Friday, September 2, 2011

History Revisited at Kehlsteinhaus (The Eagles's Nest)

Today was another busy day of touring for us as we took a bus trip to see one of history's most famous sites Kehlsteinhaus. This was built for Adolf Hitler by the Nazi party in 1937-1938 as a tea room and gift for his 50th birthday. It was a place for him to meet with heads of state. However, Hitler was afraid of heights and only made a few visits to this place.
Our trip took about three hours as it was in the southern most portion of Germany known as Obersalzberg. By good fortune, we had a very knowledgeable, funny and friendly guide. He is actually retired but only works two days out of the month. I am so glad that we got him. He spoke English well in addition to his native German plus he even speaks Spanish. It is so interesting that many Europeans know several languages. I realize their countries are close together and it is to their benefit. However, it makes me sad that we in America don't learn at least one additional language well.
Thus far on every trip, we have met Americans as well as many Australians who are traveling this summer. We have had some great conversations, and it makes the trip go by more quickly.
Once we got to the mountains, the only song I could think of was from "The Sound of Music". In fact, this area of Germany which borders Austria is where the film was made. The green valleys stretched below us as we made our winding ascent towards our goal of "The Eagle's Nest" which sits atop a mountain 5,500 feet above sea level. The views were spectacular. We almost felt as if they were not real because the scene was so larger than life. It makes you appreciate God's creation all the more as you look at the beauty He has made.
Part way up the mountain, we came to a level area where a special bus was waiting to carry us to the top on a one lane road that hugs the mountain. I am afraid of heights so this whole trip was a challenge for me, but we had a good tour guide and a good driver. Furthermore, the weather was perfect. It had been predicted that we would have rain, but instead, God blessed us with sunshine and cool temperatures.
Arriving at our top level, we were instructed to quickly walk through a tunnel to an elevator which would take us up 400 more feet to the Eagle's Nest. The tunnel was the original one built by the Nazis as was the elevator. They spared no expense to build this facility. Once we reached the top, we stepped out on a high level space fenced all around for safety. We could see for miles. The city of Salzburg looked tiny by comparison from our perch. On the other side of the top area, we could look at the mountains of Germany and a beautiful lake far below. The two boats on the lake looked like little ants moving across the water.
Instead of preserving the Tea House for historical purposes, it has become a restaurant at the top. We were able to take pictures of the building on the outside at least. Then, for
those brave enough to walk it, there were steps to the highest part of the peak where a cross stood. My dear husband made a climb half way while I remained on the main platform. It was challenge enough for me to walk to the fence for a picture.
After spending 45 minutes at the top, we came to the intermediate level for a ride back to tour base area where we were to meet our bus. I was thankful we were riding instead of walking. Nevertheless, we saw hikers making the walk up to this high location. I guess I am beyond that type of work out...not to mention the height issue.
We had lunch at our tour base area at a great outdoor cafe, and then took a tour of Hitler's underground bunkers built to protect the leaders from air attacks. The Allies were never able to demolish Eagle's Nest although they hit other houses of officials built at lower levels of the mountain. All in all, it was a very interesting tour and as our German guide said, "It was a black time in German history."
On our return trip, the guide had the driver take is on back roads where we went through the small Bavarian villages built in the mountains. They were beautiful and every village had a church. Here is Germany, church bells ring several times a day. I remember a time in our country when church bells were rung each day. Now, however, we do not hear it very often. Our guide told us that the people in the villages are very involved in their churches. This was a blessing to hear. Once we got back on the Autobahn, most of took a nap. It had been a long day.
This evening, we took a stroll to an outdoor cafe for a great Bavarian style meal. I wish I could say it had no calories in it...but it was delicious and a perfect conclusion to a great day. We only had slight rain on our way back from "The Eagle's Nest" but after that, it was sunny again.
Tomorrow, another long day....10 hour tour to Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Castles. I cannot wait to see these beautiful places. As always, I will share our adventure with you tomorrow evening. Please check Facebook for pictures. When I get home, I will be able to upload pictures to Flickr for all to see.

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