My latest insane mission took me in the Werfen area again in the hope of stumbling upon ever more bizarre areas used in the film and, to be honest, I think that I did pretty well. The prospect of flying to Salzburg was enticing but with the thought always looming whether there would be a schedule change. Before anyone describes me as a curmudgeon, easyJet duly cancelled and rebooked me a day beforehand so I took the refund, booked on to British Airways and had exactly the same thing happen... I caved in and had a longer holiday.
When it finally came to the day of departure, everything went very smoothly and we even landed early into Salzburg. Sadly, though, into biblical rain which drenched everyone for the rest of the day. I used to joke that Salzburg and I did not agree with each other: in 1982, I went with my parents by car to St. Wolfgang where we had a fantastic time and went up on what we are sure was the original cable car used in the film. Salzburg was less promising, my extraordinary sense of direction meaning that I found my way back to a car park to meet my parents but sadly not the correct one. A policeman returned me to my frantic parents.
Three years later, I missed the holiday rep at Munich Airport and made my own way, again to St. Wolfgang, via Salzburg where again I got in a mess. Anyway, times have been better since but I have had very little time to see much of this lovely city. As the flight was due in at 5:20 p.m., it made sense to stay in Salzburg and, being at my parsimonious best, I put up in a youth hostel which, though, was ideally situated.
I certainly didn't feel out of place when I saw the general age of other residents but did make sure that I booked myself into a single room which came with a shower but no loo. The hostel was a friendly place with just about every sign in English which might sound perplexing. I wasn't immediately sure about the hygiene standard of those staying there when I read on the back of the loo door how to use a toilet brush... No, you don't use it to brush your hair with although - how shall I put this? - using it in place of loo paper didn't seem to be as frowned upon but was described as not quite right.
I had a room on the top floor with a skylight. I couldn't quite see the castle and old city but I did know when it started raining again. I have had better nights but it wasn't to do with the rain and having to hurriedly baton up the hatches and there was no inside noise either despite the place being busy. All in all, a good choice.
After a delicious Thai curry in a nearby restaurant, I did take to the old city on foot as the rains had relented to a degree. It was lovely and, although a visit to Mozart's birthplace had to wait (as it had done since 1982 when my parents saw it at the time I was being escorted back by the Polizei) until the following morning, it was most worthwhile.
The first full day was drier and did allow me to see some of Salzburg's wonderful Altstadt (Old City) before trying the very good Paracelsus Spa saunas which, as well as the obvious health benefits, had lovely views over the city from the top floor. The bath is currently closed but the saunas very much open and gave some respite from the still cold weather outside.
I moved on to Abtenau in the afternoon where I spent four nights in the very pleasant Haus Magdalena. Abtenau seems a nice spot but I imagine that I stayed during the "between" season: there was not much snow so opportunities in the general area seemed scarce for those more coordinated than me and the summer season had not started. It meant that few restaurants were open but the Haus Magdalena was very pleasant and close to the centre. I had a decent-sized room and a nice breakfast was served. The very useful Tennengau Plus guest card was included and includes complimentary bus travel in the Tennengau region as well as the S3 train to and from Salzburg. Essentially, it meant an almost free return journey to the airport as well as saving a lot on tickets as much of my travel was partly within the Tennengau region so only tickets outside the area had to be bought.
Salzburg's Altstadt and castle by day
I finally saw Mozart's birthplace
A view of the castle from Salzburg's Altstadt
Salzburg's Mirabellplatz at night
Abtenau at dusk

An example of this was my trip to Werfen the following day. The bus to Golling was complimentary with the guest card meaning that I only had to pay for the train from Golling to Werfen and back. I am pleased to report that my navigational skills - well, after hours spent on Google Earth - proved reliable for once and allowed me to see the views of the castle seen early in the film through the binoculars. The lower view (when Smith and Schaffer's conversation is rudely interrupted by the helicopter conveying Rosemeyer) was typically me: I had been there before without realising it although, in my defence, I would say that I was not necessarily looking for that spot.
"Somebody's got to be crazy," Schaffer tells Smith at one point.
Well, I suppose that it could have been me as, mercifully without other hikers around, I was up and down slopes looking for that very same position and photo (which, of course, is never entirely possible as trees and foliage have grown but I am as confident as I can be that I was in the correct area. Photos can be seen on my Where Eagles Dare page). After slipping last year on a slope and tearing my trousers, I went better prepared this time and wore knee protection and slid down slopes with no accidents.
I could not find a short cut to the parallel road (which goes up to the Ice Caves) so returned and had the initially steep path under the autobahn (which always fills me with dismay). Let's say that it takes less time coming down, and is easier. I did make it to the closest spot from where Ron Goodwin's dramatic music announces the high view of the castle between the trees. I wasn't going to traipse about through the fairly steep slopes and trees away from the road to try and find the exact spot but, needless to say, my position gave wonderful views not just of the castle but Werfen and surrounds in general.

On my way back, I returned to the low-level view again as I thought that, practically, the point where Smith radios HQ from the forest after the initial castle views could well have been filmed in that area. Again, things could have changed since 1968 but I think that the area I found close to the low-level castle view stands a pretty good chance of being the place taking everything into consideration.
I met up with my friend and guide from last year, Florian Willim, and revisited parts of the castle for fond memories. We also later went into the Obauer Hotel and Restaurant and saw the owner and asked whether a guestbook was available, Burton and Elizabeth Taylor having stayed there for some time during filming. Sadly, there wasn't but we are sure that there is a signed photo somewhere so that is the next insane mission. The Obauer is famous for its restaurant with prices to match so there was slight relief that there was no guestbook in case it was allowed to be seen - over dinner...
Due to the low level of water in the Salzach River, it was possible to walk over the rocks (which are usually under water) to stand underneath the bridge near the Werfen Station at the point where Smith and Schaffer escape from the hut just before it was blown up. So, all in all, a successful and thoroughly enjoyable day and I ate in Golling as there were more choices of restaurants available and open and there were plenty of buses going back to Abtenau.
The delightful Haus Magdalena where I stayed in Abtenau
The lower-level view of the castle early on in Where Eagles Dare
The castle and general view of the Werfen area
Close to the point of the higher view of the castle early on in Where Eagles Dare
The road close to Ebenau along which I believe the bus chase in Where Eagles Dare took place

The journey from Abtenau involved three changes and all seemed to be going well until the train became marooned at Hallein, presumably waiting for another train to pass in the opposite direction. The second connection, by bus, was also delayed so I made it before finding that the third bus was waiting at an obscure spot just a few minutes from Ebenau. Actually, it wasn't and was the bus for the next departure so I had a half-hour wait basically in the middle of nowhere only for the same numbered bus to appear and take me to Ebenau Abzw Strubklammwerk. Presumably, that too had been delayed. Anyway, it didn't really help me as more rains of biblical proportions came down and my visit to Ebenau was brief, but successful, I believe. Although there were no proper paths along the side of the road, it wasn't as forbidding as I had possibly expected and I managed to take the necessary photographs. I would have liked to have investigated further but the rain was so heavy that there was little option than to return to Salzburg and take to the Paracelsus sauna again to warm up.
For whatever reason, glorious weather was back the next day (and my last full day) when I went back to Ebensee to travel on the Feuerkogel cable car for the first time in sixteen years. I had managed to book a slightly reduced price ticket online although it had become a slight epic.

If the weather in Werfen had been glorious, it most certainly was not around Salzburg the next day when I went to Ebenau. I had read that the bus chase at the end of the film was filmed near Ebenau (a few miles outside Salzburg) and scrutiny of Google Earth and Maps convinced me that the spot I was looking for was just beyond the Ebenau Abzw Strubklammwerk bus stop. I am still as certain as I can be that this should be the place (where Schaffer, not for the first time in the film, says "we've got company" to Smith).
I took an earlier bus from Abtenau to Gosau (within the Tennengau Plus bus region) and had a look around. I always light a candle for my late father and tried to do so in one of the three Gosau churches which I saw in the small area I visited. Four attempts, with four matches, all failed so I gave up and decided to try in Ebensee where my father, in 1982, had happily stayed on the ground and taken a photo of me on my first visit on the original cable car (which we believe was used in the film) and, remarkably, with two people testing the cables on top... In one of Ebensee's churches (which was closed last time I visited), the match lit first time as did the candle.
I enjoyed my time at the Feuerkogel Valley Station as well as the top, of course. The new cable car serves its purpose and is the third since I first went in 1982. Give me the first of the three which I have been on, though, any time. I am happy to say that I did see the two which I used in 1982, one still outside a residential house and the other on the top of the Feuerkogel. It was nice seeing both the first cable car and its reincarnation at the top also. I must admit that I was the only one going up and down who took photos but there were many further photos at the top as the weather was perfect and the views frankly surreal. I was certainly lucky that day.
When I was in Werfen two days earlier and slipping down slopes, I did remember that Clint Eastwood appeared to be slipping in the area I believe the radio message was made from whilst Richard Burton seemed to stay far more upright. Well, it is certainly not for me to comment upon but, suffice to say, I was glad to have brought something to the Feuerkogel which might loosely and charitably be described as a walking stick. It certainly kept me upright in the snow (which was lovely to see but far less than in the film) and saved any more time sliding down on my bum...
The beautiful Traunsee at Ebensee Ebensee
The latest version of the Feuerkogel cable car leaves the valley station
The previous two versions atop the Feuerkogel
The glorious view from the top of the Feuerkogel
I am happy to accept that taking selfie photos left me a tad perplexed...
I left Abtenau to be back for Easter

I travelled part of the way back by train via the spa town of Bad Ischl and had to run in Gosau to make a very tight connection. That was it for essentially another trip and, the following day, one benefit of travelling with British Airways was a later departure from Salzburg than easyJet would have been. It meant a more leisurely journey back at a decent time and, although trains were cancelled in both Austria and England, I was still home at the time I hoped to be. There will always be an excuse to return to this part of Austria and I doubt that it will be that long before I am back.