The Sound of Music and Hitler

Anyone else feel like they missed July?

It’s been a crazy summer, so crazy that I almost forgot how to turn on my computer this morning. It feels like it’s been forever (two weeks) since I’ve written anything. I’m still waiting for things to slow down so I can do summer school with the kids and teach them all those important things I’ve been neglecting over the past nine years.

We took a trip a few weeks ago (last week was Girls’ Camp) down to Salzburg and Berchtesgaden in southern Germany with a bunch of our friends. There’s a lodge down there that you can do retreats at, some of our friends put together an application and got a week free of charge for 60. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the Hilton. The mice were happy to inflict a rodent tax at just about every turn, but by the end of the week they were like part of the family. My kids wanted to take one home to keep as a pet. The lodge was awesome, we were lucky to be be part of such a fun loving group of friends.

Our first day we got lucky and were able to visit Eagle’s Nest. This was Hitler’s super special top secret retreat, built at the top of the mountains in the birthplace of all his great ideas. He came here after prison and finished his book before launching into his unfortunately successful and evil career as a motivational speaker/death monger.

After the war the place was razed to the ground, the only things left were the big brass elevator that takes you up the mountain and the marble fire place. Everything else has been reconstructed. I found it amazing and horrifying that so much beauty could inspire something so ugly and horrible. This place was breathtaking and heartbreaking.


If you look closely you can see all the missing chunks from the fireplace taken by WWII soldiers after the war.

We finished up the museum the next morning and toured what’s left of the bunkers. Hitler’s compound consisted of something like 80 buildings that have all been destroyed. There is an excellent museum  in place, however, and German’s make a point of remembering who Hitler was and what he did to the world.

Day two was overcast with a little cloud spitting, perfect weather for the salt mine tour. I’ve seen a few mines in my time so I had no expectations whatsoever. Wowsa, it was like underground Disneyland. Yes it was dank and cold, and sure the lighting was dim (no cameras allowed), but it was kind of awesome.

The ride through the mine included two huge slides that were slightly suicidal (Germans aren’t big on safety precautions). You had to balance your behind on two skinny wooden rails, lean back, pick up your feet, then shoot straight down into the inky blackness and pray for mercy in case you met your doom. I honestly thought I was going to die. There was also an underground boat ride and a rather creepy train ride. It felt like we were in a scene from Harry Potter. We totally loved it.

Day three found us in Salzburg on a bus, reliving the Sound of Music one site at a time. This day was fun and entertaining and made me crazy lonesome for my family–worth it’s own post. Here are some of the highlights of Salzburg, a city I absolutely adore.




Not only did we hit the sites you see here, we saw the house they filmed at and took pictures on the road leading to the house where the kids hang from the trees. We saw the lake and church they filmed the opening in. This last photo is the actual cemetery, not the one Hollywood modeled it after. I loved this day, Salzburg is a delightful city.

On Friday we hit the Konigsee Lake, a lovely body of water nestled way down at the base of a bunch of gorgeous green mountains. We took the reverent boat ride to St. Bartholemeu’s, stopping halfway so the driver could pull out his horn and show us the Bavarian echo that rings through the hills.

I’d like to tell you this was a peaceful boat ride, but alas it was not. It was a bunch of old Germans plus me and my four kids. We were barely hanging on when the baby found the suckers in my backpack. Either she screamed her head off (proof that sometimes an echo pass isn’t so wonderful) or I let her slobber all over me with her tootsie pop. By the time we stopped my hair was a matted mess of grape sucker residue (her sucker fell on the floor twice) and my kids were heading into verse three of “Are We There Yet.”

Most of the families we traveled with on this trip had kids that were just a bit older than ours. They opted for the awesome hikes, but my girlfriend Rebecca and I picked the lake. The water is so clean you can stick your face in it and have a big drink. We threw down some beach towels and a few toys and spent nearly five hours playing and sunning and swimming in the crystal clear water. It was our kids favorite day, hands down.

I didn’t have a suit for Georgia so she went German style. Let’s just say there are probably dozens of pictures of naked Georgia on the Chinese facebook pages from that week. The Asian tourists thought she was the cutest thing ever. Since there were half a dozen other kids (all older) swimming in the buff, we weren’t too concerned. That’s lip gloss in her hand. She thought I didn’t know she had it and spent the entire bottle  over the course of the day applying it then washing it off, then applying it again–super stealthy like.

There were these tiny minows and Jason told the kids he’d give them 5 euro if they caught one. Harrison managed it but Rex needed a little help with his technique. He was so quiet we didn’t realize what he was doing out there.

We spent our last day wandering through the Berchtesgaden down town village, shopping for antiques and Bavarian clothing. Jason spoiled me with some German garb (just a blouse and vests for me, I look ridiculous in the traditional skirts. I opted to wear my Bavarian peasant top with a pencil skirt and stilettos on Sunday, just to shake things up a bit) and Harrison got a hat and vest as well at an antique shop. As you can see, he loves living in Germany. We also hit up the Trick Fountains in Salzburg, a clever palace built around natural water sources and designed to delight and terrify its guests.

All in all and aside from the mice this was one of my favorite vacations to date. The weather was fantastic, the sites were delightful and we traveled with some of the most wonderful people I know. We’re so thankful for friends who take the initiative to put these trips together, what would clueless Joe’s like us do without their insight and experience?


  1. I am convinced that Jason doesn’t actually have a job, and you are secretly from old money, and can travel and see Hitler, at any time.

  2. I would love to visit all of the Sound of Music sights. Thanks for the good post, it’s almost like I was there…

  3. Oh man, I’m ready now to break out in song, jump from bench to bench around my kitchen table, and hang like a monkey from my fake tree in the living room…I wish I could’ve been there with you! If we ever come visit, that is where I would love to tour 🙂 Thanks for such a long and detailed post, I loved every minute of it and I miss you and your family!