Henry Poon's Blog

Road Trip to the Eagle’s Nest in Berchtesgaden

Day 173

From watching the TV show Band of Brothers, I learned of the Eagle’s Nest, a surprise birthday gift for Adolf Hitler for his 50th birthday.  Situated on the ridge on the Hoher Göll (or Kehlstein Mountain) at an elevation of over 1800m in Obersalzburg, Berchtesgaden, the house served as a private retreat for Hitler.

Because this area was so remote and hard to access by train, we chose to rent a car to drive there for a day trip that Saturday.  In our group of three, only one person could legally drive.  I had lost my driver’s license and my other friend only had a learner’s license.  Our car reservation said we were supposed to get a Mercedes A Class (the cheapest car they had with automatic transmission), but we got a Renault Megane instead.  I think that worked out better for us though because I think that car was a little bit roomier.

Originally, we were supposed to leave at 9 in the morning, but we had to make a stop at our friend’s house to pick up someone, because he apparently partied too hard and crashed at another friend’s place.  He was quite hungover when he got in the car and he stayed that way for pretty much the whole trip.  I was invited to that party too, but I didn’t go precisely because I didn’t want to end up like the way he did.

I set a course to the Eagle’s Nest on the GPS and off we went.  Originally, our route involved going through Austria, but I had to modify the route such that we stayed in Germany because we didn’t want to have to purchase a vignette (it’s an identifier on the car you pay for that lets you drive in that country if the car isn’t from there). 

We all knew that some parts of the Autobahn had no speed limit, but we had yet to see this for ourselves.  Near the outskirts of the city, there were still speed limits, but as we got further, those limits disappeared.  Although for a lot of the journey there, we couldn’t really make use of that since there were traffic jams all over the place.

The drive ended up taking nearly six hours rather than the four hours that Google Maps told me.  And for the whole journey, my hungover friend slept in the back on his side while I chatted with the driver so that he wouldn’t get so bored.

When we arrived, we parked the car near the Berchtesgaden railway station and proceeded to take the bus up (the house itself is only accessible by bus).  We left Stuttgart at around 10, and reached the top of the Eagle’s Nest at around 4:30 in the evening.

As the bus went up the mountain, we began to see the view getting nicer and nicer.  I guess it was kind of like seeing an airplane lift off and watching the houses below getting smaller and smaller.

The bus dropped us off at the entrance to the elevator up to the main building and when we got out of the bus, we all felt the chilling rain that started.  I don’t know what the temperature was at the time, but it felt like it was less than five degrees.  Before leaving the house in the morning, I knew it’d be cold up there, but apparently it was colder than I thought.  For the whole time that I was up there, my extremities were super cold, but at least the rest of my body was warm enough.  Luckily the rain had stopped when we took the gold-plated elevator up to the house itself. 

After the end of the war, the house was denazified, and converted into a restaurant.  All that remains is the architecture.  The house itself isn’t really that amazing looking, but it has historical significance.  Also, the view from up there is amazing.  What surprised me was how accurate Band of Brother’s portrayed the house.  They pretty much built a set that looks exactly like the real thing and even had scenes where they tried to get up the mountain (and that mountain looked really similar too).

There was nothing on the mountain except for this one house.  And from there, we could see Salzburg (about 35 km away) and other nearby towns.  We could also see the Königssee and other mountains in the Bavarian Alps.  Because of the rain earlier, there were still some rainclouds hovering around, and with the rain, we also got to see a rainbow.  The best part about that was that we were at so high of an elevation, we got to look down at the rainbow.

We only stayed up there for less than an hour because we had to take the last bus back down, but that was okay though.  It was nice for me to be able to visit the Eagle’s Nest and enjoy the view from the mountain (even if it was damn cold).  It’s also a place where most North American tourists won’t be able to go because it’s so remote and that there are so many more popular places to go for them.

On the way home, the roads had a lot less traffic than earlier, which let us really try out the Autobahn.  My friend had reached the car’s top speed of around 190 to 195 km/h (perfectly legal by the way).  The whole time he drove, I had a really strong urge to have a try myself, but I didn’t have my driver’s license.  After we gassed up the car, I couldn’t resist the urge anymore and so I drove.  We all knew that if anything happened, we’d be pretty screwed.  Because of that, I didn’t drive for very long.  I probably only drove for about 20 minutes. 

Even though there was no speed limit, I felt quite uneasy driving at 190 km/h and it just didn’t feel right.  I didn’t really feel that I had control of the car, but that might have been because I hadn’t driven for six months.  It was fun while it lasted I guess.  Even though our car was going pretty fast, we saw a few Benz’s and Porsches go by at speeds of over 200 km/h.  They just zoomed right past us.

After three and a half hours of driving, we safely arrived back in Stuttgart.  It was great being able to see the Eagle’s Nest (even if for such a short time).  It was one of those places that I had to see before I left Europe.  Driving on the Autobahn was great too and now I can say that I’ve done that.  It was a great trip.

More photos here

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  3. hp 2013-06-15

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