an idiot in germany


Friday, 20th October.

The bus to Berchtesgaden and Obersalzburg left at 8:30am. Seated behind me were two Australian women, one from West Australia and one not. The WA woman did not shut up, and the woman next to her found out practically everything there is to know about her two sons, as did I. Fortunately for me and everyone else heading up to the Alps, our loud West Australian was part of the group going to Chiemsee.

A glorious day was revealed as the fog cleared. Our bus swept along gently curving hillside roads, through neat little villages protected from the ravages of modern architecture. Up and up into the Alps we climbed, the onion spires of the churches spiking the landscape.

Our first stop was Berchtesgaden. Once a salt-mining town, now the streets teem with tourists. The old part of the town nestles in a fold in the hillside. The bus stopped near the train station, at a crystal shop that Charlie (the tour-guide) Highly Recommended. Sounded like a bit of a scam to me, so I took my camera and explored a little. (Sorry I haven't scanned in any of my photos from Germany, but I just can't be arsed.)

Twenty minutes later the bus fired up, and we were whisked up the road to the centre of the town, next to a restaurant that Charlie Highly Recommended. I had a look at the prices and decided to take my chances with whatever else I could find in the town.

I ambled down to the market square, bought myself some bread and munched away, sitting in the autumn sun. Safe from any threat of a siesta, I explored the town. Through the narrow, car-free streets I walked. Up the hill behind the town, then back into the square. The town is obviously used to tourists. When I bought some postcards, the lady in the shop told me the price in English. Which is frustrating for me, since I know enough German to be able to conduct simple transactions like that! Oh well.

At the designated time I met up with the other members of the tour, who had all eaten at the Highly Recommended restaurant with Charlie. We caught the bus back down the hill and out of town to the point where we had to change buses. From that point, only the state-run buses can take people up to Eagle's Nest: Hitler's teahouse.

Some of you may have seen footage from the time of the Second World War, featuring Hitler entertaining guests at a stunning mountain retreat set in the mountains. Well this is it. A gift to Hitler from the Nazi Party on the occasion of his 50th birthday (start saving now to buy your loved one a mountain retreat), Hitler himself is said to have only visited the joint three times. Because he was afraid of heights. Oh well.

The view from the top was spectacular. The 360degree views were jaw-dropping. I sat on a bench to eat a banana (an unimportant detail) and an elderly German couple sat next to me. Then, with a combination of German Ian-style, hand gestures and the International Language of Eyebrows, we managed to have a conversation! WOO-HOO!

That night we went out by committee. Not good. We ended up wandering all over the shop. BUT...the German girl that was a member of our aimless party complimented me on my German accent! But not my vocabulary, which is laughable.