Monday, November 1, 2010

The Eagle's Nest, and Alpine plant test site


While in Berchtesgarten, a national-park-like area of southeastern Germany, visiting Lake Königssee, we visited the top of the world. Or so it seemed. After having spent time down in salt mines all morning, this was a change of scenery.

The Eagle's Nest is a mountain-top chalet gifted to Hitler, by Martin Bormann, for his 50th birthday. This is one of the only sites in Germany where Hitler spent any time that wasn't destroyed after the war. He actually didn't spend much time here though, visiting just a handful of times (around nine times they say, and never overnight, rumor has it he was afraid of heights). The chalet was intended for diplomatic meetings–to impress guests. It was also called "Hitler's Tea House."


 Looking in the opposite direction from the photo above, you can see there was still a way to go to the highest point.

The site does inspire awe. At 6,017 feet up, on a closed road, built solely for access to the chalet, you ride in one of five big red buses that drive up all together. It'll be the most exhilarating bus ride you ever endure. The buses run like clockwork–the one-lane road only has one spot where all five buses pull over–so the five buses coming DOWN can get by. There's no backing up on this hairpin-curved, five-tunneled, steep road. Especially by a bus.

Once they let you off, there's still a 407 foot-long walk through a tunnel into the mountain to a 407 foot ride up through the center of the mountain in an elevator. Creepy to think that Hitler rode in this same elevator.

And the other side of that rock pile (above left) was a 45-minute hiking path to the next mountaintop.

The views are breathtaking. The chalet itself is now a restaurant. Tours of the historical parts of the building are only done by private guides, arranged ahead of time. There are trails to hike up even higher. And trails to take you to an adjoining mountain.

Being in the Alps, I assume anything growing there is considered an Alpine plant. And there were more plants there than I would have thought. Along with evergreen scrub-brush, there were many grasses and even a few flowers growing in this very extreme environment. Constant wind, little soil and extreme temperatures make for hardy plants.



The hills are alive with the sound of... Holy crap! Look at that cloud rolling in!

I'm only slightly "nervous" around heights. I find if I avoid ledges & sharp drop offs, I tend to be fine.
My wife had to stand on this precarious ledge just to watch me break into a nervous sweat.
That's Lake Konigssee off in the distance. I posted about our visit there a couple weeks ago.
Salzberg, Austria, is only a (beautiful) 20-minute drive from here. You can see Salzberg off in the distance from here.
The walk from the parking lot to the bus station was a lesson in Alpine growing.
Here's a living vertical wall for you.

4 comments:

  1. What a great place to visit. I don't think I'd enjoy the bus ride though. Buses sway too much for my taste on flat land.

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  2. Really stunning images. I am in awe. Your wife has nerves of steel to stand at that ledge, but the guy sitting on the edge... my goodness. I too am afraid of heights so, like the former departed owner, I would not want to sleep their either.

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  3. Wow, that is something else. I'd love to visit. Don't like the looks of that anvil-shaped cloud though.

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  4. Sherlock,
    Then you definitely would not like this bus ride. There's never been an accident on this road since it was built in the '50s. Still don't make it right.

    GWGT/Donna,
    I would love to sleep up there. I'd love to wake up to that view. As long as I'm not near the edge, I'm fine with it all.

    Pam,
    The anvil cloud soon passed with no lasting effects. germany is a beautiful country. The Alps are among the most beautiful destinations we've ever been. And we get around.

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