Today’s highlights included a Nazi stronghold, a short Alpine hike, and swimming in outdoor German pool that had fish in it.
We started by splitting up our crew a bit. Team Hubbard had strongly encouraged our Spanish compatriots to check out the salt mines near Berchtesgaden, which we visited back in February. While they were doing that, I went for a jog on some nice trails along a small river called the “Ursch Lauer Achen,” which I later learned translates into something like “just a little bit lazy” or maybe “rather lukewarm pain.” I didn’t feel like either of those. It was a gorgeous morning, cool and sunny, and running through the alpine forest was exhilarating. In fact, when I got back to the hotel, I was so excited that I successfully cajoled Julie into renting bikes with me so that we could explore more of the area. The girls decided to stay in the hotel, as they were feeling ursh lauer achen (under either translation I suppose).
Around lunch we met up with Teresa, Diego, Catalina, and Guillermo to visit Das Kehlsteinhaus, better known in English-speaking circles as Hitler’s Eagles Nest, an opulent complex nestled high in the Alps. The facility was built by the Nazis in the 1930s and presented to Hitler as a birthday present. We all had mixed feelings about visiting anything that could paint Hitler and the Nazi’s in a positive light, so we started with a visit to the museum associated with the Eagles Nest, the “Dokumentation Obersalzberg.”
The woman who sold us tickets was shockingly rude (which was something that we had not encountered since Gare du Nord), and I couldn’t help but speculate that she had had her fill of foreign tourists coming to visit a museum that deliberately cast her country in a negative light. Elsewhere, we had been impressed with the German treatment of World War II. They look it right in the eye, and decry the choices made by Germany during that time period. The unvarnished honesty of the concentration camp at Dachau made me think that we don’t do enough in the United States to acknowledge the atrocities of slavery. But maybe it gets to be a bit much for a German to look laughing tourists in the eye day in and day out as they come to see her nation’s shame.
Or maybe she was just obnoxious.
On we pressed! We were tight on time before our trip up the mountain, so we zipped through the museum on our way to visit a series of bunkers that the Nazis dug deep into the mountains.
It was easy to imagine the bunker filled with soldiers, and we all found the confined, military interior stifling and more than a little disturbing.
We didn’t linger long, and headed back outside with our sense of ambivalence heightened.
Eagles Nest is reached by bus up a private road that terminates in a small parking lot, where visitors can either take an elevator (apparently an engineering marvel) or hike the remaining 400 feet to the top. We opted for the hike.
The alps were breathtaking, and the weather was perfect.
We stopped along the way to admire the view, but the truth was that the hike was short.
Near the top, there was a nice overlook, and our Spanish friends were kind enough to take a full family photo – a rare thing during the past six months of travel.
Near the top, we found the steps to the Eagle’s Nest. The views were magnificent in all directions.
Today, the there is a small restaurant at the top. We sat outside and got some ice cream for the kids. The service was terrible, with the wait staff shifting from disinterest to disdain. The scene really couldn’t get more surreal. Surrounded by stunning natural beauty, kids ate ice cream and adults ate beer, complaining about rude waiters in a location where Hitler planned the killing of millions. When we finished our snacks, it was time to go. Back down the mountain!
We made it back to our cars with no incident. We took the scenic route home, winding through the mountains. In researching for our biking adventure earlier in the day, Julie and I had discovered that there was a “water park” nearby, Badepark Inzell. Although it was terribly warm outside, but we decided to check it out. It turned out to be an indoor pool, with a decent water slide. But the outdoor pool was even more interesting. It was a hybrid between a pool and a lake, with the result being that you felt like you were swimming in a large pool with fish. The kids and some of the adults enjoyed the high dive platform.
As the sun started to go down, we moved to a deck where we could warm up a bit.
Soon, we were too cold (at least too cold to drink beer comfortably), and it was time to move on. We showered up and headed back to Rupholding. The day was fun but decidedly bizarre.