Surprise Flight to Dresden, Part I: Hiking in Sächsische Schweiz National Park

Trip planning is a tedious process but one I find enjoyable and rewarding. Yet, I’ve become exhausted from skimming through Ryanair flights, reading Travel Advisor hostel reviews and checking train schedules. During the exam period, I realized my schedule allowed for an extended weekend of travel. My days were filled with academic obligations and while I wanted to travel that weekend, I was on a time crunch and did not have the mental capacity to study for exams AND book a full weekend trip.

A solution presented itself through an innovation and fun program by Germanwings called Blind Booking. The airline offers 33 euro airfare tickets to fill up empty seats on their flights. Destinations include cities from all across Europe that otherwise would cost more than 100 euros to travel to. The catch is, that at the time of booking, you have NO IDEA WHERE YOUR TICKET WILL TAKE YOU.

My Australian friend, Annabelle, and I had similar exam schedules, and together we quickly decided to leave the fate of our extended weekend in the hands of Germanwings. After a few minutes of anxious anticipation waiting for our ticket purchase to go through, we finally learned where we were heading for the weekend:

Dresden, Germany…

I recognized the name, but could not place why. We were hoping for somewhere warm like Barcelona, but we left it up to fate and fate sent us to the cold city of Dresden.

We laughed and laughed at our luck, booked our hostel, and went back to studying.

Rathen, Germany

The first hostel we booked was a small bed and breakfast type cottage about 45 minutes outside of Dresden in a quaint city called Rathen. Upon arriving in this small village town we were hungry, and found out that only 1 restaurant in the entirety of the village was open. Two other hostel guests joined us at this small family owned restaurant with a very German menu. This meal was a snapshot of the town itself: small, cozy and very German.

Good morning Rathen, Germany!

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Our hiking started with a visit to the Weißenstein Castle. After a 20 minute bus ride up the mountain to the castle, we were startled but excited to see our hostel owner at the top! We frantically waved and smiled at good ol’ Lenny. Here’s a photo of the bus we sat on top of and frantically waved from…


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There’s really no dignity in this for us.

It turns out he had chased us all the way up the mountain in order to retrieve the hostel key that was still safely sitting in my friend’s bag…embarrassing start to the day!

The embarrassment soon sunk into oblivion as we took in the impressive structural remains of the castle and the natural beauty around us.

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We returned to town, grabbed a lunch and Gluehwein to warm up then proceeded in the direction of our next hiking adventure: The Bastei Bridge.

All the locals told us it was too icy and snowy to hike to the bridge, but we were determined and headed on our way. The Bastei is a rock formation towering 194 meters above the Elbe River and is part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains in Germany. The highest point of the rocks reaches a height of 305 meters and looks like a scene out of James Cameron’s film Avatar. It is believed that the jagged Bastei rock formation was formed by water erosion over one million years ago. The Bastei has attracted hikers and climbers alike for over 200 years. In 1824, a wooden bridge was constructed to link several rocks together for visitors to traverse, and was then replaced in 1851 by the modern sandstone Bastei Bridge.

Here’s the sites we saw along our hike:

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Here’s the incredible bridge!

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With cold red noses, sore feet and a satiated nature fix, we hopped on a train and headed back into the city of Dresden, Germany Part II.


Posted on by Reagan J Payne in Part I, Uncategorized

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