Salzburg is where my Rick Steves, My Way: Alpine Europe tour began. I thoroughly enjoyed my nine days of pre-tour adventures ... but it's a lot of work organizing my own hotels and catching the right train and bus! I was definitely looking forward to Rick Steves taking care of all that for the next 12 days of adventures!!
I got to Salzburg a few days early like RS suggests, There was plenty to see and do! The first full day I decided to get out of town and caught a bus to Grödig not far from Salzburg, then caught a tram up the mountain to Untersbergbahn. The day was full of blue skies and the views were breathtaking!!!
On my way back I stopped at Hellbrunn Palace & Gardens built around 1610. It had the most amazing trick water features throughout the large gardens and I truly enjoyed the engineering genius of them all!
The next day I was the first tourist through the gate at Hohensalzurg Fortress above Salzburg. Great RS advice with almost any tour. No wonder it was a fortress. It had breathtaking views in every direction. Old Town had still been asleep when I walked through earlier to get to the Fortress ... but it was alive with happy people and good energy when I returned. Loved it! Then I a took a short boat ride and river tour. That was fun, too.
The next day I took a bus up to Berchtesgaden and Eagle's Nest. That story continues below ...
Our first hotel on our Rick Steves My Way: Alpine Europe tour was in Salzburg and we stayed at Hotel Hofwirt ... which had a fabulous location. The hotel had everything we needed, including a friendly staff.
I stayed a total of 4 days at Hotel Hofwirt ... 2 days before the start of the tour and then the first 2 days of the tour and they let me stay in the same room all 4 days. I loved strolling up and down Linzer Gasse [street with no cars] full of shops and stores and dozens of good restaurants close to our hotel. Wonderful energy everywhere.
I went to Eagle's Nest out of curiosity. It was a very uncomfortable feeling knowing Hitler had walked down this same tunnel (in the photo above) many times ... and he had been in the same brass elevator I rode in.
The Obersalzburg mountainside was one of Hitler's favorite places since his youth. In about 1933 he purchased a mountain retreat called Berghof and began building a huge military compound of 80 buildings where Hitler spent about a third of his time during WWII.
The fascinating part was the 5 kilometers of tunnels and 4,000 square meters of luxurious living space that was built inside the Obersalzberg mountainside! Everything was equipped with air conditioning (early 1940's by then), kitchens, separate water supply, marble tiles, parquet floors, gas filters, operating rooms and even a room for pet dogs! All of it was ruined in an air raid in 1945 and most everything was destroyed.
Since money had not been a problem for Hitler early in WWII, his secretary Bormann, dreamed up a house to be built for Hitler's 50th birthday (and to impress guests) on the 1,834 m solid rock mountaintop at a cost of about 162 million euros (2007 value). Unfortunately Hitler was afraid of heights and only visited the places dubbed Eagle's Nest 14 times!! He built the marble tunnel (in photo above) through solid rock and built a brass elevator (in photo below) to connect 124 height meters to Eagle's Nest above. His mistress, Eva Braun, loved animals and the outdoors ... and walked up to Eagle's Nest often. I enjoyed the friendly birds on my visit! The photos below show you some of the tunnels that still remain.