|Glorious Mountain Views|
Monday 29th June 2015
This morning I woke up by the sound of my alarm at 7am. The reason I had my alarm on for was because of the excursion I was going on today. It was the day where I would be off to a place called ‘Berchtesgaden’ to which ‘Eagles nest’ was located. The ‘Eagles nest’ was Adolf Hitler’s old retreat high up the mountain range which sounded pretty exciting. I headed downstairs making sure I had everything for my trip and headed for the dining area for breakfast. I entered, grabbed the same food as yesterday and sat at an empty table. As I was eating, the Geordie waitress walked in and I said ‘Areet’. She laughed and said yeah she was but I noticed everyone else looking bewildered at what I said. I then had a look at my watch and realised I had to be at the bus stop at the end of the village within 15 minutes. I shot up and grabbed my bag saying goodbye to everyone heading for the bus stop.
In no time at all I was nearing the bus stop and at it I seen Dan the rep boarding the bus and I initially thought they were going to leave without me. That wasn’t the case though as I managed to make it in good time and find my seat. I was excited with the anticipation of what I was about to go and see plus the fact this place was in Germany too. Time had passed and we set off towards Saalbach to pick up more passengers. We got there quickly and on came several more people. I thought we were setting off to our destination from Saalbach but we had to make one more stop at Zell am see. This was a place I wanted to see anyway during my time in Austria as it looked like a smaller version of Lake Garda. I was not disappointed when we finally arrived there. It was another gem of Austria with its shimmering blue lake and large mountains surrounding it. We picked up the last lot of passengers and a holiday rep named Sara who would be helping us around the places we were going too; then we set off to Berchtesgaden. Along the way there were quite a few spectacular views of the mountains and rapid rivers which I couldn’t stop looking at. I wanted everything to sink in; such incredible views they were too. Along the way Sara was giving us all facts about the area and where we were going too. A surprise for me came when Sara mentioned that they were going to the salt mines as well today which I wanted to see given the fact everyone was talking about it at the hotel. I paid for that excursion too which made me even happier.
After an hour and a half of driving we finally arrived in the Berchtesgaden which was a relief. We weren’t going to the town first but headed straight to ‘Eagles nest’. The bus driver followed the signs to the famous attraction and as we got closer, the more gradient the road became. There were times I was thinking whether he could actually get to the top especially with all the passengers and the speed of the heavy bus. However, we finally arrived at the car park at the base of the mountain top. The rest of the journey up would be on a special type of bus that had been designed to climb steeper hills. So we had a look in the gift shop to pass the time until the red bus had arrived. The bus was filling up and I was one of the last ones to get on which meant there was less chance of getting a seat. However I found one and sat next to Sara who began talking to me and me to her. It seemed to pass the time on the journey up the mountain road and then it hit me that the higher we were going the more incredible the views became. When we eventually got to the top my jaw dropped yet again at the awe inspiring views surrounding me. We were still not at the very top though as at the top was Hitler’s retreat.
The first thing we had to do was to head into a very long tunnel where Hitler’s driver would have drove in and out of picking Hitler up and dropping him off without arousing suspicion which was very interesting to see and imagine. It was a very long and dark tunnel and the further down I went, the colder it became. At the end and to the right was a lift that took people to the top so we all stood in the cold waiting for the next lift up. However, this was no ordinary lift. It was very well designed with shining brass and green velvet which also had a very bright venetian glass which blended in with the golden brass; it was quite large as well. I talked to Sara again whilst going up in the lift and in quick time we reached the top. We exited into the actual building but it turned out to be a restaurant now. So I headed straight outside to gaze at the most beautiful panoramic view I had ever seen in my life. The hairs were up at the back of my neck at the wondrous sight in front of me. To the east was Salzburg far in the distance way below my eye level. Then to the south side was an open area full of mountain peaks overlapping each other slowly fading away into the far distance. To the west and north were gigantic mountains which still had quite a bit of snow on them. Below me to the north was a beautiful lake set between mountains too. I was lost for words for a very long time and yet again taking in the fabulous scenery.
There was an area higher up with uneven rocks which I headed for and climbed to get an even greater 360 degree view. I could have stayed up there all day but as always I was pushed for time as I had to be back on the bus pretty soon. This time however instead of getting the lift back down, I took the scenic route zig zagging down the mountain top admiring the views of other mountains in the distance. It was really peaceful too as it seemed like I was the only one walking down. Time had passed zig zagging down nearly becoming dizzy in the process until I eventually arrived at the bus area. I spent the last 10 minutes staring out into the distance taking the glorious scenery in one more time before the bus finally arrived.
|Rough Rocky Area|
On we all went as I sat with Sara again talking away descending to the car park quite rapidly actually. We made it to the bottom and headed straight for the coach which would take us to Berchtesgaden town. We were told we only had an hour in the town so as we arrived and got my bearings I tried to make the most of it. I needed something to eat as I suddenly realised I didn’t pick up my packed lunch from the hotel so I headed to the first café I could see and walked in. I sat down and looked at the menu already picking out what I wanted which was a simple ham and cheese toasty and a latte. However I sat and waited for my food for 25 minutes until it finally arrived. As soon as he gave me my food, I literally wolfed it down. The man looked shocked at how quick I got to him with my money ready. I paid and headed straight out as I only had 30 minutes left in the town. So I headed to the central area and as I walked up one street, at the end of it was blocked off by TV cameras, lighting equipment and a set. I had about 15 minutes maybe less to get back to the bus and I made it just in time. From what I did see in this town was very picturesque narrow streets, beautiful Austrian churches and unique shops; a very typical Austrian town.
We set off when everybody came back heading for the salt mines. I was looking forward to taking part in this as I was told there were wooden slides the miners would have used to get to lower caverns quicker which we could also use. The mines were pretty much down the road from the town and we were off the bus heading for the entrance; I was so curious to know what was beyond the entrance. As we passed the barriers, we entered into a vast area where everybody had to put overalls on before entering the mine. The woman behind the desk passed me mine and I put it on thinking I was heading off to work down the mines. When we all got covered up we were lead to the next area where we would wait for the mini train to take us all along. We were told that along the way, pictures would be taken of us and we weren’t allowed to take any from our cameras. Not a problem I thought as I wanted to experience the mines more rather than looking at it through a camera. The train had arrived and when I said mini, I meant really mini. I suppose it had to be going through the narrow tunnels. The carriages were tiny too but enough to get my leg over and sit with the bench between my legs. We all got on despite how close up we were to each other and got our first picture taken.
|Preparing to Enter Mines|
Then all of a sudden the train began to move slowly at the start and then rapidly went down the tunnel at a fast pace. It felt surreal but amazing speeding along with the rush of the cold air blowing through my face. There were times we were getting shuck around but that was the fun part of it I thought as we came to the end of the line. The room we entered was a deep cavern with the wooden slide that took us down. We had a choice whether to go down the slide or use the ramp. Everybody chose the slide and we had to go down in a group. I was at the back end of the line with a few people left to go down. There were quite a few people laughing and screaming which got me excited for when it was my turn. There were some that didn’t want to go to the front so I plucked up the courage and lay at the front with 2 older women behind me. We were held in place by a leather barrier but as soon as we were ready and the tour guide pushed the button, we were shooting down the wooden slide. It was an amazing feeling and brought the inner child out of me. Half way down there was a flash of light which meant another picture was taken. We safely got to the bottom with friction on my backside but full of joy as we all watched the last lot of people come down.
The next part showed us the history of the place, how the salt cave was formed and how it was extracted which was all pretty interesting stuff. The next part was a spectacular moment again as we went down a second wooden slide which was a lot longer and then arrived into a vast area of water. At first I looked upon the water thinking it was really clear and I could see the bottom plain as day. However, I then realised it wasn’t clear; it was the reflection of the ceiling hitting the water and brine giving off a mirror effect. It was wonderful to behold and the next thing I realised was that there was a wooden boat waiting for us to climb aboard. As soon as the first person stepped on board, the water rippled which spoiled the effect. The boat eventually began moving very slowly as the lights in the cavern were switched off. Then a light show began with therapeutic sounding music playing which really was relaxing and creepy at the same time. It was beautiful to witness and then we shortly arrived at the other end. Once we got off, there was a make shift container and pump full of the water and brine where everyone could dip there fingers in and taste the salt. Everyone’s action of twisted faces was the same as mine as we continued on to a separate train line.
|Salt Mine Light Show|
We all hopped on and sped off into a slightly bigger tunnel reaching for the exit. The familiar feeling of cold air blowing against my face came back and then we could see the light at the end of the tunnel to which the driver slowed down. As soon as we got out of the tunnel, we were hit by the brightness and most of all the heat of the sun especially with the overalls on. We got off the train and headed for the changing area again. I handed my overall back and headed to the picture area. It took me a while to find the ones with me on but when I seen them, I sniggered to myself. My face going down the wooden slide was like a 5 year old opening his Christmas presents. I paid for the pictures and headed for the gift shop. The majority of the shop was bath salts and therapeutic items. I exited the building so full of joy with what I took part in.
|5 Year Old Me|
In no time at all we were all on the bus picking a few passengers up from the town and heading back to our hotels. I plugged my headphones in and went into my own little bubble reminiscing what I had just done. There was never a time where I wasn’t looking out of my window due to the fact that the views of the mountains and valleys were so remarkable. The journey seemed to take forever but I enjoyed every moment of it because I could have been back home working and not seeing any of these views. After the drop offs at Zell am see and Saalbach, we finally arrived back to Hinterglemm where Dan the rep was waiting for me. He gave me a ticket for an excursion for Wednesday and talking more to me about an activity I wanted to do whilst I was in Hinterglemm.
We parted ways a moment later and I headed back to my room resting my feet. I only had about 45 minutes left until I had to go down for my dinner so I rested a bit more. Whilst I was waiting in my room, I’m sure I could hear people far in the distance yodelling away; it sounded a bit like ‘Goofy’ which made me laugh. It was finally time to head down for my dinner again and had soon entered the dining room. I sat at the same table with the same people as the previous night and we all got chatting about what we did during the day but everybody seemed to want to know what I did mostly. Throughout the talking our food came but the staff seemed to be messing orders up even spilling a bit on one of the woman at my table. It seemed to be going pear shaped for them but we got our food in the end and a beer so that was all that mattered.
With all the talking and the laughing, I lost track of time and realised it was getting late and the staff were clearing up. I made a paper rose like I always do and placed it in a glass for the receptionist but she never came over. One of the waiters had seen it and jokingly asked if it was for him and I laughed and said no it’s for the receptionist. He then laughed and said he would give her it for me so I was hoping he would have stuck to his words. It was time to head up to my room again and get things prepared for tomorrow’s excursion. Once that was all done, it was finally time to hit the hay.