The trip to Berchtesgaden was a free gift to all military personnel and their families stationed in Europe, paid for by the Kuwaiti royal family after Desert Storm. Naturally, this was handled on rotation by location. My area was sent there in Spring 1992. They loaded us up on tour buses and we were scattered among various hotels and such throughout the city. This shot of my wife and kids was taken outside our hotel.
We were allowed to take all kinds of tours and side trips at a reduced cost through the American Military recreation system. One of our better choices was to visit Salzburg, Austria, just across the border north of Berchtesgaden. This is the Hellbrunn Castle, used in parts of the movie Sound of Music.
My personal highlight was hiking up to the Eagle’s Nest, while my family was visiting the war bunker. There is a trail that runs up from the General Walker Hotel parking lot in Obersalzburg. After a lot of climbing up through heavy forest, I broke out into an open area at the foot of the cliff. Into the face of this northern cliff a narrow path had been cut in order to build this retreat often called “Hitler’s Tea House.” There were patches of snow on this trail that day because it’s in the shadow of that north face. I wasn’t able to hike the whole way up because part of the hiking path was closed near the top. I waited for my family to arrive by bus and we climbed up through the elevator with everyone else. This panorama (above left) was stitched together by hand from the photos, but I think you’ll get the idea. The retreat is just barely visible near the paper break at the top. The second shot is the retreat from the ridge above, still somewhat snow packed, as well.
I recall the above picture of Konigsee was shot from the bus window, because it’s not in line of sight from the retreat. The Konigsee was one of the tours we could have taken, but we ran out of time. We did walk a bit up the trail toward the natural dam that created this body of water, which is where this last picture was taken. I was wearing a snug knee brace and very sore from the climb to Eagle’s Nest the previous day. It was the last big hike I took, as this was before the surgery when my right knee was still going bad, and I began using a cane later that year.