The Villa Trapp in Salzburg is full of many happy photos of the von Trapp family, which was in stark contrast to the years after they left and its time as the headquarters of one of the worst men in the history of the world, Heimlich Himmer.
Wednesday, we left Himmler’s former SS headquarters, where the next owners, Catholic priests, turned the office of this murderer who was in charge of all concentration camps, into a chapel.
We headed a short distance to nearby Germany, as planned, toward the Eagle’s Nest which was a retreat on top of a mountain presented to Hitler as a 50th birthday gift. But some light rain and a low cloud ceiling obstructed any views of the mountain on Wednesday, so we decided to skip trying to make the ascent. After a brief visit to the nearby town of Berchtesgaden in southern Bavarian, we headed back through the Austrian countryside.
Even with the bad weather, every small or large cluster of Alpine homes looked neat and manicured. Velvety green fields, neat yards. No junk anywhere. We saw no house that even needed paint. Fall foliage was at or near peak throughout the area with mostly yellows and browns, but not the vivid colors we are used to in New England.
Nearly every chalet-style home had a small fortune in colorful flowers draped down from every porch.
Our rental car was thankfully upgraded with a GPS system, but at times, we think the software provider was having some fun with us. At one point, we were taken for miles over a rural road through farms and woods that was barely one car wide. Fortunately, only a couple vehicles, one of them a pretzel truck, came in the opposite direction and we luckily found spots to pull out of the way. Even the main roads were largely narrow and without shoulders, and at times, we thought the continuous hair pin turns would not end.
Even on a dreary day, there were photo ops every minute. We can only imagine what a little sunshine would have added. But it was a little haunting the last couple of days to comprehend how the Nazi evil could have co-existed with such blissful scenery.