Sound of Music, Eagles Nest and long bus rides

Trip Start Aug 09, 2009
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Trip End Oct 28, 2009


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Flag of Austria  , Austrian Alps,
Thursday, September 17, 2009

Day 1 - Thursday 17th September – Still in Lucerne, we were up early and went downstairs to make our baked beans on toast for breakfast for the last time. This time we perfected it by adding some cracked pepper – they almost tasted like the Coles Organic Baked Beans!

Off to the train station and we had a long haul ahead of us, this was our longest trip yet I think as it went for almost seven hours. Witek did some reading and napping and I caught up on my blogging. We also found time to eat lunch and have a beer or two.

Arriving in Salzburg at about 3pm I realized that I didn't know how to get to our accommodation! I had only recently booked it after our original place we had booked cancelled our booking, so I didn’t know much about it at all.

We jumped into an internet café at the train station and Googled directions. It told us to catch bus 6 and then bus 21 and apparently bus 6 left in 4 minutes time.

We raced across the road to the bus station where I realized I had no Euros on me, so we had to also quickly dash into the bank over the road to take money out! It was all a bit crazy but we got organized and made the bus on time.

Bus 6 dropped us in the centre of town and we asked the driver where to catch number 21. He directed us to a stop 100 metres behind us and the bus was already there when we arrived.

We hopped on and both kept our eyes and ears peeled for our stop. We knew the name of it and we knew that our accommodation was only 10-15 minutes from the centre of town. We also knew from the Google map that it was about two thirds of the way along a very long road, so we figured it couldn’t be hard.

Twenty minutes passed by and we got further and further from the city and started to get concerned. We knew we were on bus 21 though so we stuck it out with our fingers firmly crossed.

After half an hour the bus pulled up to a station and announced that this was the terminus! Whoops! We asked the driver what had happened to our stop but he didn’t speak English. We told him the name of the street we wanted and he laughed and through hand signals and head shakes we understood that we must have somehow missed our stop and that if we stayed on the bus he would stop and show us where to get off on the way back.

On the ride back we were both looking out the windows again for our street, but as time went by and we got closer to town it suddenly dawned on us that we hadn’t missed our stop at all, we had simply got on the bus going in the wrong direction! He took us back through the city and out the other side. Low and behold, five minutes later we found our street and another five minutes later we were at our stop! The whole ride had taken us an hour and fifteen minutes!

Understandably we were a bit tired after all of this and were anxious to get to our room. We knocked on the door of the guesthouse and a man greeted us in broken English and told us that the owner Rosemary had to duck out, but he would show us to our room.

We were on the second floor, which is the highest, and as he opened the door he told us not to worry about the size, that it would be the same price. We opened the door and found a small two bedroom apartment with a small kitchen and dining room! We were so relieved after the jail cell we had in Lucerne! It was nothing fancy, but it was very charming and had a little balcony overlooking the paddock to the rear and a view of the mountains.

The kitchen meant we could cook dinner so we decided to muster one last bit of energy and go to the supermarket. We went for the easy option of pasta and sauce again and grabbed a nice bottle of Chianti and some dark chocolate and headed back to our room.

We spent a very quiet night enjoying having a good amount of personal space and peace and quiet so we could get enough rest for our tours to the Eagle’s Nest and the Sound of Music locations in the morning. I caught up on some of our emails and banking, which included emailing our accommodation in Munich to let them know our arrival time and how much we were looking forward to meeting their Burnese Mountain Dog and Newfoundland. They wrote back almost immediately to let me know that their Burnese was very sick and they were unsure how long he had, which made me very upset. I had been looking forward to seeing these guys since I booked the accommodation, especially since I was missing our babies so much! I sent her my best wishes and hoped that Obelix would pull through.

Day 2 – Friday September 18th – Wow, I can’t believe I am writing this date already. Today marks exactly halfway through our trip and the countdown to homecoming starts here I guess! I must admit I feel a bit of relief as I am a bit homesick. We are having so much fun but in the quiet times I miss home. We have spent more nights in Europe than we have spent in our new house!

We were up early and down for breakfast by 7:30am as our tour was picking us up from our accommodation at 8:15am. Rosemary was at breakfast and introduced herself and had a chin wag with us. She had spent ten weeks in Australia once including Adelaide so she was keen to have a bit of a chat.

She told us the bus would come up to the actual door of the house, but since we were early we went out to wait on the road.

Time ticked by and the bus didn’t come. By 8:40am I was getting a bit worried and then Rosemary come running out to say the Eagle’s Nest tour had been cancelled as there had been a rockslide the night before and the buses couldn’t get up there. She said that we could move our Sound of Music tour to the morning instead of afternoon, and we could do the Eagle’s Nest the next morning or just cancel it. We said we would do the Sound of Music in the morning seeing as we were ready and we would get back to her about the Eagle’s Nest as we had wanted to leave for Munich by lunchtime the next day.

The bus came and collected us for the Sound of Music tour at about 9am and we were waiting in our room, I wasn’t falling for that again! We then drove into town picking up some other tourists on the way before changing over to a big tour bus.

Our first stop was the lake that they had filmed the scene where the children fall out of the boat, and also the terrace where Max and the Baroness share pink lemonade. It was so cool (sorry, best word I can think of!) and I loved it! We also saw the line of trees where the children climbed.

Next stop was the palace where they now store the gazebo where Leisel danced with Rolf and Maria and the Captain sang "Something Good". On the way there they showed us the house that was used for most of the outside scenes. The lake we had seen previously was supposed to be the backyard of the house, but this house was used for all other exterior shots. So, for example, in the scene when Maria and the Captain are talking at the back steps and he has the lake behind him and she has the house behind her, they were actually filmed at separate locations. Very interesting! Anyway, we couldn’t actually stop at this house because it is now a music school. This is why they moved the gazebo across the park to the palace, because all the tourists kept coming and visiting the gazebo and disturbing the students! Tourists were already going to visit the palace across the park so they figured that was a good place for the gazebo.

Also next to the park was the tree lined path that Maria skips down on her way to the von Trapp house for the first time. Of course Witek wanted me to skip for a photo which I found most embarrassing but still obliged, sort of! My skipping was a bit average!

We went through to the gazebo which we found to be locked. Unfortunately a woman in her 90’s had tried to recreate her own version of “16 going on 17” and had fallen when jumping between the benches and broken her ankle! So they lock it now to prevent any similar accidents!

Our next stop was the church where Maria and the Captain were married in the movie. In real life they were married in the Nonnenburg Abbey, but in the movie it was a church in a town about half an hour from Salzburg in the lake district.

The drive out there was gorgeous and when we got there our guide showed us the church and invited us all to go in and have a look. It has been recently renovated which it was in dire need of, but I must admit it didn’t look as familiar to me as I had hoped. I think because the one thing I remembered most from the movie was the gate between the altar and the congregation, and this had been removed. Also the roof has been repainted to its former colour which is great, but it wasn’t that colour in the movie. The rest of it looked the same though.

We sat and had lunch in a park in this town before heading back to the bus and back to Salzburg.

On the way we were given directions to other locations we had driven past but not had an opportunity to go into, including the Nonnenburg Abbey and the Mirabell Gardens, where most of 'Do, Re, Mi’ was filmed.

Map in hand Witek and I set off to investigate. The bus conveniently dropped us at Mirabell Gardens so that was our first stop. We visited the stairs, the arch and the fountain from ‘Do, Re, Mi’ and took the appropriate photos!

I really wanted to see the music hall where they do the scene at the end at the Salzburg Festival so we wandered aver there only to find that it was shut. I was disappointed but there wasn’t much we could do about it so we decided to go and visit the large fortress above Salzburg instead. I had an ulterior motive though, I remembered that the Abbey was on the other side of the fortress and that was what I really wanted to see!

We caught the cog wheel funicular up to the top and I am glad that we did. We were both still a bit unwell and when I saw how steep the hill was I knew that it would have done nothing to help!

At the top we had some beautiful views over Salzburg, you could see the whole city, the mountains and the river. We went from room to room checking out all of the displays too. There was one room which had a display set up by the Salzburg String Puppet Performers and it was full on! They do major concerts and show in Salzburg, performing everything from ballet, to opera, to can-can dancing to theatre!

There were many rooms set up with displays of war memorabilia and royal artifacts so we plodded through those. I wasn’t a big fan as for some reason those rooms were stuffy and stinky, maybe it was all the old fabric!

We got to the end of the rooms and we found a little snack bar where I got some gelati. I wasn’t sure if it would be any good or not but my throat was pretty sore so I wanted something to make it feel better. I shouldn’t have bothered – it was possibly the worst tasting gelati or ice cream I have ever tasted in my life! Blech! It did make my throat feel a bit better though J

We left the palace/fortress via what we discovered to be to horse entry and went in search of the Abbey. We experienced some more lovely views on the way down and eventually we came to the Abbey.

We were able to see the gate where the children came looking for Maria and where the nuns confessed that they had stolen the distributor cap from the Nazi’s car. We also were able to go inside the actual chapel and also walk through the Abbey’s small cemetery.

It was getting to about 5pm by now so we went via the supermarket and bought some dinner and wine then caught the bus back to our accommodation. We told Rosemary when we got back that we would do the Eagle’s Nest tour in the morning so she could arrange our pick up, then we went upstairs for another quiet night – needed to prepare for Munich!

I really enjoyed these nights in though, it was sort of like being at home, having our own kitchen and being able to relax. As the weather had cleared up we were able to enjoy the view from our back window as well.

Day 3 – Saturday 19th September – We were up at the crack of dawn to pack, have breakfast and be ready to go for our pick up at 8:15am. Our breakfast at this place was really good and we really appreciated a hearty start to the day. I just hope my jeans still fit at the end of our trip!

Our pick up bus dropped us at the meeting point and we boarded the big bus for our tour. Our guide Wally introduced himself and was immediately full of good and bad jokes and kept us informed and entertained the whole way through.

The bus took us into Bavaria in the south of Germany to visit Eagle’s Nest, which was a building built at the very top of a mountain to be used as a conference centre for Hitler. It was a 50th birthday present to him from his men, and when the Allies bombed the mountain at the end of the war it was the only building left untouched. It is unconfirmed whether they left it deliberately or if they just missed their target.

The road up there is very narrow and can only accept traffic one way, so they have 8 buses that run up there on schedule at half hour intervals all day. Four buses go up at the same time and four buses go down at the same time. When the buses going down get through a particular tunnel they all pull over to the side of the road to let the buses going up go past. It is the only point on the road where there is room for vehicles going each way. So all the tour buses like the one we were on have to park in the carpark at the bottom and everyone has to board one of these buses.

At the top you have to walk down this tunnel which is 165m long and takes you into the middle of the mountain where you get in the elevator. This takes you up about 400m at the speed of about 10m a second to the top of the mountain which was 5000ft. Hitler was claustrophobic and scared of heights so the elevator was fully lined in brass to make the inside appear bigger and it was fully enclosed. There is an emergency elevator that runs parallel to the main one in case the main one ever breaks down, but it can only hold 6 people. The main one can hold 42 people but Hitler would never allow more than 5 other people in the elevator with him at once. He also only ever visited Eagle’s Nest 14 times.

At the top you come out into the room that he used for conferences which has quite a stunning Italian marble fireplace which was a gift from Musolini. They were good friends – no surprises there. The fireplace has chips taken out of it which is a result of the Allies taking souvenir pieces of marble. This room is now part of the restaurant, as is the room next door where Eva used to entertain the female guests while Hitler and the men spoke in the other room.

That’s basically it for the building itself, except for the kitchen and the hallway there are no other rooms. What makes it spectacular is the view. All of Hitler’s buildings on the mountain were completely destroyed in the 1950’s but they decided to let this one stand, just as well so that we can access this amazing sight.

You have 360 degree views over the mountains and lakes region and Salzburg itself and it is breathtaking. The visibility is outstanding and you can see for miles and miles.

We climbed across to the very top of the mountain and took some piccies then sat down to just take it all in before we had to go back down. We had just over an hour up there in total so there was plenty of time to enjoy the view.

After going back down the mountain in the elevator and the bus we spent a little time in the souvenir shop before boarding our big bus back to Salzburg via a little German town nearby for lunch. Our first German meal!

Walter recommended a little pub called the Golden Bear for lunch so we went there to have our German tucker. Witek got a plate full of different German meats and sauerkraut and I got some fat German sausages with potato and sauerkraut. Of course we also go the giant pints of beer that the Germans are so famous for! It was officially the first day of Oktoberfest after all!

After lunch we went back to Salzburg and made our way to the train station to board the train for Munich.
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