The Gift of Travel — Part 7: Cruising Saxon Switzerland — A Photo Essay

This just may have been my favorite day of the entire cruise,
and that is saying something, because I LOVED the whole experience.
This is our 4th outing with Viking River Cruises.
We combined the first two — one from Normandy to Paris,
followed by another from just outside Paris to Avignon  —
eight years ago. And we did a two-week cruise four years ago,
from Amsterdam to Budapest.
This one was the smallest river, the smallest boat,
and we think — our favorite.
This day is one reason why.

You can find Part 1 of this journey here,
Part 2 here,
Part 3 here,
Part 4 here,
Part 5 here,
and Part 6 here.

The day began early and the sun was shining in between the clouds.
We sailed by a lovely, long castle that is now open to the public,
the first one we’ve seen that wasn’t perched high on a hill.

Then we began to enjoy this brand-new geography —
high cliffs, rocky outcroppings, lots of trees.
This is Saxon Switzerland,
a national park that straddles the border between
Germany and The Czech Republic.
(It is NOT Switzerland — apparently, in German, the word
for that country also means ‘wilderness.’)

We cruised for several hours, docked for a while
and then boarded busses, which we took BACK
to the area where we had seen people peering down on us
as we rode the river.

Amazing country, amazing natural wonder, amazing day.

I think this was my favorite bridge picture of the trip.

We enjoyed more interesting traveling partners
during this stretch than anywhere else.
A nice variety from boats to rafts to trains nearby.

And of course, the ever-changing natural wonders all around us.

A little windblown, but having a grand time.

See that bridge up there? Yeah, well, we’ll be standing on it pretty soon.

I mean, really — can you imagine a better way to enjoy this part of the world?

Up on the hill is the largest fort we’ve seen yet —
not much castle, but one mile of wall.

And a turret or two, too.

 One of many trains – all kinds, freight, people, new cars.

Coming round the bend to our port – Bad Schandau, a spa resort town with access
to the national park.

Loved seeing these bikers lined up to ferry across the river.

So, it was a nice enough day to have lunch on the top deck.

Pretty dang nice.

A ‘caravan’ park on the river’s edge.

Waitin’ for the laundry to dry. . .

And we loaded onto the busses to head into the park.

What the tour guide called a ‘meza’ (I think it’s the same as mesa?).

Just a particularly lovely field of rape-seed.

The Germans love horse-drawn carriages.

You know, I’d been walking on cobblestone streets without incident for over a week,
but here, just down the road from these horses, on asphalt,
I failed to look down and tripped over a grate, landing flat.
Dick broke my fall enough so that I wasn’t injured, just embarrassed as heck.

 The rocks from above.

Spotting the climbers with my telephoto lens.

And enjoying the views of the river from high up.

After descending over 100 steps to get to the bridge, we opted not to follow
even more steps further out.

That big fort from straight on, courtesy of the telephoto.

Looking back at the bridge we’d been standing on.

Love that backpack. Love that guy, too.

Looking at some of those 100+ steps on the way back up.

And rewarding ourselves for all that effort!

 And my favorite yellow-field shot of the trip.

And then we were off again. . . and almost done with the cruise.

We are now moving into the Czech Republic.

Next installment – Litomerice and early Prague pictures.

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  1. Candace Stevenson says

    Diana, stunning photos!! Don’t know when I’ve seen more gorgeous shots of Europe. You could definitely create a marvelous coffee table book of your trip (and I’d buy one!).

    • Thanks so much, Candy! We were blessed beyond belief with all that we saw, that’s for sure. (And from this trip, I created 3 volumes of photo books. Yikes.)

  2. I’m back aboard the boat to finish this journey with you this morning, Diana, and honestly – you could do PR for these people. Your photos and the descriptions are simply fabulous. But it sure did make me tired and a bit weak in the legs thinking about reaching that bridge. Wow!

    • The only thing that saved my bacon about climbing down to that bridge was that most of the steps were gradually inclined, making it easier to sort of ‘walk’ down rather then step down. The higher the riser between stairs, as I’m sure you know!, the tougher it is to navigate. These were shallow and wide. Still, I was glad to be done with them and neither of us wanted to do the ones out to the furthest point (and they were open to the gap below which just does me in – it’s the height thing, which doesn’t bother me so much from a ledge anymore, but still does terribly from an open work staircase.) ugh.