And so my plan to leave Munich the next morning was put into place. I decided to head south east through the city centre, aiming to hit the outskirts at roughly where Autobahn 8 leaves the city heading towards the Austrian border and Salzburg. Superb bit of internal navigation by me, even if I do say so myself, but after 3 hours walking and going purely on the internal compass, I turned up at exactly the point I had wanted to be. I know that no one will believe me on that but you can all sod off..I was there...it happened…yay me!
I tried a couple of different places at the junction to hitch a ride and was having no success. I was stood trying to identify the most likely place to get seen and picked up when a car beeped its horn and Stephan wound his window down and offered me a lift. He told me ‘it can be a pain trying to get out of Munich’ at the best of times and he then dropped me 30km further down the road. From there I thumbed another lift from ‘Tarik’ the touring American / Saudi Arabian who dropped me just short of the Austrian border. I wanted to get to Berchtesgaden so set of walking into the Alpine foothills. After a while all paths stopped due to the mountain roads but luckily there was a campsite just off the road so I headed there.
Now….I set my tent up by the river and next to me was a static caravan with awning…..I could see through the plastic that the door was open so I kept an eye on it. Eventually the rain came and this forced …yes forced…me to accidentally move into the open caravan, with all my kit, and sleep in there for the night. On consideration I thought I was actually doing the owners a favour (it was the campsites ‘storage’ caravan), by ensuring the van stayed safe, so as a reward I charged all of my electrical goods had a really nice kip.
Having spent a really dry and comfortable night in my illegal caravan, I was up and about pretty early, as I was feeling guilty and didn’t want to get caught at the very last minute. It was a damp morning but it was just a case of waiting for the sun to hit the valley. I was packing my stuff away when I was approached by a guy, who I’d thought was the site groundsman, and who lived permanently in a caravan 10 meters from my impromptu home of the night before. This was Peter, who it turns out is a bit of a wanderer himself, ex German Military and full time alcoholic. Peter asked me if I wanted to join him for a coffee and of course I had to accept.
Peter did not speak English and I can speak very little German, but we talked non-stop for about half an hour; I told peter all about my trip and time in the military, in fluent English, and he told me some shit that I have no idea about, but he told it so well. Peters coffee had something in it which definitely has a percentage written on its bottle, but nonetheless it went down well as the sun moved warmingly through the campsite.
I continued my mission to reach Berchtesgaden and was eventually picked up by Geber, who was a young guy originally from Chechnya but now lives about 20km in the opposite direction from Berchtesgaden, to where I was now. He had just popped into work to drop something off and was heading home….. however…. he has a new car….its his first car……and he likes driving it…..so having spotted my sign he had instantly decided to pick me up and take me there instead! He speaks 4 languages and is just a nice and funny guy. (Geber if you read this my friend, I’m serious about what you could do with your language skills, people with your abilities are in high demand).
The reason I had wanted to visit Berchtesgaden was to pay a visit to the ‘Eagles Nest’, which for those who may not have heard of it, was a Bavarian Mountain top retreat presented to Adolf Hitler in the 30’s for wining twat of the year or something by that? Berchtesgaden was the metaphorical home of the Nazi party and all of the party elite had a pad here. Some of you may remember that Berchtesgaden and the Eagles Nest were liberated in 1945 by Easy Company 501st Parachute Infantry, which was immortalised in the TV series ‘Band of Brothers’.
Now when I was in the campsite the night before, I was informed by the owner that the Eagles Nest was closed until mid may!!!! (Bugger). I considered wether to still push to Berchtesgaden or head to Salzburg in Austria. Luckily enough I headed here and I am sooooo glad I did. It is quite simply beautiful. The snow topped mountains lead down to crystal clear lakes and streams which supply the only noise you can hear next to the singing birds. The crisp blue of the sky is cut by the tops of the fir trees which cover all but the steepest parts of the mountains. The houses are all oversized cook-coo clocks and the air sparkles as you breath it in.
All this made me consider how you could sit in the Eagles Nest, looking down on all this beauty and plan things like the holocaust?? I’ve been here two days and all I want to do is give everyone a big hug! I love it, love it, love it. As I type this I continually look up and see the beauty that surrounds me……I don’t want to leave, but there is a whole world out there that I need to take a shuftie at. I will return to this place, of that I am 100% certain.