30th September 2016. Berchtesgaden, Germany.

We had intended leaving early in the morning so that we could get to Hitler’s retreat, The Eagle’s Nest (Kehlsteinhaus) which overlooks Berchtesgaden, which was 30 mins from our stëllplatz, before it got too busy.  However we didn’t leave quite as early as we intended.  We weren’t sure when we’d next have electricity, so I ironed my shirts and dress.  I’ve been walking around looking like a rag bag for long enough now.  Darren gave the water tank a thorough washing out and we did all the usual clearing up and moving out chores

We arrived at Obersalzberg and were amazed to get the last two seats on the 10.35 a.m. coach up to the top.  We heard the ticket lady tell the group of four in the queue next to us that they’d have to wait until 11.00 a.m. and it was 10.34 a.m. as we bought our ticket so we thought we’d have to do the same but luckily for us they had two empty seats….. how to go from glum to WOOHOO in 2 seconds flat!

Apart from walking up, the only way to the top is on the official coaches.  I have to say it was a very ‘exciting’ journey.  Apparently the coaches were made especially for the road (thank goodness).  The four coaches drove in convoy at quite a pace up the steep and bendy road.  I noticed we were all holding on to the handrail as we went around the corners!  A lady sitting on the opposite side of the aisle was very scared, she kept her eyes closed for most of the journey.  The drivers shot through the tunnels, which was a very impressive bit of driving considering the tunnels looked like there were only a couple of inches to spare between the walls and the vehicles.  We couldn’t decide whether the coaches had their lights on, if they did they were as good as useless!

The view as we emerged from the tree line was breath taking (or was that caused by the thought of going over the edge?)

When the coaches arrived at the car park below The Eagle’s Nest we stood up to get off and a Newcastle accent shouted out that everyone had to assemble in a certain area to organise the leaving time!  It took a moment before we realised we were on a coach full of Brits on a coach tour and that order wasn’t meant for us.

We walked through the long tunnel and took the beautiful bronze lift up to the top of the mountain.

The panoramic view up there was gorgeous, it was a lovely clear day and we were entertained by the antics of the choughs that flew around and grabbed at food people were throwing to them.  They were funny birds, they looked like elegant crows but made cute little cheeping noises instead of the harsh sound crows make.

We found a nice shaded area to drink our coffee and sat on the rock looking out at the mountains.  It was surprisingly quiet and hidden away there.  While we were there I zoomed in on the biergarten that we’d sat in yesterday.

So many feet have trodden on the rocks that they’re very shiny and slippery now.  I stood to one side to let a lady climb down the slippery steps (or lumps of rock might be more accurate), she thanked me as she began to clamber down the rock towards me and then we both looked back incredulously as three people with hiking sticks barged past us both!  I wonder why they thought I was standing there?

We were just about to start our walk back down to the car park when Darren noticed a sign pointing to the restaurant.  It had the word ‘foto’ in it so we thought it might be a photographic exhibition, it wasn’t.  We gather it was actually saying people could walk around the restaurant and lower room taking photographs, which we did.  I’m glad Darren spotted that!

We ended up jogging down the last part of the path to the car park to catch the bus because the path zig zagged down hill and we weren’t exactly sure how much longer it would take us.

We needed to be on the 12.40 return coach and we had 5 minutes to get there.  It was a bit embarrassing actually because we were sitting on the coach when a couple wandered up and got on, minutes before we’d raced past them in a panic.

The journey back down didn’t seem quite so scary.  Darren noticed a sign at the top car park which had a snail on it, maybe it had jogged the coach drivers memory to go at a snail’s pace!

We drove to the salt mine at Berchtesgaden.  The car park attendant was obviously having a bad day.  When we arrived he was shouting at the man in the car in front of us and flapping his arms at him and when we got to the barrier he came over and pointed to the very back of the VERY large car park and told us we had to park there in the motorhome area.  We dutifully drove all the way to the back of the car park and parked there like Billy No Mates yet again.  We wonder whether he was expecting a sudden rush of customers because at that moment there were only four other cars in it and one of those was his!

We rushed over to the entrance to the salt mine (which was about 300 metres away from where we’d parked, it would have been half that if we’d parked near the entrance to the car park but I suppose the exercise did us good).  At the entrance to the car park there was a sign saying the next tour of the salt mine was in 10 minutes, so once again we raced along, seeing lots of photo opportunities on the way which had to wait until we walked back to the car park.

We managed to catch the tour with minutes to spare, they supplied overalls (one size fits no one!) which we fought our way into.  I had structural failure towards the end of the tour, the velcro around the ankles of my trousers came undone and the legs were so long I had to walk along holding them up!  I felt like a little child playing with the dressing up box.

A couple of minutes later the tour started.  There was a little train to sit on which took us into the mine and we had audio guides to listen to when the guide was talking to everyone in German (we’re not sure we were getting the full info here because he was chatting WAY after our guide had finished).

Further into the tour there was a wooden slide to go down which the miners slid down to get to the next level down.  That was fun, I sat down with my legs either side of the slide clutching my rucksack on my tummy then Darren sat behind me, we both had to lay back, lift our feet off the ground, and go.  We were both disappointed when that was over but there was another one later on in the tour.  We also went on a boat across a subterranean lake and then up in a funicular lift that the miners travelled in.  The tour ended with us getting back on the little train which took us through the tunnels and out into the day light.  We enjoyed every minute of that tour.

We stopped beside the river and had an iced coffee and iced chocolate which were unfortunately both “mnerrr!”….. took some photos of the things I’d seen on the way in….. saw a sign which had a teeny bit of English on it mentioning a raised pathway into Berchtesgaden….. briefly considered doing it but then realised we couldn’t read anything that might tell us where it started so decided to give that one a miss and make our way back to the van.

The grumpy car park assistant was in full swing when we got back to the ticket machine, he was having a good old go at a German man who was holding up his ticket as he walked towards him.  I don’t know what he’d done but he wandered off to his car with the car park assistant still giving him ‘what for’.

We popped up to Königssee lake to look at the stëllplatz there but yuk!  We didn’t stop as we had seen the lake for the Eagles Nest and the car park return the compliment.

We drove on to the stëllplatz that Darren had programmed into the SAT NAV, it was about an hour away from Berchtesgaden but unfortunately when we arrived it was full (I say it was full, there were two small motorhomes parked there and if we’d parked no one would have been able to leave)  The owner came running out shaking her head and Darren had to try to turn the van around in a very narrow space and retrace our steps back down the single track lane to the main road.

Luckily there were two others nearby, the one we went to was great, it was at a hotel.  We weren’t very sure where to park so I went in and asked and they told us we could park anywhere.

After we’d parked we went into the restaurant and had a very nice meal and when we went to pay for camping the receptionist told us it was free if you had a meal.  That was a very nice surprise!

We had an email from Mark and Lucy telling us that they’d just found out it’s a German holiday on Monday so it would be a good idea not to move on to another stëllplatz because they’re likely to be full.  It was so kind of them to tell us because we had no idea and it’s completely scuppered our plans, we were going to get the brakes looked at because they’d been stinking by the time we got down the mountain and arrived at Königssee.  It looks like we will have to stay put for the next few days.

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