Sunday, June 21, 2015

The European Trip, Day 15 - The Eagles Nest at Berchtesgaden

A late start for us today, we let the boys sleep in as we weren't due till 12:30 PM in Berchtesgaden, Germany (less than 25 km from Salzburg) for our guided tour of Hitler's Eagle's Nest.

Note: The breakfast provided by Pensione Frauneschuh is outstanding!  Tasty items, good service and great coffee.

We got there in plenty of time, checked in and then went over to the Biergarten across the street for a quick lunch.

The BMW Isetta we spotted today

At a little after 1:00 PM, we boarded a charter bus and headed towards the Eagle's Nest complex with our tour guide giving us a background brief about the place and its relation to Hitler and the Nazi Party.

The Changs at the back of the bus!


First stop was at the Documentation Obersalzberg Site, full of Nazi propaganda items, historical pictures and of course documents was commissioned by the government to help the people understand part of its history.

We didn't tarry at all with the exhibits, instead heading straight down into the set of bunkers that have been made available to the public.  Only a small portion of the bunkers, are open by the way.  It's a very large complex of bunkers, but most of them are either in ruins or locked up.

A glass wall with a map of the Eagle's Nest Complex, the items in yellow
are underground structures/bunkers

The generator room, where apparently a submarine's engine was 
installed to provide electric power to the complex.  Note the vents on the 
roof to redirect the exhaust out of the bunkers.

Views of some of the bunkers and tunnels that interconnected them.


These steps actually led to the basement of the hotel that 
used to be used by US Troops after the war for recreation.
It was the General Walker Hotel, formerly a hotel used by the 
Nazi Party for lodging visitors and such to the Eagle's Nest.

As you look at the steps above, you're standing in front of a wall that had three machine gun firing ports aimed up at the stairs.  They were there to prevent access from the surface, into the bunker complex.  It would have been, quite a tough nut to crack, had troops actually tried to storm the bunker via this route!

After checking out the bunkers at the Documentation Center, we piled into a special bus for the ride up to the top of the mountain where the Eagle's Nest is located.  

waiting for the bus

The ride up in the long red bus is a thrill ride in itself, as the driver expertly flung it around the narrow road's curves and hairpin turns.  I don't think I'd have been going that fast on a motorcycle!  It was a steep road too as you might imagine, with a max of 24% incline in parts.

At the bus parking lot for the Eagle's Nest.  

The tunnel, 406 feet long, leading to the elevator which
takes one to the Eagle's Nest, 406 ft up.  It can hold 36 people
packed in as tight as sardines.

It was a cloudy day today but much better conditions that yesterday's wind and rain according to the guide.  We piled out of the bus and the guide hustled us into the tunnel above so we wouldn't have to wait at the elevator.  You enter the Eagle's Nest through the restaurant that now exists where the main conference room used to be.  Our guide gave us some more history and then turned us loose for about an hour of wandering about the top of the mountain.

The views visitors to the Eagle's Nest enjoyed.

The Eagle's Nest was designed as an expanded version of a tea house that Hitler enjoyed going to lower down the mountain near the chalet that Hitler owned.  Hence, it didn't have bedrooms, was meant for bringing up VIPs to show them the magnificent views, show off German building and engineering skills and for meetings.


The Eagle's Nest and its view of the valley and mountains



Patrick and Martha from near the top of the mountain



The view of the top of the mountain from the Eagle's Nest


Pretty soon, it was time to return back to the bus parking lot via the elevator.  Here's a last shot of the boys with Martha at the mouth of the tunnel that led to the elevator.


We made it safely back to Berchtesgaden and said our goodbyes to the guide.  We got back to our rental car and drove back to Salzburg without incident.  Later on, we had our last dinner in Austria at a small Gasthaus near the hotel.

The food was delicious, as all the meals we'd had in Austria had been.

To finish off the Austrian portion of the trip, tonight's sunset:

9 comments:

BMW HACKER said...

Great Photos. Thanks for sharing your trip!

SonjaM said...

I have been in Salzburg on a school field trip once, and we visited this location as part of our history education. It might be an architectural wonderland and full of German engineering but it left us students shell-shocked, being aware that Hitler might have taken the very same steps and tunnels as we did. A gruesome heritage.

Trobairitz said...

Wow, the amount of history and secrets the Eagle's Nest must hold.

Nice time lapse of the sunset too.

agent713 said...

Incredible photos. What a fascinating place.

Charlie6 said...

Trobairitz, thanks...there's a lot of history buried there. pun intended.

agent713, thanks to you as well.

Charlie6 said...

SonjaM, I understand the perspective you describe. Gruesome indeed.

BMW Hacker, you're quite welcome.

Lorna Vu said...

Can I ask who you did this tour through? I have been trying to figure out if a tour is necessary, or if we can just show up and book directly.

Charlie6 said...

Lorna, I'll ask Martha to respond to your question. I think she went directly to the tour agency but she'll know for sure.

Martha said...

Hi Lorna

We booked an organized tour through Eagle's Nest Historical Tours (http://www.eagles-nest-tours.com/EN/eagles-nest-tours/index.php?navid=2). We had advanced reservations but I'm not sure they are needed: we were going during peak season and had only one day to visit so I didn't want to risk the tour being sold out on the day we visited.

However, in answer to your question: it isn't necessary to book such a tour. You can drive up as far as the Eagles Nest Parking area and purchase a bus ticket/entrance fee that then transports you to the Eagles Nest. Only authorized busses can make the drive to the top (when you are on the road, you'll understand/appreciate why you can't drive to the top yourself).

What we liked about the taking this guided tour was all the additional history the guide provided. You leave from the town of Berchetsgaden. Even before we got to the EN bus depot, we were given a very comprehensive tour of the area and our tour included a guided stop at the museum. The museum itself has limited English displays so the reviews I read highly encouraged booking this tour. The amount of history provided was balanced: the history buff in our group (Dom) was pleased and the teens were kept engaged without being put to sleep (as teens are likely to do if the tour is too content heavy)

And when you subtract the cost of general admission from the tour price, you were not paying much extra to get a great guide, a comfortable bus ride and get front of the line access in terms of getting transportation to the very top of the nest.

Of all the tours we took on our trip, I'd say this tour was one of our favorites!