As if making up for the Salzburg disaster, our next day trip was to the tiny town of Oberammergau. I really have no idea why we ended up picking Oberammergau, and against all odds, this day ended up being one of our favorites of the whole trip. It took us three different trains to get there, the town had approximately four other people out and about on the streets, the bus to one of Mad King Ludwig's castles ran only once and it's arrival and final departure of the day did not allow us time to actually tour the castle, and every restaurant in town was shut down (have no idea where we ate lunch, come to think of it). And yet, we adored tiny Oberammergau. Perhaps the conspicuous lack of drunken demons had something to do with our enjoyment. After the hustle and bustle and Krampus of Salzburg, relaxing in a sweet, Alpine village with snow falling softly was just what we needed.
|Just your everyday donkey walking down the sidewalk|
|Even the beer truck is adorable|
Oberammergau's claim to fame is its once every 10 years Passion Play, in production for 375 years. Back when the plague was ravaging Europe, Oberammergau's residents promised God that if he spared them, they would perform a play on the Passion of the Christ forevermore. He did, and they did. Currently, the Passion Play is performed during every year ending in a "0." While there is a theatre, the buildings of the village are frescoed with scenes from the life and death of Jesus (or some just have frescoes of Bavaria - this situation seems much like Italian nativities, which all feature a pizza maker). With the frescoes complementing the general adorableness, Oberammergau is a winner. The snow just added to the sweetness. My utter delight was helped along by spotting my favorite Christmas store, Kathe Wohlfart. I think there was actually a little bit of jumping up and down on the sidewalk with excitement. I'd pictured the German Christmas Markets as outdoor versions of a Kathe Wohlfart store, but they are not. The markets are nice and beautiful and fun, but I wasn't finding the Christmas ornaments I was expecting...so I loaded up at Kathe's place.
|The walk from the ticket office to Schloss Linderhof|
With no Christmas Market going on, and no place we could find to sit down and warm up (even the church was freezing), we decided to visit King Ludwig's Schloss Linderhof, his favorite castle some say. Built in the late 1800s, it's a tiny castle compared to his others (such as Neuschwanstein, the fairy tale castle straight out of a little girl's dreamland), but the setting is beautiful. Or so it seems. We don't really know since snow covered everything. And we didn't get to see inside the castle. We did get to walk around the grounds and eavesdropped in with an American tour group who showed up about 15 minutes before our bus back to town. I came close to begging their tour group leader for a ride back to town with them just so we could do the castle tour, but in the end, my extreme shyness took over, and we headed back to our new friend, the town bus driver, who was quite skilled at managing a humongous bus (carrying only the two of us as passengers) on roads that had seen falling snow for several hours and no snowplow. We just sat back and enjoyed the trees covered with the white, then did another walk through town just to soak in the peace.
|Bus to the Castle|
Note to Self: Return to Oberammergau in 2020 for summertime experience and to see the Passion Play.