside on a shelf with a label for use somewhere in the future. This year I reminded myself of having them, the Europe one in particular, and decided to give them a closer look in search for information on fun places to see with a three year old. And it was then when I encountered (or even bumped into) Bastei and thought to myself I have to see it for myself. It is situated south-east of Dresden and being so close to it, I simply had to go there!

Bastei is a major landmark of the Saxon Switzerland National Park. It’s a rock formation that is towering above the Elbe River (almost 200 m) reaching the height of over 300 metres above sea level.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a tourist attraction for over 200 years! First, there was a wooden bridge there, but in the mid-19th century it was replaced with the sandstone Bastei Bridge (the one that is up there up to these days). It’s so marvellous and picturesque! The views, the colours, the river below, the rocks sticking out of forests…

But the bridge itself is not the only tourist attraction up there. Strangely enough, people used to live there in the Middle Ages!

Felsenburg Neurathen (Neurathen Castle) is what the place is called. Well, the place or what’s left of it. Sightseeing is cheap (money-wise), but expensive (nerves-wise). Only available for those with strong nerves and no acrophobia. You no longer walk on a solid bridge there. You walk on footbridges, way higher than the bridge, really narrow ones, connecting various rocks (well, they say they’re remnants of that castle and I have to believe them). A kind of a self-conducted circular walk. With a great view of the Bastei Bridge, I might add. The views honestly are breathtaking! And Neurathen Castle was once the largest rock castle in the region!

I have to add that the day we spent in Bastei and then on the way to our next stop was really, really, really hot! 31 Celsius degrees at 7 pm! Talk about a hot day… Luckily, up there in the mountains and the woods, it must have been a bit colder than down there, where we left our car and where we headed off to later on.

Oh, yes. One more thing! I wanted to write how to get to Bastei! We drove by the brown signs (the tourist attraction informative signs) that lead to a car park (quite big, if I can recall it correctly. We had no problem in leaving our car there somewhere around 11-12 o’clock) where you can leave your car (right before the ‘no car’ zone). If I can remember correctly, it’s somewhere near a place called Rathen… But I can’t be sure of that. Once again, we drove as the signs told us to. From there you can either walk to Bastei (the first part was along the field, so no shade, folks. Not until you get to the forest) or take a shuttle bus. We chose the second option (it was really hot, so when we saw the no-shade part, we resigned from walking. Plus there was so much walking up there that we turned out absolutely content with our choice). The shuttle bus costs 1 EUR (adult, a return ticket). The ride takes literally a few minutes (5?). I can’t remember the cost of the car park itself.

 The first view of the Bastei Bridge

 Views over the Elbe River

 All the "important places" in the castle had such German-English signs

 Views from the castle on the bridge
 One of the footbridges. On one of the pictures below you can see what they looked like "from below"

Next time we’re driving south-west to a wonderful state of Bavaria. Stay tuned!

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