As our holiday got to the mid way point in Croatia, we knew that things would get a little fluid. Reason being was that we had only planned the first couple of weeks before we set off from the UK. This has it’s pros and cons, but it’s nice to have some flexibility as we move around for a number of reasons. As has been said in previous posts for this trip, the weather for Salzburg was not looking particularly favorable at the time we were planning to visit. So making the decision to stay further south in Trieste was last minute, but it worked for us, and we got to see another fantastic location unexpectedly. Leading on, I hope you will see why the above is particularly relevant here.
After another hot day in Trieste we made the decision late afternoon to leave the campsite and move towards Salzburg rather than stay for the fourth and final night. This meant we could get the majority of driving out of the way in the evening when it would be cooler, and quieter on the roads. We knew we would be to late to check into the campsite so planned to wild camp somewhere. After three and a half hours drive, and with only one hour predicted drive to Salzburg we started to consider a stopping point.
We went into an service station that allowed over night camping, but decided it was too noisy. So we consulted a mobile phone app for flexible camping in the area. We found one that looked like it was going to be be in more tranquil surroundings a little further up the road, so we moved off the A10 motorway at a place called Flaucheuwinkle and found a layby under the cover of darkness. All we could see was limited by the headlights. We had a sneaky suspicion that we were near a fast flowing alpine streams due to the noise, but the views when we got up this morning were amazing.
Mandy had messaged her brother last night before we went to bed regarding our location. He is quite well traveled in Europe and suggested we visit The Eagles Nest. Being really interested in the Second World War, I was excited to find out we were so close to this place our historic interest. After all, this was Adolf Hitler’s summer retreat high in the mountains, in Germany, just on the border of Austria. It was also where a lot of the meetings took place during Hitler’s reign. It was literally a few kilometers off the main road as we moved towards Salzburg, so we both felt it would be to good an opportunity to miss.
As we moved off the main road towards Salzburg, towards Germany, the road started to climb. My van with its 1.9TD engine conversion is prone to getting warm / hot when climbing hills. I always feel it would never really be an issue, but when it gets to a certain temperature on the gauge, if the opportunity arises, I try and stop just to let things settle. The location was amazing as we entered a small alpine village. So we stopped at a hotel / restaurant for a coffee. It was still relatively early, and the Eagles Nest was only a short drive away.
We were immediately greeted by one of the members of staff that showed a genuine interests in my camper-van. Lots of questions, but I’m always willing to share my passion with others should the opportunity arise. Her name was Katherine.
After some discussion we were lead along the front of the hotel to a decked terrace area. This gave us a great vantage point to a fantastic panorama. Shortly after our cappuccinos were brought to our table by Katherine, who told us to enjoys these free of charge. This was a pleasant surprise. She also added that we were to come and find her in the kitchen before we departed as she wanted to bid us fare well. We really weren’t used to such hospitality.
After enjoying the view and our coffees we wandered inside the hotel to find Katherine. I don’t think I’ve ever been inside a hotel that was so prefect. It looked nice from the outside, but the attention to detail inside got me thinking this is 5 star. We moved outside and took a few photos by the van with Katherine. During our parting conversation, we found that it was a family run business with all members, and Katherine was the daughter. Just before we left we were presented with some amazing cakes packaged in a parcel with “have a nice drive”.
We carried on another 4 kilometers up a steep windey road until we got to the Eagles Nest car park and visitors center at the town of Berchtesgaden . This was approximately 11am and all of the car parks were full so we had to park on the grass verge. We brought tickets an had a short wait before we got on one of the specially adapted buses equipped to climb and descend the steep, narrow road to the Kehlsteinhaus.
The journey was amazing, and one of the most interesting stretches of road I have ever traveled. We were informed over the intercom in the bus that we needed to arrange a departure time with the reception at the top. We the first people off the first bus, but after moving to one side to get a drink out of my ruck sack, we found ourselves at the back of a very long que made up of four busses worth of passengers. Not the best move. Still, we are British and we waited with a stiff upper lip. After all, it’s what we do best.
Once we had arranged our bur return, we made our way into a long tunnel to the base of the lift shaft.
We waited in a que for about ten minutes before we got in the lift. It was larger than anticipated but this was enhanced further by the fact that the entire lift had a mirror effect from the polished brass that formed the walls and ceiling. The distance elevated to the Restaurant / viewpoint at the top was pretty substantial, but it was really quick which surprised us especially considering the amount of people it held.
Once at the top we filtered out onto the patio area where the views were amazing. I had a beer and Mandy a coffee, and we reminded ourselves just how luck we were to have had this opportunity to visit such an amazing place. It’s difficult to convey in words just how interesting this attraction is. The weather was certainly in our favor on that day, and I’m sure the visit would have been subdued somewhat with low cloud cover, but we had struck lucky.
“As symbol of power of the NS regime, decisions were made at the Eagle’s Nest. It still stands for the insanity of the regime and the world on the Obersalzberg, where plans for war and mass murder were formed.
Quote from official Eagles Nest Website
In defiance, the building stands perched over a sheer rock wall. A road was cut into the mountain through previously impassable terrain. Although it is an architectural master piece, it was still an act of waste on nature and other resources. To reach it, there is a golden brass elevator buried in the heart of the mountain, through which one can reach „the summit of power“ – all this has been created with the sole purpose to impress and dazzle people. “
It’s very thought provoking knowing that many of Hitler’s plans were hatched here. The duration of our stay was approximately four hours. After this we headed for Salzburg.