GERMANY the land of poets and thinkers

I should also ad Germany is the country of pretty much everything amazing. Beautiful landscapes that range from farmlands-think Free State to mountain ranges to magical forests.

Usually we explore (and I mean thoroughly explore) one city when we visit a foreign country. This time we decided we will take a different approach, we rented a car. Except for the fact that everything is the other way around, left hand steering, keep right pass left, it was actually pretty easy to get around.

We rented an apartment from airBnB, which in my honest opinion is the cheapest way to travel, it also gives you a bit of an inside look of what the people and culture is really like.

The first part of our journey took us to a little village called Walting in Bavaria. Filled with beautiful old buildings, churches and breweries. Yes Germany is known for its beer and is the second largest consumer of beer in the world. The Czechs took first place. There are over 1200 breweries and more than 5000 different kind of beers. Pass me a Lager please.

Germany is a leader in climate and energy policies – it made a decision in 2011 to decommission all nuclear power stations (then producing around 18 percent of electricity consumed) by 2022 and to replace them with renewable energies and new storage for green electricity. At least a third of Germany is now also powered by renewable energy. And you see it everywhere. Massive wind turbines on every hill and large solar farms outside every city. It’s quite a majestic sight.

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They still blow my mind.

You need not have to go far to find a little town rich in history, whether it be castles from the 14th century or remnants from the world war it’s all there and seems pretty well preserved.

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The main reason we chose this specific area was because papa Coombes has a bit of an obsession with everything World War II and I wanted to see The Eagle’s Nest also known as Kehlsteinhaus.

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Eagle’s Nest as seen from the bottom

 

Martin Bormann was known for his massive building program on the Obersalzberg below, but this enormously difficult project was colossal, even for him. And this creation had an important deadline: Hitler’s 50th birthday on April 20, 1939.

The project began in April of 1937.  Construction of the building on top of a mountain, with its steep access road and a 122m elevator shaft (that’s about 40 stories tall) inside the mountain, was an ambitious goal, but consistent with the Third Reich’s grandiose building plans. Over 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.

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Entrance to the 100m tunnel before you reach the entrance.

 

Heavy wooden gates guarded the opening into the Kelhstein, leading into a 124 meter tunnel cut into the heart of the mountain. An elevator shaft the same length as the tunnel was then cut straight up through the mountain to the peak itself. The house sits on the summit, at 1834 meters.

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No slave laborers were used in the construction; most of the workers were highly paid Germans, Austrians and Italians. The work was very dangerous; men working on the scaffolding on the Eagle’s Nest were dangling over a 610m drop! 12 men died during the project. Even though there was a cable system to haul material to the top, a lot of the supplies were still carried up by a constant stream of men with 50 kg loads on their backs.

The entire project was completed by the summer of 1938, well in advance of Hitler’s birthday the following year.

Today the building is owned by a charitable trust, and serves as a restaurant offering indoor dining and an outdoor beer garden. It is a popular tourist attraction to those who are attracted by the historical significance of the “Eagle’s Nest”. The road has been closed to private vehicles since 1952 because it is too dangerous, but the house can be reached on foot (in two hours) from Obersalzberg, or by bus from the Documentation Center there.

There are 2 ways to approach and enter the building, one is the road and the other is the Kehlsteinhaus elevator. The elevator is serviced regularly and uses state of the art equipment-I actually only thought about this once I was in the elevator sandwiched between some 40 or so people, that this thing was built in 1937. (You can only imagine what went through my head)

The lower rooms are not part of the restaurant but can be visited with a guide. They offer views of the building’s past through plate-glass windows. Graffiti left by Allied troops is still clearly visible in the surrounding woodwork. A large fireplace in the restaurant itself shows severe damage along its lower edges where soldiers have smashed off small shards of marble as souvenirs. Hitler’s small study is now a store room for the cafeteria.

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The views are truly remarkable

This is definitely one for the bucket list.

 

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