The shower in our Salzburg hotel room is the worst we’ve had on this trip. You have to step way up through a narrow gap to get in and there are no handles or anything to grip onto. It feels unsafe. This morning I did some laundry in the sink and shower in the bathroom and hung it to dry. Hopefully by tomorrow when we leave here, it will be sufficiently dry and fresh that I’ll be able to wear it again. The hotel offers laundry service but to do what we would need done would be quite expensive, several Euro per item.

Theoretically today was a free day, but most of the group chose to engage in the optional activities. Our first destination was the Stille-Nacht-Kapelle, or Silent Night Chapel in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. This small space is where the song Silent Night was written. Our group barely fit inside the chapel. We had a guided tour from an 85 year old gentleman named Hermann, who has an English wife, and was a cake baker in London for many years, though he was from this part of Austria from childhood. He was old enough that he remembers being given food by American soldiers after WW2.

We had a church service inside the chapel, very briefly. Rev. Hagen and another gentleman who has also served as a pastor previously, cooperatively conducted the service. We sang 3 verses of “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come,” and the first German verse of Silent Night as well as 3 English verses. We also sang Away in a Manger. Hermann and Thomas were surprised to hear us singing in German. This area also had a water fountain, the only one we’ve seen on the trip so far, and it was fed directly from springs up the mountains. I wish I had taken a picture. Rev. Hagen, Shannon, and I all drank from the fountain. The water tasted good. This is the only free water we’ve had this entire trip! The fountain was affixed to the wall on the tower in the picture below, but you can’t see it in the image.

Our next adventure was heading over to Berchtesgaden to ascend the mountains and visit The Eagle’s Next, one of the few Third Reich-era buildings left intact, evidently. It rained a bit on the way over to the location where you board the official bus up the mountain, and generally the day was cloudy and gray. We had lunch while waiting for the bus to take us up at 1:30. Shannon had a bowl of goulasch and I had a Radler beer.

The bus ride up the mountain takes 15 minutes, and apparently there is only one switchback the entire way. You pass through 5 tunnels of varying lengths. The first is the longest. When you reach the top, there are impressive views, and then you walk down a long tunnel, which today was very cold and drippy, to ride a golden elevator to the top of the peak. It is an additional 120 meters up the elevator. The top normally has great views, but today it was very cloudy and most of our three hours up there, you could barely see anything.

The building at the top, the Kehlsteinhaus, is now a privately owned restaurant. While waiting for the clouds to clear, Shannon and I joined another couple from our group at the restaurant. We had another Radler, which in this case we had to mix ourselves. The beer was Munich Hofbrau, and there was a lemon lime soda they sold us to pour with the beer. We also had Apfelkuchen, which is a word I learned on Duo Lingo. It seemed like apple pie, but very thick with appels, and not a lot of pie filling goo holding it together. The Apfelkuchen was good, as was the Radler. The other couple regaled us with stories of their prior mission trips to Russia and the Dominican Republic.

Eventually the clouds cleared up a bit and we were able to take a few decent photos before heading back down the mountain. 3 hours up there on a cloudy day was definitely too much. Our guide Thomas tried to get our return trip moved up, but all the busses were booked solid, so we had to wait the full span of time.

We then returned to Salzburg, and this is a free evening. Rather than waiting in line for the elevator, Shannon and I walked to the bakery across the street to have some dinner. Shannon got a crispy chicken sandwich that looked like a spicy McChicken with tomato and lettuce on it. I got a salami sandwich with 2 slices of salami and a bit of cheese on a kaiser roll. There was also a piece of lettuce, but I disregarded it. We also got a chocolate muffin. I don’t believe Shannon was satisfied with the meal, and she was expecting that the staff would have heated up her chicken sandwich, but they did not. We may go out again later on this evening for a more complete dining experience.

Upon returning to our room, I wrote out a post card to my grandma. The picture is of the Stille-Nacht-Kapelle in the winter time, covered in snow.


As it turned out, we did go out later after a brief rest at the hotel. A couple blocks away was what turned out to be an Irish pub called Celtic Spirit. We ducked in there just as it started raining, passing some other members of our group on their way back to the hotel from the dinners they had already taken.

I had a beer called “Elvis Juice” that was a grapefruit IPA from Scotland. Shannon had an Irish Mule and then a Whisky and Cola. We also shared a pizza that was half pepperoni, half ham, with banana peppers on the whole thing. It was good, and the banana peppers did not add much heat at all. The bartender was half Mexican, half Irish. He had lived in the US at some point, as well as in other places in Europe, before coming to Salzburg a couple years ago following a girl.

It dumped rain for a while as we sat at the bar, then when it stopped we left and visited an ATM on our way back to the hotel. The ATM fee was extravagant, as well as the transaction fee.