Soaring To The Eagles Nest and Finding Mozart…
Apart from a few dark clouds scattered about, the weather was looking good, lucky for us we didn’t have too far to go, as we discussed over dinner the previous night we wanted to go to Hitlers Eagles Nest while we were in the area, it was less than 60kms from the town of Lofer.
Clive had adjusted the bike chain again, but we had our suspicions that this chain was on its way out, we load up the bike and head for the Bavarian Alps, yet again the scenery was spectacular, I have also never seen a country so clean and its so tidy, no litter to be seen, love it…
We stopped in the beautiful little town of Berchtesgaden and go into the tourist information office and grab a map of the local area on how to get up to the ‘Nest’.
The very helpful ladies dressed in traditional costume were very helpful, they explained that we couldn’t take the bike all the way to the top, we have to ride half way up and park up and then catch a bus to the elevator shaft entrance.
We found a spot to park the bike and head over towards the ticket box, the queue wasn’t too bad, i think the grotty weather put a few people off!
While we were in the queue we got talking to an elderly couple of German sisters (but now live in America), they were pretty hilarious, taking the mickey out of each other, thus keeping the queue entertained while we wait to purchase our tickets, when it was the the German sisters turn, she flashed a card to the ticket attendant then passed it to us to use, what ever saver card, she had was great, we got in for something like 40 Euros, saving quite a few Euros..
We had to queue up for our allocated time bus, which was 20 minutes away, so we whiled away the time talking to these lovely sisters, who made sure we understood that they were ashamed of how Hitler treated people, and is not a reflection on what German people are like!
Once on the bus we slowly head up. Its a single lane with a few passing spots and the view is magnificent, but looking out the window down its a sheer drop….
Due to its high elevation the Eagle’s Nest is open in summer only, usually from about mid-May through October, so we only just made it by a month, phew…
Hitler’s Eagles Nest, is in a little pocket of Germany that juts into Austria, it sits on a mountain peak high above Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps.
It was a 50th birthday gift by the Nazi party secretary Bormann’s to Adolf Hitler.
Its unusual position makes of the daring project a unique engineering feat and when here you can see why.
It took 13 months to construct and was finished in the summer of 1938, it cost a staggering 30 million Reichsmarks to build which is about 150 million Euro’s (2007)…
Few realise that Hitler’s home and headquarters – the second seat of 3rd Reich power – was located at Obersalzberg, at the foot of the Eagle’s Nest Mountain.
Off the bus we walk into a stone-lined tunnel leads 124 meters, straight into the side of the mountain. At the end of the tunnel we got into a large queue to wait for our turn in the elegant brass-lined elevator that takes visitors on a 41-second ride another 124 meters up through the heart of the mountain and into the building itself.
The inside of the elevator was stunning, but we weren’t allowed to take photos…although we did mange to get a bit of a photo!
Once at the top, we decided while the rain had ceased we would walk up the path that leads up to a higher point, it was well worth the short climb, even though at times I thought we could get blown off the mountain.
The view is incredible, you are eye level with the Alps, looking over both Germany and Austria, with jagged mountains in all directions, and lake konigsee that looked like it as squeezed in between surrounding mountains.
Ironically, Hitler suffered from vertigo and rarely took pleasure in the views.
Apparently on a clear day you can see Salzburg.
But today it’s misty, rainy and very cold.
Being here gives you a strange eerie feeling, knowing that such a hated man used to come here.
Its now raining again so we decide to go to the kehlsteinhaus for a hot drink, this is located in the same spot that Hitler, Eva Braun, Himmler held banquets and entertained foreign diplomats.
The vast dinning hall was packed, but we managed to find a table next to the deep set windows, and the thick granite walls, the ceilings were high and were heavily beamed the beams in the ceilings are the original ones, as are some of the light fixtures only a few are copies of the originals.
Looking around this amazing room you can’t help but notice the huge marble fireplace that Mussolini gave to Hitler. There is some names carved into the marble from the American soldiers who liberated the Nest.
Its amazing to think that Eagle’s Nest wasn’t damaged during the war, although most of the furniture was removed by the occupying forces.
Going up some steps we entered into a small, paneled dining area, which is also part of the restaurant.
There is a sideboard in here that’s the original one!
This is the room where Hitler had a long dining table for banquets.
Eva Braun’s (Hitlers partner) sister Gretl and SS Officer Hermann Fegelein got married here, on June 3, 1944.
Its a very popular tourist site with over 300,000 visit here a year, mostly British and Americans.
With the clouds now completely shrouding us at the top we decided to go and catch the bus back down to the bottom. At least its not raining down here so we decide to go and look at the famous Konigssee lake
The car park to the lake was packed, and were glad we had a bike as it allows you to park so much closer to the entrance of places, especially with rain around.
We by passed all the tourist shops that were selling the same things and went straight down to the lake, wow, its a stunning spot, alpine mountains either side of the lake, the water was crystal clear, we bent down to feel it, it was freezing although the ducks didn’t seem to mind…
We sat there for a while and enjoyed the view, but due to the high number of visitors it wasn’t peaceful, we brought a German hot dog and high tailed it out there, got back on the bike and rode towards the city of Salzburg..
As we arrived in Salzburg, coming in the back way we thought the streets looked rather ugly and cold looking, Just like our mood as it’s still raining and we were getting cold.
Yet again the hotels I enquired at were all fully booked and they didn’t have anywhere for the bike..
Riding down the now soggy roads we saw a sign for 59 Euro’s for a room, as Clive parked the bike up on the side of the busy road, I enter the smart entrance of the hotel (dripping water everywhere) I am greeted by a beautiful five year old girl…they put them to work young here lol, the young girls father soon appeared and said the price we saw advertised is for one person for two it will be 89 Euro’s, ok we’ll take it.
We had to off load the bike from the main street entrance then park the bike in the Hotel car park that was around the back of the hotel with no adjoining gate to get into the back of the hotel, the manager assured us that the bike would be perfectly safe, as there is barely any crime in Austria…
To be sure we throw the lock around the wheels and put on the bike cover…
Lucky for us the hotel had a lift, which after loading all our bags and side boxes into didn’t leave us any room to get in as well, so we walked up the stairs leaving a trail of water behind us.
The room was small and spotlessly clean, it had heated towel rails which would make drying our washing easier, its doesn’t seem that long ago that we could peg our washing outside and it’d be dry in a matter of hours, but here it’ll take days (welcome to Europe in the autumn)
After a quick clean up, the rain came down even harder, looks like we’ll be staying in and make use of the fantastic free internet that was super fast.
The rest of the afternoon was a lazy one, internet, Skype and watching movies, looking out the window at the rain, we were both glad that we could take the time to lounge around and not rush out to cram in some sightseeing, we could now spend the whole day tommorow checking out Salzburg, even if it’s raining, we’re going to explore!
After a night of heavy rain the following morning we were welcomed with blue skies, it was still only 8am but we wanted to make the most of the day so we got out early, after crossing a few roads we come across a pathway that ran alongside the Salzach River, what better way to get into this beautiful old town on a Sunday morning, there weren’t a lot of people around except for joggers.
We need to get over to the old town via the modern Makartsteg bridge, once on the bridge you can’t help fail to notice a sea of padlocks attached to the fence just below the railings, we saw these ‘loveLocks’ when we were in Venice, we have spare padlocks, why didn’t we bring one with us and add to them…
The old town is a maze of cobbled streets lined with 3-4 story colourful buildings, many dating back to the 15th century, most of these buildings were cafés, posh clothes and gift shops all displaying anything to do with Mozart, of course this was where (full name) Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart was born on January 27th 1756.
As it was still early most of the shops and attractions were not open yet, so seeing as we hadn’t yet had breakfast we head into the most up market MacDonalds we have come across.
Walking through the cobbled streets, which were now getting busy, we past buskers (who were brilliant) and street actors doing a fantastic job of staying still while kids poked them…
The city was now stating to come alive with people.
Breakfast over now to explore Hohensalzburg Fortress (built in 1077)….at the ticket box we brought the Combined ticket which allowed us to see more of this amazing Fortress, so for an extra 3 Euros each we got to go up and down on the cable railway, fortress courtyards, peel towers, State Rooms, Fortress Museum, Rainer Regiment Museum, Marionette Museum, Sound and Vision Show, Almpassage.
We get to do the tour with audio guide in 9 languages – we choose english!… which told us about the interior area (gallery, torture chamber which was a bit gruesome, observation tower and the “Salzburger Stier” – mechanical organ).
At the top you get breathtaking views over the whole of Salzburg and the mountains, we were lucky the day was clear and sunny.
There is a small museum about the castle and Salzburg history, the exhibits were interesting and informative, i found the masks the most fascinating, Clive thinks i would look good in them lol…
We spent the best part of the day there, we really enjoyed it, it may not be the most beautiful Fortress (my opinion) but it was one of the most interesting, worth a visit if your in Salzburg.
We decided not to use our return ticket for the cable car, but walk down the very steep and slippery in places cobbled path.
We came across St. Peters church, and decided to take a look at the famous grave yard-which dates back to 1627.
Walking through the huge wrought iron gates, you find yourself in the most beautiful grave yard, full of colourful flowers and graves that had small head stones with ornate wrought iron grave markers.
Back to the cobbled streets we pass dozen of Haflingers pony and traps a stunning horse that originates from Arab blood, brought back from the Continental wars with the Turks and was crossed with the native Tyrolean Pony – thus establishing the Haflinger Horse Breed.
Moving on we were now feeling hungry, not sure what we wanted to eat, until we passed a little restaurant and the waitress had in her hand the most amazing looking desert we had ever seen, well we have got to try one of those, we asked the waitress what it was she told us it was Salzburger Nockerl (Soizburga Noggal in the Austro-Bavarian dialect) it’s sweet soufflé with a fresh raspberry sauce on the base, its culinary speciality of Salzburg, we felt it was our duty to try this local dish….
oh my it looked amazing with three huge mountainous peaks in a large dish, the waitress said the serving is for four people..
We did our best and ploughed through the pudding, it was like heaven in your mouth, and not too sweet either.
Feeling rather full we decide we were in need of a long walk, first stop was Mozart’s birthplace at No. 9 Getreidegasse. The Mozart family lived on the third floor and Mozart himself was born here on 27 January 1756.
He was the seventh child of Leopold Mozart who was a musician of the Salzburg Royal Chamber, the house is now a museum and was extremely busy, underneath the house is a Spar supermarket, an expensive one at that, i think a music shop would have been more suitable.
Heading off towards the main part of the city, we came across Mirabell Palace and Gardens, as you entered through the opening you came into a vast garden of many types of flowers and roses, fountains and statues it was stunning, the colours were amazing.
The building here is a former palace and is now government offices, even so is is a very relaxing place to visit.
The gardens are where the von Trapp children sang “Do-Re-Mi” in the Sound of Music, Clive had to stop me from dancing in and around the fountains, like Julie Andrews lol.
The day was slowly drawing to a close heading back to the hotel, we needed to buy some supplies, but even though we were in a city, there were no supermarkets open, hardly any restaurants either, and what was open we really didn’t fancy, we ended up getting Subway and eating it back in our room with a cup of tea, whilst packing up, for the our next City Vienna…