Thursday, August 12, 2010

Eagle's Nest

If you’re going to be someplace where it’s raining, and predicted to continue raining, you might as well do something that keeps you semi out of the rain so the next day we decided to take a tour up to the infamous Kehlsteinhaus or Eagle’s Nest, a retreat built for Adolf Hitler. It is located in the mountains of Germany, near a city called Berchtesgaden, near Austria, and was a birthday present to him. Besides all the horrible things he was, it was a strange present because it turns out he was afraid of heights! He only used the building about 14 times, and even then he stayed only as long as was necessary. He had a passage built straight to the elevator – the driver had to drop him off and then back out of the tunnel (he didn’t like being in a car going backwards). He was also claustrophobic so he refused to have more than 7 or 8 people with him in the elevator (it holds about 60) because the emergency elevator could only hold 10 people and he was petrified of being stuck in it. The elevator was also made totally of reflective brass, to make it seem much larger than it really is (though it really is quite big).
The entire area, except for the one building, was completely bombed out during the war. At the base of the hill is an informational area about Hitler and his regime so that the world will not forget. They have buses that take people up to the entrance elevator (walking through the tunnel these days) and then up to the Eagle’s Nest. It now has a restaurant, cafeteria and gorgeous views as far away as Austria. We were lucky because it had been threatening to rain all day but the clouds held off until we headed back down the hill. It is interesting…the tours are not offered in German (there were still some Nazi sympathizers when they first started the enterprise) and the money earned is used to pay for the employees, upkeep and at the end of each year, any extra money is donated to charity.
The "gorgeous views" really doesn't do justice to the beauty of the setting. The snow clad mountains in the background, the spectacular vistas, the views of the lake below, all of it was outstanding. 

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