G standing guard over Mussollini's fireplace
Today, we went up to Eagles Nest which was scary. The road leading to the Eagle’s Nest was blasted out of solid rock and completed in only 13 months.
It’s a steep, winding road and very narrow so only allowed to go up by bus. Lots of places for accidents and the driver, Karl, kept turning round! Not been this high since the Rockies. Views were ridiculously fab.How on earth they ever built the place or why but then of course they were trying to please someone who was mad.
When we arrive at the top of the mountain, we still aren’t there. A stone-lined tunnel leads 124 meters – I looked this up, not paced it out - straight into the side of the mountain. The Führer was driven through the tunnel, but we have to walk!
At the end of the tunnel a fantastically elegant (brass-lined and mirrored, Like something you would see in a New York hotel) lift, with a right old misery of an attendant, takes us up on a 45 second (timed by G) another 124 meters into the building itself.
Martin Borman was behind the plan to build this perched tea shop and he had an important deadline: Hitler's 50th birthday on April 20, 1939. Funded by the Nazi Party, More than 3,000 men worked day and night, winter and summer, for 13 months to complete the project. The road was blasted out of the mountainside, passing through five tunnels to get to the entrance. The house sits on the summit, 1834 metres, over 6,000 feet for those who prefer it, including me. I always ask G how far something like 300 metres is and he has to say something like, ‘as far as from here to the bus stop, or perhaps a bit more, say to that red car.’ Then I get it.
At the summit, visibility was perfect and could see forever, in every direction. There’s an even higher point, up a very steep bank, and I sent G puffing his way up there to take pics while I ordered coffee. Judging by his red face when he finally got back, this had been one of my wiser decisions.
The idea was to have lunch as well, but everything was with dumplings even cheese dumplings. The thought of going down the mountain road after eating cheesy dumplings without a sick bag made us both feel sick. Latched onto a tour in Italian and got the gist as they use their hands a lot. The only word I understood was Hitler and Mussolini. Knew he would get in on the act. ‘Our’ guide, said – I think – ‘There is Salzburg, over there’ and everyone oohed and aahed, but they must have better eyesight than me.
Anyway we opted for assorted ice cream and cheese cake which hadn't travelled well. Lots of Americans arrived and of course Chinese rushing around.
After lunch, we wandered around some more. There’s a fab fireplace in what is now a dining room, which was presented by Mussolini, yes, him again, and there are lots of pieces chipped off the marble, said to have been done by American soldiers after he war.
Also in the building is a wood-panelled room known as Eva Braun's tea room with a huge window that slides down to open. Eva often entertained her own friends and family here as, unlike Hitler, she spent quite a bit of time up here. Bet her family said, ‘This is a bit posh, innit? Done alright for herself has our Eva.’
We set off for the lift again and the miserable attendant shouted the German equivalent of ‘Come on you lot, get a move on. Do you think I’ve got all day to wait?’
When we arrived where the buses come to go down we were told to line up against the wall. An American lad said “are they going to shoot us”. Most of us had a giggle at that. Naughty American.
Tomorrow, we will visit the lake which we can see from our bedroom window.