Archive for Road to Rome – Page 2

Road to Rome, Day 8 – Eagles Nest

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.

Tunnel at Eagle's NestThe 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.

Bavarian Alps

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!

Eagle's Nest - Germany

The Alps from the Eagle's Nest

Photo of the Week – San Gimignano

San Gimignano, Italy

Italian Countryside San Gimignano

Annie & Taco Sing!

Check out this video of street performers Annie & Taco, taken in London’s Chinatown district last August!

Road to Rome, Day 6 – Over the Mountain and Through the Woods

Our second day in Switzerland began with an early morning visit to beautiful Mount Stansehorn. Located in the canton of Nidwalden, the mountain peaks at 1898 meters (6227 feet) and we had the unique opportunity to ride to the top in the world’s first double-decker open top cable car!

Stansehorn Mountain

After arriving at Stans Railway station, we received priority boarding on the funicular cable car which brings you up the first leg of the mountain. From there, we boarded the CabriO, a marvel of modern technology offering a spectacular 360-degree view of the Swiss Alps. Small cottages lined the impeccably groomed landscape and our group took turns enjoying the view from the second level.  The experience was equally frightening and exhilarating!

Atop Mount Stansehorn sits Switzerland’s first revolving restaurant, Rondorama, which includes a buffet style café and a couple of banquet halls. We opted to eat our lunch on the “terrasse”, where most visitors were gathered to enjoy the beautiful day. Afterward, we checked out the small souvenir shop and then walked out to the circular observation deck overlooking the mountains. It was a bit foggy and windy, but we were able to get a few good pictures in between the cloudiness.

Cloudy View Stansehorn Mountain

Our next stop was the small farming town of Giswil, where we exchanged the coach for horse-drawn carriages and were whisked away through the Swiss countryside! Our guide Hans was delightful and shared stories about the local way of life. We visited the Roman Catholic Church of Giswil and ended the excursion at Hans’ lovely farm, where his wife Ermin had prepared a variety of tasty homemade drinks and cheese. She made a fruit platter especially for me, which I shared with our new friends while we chatted and enjoyed each other’s company. We loved this experience and the highlight of the afternoon was the baby horse that trotted alongside his mother pulling the carriage behind ours. Check out the adorable pics!

Wall of ChocolateOnce back in Lucerne, we spent the next couple hours shopping. Our first stop was Confiserie Bachmann, AKA “Chocolate World”, which is one of Switzerland’s premier chocolate shops. The main feature of the store is the “flowing chocolate wall”, which consists of 750 grams of cocoa extracts continuously flowing behind a counter of delicious truffles! After picking up some chocolates to take home, we stopped at a couple of the big watch shops and both picked up a Swatch watch, which was one of only a few brands in our price range.

La Bonne Cave Lucerne Switzerland

For dinner, we selected Jakob (La Bonne Cave), one of the several restaurants overlooking the Kapellbrücke Bridge. We were seated at a table along the water’s edge and enjoyed delicious Swiss pasta and a glass of wine while watching the sun set on another adventurous day in Europe. Check back soon to read about the next stop on the Road to Rome, beautiful Austria!

Stansehorn Mountain View

 

London’s Tower Bridge

Join us for a short tour of the Tower Bridge in London!