I thought it best not to include Where Eagles Dare within the title for this article but, as anyone kind enough to read these rambling articles is likely to know, Austria in the title usually means Where Eagles Dare. This time was no different.
Mum joined me and returned to Werfen for the first time since 1982 when she and my father drove me around the Austrian countryside chasing down the more obvious Where Eagles Dare filming locations. It was as much fun for me then as it is now which makes me feel better about myself! She had thought it prudent to watch the film before we left so that she would recognise any nuggets of, I hope, wisdom which I might have come out with.
I had the afternoon off work and we took the train and coach to Terminal 5 which we felt – well, I did – was easier than driving and trying to find a car park. ( I’m told that my Sat Nav is out of date which wouldn’t bode well bearing in mind my affliction in getting anywhere easily. The device had given some odd directions getting me from Swindon to Cheltenham a few days previously).
Hurrah! An on-time flight too. I would rather travel earlier in the day ideally but at least everything went smoothly and we were in the Dolomit hotel in central Munich just before 10 pm after our 5.30 pm flight. After the latest atrocity in Marienplatz, security was tight at the airport and on the trains.
At Easter, I had gone deeper into Austria and used the same train that we took this time to get there. This time, though, the train was far less busy but nonetheless we were pleased to secure reserved seats through the Australian Railways website. The two hour and forty minute journey was pleasant and on time. It seems daft but Mum’s comments about the change in scenery just before Werfen were something that I was aware of but possibly reinforces the notion when someone else mentions it.
We stayed at the Pension Vocario in Pfarrwerfen where I had stayed last year. Frau Weissacher is a very warm and welcoming hostess, remembered me but probably thinks that my German is a bit better than I do. For all that, I coped well and we had nice rooms and excellent value at 32 euros a night including an ample breakfast. Pfarrwerfen is a small town just two minutes bus or train ride from Werfen but it is difficult to call either on the tourist trail although the magnificent mountainous scenery and Schloss Hohenwerfen – filming location not just for Where Eagles Dare but also The Sound of Music – might make this surprising.
Whilst I took to the spa at Golling during the afternoon, Mum enjoyed a walk along the Salzach and wasn’t far away from Werfen again. I had decided that it would be best to make a table reservation at Pfarrwerfen’s Reitsamerhof where I had eaten last year. I was aware of this Gasthof’s significance in the Where Eagles Dare story but was delighted to see on display this year their guest book open on the 1968 page where there is a signed photo of Richard Burton and signatures including Clint Eastwood and other paratroopers from the early part of the film. I have read that the Reitsamerhof was used as a base for filming the initial descent into the meadows early on in the film. Its position to the meadows would make this credible. The Reitsamerhof is also a wonderful place to eat – and it proved a wise decision to book in advance.
Our full day in Werfen was taken actually in Saalfelden. I had heard that the start of the film was shot there so we headed off there by train and I can see that a distinct possibility exists. I suspect, though, that other people interested like me in the film, may well be in their own transport and, as I steadfastly hate hiring cars overseas, I put myself at a disadvantage trying to find the relevant spots so it would again not be for me to say one way or the other if it is the place. But, yes, something looks familiar and tantalising and I was grateful for the lead.
Landgasthof Reitsamerhof, Pfarrwerfen where we ate and enjoyed the Where Eagles Dare connections

Ritzensee, Saalfelden


Golling an der Salzach

Myself in the Schloss Hohenwerfen courtyard where a lot of Where Eagles Dare was filmed

View over Werfen and area from the Schloss Hohenwerfen

Where Eagles Dare? Falconry display at the Schloss Hohenwerfen

A safer way to reach Schloss Hohenwerfen than was used in Where Eagles Dare


Marienplatz, Munich

Whatever, Saalfelden is another delightful place just a few minutes from the famous lakeside resort of Zell am See where I have been before. We again had glorious weather and walked around three miles to and from the beautiful Ritzensee. The scenery is also lovely and we both agreed that good weather makes a place look so much nicer and, with it, brings back fond memories later.
On the Sunday, we went to the Schloss. Mum had been in 1982 with my dad and me but none of us had been into the castle only in the grounds. We were again blessed with glorious weather which made photography a joy and allowed me to cross a few i’s and dot some t’s. I promise shortly to add a separate section for all the Where Eagles Dare photos to this website. I have said before that I need no second invitation to return to this area and wasn’t desperately dismayed last time when I rushed out of the castle without going to the loo as I could go the next year. What on earth, you might ask? It’s only that the radio room used in the film – the Funkraum – is now a male toilet and I wanted to see what it now looked like. Very small, in a nutshell but we had a chuckle over its outside description, Pissort, which didn’t, well, exactly welcome visitors. Let’s just say that it was a series of urinals.
Eagles, well falcons, really do dare within the castle’s grounds with a falconry display three times a day during the high summer. I have seen this before but we both enjoyed the show with birds gradually increasing in size being put on display. One larger bird contentedly waddled around and mingled with the crowd.
A new highlight for me was going up by the comparatively new funicular to the castle. Yes, I am a well-meaning and conscientious son but I happily admit to being a mean one too. I was more than happy to book tickets online and pay for Mum also but, by myself, I probably would have walked up the fairly steep hill... Don’t tell her either that, as we were always likely to be up by 10 am, we could get Early Bird tickets so it was effectively the same price as walking. Of course, I jest but it was a novel way of reaching the Schloss, impressive also and the doubles in the film must have wished that the same method of gaining entrance had been available in 1968.
The weather changed as we were returning to Munich and were lucky really not only there but also at Salzburg where there were so many delayed and cancelled trains at Salzburg. Ours may have been slightly late in reaching Munich but it left on time and, as we had a mixture of flexible and inflexible tickets, were able to reach the Dolomit earlier than anticipated at 5.45pm.
After a fair but quite expensive meal near the Hauptbahnhof, we found we had time on our hands so went to the beautiful Marienplatz. Despite the recent shooting there, the place was still amply busy and the Rathaus and Dom are magnificent buildings and some of the most well-known and beautiful in Bavaria’s capital. We returned there the next morning so that we could go inside the cathedral. Unless you are outside, it is difficult to gauge quite how high the Dom is.
We had a smooth journey to the airport but, unfortunately, this wasn’t matched when we reached it. Maybe it was the heightened security but Munich has always been one of the most impressively quick European airports which I have been through but not that day. One and a quarter hours to reach the departure gates by which time we were almost relieved to find that the inevitable delay to the flight had been announced.
Anyway, we weren’t in a desperate hurry so everything worked out well after another lovely trip.