Wednesday 12th August
The three of us took our leave of Austria this morning, making the short cycle across the border to Germany, stopping at Freimannlehen, where we would be making the trip to see The Eagle’s Nest, AKA Hitler’s holiday house.
As we were pedalling along I was contemplating my feelings on going to visit The Eagle’s Nest. Is it OK to seek some sort of connection with people who did terrible things (eg. by visiting a place which they also liked to visit)? I’m not sure. I didn’t think it was wrong to visit The Eagle’s Nest, but I didn’t exactly feel great about it either.
After setting up our tent we began the walk up the mountain. We walked past the ruins of a building where Hitler apparently made many important decisions, and (according to Steve) where the famous failed assassination attempt was made which resulted in Hitler’s trousers being blown off. Just a few foundation stones of the house remained. It felt a bit spooky.
An hour in we came across a restaurant and had lunch. The waitresses were dressed in traditional German outfits, Eric and Steve were drinking German beer, there was trombone-centric German “oompah” type music playing, and I was eating wurst and sauerkraut. We were tourists in Germany, and it felt great.
One very long, steep bus ride later we were embarked (along with a huge crowd of tourists). We walked along a tunnel which was carved right into the mountain and took a lift up to the very top.
The views are absolutely stunning.
I had thought that this visit would have quite a solemn sort of feel, but it was like any other busy tourist attraction. There were kids running around everywhere, the odd selfie stick being waved around (I’m not a fan of selfies at the best of times, let alone a #Hitler’spadselfie) and the ubiquitous ice cream stand (this I could get on board with). This atmosphere banished any ghostly Hitler-ish feelings I might have otherwise had. We just enjoyed the view.
A combination of walking and the bus got us back to our campsite. It turned out that there were no supermarkets around so we had to eat out again. We tried to keep it cheap but ended up ordering a giant portion of apple strudel each. I blame Steve.