The Austrian Grand Prix at Spielberg gave me the necessary reason to return to Austria and, should I have any ardent readers and followers, no-one will be surprised to know that probably the main reason for going was for further Where Eagles Dare exploits. Mind you, I left mortified by my colleague’s quip to others that I was going to visit some filming locations for “some film called Where Eagles Fly”...
The night before I flew, I again stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton Heathrow and, the following morning, again took the 7.20 am Lufthansa flight to Munich. It was again very good but, for whatever reason, the new Terminal 2 is not especially quick. The bag drop, with just a short line of passengers, took half an hour to get through. Maybe it’s a teething problem and, whilst I would rather see a human being as I did at Terminal 2, the bag drop at Munich, without any check in/baggage staff, was infinitely quicker. A small point, nothing which I am complaining about honestly but I was glad for getting there early.
It’s always good when a flight arrives on time so I was soon on my way to Pfarrwerfen near Salzburg but stopped off in Golling an der Salzach where I would spend the last two nights of my trip to try out the spa. Very good it was too and reasonably priced. Just a further quarter of an hour was all it took to reach Pfarrwerfen and I put up in the very hospitable Pension Vocario. The owners were very hospitable, offered to speak in English but, in the interests of trying to improve my German, they went along with me and I fared well throughout the five day trip. Most impressively, though, the lady agreed to provide me with breakfast the following morning far earlier than the normal start time. It was indeed a big surprise when the lady appeared at 6.15 am to lay on my very own spread: I had believed that she would leave some bread, cheese and fruit on a table for me and so her kind gesture was very much appreciated.
Soon after my arrival, I ate excellently in the Reitsamerhof in Pfarrwerfen. This was the hotel which some of the cast and crew of Where Eagles Dare used during filming in 1968. Doubtless, it has changed but it’s a lovely place, the waitresses dressed impressively and the schnitzel I enjoyed was excellent value and a thoroughly decent meal. The scenes where the parachutes drop into the meadow at the beginning of the film were filmed in the area above the Reitsamerhof and, having failed last year to find the place although I believe that a meadow used as a back drop could have been where I ended up, I was determined to do better this time after being shooed away by a St Bernard last time!
The Austrian Railways lay on special trains predominantly, I noticed, to and from Graz and Vienna to Spielberg for the Grand Prix. Even though I was effectively coming from Salzburg, I suspected that their excellent value Sparschiene tickets – non-changeable, non-refundable tickets made available six months before travel – would not be available but I was surprised to find plenty of choice. Okay, I’d rather have gone slightly later than 7am but no bother as, for six hours return of train journey, I paid just 18 euros and plenty of complimentary buses ferried fans to the track from Knittelsfeld so it turned out excellently. I suspect also that many others did the same as me as few people seemed to use the special trains.
It’s always quite fun attending a Grand Prix. Formula 1 is not presently enjoying its greatest coverage and, really, this year’s Austrian Grand Prix was far from being the greatest spectacle. Mercifully, a crash between Alonso and Raikkonnen was not serious but, with Rosberg quickly overtaking Hamilton, that seemed to be essentially that. People may know far more about the nuances than I profess to but the commentator seemed to try his hardest to talk it up towards the end. Rosberg led by between six to seven seconds before Hamilton was penalised five seconds for a transgression whilst leaving the pits and, yes, you probably know what I’m going to say. It went something along the lines of “Hamilton’s reduced the gap by a third of a second on that last lap, can he pull it back with five laps to go? Another half second on the next lap... “ and, when Nico crossed the line to win, “ Hamilton was only 2.2 seconds behind at the end. And then the five second penalty on top.” So, it wasn’t really that close, was it? Anyway, with my cheap entrance and free to roam around in certain areas ticket, I plonked myself behind the start line and had a decent view. I had been to Spielberg in 1997 in slightly different circumstances: a free hospitality ticket courtesy of Stewart Ford, a view over the start line and an excellent lunch with Sir Jackie Stewart, Rubens Barrichello and Jan Magnussen talking to us. A special moment indeed but this more humble experience was fun. People also add that the cars do not make the same noise but I can’t say that I minded. At the French Grand Prix years ago, I had a seat by the start line and it was fantastic but I’m equally sure that it impaired my hearing and which has now left me with hearing aids. No such trouble with these latest cars.
The drivers are taken around the Spielberg track before the Austrian Grand Prix

Seconds before the off at the Austrian Grand Prix

Burg Hohenwerfen or the Schloss Adler in Where Eagles Dare

A night scene of the Burg Hohenwerfen. The bridge in the photo appeared extensively in Where Eagles Dare.

Pension Vocario in Pfarrwerfen

The Burg Hohenwerfen courtyard used in Where Eagles Dare

The Where Eagles Dare Funkraum inside Burg Hohenwerfen. Now a toilet...

The window from which Mary Ure looked out during Where Eagles Dare within Burg Hohenwerfen

The huts and meadow used in the first part of Where Eagles Dare

The Dachstein mountains dwarf even the formidable Burg Hohenwerfen

It was, when I returned, that I found out that it was the longest day. It had been as I had been up at 5.45 am and back in the room at 9.30 pm. The journeys had passed through Stainach-Irdning where the plane shots and opening scenes of Where Eagles Dare had been filmed and, as it was fairly dark when I arrived back at 9 pm, there were some tremendous photos to be had of Burg Hohenwerfen or the Schloss Adler.
A lie-in until 7.20 am the following morning was divine after two early starts and a hearty breakfast sent me adequately on my way. If anyone should stay at the delightful Vocario, please bear in mind that they only take payment in cash which rather inconvenienced my careful and painstakingly researched financial arrangements. I won’t say that I had all of my notes out on the bed but a credit card would have been easier. Whatever, I took to the meadows behind the Reitsamerhof but had been asked to collect my bags from the Vocario by lunch. I will admit that I wasn’t entirely sure of where I was going but had a better idea. Making a detour around the farm where the St Bernard had sent me packing last year, I knew that I was going wrong but wanted to see the lie of the land. A man of around seventy stopped his vehicle and so we chatted and, suspecting that he might know something of the filming, I asked him and he pointed me in the right direction and told me to go higher. I was delighted because, if he wasn’t sure, he didn’t try to be helpful by saying something which might have been wrong. Another point I learned was that the Austrian folk understand the film far better by its German title, Agenten Sterben Einsam, so, if anyone feels obliged to traipse around Austrian meadows looking for wooden huts or bends in the road near Bad Ischl or Hallein, use this title and not Where Eagles Dare...
I did get higher but not high enough when time ran out. I was a bit disappointed but had the next day also to continue. I had to chuckle because, having avoided a dog last time, two calves came bounding after me after the chance meeting with the man. I can’t tell you how relieved I was when I saw a cattle grid...
Moving on to Golling, I put up in the Gastehaus Sunkler near the Aqua Salza spa. It was very nice and, like the Vocario, excellent value but check-in was a bit bizarre and had to be done by telephone. Great practice for my German and all went well including finding my key using the code provided by the owner. The room was excellent and a thoroughly decent size. Just a shame that I had a resident fly which, when awoken by some late and noisy comers, took it out on me at 2 am. Golling has ample places to eat and has a most pleasant main street but, sadly, due to the generally poor weather, I didn’t see it in its best light.
My last full day was spent in Werfen and very successful too. I took the 11 euro Burg Hohenwerfen entrance ticket which includes a guided tour at various times of the day. Anyone wanting to see further Where Eagles Dare sites has to take this tour as some are only available on the tour. The courtyard is readily available without going on the tour as is the Funkraum or Radio room. ( When the guide knew of my interest, I have to admit to being perplexed when she asked me if I wanted to go to the loo before remembering that the Funkraum is now a toilet...) She did, though, point out the part where Burton and Eastwood took the steps up from the Funkraum and certainly more was made available this time than was when I last visited five years ago. I pointed out the window which Mary Ure looks out of and the guide was happy to keep everyone waiting by agreeing to take photos of me by this window. The big door which was eventually pounded in by the Germans during the film now opens into a souvenir shop.
Late the previous evening, I had decided to look on the Google Maps to find the meadow that I was after and had found exactly what I was looking for so returned to Pfarrwerfen to give it a go. It didn’t quite work out a treat because, without being able to have a copy, a little guesswork was still required. Nothing looked familiar, I thought that I had gone too far so returned lower down to find that I was mistaken and had been slightly deterred by a tree-cutter whose sign I didn’t understand and which looked as if it was warning not to go any further whilst he was in action. When I did return, his sign was still up but maybe he was having his lunch so I went past and a few yards further on I eventually found the meadow and the two small huts. No chance of going in as it seems to be inhabited a sign of a bad-tempered dog warding people off. I felt quite chuffed at eventually – on the third attempt – finding the place where Burton meets Ure in the wood shed but equally somewhat disappointed that I think I have seen all that I can about the film in Werfen. The huts and meadows are around two thirds of the way on the Ostpreussenhutte walk from Pfarrwerfen.
The weather turned so I returned to Golling and rested my fairly weary limbs in the Aqua Salza spa. Having turned fifty two months previously, I was delighted to see a 30% discount offered for anyone between 50 and 70 but could I get it? No, it wasn’t my birthday, I was told which I was well aware of. ( They offer free entrance if you go in on your birthday). I showed my passport but to no avail, queried it four times but it wasn’t to be. Maybe the girl subtracted 1965 from 2015 and got 40? Maybe – as I like to think: here’s hoping – she simply didn’t believe that I am fifty but, for all that, I did feel better for it after a few hours walking over the previous three days.
I returned to Munich the following morning and again made use of one of the Austrian Railways’ Sparschiene tickets before flying home to Heathrow. It was a long journey back to Swindon because, with an off-peak ticket, I had forgotten that I don’t normally return during the week so had to wait for the rush hour passengers returning home to finish before being able to board a train from Reading. It had been a wonderful trip but there is still a tiny bit more to do in Austria on Where Eagles Dare and a little jaunt in a couple of months in Switzerland.