Our journey thus far had brought us to many fascinating places, but on the morning of Day 8, we found ourselves heading toward perhaps the creepiest destination on the Road to Rome: Kehlsteinhaus in Berchtesgaden, Germany.
For those history buffs out there, Kehlsteinhaus is more commonly known as the Eagles Nest. Situated atop Kehlstein Mountain, this “teehaus” was a gift from the Nazi Party to Adolph Hitler for his 50th birthday and was used to entertain guests. During an air raid by the Royal Air Force on April 25th, 1945, the structure survived when nearly everything else around it was demolished. Today, the building is managed by a charitable trust and serves as a restaurant and historical tourist destination.
At 1834 meters (6017 ft.), the Kehlsteinhaus offers spectacular 360-degree views of the Bavarian Alps. The building is considered a feat of engineering even today, and getting to it is not easy. We had to transfer from the Insights coach to a special shuttle designed to traverse the narrow four-mile road along the rocky cliff face of the mountain.
The bus dropped us off at the tunnel entrance, which bores 407 feet into solid granite and brings you to a brass elevator that rises 407 feet to the building. Walking through that tunnel gave us an extremely uneasy feeling and it was a relief to step out of the gaudy elevator! Our guide walked us through the main rooms, including the “Scharitzkehl Room” where Eva Braun spent a lot of her time, the dining room, and conference room. The fireplace shown in the photo below was a gift to Hitler from Benito Mussolini for his birthday. We ended the tour on what is now a beer garden and open air terrace. There is also a small kiosk which sells postcards and water. Here, we rested for a bit and admired the incredible Alpine view.
Once back on the coach, we settled in for a relaxing drive through the Tauern Mountains and Carinthian Lake District of Austria, and before long, we were at the Italian border! Ruth exited the coach to present our papers and we sat idle for what seemed like a long time before she returned to inform us she had been given a ticket by border patrol for not wearing her seat belt. After a chorus of boos, someone passed around an envelope to take up a collection to pay Ruth’s ticket. We would later appreciate the importance of wearing a seatbelt after seeing how the Italians drive…Boston has got nothing on the Romans!
We invite you to join us on the next part of our journey, as we explore the magical city of Venice and move a few steps closer on the Road to Rome!