A Day Trip In Austria: Eishöle Ice Cave and Hohenwerfen Castle

Now we were on our way to Berchtesgaden, Germany. We arrived at the Edelweiss Hotel in the same Village of Berchtesgaden. Our guides told us that we should check out the rooftop because the views were incredible. So, after we got our room keys we headed to the roof. The view was spectacular! The Bavarian apls are just incredible. The rooftop offered panoramic views which were hindered a little bit by the sight of the eagle’s nest sitting at the top of one of the peaks. But it was easy enough to ignore.

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My brother and I went to grab a drink with the Newlywed couple after dinner. We decided to see what the village of Berchtesgaden had to offer. It did not have much. We found one place that was still open at around 9:30. We were pretty much the only people in there. We decided to stay, seeing that it was probably the only place that we would be able to find. We ordered the local beer, drank and had a good time.

The next morning our group, Adventures By Disney (ABD), would be heading out for an excursion. The day’s excursion would be hiking to the Eishöle ice cave and then a tour of Hohenwerfen Castle with a special falconry demonstration. All of which would be taking place in Austria. ABD classifies this trip as Czech Republic, Germany and Austria. However, I would classify it as Czech Republic and Austria, with a day in Germany. They have even changed the itinerary for the upcoming year and they no longer stay in Berchtesgaden. Just a word of warning if you are planning this trip with them.

Once we had our literary for the day we left the hotel for the Eishöle ice cave. It was really foggy and raining when we arrived but that did not damper the mood of our cheery guides. They had both done this trip many times and knew that the weather would be clear by the time we had to walk down. To get up to the ice cave consisted of two 20-minute hiking stretches with it broken up by a cable car. This hike was not easy and was very steep in some places but the view from the top was worth feeling like you got the wind knocked out of you. You end up high in the alps overlooking the beautiful valleys of green below. There was also a major temperature drop at the top of the mountain and warm clothes are needed. So, we packed layers and changed into them once we reached the mouth of the cave. My brother and I were one of the first people to reach the top. We were waiting for our mother and father and the rest of the group to arrive. We were unsure if our mother was going to make it to the top because there was an option to wait in a restaurant after the cable car. However, everyone in my family was proven wrong as she slowly walked into the cave right before we were about to enter the ice cave.

Inside the ice cave there are 700 steps up and 700 steps down. We were all warned about that before entering because it is hard to get out once you are inside. Our guide handed out lanterns to every fourth person. This would be the only light we would have inside. I really wanted to get a lantern because I thought it would be cool. However, I regretted it the moment it was placed into my hand. It was pretty heavy and had an open flame with nothing surrounding it.

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It was our groups turn to head into the cave. You walk through a door and are hit with a massive gust of wind, which blew my lantern right out. The ice cave guides are prepared for this and they light it again right away. Once I could see again I started my walk up the 700 stairs. It was really dark and I had to stare at the stairs as I went up. The parts of the ice cave that I saw were magical but as I said to my brother once we had gotten out of the cave, “I think I saw more wood than ice, trying to focus on not tripping on the stairs.” I also learned nothing once being in the ice cave. We did have a local guide but his accent was so thick I could not understand him. Also, once I told my brother that he sounded like the knights that say Ni from Monty Python, we couldn’t hear what he said over our muffled laughter. One of the women on our trip asked what we were laughing about and we told her. She laughed too and said that she was just telling her husband that he sounded like the priest from the princess bride, which caused more laughter from the three of us.

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Once we had reached the top of the cave our legs were shaking. 700 steps at a steep incline will do that to you but now we had to go down. My lantern light was fading and I could barely see. The wood of the stairs grew darker and darker. Finally, our guide noticed my fading lantern and came to the rescue. When we eventually got to the bottom and back through the door, the clouds had gone and left the most spectacular view. I could not stop taking pictures, I was blown away by the beauty. We had lunch at the restaurant before the cable car. We ate outside with the Austrian alps surrounding us. After, lunch we walked the remaining 20 minutes back to the bus for the next part of our day.

Hohenwerfen Castle was unfortunately not that far of a bus ride from the ice cave and it required more walking. Hohenwerfen is a medieval castle, perched high above the Salzachtal Valley and is over 900 years old. Our group had a private guided tour. We walked through the castle and the torture chamber where I got a picture of my brother in the rack and me pretending to turn the wheel. Then it was time for the falcon show. The birds were beautiful and very well-trained. They swooped over us and even walked near us. When the falcon show was done, it was time to walk back to the bus.

We had dinner on our own that night, which meant that we had some free time. The only thing that got my brother through the hike was the hot tub on the roof of our hotel. So, as soon as we got to our room, we changed and went to the roof. The views hit you like a gust of wind, still absolutely impeccable. We put our things on a chair and headed to the outdoor hot tub. I let my brother get in first because I thought if I didn’t he would have pushed me out-of-the-way. He got to the top of the ladder and put his foot in to feel the temperature. A few expletives escaped his mouth. He turned to me and said, “It’s not hot at all!” We went in any way because he was still determined to be in the hot tub. He was right. The temperature was about the same as the temperature outside, which was lukewarm at best.

The town of Berchtesgaden was bustling that night. There was live music in a few different locations of this village. However, my brother and I did not get to enjoy them. We were so tired we could barely stay awake through dinner.

Katie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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