One place that Aaron and I wanted to visit while we were over here, and other place that was on our bucket list, was Eagle's Nest, Hitler's mountaintop house. We figured it would be perfect to go there with my sister and show her some of the most beautiful Germany countryside ever. After we finished up at Neuschwanstein, we got back in the car and headed towards Berchtesgaden, a national park in the south eastern most part of Germany, right on the border with Austria. We stayed the night in a small Gasthaus (which are quickly becoming our favorite types of places to stay in Europe) that looked out at the mountains. It was stunning.
There was one incredibly notable thing that happened when we were staying there that night. At about 4 in the morning, I began to hear a bunch of cow bells. Wondering what was going on, I got up and peaked out the window. To my surprise, there were about 8 people herding a group of cows along the road! Unfortunately in our post sleeping stupor, we weren't able to get a picture of the process, but it was definitely memorable.
Ok, back to the point of this post: Eagle's Nest. After breakfast, we headed out towards Eagle's Nest. There are only two ways to get there: take a bus up the one road that provides access, or hike up. Not being too fond of hiking up the side of a mountain (not to mention it takes almost 2.5 hours one way), we opted for the bus. Roundtrip tickets were purchased for about 15 euros per person. Luckily, there was a bus leaving soon, so we didn't have to wait. But in case there is not a bus ready when you get there, your wait would only be about 20 minutes or a half hour.
It was a 20 minute ride to the top. During the trip, there was a recording with information about Eagle's Nest in German, English, and Italian (hit all the major languages!). It talked about the road we were on, how high the house was, how long it took to build, and other information. The buses then pulled into a cul-de-sac and dropped us off. It's still an elevator ride to get to the top, but even from here, the views are stunning.
English tours are offered a couple of times during the day by an independent guide for 5 euro per person. We decided that it was worth it (and in retrospect, it definitely was!). We learned a lot about Eagle's Nest, from the reason it was built (as a a gift to Hitler), how many times he visited (only about 14 times in all), and saw lots of historic photographs of its construction, use, and visitors.
The tour starts at the parking lot. You then walk down a 124 meter long tunnel (wide enough for a car), to get to the original brass gilded elevator, polished to absolute perfection, that takes you the remaining 124 meters to the house. If the views were good before, now they were even better! The house is literally at the top of a mountain and looks over Königsee and the surrounding mountains. Today, the house is owned by a trust and hosts a restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating.
We toured the house and then walked along the mountain for a bit. In areas, there was still significant snow on the ground (now I understand why it is only open from about mid-May to mid-October). I probably could have spent all day exploring the hiking trails that criss crossed the mountains, but Kate was even more freaked out by these heights than by Marienbrücke at Neuschwanstein the day before.
It was then time for a popular German past time: coffee and cake! We grabbed a seat at one of the outside tables. Even though the weather was a bit chilly, views like this must simply be taken all in! Each of us ordered a hot drink, but I was in the mood for something savory instead of sweet. Gulasch is popular in this region and this stuff was delicious! My mouth is water just thinking of it. But the cakes that everyone else ordered looked just as delicious. The point here is, go hungry. Make sure there is enough room to try both their main dishes and have room for some cake afterwards. You won't regret it.
Once finished with our coffee and cake, we made our way back down to the cul-de-sac, onto a bus, and back down the mountain, where we were then on our way to Munich. Check back next week to read about and see some pictures from Schloss Nymphenburg in Munich!