eagles and snow

Guten Tag from Bavaria,

The Schellenberg Eishohle (Ice Cave) is just shy of Salzburg and the German border. From the bottom of the valley, it appears like a tiny insignificant gap in the limestone mountain, way up in the sky. Access to the Ice Cave is after a steep drive up the foothills, a taxing walk up the next hill to the ticket office, a funicular at what seemed like a 90 degree climb on the side of the cliff, and then a steady climb on the track clinging to the side of the mountain.

Ice Cave

Waiting for the previous group to emerge from their tour, I chatted with another tourist, an Australian teacher who was chaperoning a group of students to Europe for a four-week tour. We were both conjecturing on the original discovery of the cave. “It makes you wonder, what would motivate someone to ascend from the valley floor to see if anything was in the hole.” The small orifice in the rock must have appeared to the folk on the valley floor as an unreachable star.

The guide later informed us that the cave had been discovered by hunters and shepherds on the very top of the mountain (Mount Untersberg). At least their occupational description deters questions about what these people were actually doing way up there in what seems like such an inhospitable place.

ice formations

Temperature is very low at the entrance which is now blocked by a closed door. As soon as the door is opened the wind scuttles through, taking any hats not firmly secured. The cave is formed in rocks when water flows into the hole from above during winter. We are told that air flows in during winter when it is colder than the air in the cave. Our guide lit a small strand of magnesium every now and then so we could see where we were going up and down the 700 steps inside the cave. Some of the formations of ice are quite stunning and reminiscent of the wonderful formations found in limestone caves elsewhere.

The Eagle’s Nest

The Eagle’s Nest is a relic of the Nazi era, resting atop Kehlstein near Salzburg. During Hitler’s reign, it was thought that he needed a hideout. It has to be one of the most expensive hideouts anywhere. In fact the idea was party operative Martin Bormann’s and is said to have been a gift to Hitler on his 50th birthday.

The object was that Hitler could receive visiting dignitaries and diplomats there. The construction of the road and the building – sometimes erroneously called Hitler’s Teahouse, possibly because of a corruption of the official name, which was D-Haus – took 13 months and was completed during the summer of 1938. It’s claimed that Hitler only visited the Kehlstenhaus about ten times and usually for no more than half an hour.

The journey to the Eagle’s Nest today is by bus – with hundreds of other tourists from all over the world. The last pinch was by plush copper-lined elevator.

Two great tourist draw cards high up in the mountains: one a natural marvel and the other a monument to fascism.

Auf Wiedersehen from Bavaria,


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