Why travel as a family? Well, that is actually more of a broad question than you think. The answer can differ for each person, although there are many common themes. For some, it is adventure. For others, a way to educate themselves about life and the world. Many are simply looking for entertainment and a fun escape from the daily grind.
Maybe a better question here is - Why travel to obscure international destinations with a bunch of young children, little money and limited prior experience? I have one answer for you - to find treasure! Aarrr, that's right me fellow pirates, here be treasure!
What treasure am I talking of? The rare and difficult to find, those few moments of unsurpassed joy so bright that they shine above the grey bleakness of the struggles and trials. The few (in our case - very few) times that things actually go right. The times when you all get along, the times that you find your destination without a hitch, the extra rare moments when public restrooms are plentiful, food is cheap and the whining is replaced with outpourings of gratitude. And most especially, when the baby falls asleep on a hike.
Maybe if those things happened all the time it would lesson the value. If we were surrounded by treasure would it lose it's appeal?
Why do we go hunting for it if the journey inevitably incurs mishap after mishap? I think the answer is twofold;
1. It's all about the climb ( thank-you Miley Cyrus for that one)
2. The treasure really is worth it.
We grow, we have stories to tell, and along the way, the occasional gemstones picked up lend a priceless quality to what we are creating. A reminder that the beautiful moments are worth cherishing.
We had been living in a little cottage in Poland in the middle of the forest. Needing some civilization, we had ventured out on a short trip to Dresden, Germany for a few days. We had gone to see the Frauenkirche - a special building to us because a story about the rebuilding of this church had sparked our journey to Europe, and thereby changed our lives. Of course it was wonderful, fun, horrible and hard - as most of our travel was want to be. We had enjoyed a new place and new friends, and had walked too far, and expended too much energy that by the end of the day, I was in tears and at the end of my tether. We had come from Poland, were visiting Germany, and were spending our nights in The Czech Republic to save money!
Amazingly, just two days later we had the chance to explore the most wonderful Castle in Germany, it was such a fun day that I truly treasured, despite the rain and the expensive lunch. I had gone from the depths of despair, to being reminded that unexpected treasures awaited if I would just not give up. But...the day was not over.
We had left our overpriced schnitzel affair and were headed back to our Polish cottage when I convinced Ross to make just one little detour. We were almost at the end of the day, it was still raining and daylight was starting to fade, but I had found encouragement to keep seeking for treasure, perhaps our luck would continue? Well, we'd never know if we didn't try!
I had found another dreamy Pinterest spot to visit nearby. Our last attempt to follow obscure directions to dream-worthy locations from Pinterest had resulted in us getting totally lost, never finding the promised mystical bridge, and a stranger looking pointedly at my stomach and asking me when my next baby was due. Hmmm, oh well, I was willing to risk failure and humiliation for this new bridge, it looked to be magnificent!
Just 40km east of Dresden, and tucked away in an area called Saxon Switzerland, the Bastei Bridge is an incredible stone bridge spanning giant pinnacles of sandstone rock above the Elbe river. It leads...nowhere. It lead, to my dreams! This is my kind of jewel!
We easily found where we wanted to go (first miracle), parked the car, zipped up our coats and strapped the baby on our backs. We set off in the rain for our second adventure of the day. Could we be successful two times in a row?
Yes! As it turns out, sometimes good things come in pairs. Our baby did in fact fall asleep, the rain held off, and we had quite the adventure. The mystical Pinterest bridge was everything it promised to be. We enjoyed walking along the Bastei bridge, marveling at this incredible world that we are privileged to explore. We did in fact, smile, laugh and feel joy together as a family. In the rain, in a foreign country, in all our imperfections, we had found a nugget of treasure, and it was wonderful!
I have to say, now that my little baby is a crazy toddler who likes to leap from any height and who will run off at the speed of lightning, I doubly appreciate this experience. I was glad to have my little one safely strapped in without any fear of his impending death. Yet another reminder to me to seize the experiences at hand, because you never know what the future holds. I'm so glad we didn't just let this one go, that we went for it!
There are some castle remains from a few hundred years ago, but they are scarce, it is really all about that incredible bridge and the amazing views.
It is also about the memories and the stories of the journey to get there. Me and my crazy little family out in the world, searching for treasure.
I found a great blog post of a family visiting The Bastei Bridge, they have all sorts of useful tips about access and options for visiting. It's a nice read, they have two children aged perfectly for travel and it is very sunny and perfect, but I won't hold that against them.