Dave the motorhome is parked up behind a restaurant/hotel in Marquartstein, Bavaria (N47.76744 E12.45974).
We only parked in last nights Stellplatz, so the cost came down from €12 to €8 – having just been on a campsite the night before we didn’t need any electricity, water or waste. Les and Jill had loaned us a map of the area with contours on it, so we could avoid a repeat of yesterdays 24% aborted climb in Dave, after checking it against our map from tourist information a route was planned so it was time to crack open a bottle of wine and wait for the Olympic 100m final. We tuned into Radio 5 Live to hear two blokes discussing football, our data connection wasn’t good enough to stream live coverage (we’d tested it earlier on a Skype session to Jay’s parents and even voice struggled), so we had to rely on the BBC website live updates – here’s how it went:
The defending champion removes his jumper and fist pumps a volunteer. He then walks towards the start line and rakes his hands through his hair and jigs for the camera. They’re nearly set, they’re nearly ready. Bolt asks the crowd to hush..
GOLD MEDAL- Usain Bolt, JAM (Men’s 100m) The Jamaican has a relatively slow start but comes through to win in 9.63 seconds.
As you can see, not quite the same as watching it on the TV!
We woke late this morning after stopping up late (well 11pm is late for us these days), and Dave had a thorough clean and tidy before we set off to Obersalzberg. Driving along the twisting roads lined with tall dark fir trees we reached straight open road and daylight next to a large gravel car park with a couple of motorhomes in it. Carrying on to the bus departure point we see parking meters dotted around the car park, everyone leaned to help Dave carry on around the roundabout and back to the free car park we’d just past. Charlie has angst as it’s put around here. He’s afraid of heights, loud noises, water and crowds, so knowing we’d be encountering quite a few of his fears today he requested to be left in Dave. Obligingly we parked Dave virtually in a tree to ensure shade for them both, opened the main skylight for fresh air, topped up his water bowl and scattered treats around Dave as we beat a hasty retreat giving him a kiss as we went.
Walking along the road to the bus departure point Jay spotted a monster machine which could clip trees and cut grass verges at the same time, he walked quickly in front and lined up to get a photo of it just as the operator managed to lower the front mechanism slightly too much taking a huge stone out of the wall and grinding it along under the clippers. Snapping quickly in case he’d distracted the driver Jay legged it up the road with a devilish laugh.
After queuing for our tickets and coughing up €31 for both of us to get the bus and brass lift up to the top, I took a stroll around the souvenir shop (€180 for lederhosen?) while Jay waited in the sun at bus stop two. The buses arrived and we checked our ticket, we were booked on bus two in the next fleet in 25 mins, so Jay headed to the souvenir shop and spent 15 minutes reading a glossy book they had telling you all about the place. Time soon passed and our bus arrived. The crowd swarmed in a scene reminiscent of boarding a Ryanair flight, fortunately I have a particular set of skills when it comes to all things vehicle boarding, so we were among the first on and able to get seats on the side that would have the best view going up the mountain.
The fleet of six bright red, modern single decker buses closed their doors and pulled away, the automotive equivalent of a synchronised swimming team. In convoy we headed along the 13ft wide tree lined road and seeing how narrow it was made me realise why it’s closed to normal traffic. Halfway up the descending fleet of buses wait at a passing point for our convoy to pass before we break free of the tree cover. To the side of us the valley is laid out below as if we were coming in to land in an aeroplane and across it a mountain peak breaks through the ring of cloud surrounding it.
All too soon we’re at the one and only hair-pin bend on the road and our view is handed over to the people on the other side of the bus as the convoy climbs higher. The road is a feat of engineering, it was blasted out of solid rock in just 13 months and has just that one hairpin and five tunnels as it climbs 800m. We’re dropped off and disembark into a queue, we need to book a time for our return bus – it’s all seems strange to me, why not give you a time then you only have to queue if you want to change it – we opt for a bus back that will give us a couple of hours to explore.
Two sets of heavy metal doors welcome us to the tunnel, messages etched into them date from 1945 when the allies arrived here, which is 124m long and lined with a orangey/pinkish stone. The air is cool in here, the walls and floor damp as we make our way long and join a short queue for the lift. Taking around 25 people at a time it was soon our turn to make our way through the metal bar gate and into the round atrium lined with brass light fittings and green leather seats. We pack into the lift, instead of floors being marked out it measures how many meters you travel – another 124m. We can’t see much other than the faces and reflections of faces of our fellow lift passengers in the brass lined walls and ceiling. The lift operator scowls as I take a photograph, well maybe that no photograph sign at the entrance was just for show!
The doors open and the weight of the people inside spills us out into a very normal looking room, signs for toilets point ahead of us, a big wooden door to our right says ‘Restaurant’ and a glass door to our left is signposted ‘Terrace’, we’ve got snacks in our rucksack, so turn to the left and head for the views. A sea of beer umbrellas and people eating at tables fills the terrace. We’d seen photographs of the Eagle’s nest, but in reality it’s much smaller than I though it would be, the majority of the space on a rocky outcrop which has benches, paths and stone steps worn smooth by thousands of feet, sitting atop of which is a large cross.
We explore, along with hundreds of others, the views from each side as the cloud is coming down fast. Heading back towards the viewing platform which almost every photograph you’ll see of the place is taken from, the candy floss whiteness of cloud drifts around us and the air starts to chill even more.
We seek cover in the building, a corridor is lined with images and information which is in German, the odd headline written in English to tease us. A video of the history is playing in a small wooden lined room, the sound muted, people stand around and watch the views that should be seen from just a few metres away outside.
We then find ourselves in what was once the main room of the house, a huge red marble fireplace – a gift from Mussolini – shows the scars of allied troop’s souvenir hunting, it edges rounded by chunks being chipped off to take home. Ironically next to it is the main souvenir shop, but it’s bags, books, DVDs and t-shirt on sale today, not marble chippings.
The queue for the lift is long and we still have half an hour before our bus departs, so we opt to take the path back down rather than crowd into the lift again. The cloud has lifted a bit and we can see the nearby Konigssee lake, the mountains rising above it sporting flat tops as the cloud still veils their peaks. The path down has many more hairpin bends than the road, but is lined with thousands of flowers in full bloom and looked like the mountain wrapped itself in an Alpine meadow to conceal any horrors might have been planned and discussed here in the past.
Like clockwork the buses arrive and we make our way back down. If the Eagle’s Nest hadn’t got such a famous past owner would the masses still flock to see it? It is only said to have survived because Hitler hardly ever went there and it wasn’t really associated with him. It’s certainly a stunning place in it’s own right, but I’m not sure it would be quite so full without it’s past. Jay has thoroughly enjoyed it, he’s read up on the place and tells me of hidden rooms underneath it and a u-boat generator which is used when the power is off. I’ve enjoyed the views, a little bit of history and the flowers – so I guess it appeals to everyone in some way.
Back in Dave Charlie greets us with a huge yawn, he’s been asleep the whole time. We fight with satnav to stay out of Austria as she is determined to take us on their vignette requiring motorway. We’re heading for a Stellplatz as tiredness hits and we realise it’s a lot further away than we though, so we pull into motorway services and check our maps. Another Stellplatz nearby has no details other than an address and GPS co-ordinates, but it’s near so we head there. As we drive along behind another motorhome we see a field full of them, the one in front pulls in so we follow. We drive along the long, concrete perimeter road which goes around the entire field before letting you out where all the vans are. I open up our database and check to see if where we are is listed, it is and looks like it will cost us €14 a night, €10 to park and €2 each. Jay pulls in between two of the vans and a woman rushes out of one and tells us move, fine we’ll move – elsewhere. We don’t like the feel of the place and don’t fancy paying for the privilege of parking there when it’s basically a field in the middle of nowhere. We drive back out around the field and continue to on our way.
At first drive past we can’t see any sign of a Stellplatz as satnav chirps – ‘you have reached your destination’, turning around in a car park – after we check the signs and realise it’s no parking after 9pm – we take another run at it, this time driving around the back of the restaurant. Here we find a farm with geese and donkeys in fields next to us, rabbits hop around the grass between another motorhome and a couple of caravans all hooked up to electricity points, we take up a space between them and no one tells us to move on. A trip into the restaurant confirms we can stop here, and if we eat in there it’s free. This is music to our ears as yesterday was Sunday so all the supermarkets were closed and today we’d been too busy to stop at one. We’re not running out of food, there’s loads of it, we’re just running low on fresh things that would make up a meal. As lunch was a packet of biscuits and some peanuts in the Eagles Nest, we’ll welcome a tasty cooked meal to tea, and no washing up!