Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Germany Trip... Part 4 Salzburg, Austria

Thursday 8/13
We woke up and had a really nice breakfast. This hotel had the best (included) breakfast so far, although I was craving a tall glass of milk and learned too late that it was buttermilk (yuck!) Our plan for Thursday was to take a train to Salzburg. (We had four days plan for Munich and the surrounding area.) We walked along the River from the train station to MozartPlatz (Mozart Square) Mozart was born in Salzburg. The house he was born in is now a museum, as well as another house he lived in as a teenager.

(Here's one of the Mozart museums)

We had a reservation at Bob's Tours for an English Tour bus/guide. The bus was small-only 8 seats. We got to the office and realized that we were the only ones who were on the bus that day. It was kind of nice. Our tour guide was really nice (can't remember her name) and spoke good English, although I think there were times when she didn't quite understand us. The tour normally took you through the town and then either Eagles Nest or the Salt Mines. Since we were the only ones, she let us do both.

Eagle's Nest (Kehlsteinhaus) is in Germany, not Austria. (official website) (someones vacation pictures...EXCELLENT PHOTOS!)(It's located in Obersalzberg, which Hitler called the "cradle of the 3rd Reich.) (youtube videos of the area and its history) It was really cool. Unfortunately (How many times will I have to write this!?!?), we have very few pictures from here. When Hitler started becoming powerful, he came here and basically destroyed the small mountain village of Obersalzberg. This is where he brought world leaders and dignitaries to show off the "beauty" of the Nazi party and his ideas for the future of Germany. Getting up there was a chore. Our tour guide drove us to the Documentation Center (a smaller museum-we didn't go in) and we got on a special bus that took us up a winding road to near the top. (We were supposed to meet her after an hour, but to get on a returning bus, you had to reserve a time and seat, but we weren't able to catch a bus for two hours) There were some serious hairpin turns and the views were excellent.

At times, I thought we were going to fall off or turn over. The bus stopped at the entrance to Eagle's Nest, a long tunnel that took us to the original fancy shiny brass-lined elevator (apparently Hitler was Claustrophobic) where they shoved as many people in as possible. (It was really cold in the tunnel!!) Once we got off the elevator, we stepped out of the building and were amazed by the views (kicking myself for losing the pictures now!) We picked a perfect day to go up there too. It was a little cloudy, but very clear.

(Here's a picture from the top-NOT OUR PHOTOS)
We walked around the small mountaintop retreat to the back and up a small incline to a peak. The view was breathtaking. ---I took tons of pictures, intending to put them all together into a big panoramic style frame, but, oh well... By the way, there's a restaurant inside the building. I think this takes away from the whole experience. It took us a while to find out how to enter the building (which only had two rooms). We ended up following other people into the restaurant, walking past people eating to the main room. There wasn't much scenery inside the building. The only thing of any significance was the huge marble mantle that was given to Hitler by Mussolini.
It had been chipped away by troops who took pieces as souvenirs in 1945 . Before we started heading back down, thick cloud cover came over the mountain top and completely covered the whole area. We could barely see 5 feet in front of us. We were really glad we got there when we did because the views disappeared in white sheets of clouds. It was kind of cool though. Instead of taking the elevator(elevator photos) (it smelled of BO) back down to the bus stop, we took the walking trail (20-30 minute downhill walk--really nice) This is where our pictures start.
The entrance tunnel that takes you to the elevator.

That's "Eagle's Nest" on top of the hill.
Views from the bus stop. Notice the clouds rolling off to the right. They were way to the right when we got up there.

We caught the bus back down to the parking area and Documentation Center and met our eagerly waiting tour guide. We were kind of glad we couldn't come down sooner because we barely got to see everything up there. She said that no one has ever been late coming down before (It was hard for me to believe this.) Anyway, she then rushed us to the Salt Mines in nearby Berchtesgaden.

The Salt Mine was really cool (with weird smelling air-after a while, my lungs began to hurt). We got our tickets (our guide had to exchange our tickets because of the delay at Eagle's Nest) and put on "miners" outfits. We had to wear these outfits because the high salt content in the air isn't good for regular clothes. (I was worried about the camera, but they said it would be fine.)

The salt mine was real touristy. They took our picture about three times during the tour. (you could purchase them at the end of the tour-we didn't) We got on the little miners train that took us down into the mine. (First, they took our picture...) I was really nervous because the sign near the train said "Fast ride, please hold on" I was afraid it would go down a fast drop or something. My chest started getting tight. Wes kept telling me it was going to be okay. We weren't strapped in or anything, so it couldn't have been "fast." It got real dark on the ride and I started freaking out... I leaned back against Wes and started breathing deep. Turns out it wasn't really fast at all, it was just fear of the unknown that hit me I guess.
Inside was really cool (and really Cold-luckily we had on two layers). The mine tour guide spoke only German, but at every stop, there were speakers that he turned on. One for each language spoken by visitors in that particular group. One thing that was neat was that this was still an active mine. People still worked there (the mine had hundreds of miles of tunnels) There were live cams throughout the tour and you watch people working in other parts of the mine.
To get to the next part of the tour, we had to go down this long wooden chute or slide. You were supposed to sit with your butt in the middle of two wooden boards and slide down while balancing. When I saw it, I started freaking out again... The guy spoke only German like I said, but then they played a safety video that said that you can walk down a walkway if you don't want to slide. That's what I did... It was the smart choice. I was the only walker. There turned out to be another slide later on in the tour. I wasn't the only walker then. (There was a long staircase then.) Wes even said that he got a little nervous on the first slide because it was so long. Almost a straight free fall down.

The "Chapel." The salt deposits "glowed" and with colorful lights, it makes for a pretty site.

Wes sliding down the second slide.
The Mirror lake. This room was amazing! The water was VERY salty.

This a replica of the logo for the salt mine company I guess. We saw several of them.

Salt Deposits

At the end, they gave us little bitty salt shakers as a souvenir. We didn't go into the gift shop because we felt bad for our tour guide for waiting so long for us earlier. She took us back to town and dropped us off near a restaurant she recommended (we asked). She was really nice and gave us a lot of information on the history of the area, mountain legends and Eagle's Nest. (Turns out, she's never been to the US) Dinner was really good. It felt very authentic. Not touristy at all. Luckily, they had an English menu. On the way back to the train station, we came upon this beautiful huge garden. It was called the Mirabell Gardens (and Palace). (Photo gallery)

We walked back to the train station (again along the river) and headed back to Munich.

No comments: