Sunday, 9 September 2012

Germany - Berchtesgaden(1)

We travelled from Vilshofen to Berchtesgaden going through Salzburg, by mistake and not design. Coming down the A3 in Germany I had a foreboding that we may be travelling through Austria. Arriving at the border I had to find a vignette selling office very soon and as it happened there was one at the border. Austria has a system whereby you pay in advance to use their motorways, in our case with a 3.5 ton van 10 Euros. However, if you don't know about this it is easy to just keep travelling until you are stopped with I believe a hefty fine.
I should have programmed the GPS to take us on German country roads and not Austrian motorways, anyway now we have the sticker ready for Austria when we enter on Wednesday 12 Sept ....

We arrived in the beautiful Berchtesgaden area, the Obersalzberg to be precise, on a dull day but with a weather forecast promising a sunny weekend - and so it was too! We found a lovely camperstop in Oberau high on the mountain with good views and settled down to pan fried chicken and cous-cous. The next day had a leisurely start and we drove to the area in the Obersalzberg which was once so prominent in German history during the 1930's and 1940's, the area where many of Nazi Germany's top officials including Adolf Hitler, had homes. The area still draws large amounts of visitors and tourists, both for its historical and geographical value; it is stunningly beautiful Alpine countryside!

View of the Untersberg from the Intercontinental Hotel terrace

The day's exploring started by visiting the Information centre on the Obersalzberg (follow signs reading Kehlstein) where you also find the car parks, shuttle bus park to the Kehlstein (Eagle's nest) and some good curio shops with all and sundry pertaining to the area. We parked Fifi on four spaces and bought the 4 Euro parking ticket and set off exploring with my previous 1981 memories and some sleuthing and asking around. The first major find was the remains, some walls and foundation stone, of Hitler's residence the Berghof. There are no signs showing the way and you need to have some local knowledge to find it, garnered from guide books and the internet. Remember that you are in an area which has history most Germans would rather forget.

Walls and foundation stone of the former Berghof

Underground tunnels and corridors near the Berghof can still be accessed

The weather was warm and sunny and conducive to walking and exploring and this is what we did, me telling Joan bits and pieces of how things were in the late 1930's and 40's in this area. We enjoyed a drink and superb views from the terrace of the Intercontinental Hotel, with service and price to match.
The drive back to our mountain camperstop was a happy one in the knowledge that we had a good day's sightseeing - both history and geography. We feasted that evening on barbecued pork ribs and kebabs, done in our own Weber, with a fresh salad and other local delicacies like sweet gherkins and mild pepperonis.

Mountain camperstop with Weber at the ready

The next day was to be another long day with the visit to the Kehlstein (Eagle's Nest) with all the history and splendid views from that mountain top in the Alpine foothills of Bavaria.

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