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#576771 - 01/18/08 05:06 PM Friday, January 18th, 2008  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 19,026
Brian Austin Whitney Offline
Brian Austin Whitney  Offline

Top 10 Poster

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 19,026
Indianapolis, IN USA
Hi Folks,

Our next stop on the European tour was in Oberammergau, Germany. This town is well known for it's Gingerbread/Hansel and Gretel style buildings that are hand painted with scenes and storytelling and have been since the 1600's. Some tour book authors say it's too touristy, but compared to Rothenburg ob der tauber and several other towns we stopped in, it wasn't bad at all. It was charming and you felt like it was sincere rather than staged. Sure, there were tourist shops, but they were actually very cool shops with lots of interesting things inside. We got the best food in we had in Germany there and the hotel room was probably the best, with the most comfortable beds. The place we stayed at was also charming and friendly and we'd definitely stay there again if we ever make it back. So please enjoy the photos and blurbs!

[Linked Image]

This was the first thing we saw when we arrived. It was a bachelor/pre wedding party where the bridge and groom to be were being wheeled around the town in a canoe by the wedding party. There was a lot of people involved and a lot of laughing.

[Linked Image]

The town is quite a storybook place. There's all sorts of fairytales and religious stories painted on the buildings and everything is ornate. This painted wooden statue was on the side of a building and was rife with religious iconography and characters representing the town and it's history. (Note the tiny characters above his hear going for a ride).

[Linked Image]

This is the Hotel Alte Post where we stayed. This was as cool inside as outside and it dates back to the 1600's. The coolest thing was they have a webcam on their website where you can watch the front of it (coming from the left of this photo) and while we were there, we called my mother via Skype (an internet phone service) on our laptop (they had wireless) which we took outside on to this patio one night. We were able to waive to her in real time and she got a kick out of seeing us in Germany from her house in Southern Indiana. We called a few other folks including our friend Brendon who we were able to see via his webcam and it was almost like he was there with us. Here's the link to the website if you want to check it out. Make sure to click "Extended Version" to see it in actual real time: http://altepost.com/estart.htm

[Linked Image]

As I mentioned above, there are all sorts of cool little shops in the town. We had hoped to meet up with the local violin maker, but he wasn't in, so we spent time wandering through the town and looking at all the fun stuff they had to offer.

[Linked Image]

This is the entry to one of the many painted buildings in town. As you can see the detail is quite impressive and these paintings date back hundreds of years. The custom started when folks were too poor to afford things like shutters, but they still wanted their homes to look nice. It took off and people upgraded to more elaborate paintings and then started telling stories on their houses and businesses. Of course now it's world famous and every house is meticulously groomed and cared for. The entire town tells many stories and all of them look like living postcard shots.

[Linked Image]

Here's the same building from a wide shot. Not that everything you see is painted except for square windows and a square door. It looks like there are shutters and window sills but there are none. Just flat white walls that are painted. Even those stairs are fake. Cool eh?

[Linked Image]

The entire town is at the foothills of the alps. In the US, we'd call these foothills mountains.. but once you drive up into the Alps, you realize they really are much smaller by comparison. It was still warm out at the end of September, but I bet these mountains and hills are amazing when they're snow covered. Oberammergau is actually much busier in the winter as it's a ski town. But you can hike extensively in the summer and in the fall, when we were there, the colors are explosive in the trees.

[Linked Image]

We call this the "Wall of Lous" after my step father Lou. It looks just like him. These are all hand carved locally and the guy who carved them was working when we stopped by, but he wasn't in a great mood so we decided not to bother him with a purchase. But we have this photo!

[Linked Image]

This is a piece of a really interesting fountain that tells the history of the town. The scene depicted here I think was either the results of a war or a plague (or both). We found a lot of embracing of death in the art and culture around Europe. In the USA, we pretty much cover up and hide from death. I realized how much I didn't think about it (or have daily reminders of it) in my life here in the USA. It's sort of humbling when you're reminded of death all the time. Not sure if that's good or bad.

[Linked Image]

The entire town is like a living postcard, but since we couldn't have all our family and friends with us, a postcard was the best thing we could offer. Linda spent a couple hours filling out the 2 dozen postcards we sent out. Fortuntely our room had this little table to use.

[img]http://www.jpfolks.com/2007Europe/Oberammergau11.gif[/img]

Here's Linda stretching her arms in the cool fresh air of the Alps. (If you missed her, look in the top left of the photo.. she's hanging out the window). Our view was really nice and we'd definitely stay and request the same room again.

[img]http://www.jpfolks.com/2007Europe/Oberammergau12.gif[/img]

This was the actual view from our hotel room window. I have a series of these and I might blow them up to live size and put one on my office wall so I can pretend to still be there!

[img]http://www.jpfolks.com/2007Europe/Oberammergau13.gif[/img]

There were little wooden figures all over the town which added to the charm. Here's some little mountain climbers scaling a tree stump in the central park.

[img]http://www.jpfolks.com/2007Europe/Oberammergau14.gif[/img]

This was a wonderful moment. We got to watch this woman do a puppet and music show where she sang and played the accordion while making the puppets dance. Then she would tell the story of Hansel and Gretel and back to music and dancing. There was a nice audience of local children watching her. I got some of it on video and will post it when we get to the video clips.

[img]http://www.jpfolks.com/2007Europe/Oberammergau15.gif[/img]

I took this shot at the local church/cemetery. I noticed a lot of extravagant monuments of all types, shapes and sizes. This praying headstone seemed to line up perfectly with the setting sun.

[img]http://www.jpfolks.com/2007Europe/Oberammergau17.gif[/img]

You can't really see it on this shrunken down size, but Linda's eyes are bugging out of her head when she sees the over the top decor of this church. This picture doesn't even begin to do justice to the inside of this church. The masterful woodwork and painting of the walls and ceiling was simply beautiful. If only humans took the same approach to all the things they do, imagine how much nicer the world would be. It's clear these folks put everything into this church. The ceiling was nearly Sistine Chapel quality.

[img]http://www.jpfolks.com/2007Europe/Oberammergau18.gif[/img]

This rather grim depiction of Jesus kind of brought things back down to earth a bit as it looks out into the room you see in the previous photo. It's so dark and down compared to the rest of the place it struck me as odd and almost out of place in context.

[img]http://www.jpfolks.com/2007Europe/Oberammergau19.gif[/img]

When we walked outside, we were reminded that we were in Germany and only 1 generation removed from WW2. We saw quite a few graves of Nazi soldiers killed in the war. This soldier was 77 years old when he died in 1937, so the uniform was likely from WW1 instead.

[img]http://www.jpfolks.com/2007Europe/Oberammergau20.gif[/img]

This was an interesting wooden sculpture of a Cow. There were all sorts of art installations around town. I wish we'd do more of that around here.

[img]http://www.jpfolks.com/2007Europe/Oberammergau21.gif[/img]

We came around a corner and saw this view and said out loud.. "wow.. this doesn't even look real.. it looks more like a movie set backdrop. We'll never be able to capture it on a photo." Though it's not the same, this photo actually does give you that "it's gotta be a fake background" sort of feel. The colors and composition of this hillside was breathtaking as the sun was going down.

[img]http://www.jpfolks.com/2007Europe/Oberammergau22.gif[/img]

This is where I had the best meal of the entire Europe trip. Sadly, it wasn't saying a lot.. I had really bad luck with food.. but I'd eat at this place again for sure and order the Beef Tornados... yummy! You'll see Linda sitting on the left bottom of this photo while we waited for a table to open up inside. The building itself was gorgeous with all the flowers and balconies.

[img]http://www.jpfolks.com/2007Europe/Oberammergau23.gif[/img]

This is the view from our building. That peak is famous in the area and there's a large cross at the top of it not viewable from this photo at this size. When I think of the Alps, I always think of a town just like this. It certainly lived up to all of our expectations and more.

Oberammergau was definitely one of the highlights of the entire tour. It was among the best small cities we visited and it's the kind of place you can stay in and use as a launching point to a lot of other cool places in the area. We can't wait to go back and visit it again!

Next up is our visit to the Castle in Linderhof, right on the edge of the Austrian/German border. This is the first of the Mad King Ludwig castles we visited.

We welcome any comments or questions!

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@gmail.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney
Facebook: www.facebook.com/justplainfolks

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney

"It's easier to be the bigger man when you actually are..."

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#576877 - 01/19/08 12:41 AM Re: Friday, January 18th, 2008 [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Oct 2006
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Terry Moore Offline
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Terry Moore  Offline
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Posts: 691
United Kingdom
Oberammergau...one of the loveliest little spots in Germany..World Famous for it's Passion Play(The Re-enactment of the passion of Jesus)it is only staged once every 10 years..hence the religious themes on display...draws a massive christian audience when the play is staged at Easter..i believe the next one is 2010...but it goes back a very long way...lovely pics..thanks for sharing....Terry...

#576889 - 01/19/08 01:25 AM Re: Friday, January 18th, 2008 [Re: Terry Moore]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 19,026
Brian Austin Whitney Offline
Brian Austin Whitney  Offline

Top 10 Poster

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 19,026
Indianapolis, IN USA
Terry,

I meant to mention the Passion play and I am glad you reminded me. There's an interesting thing that happened recently. I had learned about the passion play and how immense it all is and the fact that it's been going on a very long time as you stated. I found a travel book about the guy who literally invented the term "travelogue" named Burton Holmes. He was the first traveler to educate people about the places and things he saw in a fun more casual traveler sort of way (rather than the dry collegiate way it was done in the past). He did these elaborate presentations every year in places like Carnagie Hall to sold out crowds for many years and is considered perhaps the most traveled person in history. He was an innovator and pioneer in both photography and film making, and was literally the first person to ever film on the continenet of Africa and in many other regions of the world. He was one cool guy.

This book is a sort of sampling put together by historian/librarians who got to catalog his collections. He passed away in 1958 after retiring in 1955 after touring dating back into the 1870's. I've been totally enamored with his story and his writing style, which reminded me a lot of my own approach to writing (at least what I strive for style wise, as he was far more accomplished than I in that respect having written over 80 travel books). So as I got engrossed in the book which showed some of his best photos with his own written commentary, I came across the thing that got him started on his interest in traveling. His grandmother took him as a young boy to see the passion play in Oberammergau, Germany. I was blown away because this is a small town that I hadn't heard of before researching this trip and to find out that a little town I was passionate about, this guy was as well in something like 1880 was an amazing connection to me. It has made all of the places he visted and stories he's been telling me more real and personal in some way. It's hard to explain, but it just seems like I was meant to discover this guy. Oddly enough, I got the book totally by accident. We were out to dinner and there was a Barnes and Noble in the parking lot. It was brutally cold (like low single digits and high, gusty winds with ice on the pavement) and we were very tempted NOT to go to the store, but we can't resist doing a little book shopping as we are rarely ever out shopping together as I travel so much and Linda works so much when I am home we just don't have time. So we went in and found some cool photo books on Rome and Paris (two cities we visited) and were ready to check out and Linda had to go the restroom. I waited a bit and then went to look for her and stumbled upon the photography section of the bookstore (we'd bought the other books from the coffee table discount books section at the front of the store). I glanced around a little at the art and photgraphy books on the shelf and saw this red covered book with an old photo on the front. I was curious so I reached up (could barely reach it up at the very top shelf) and pulled it down. I flipped through the book and quickly realized it was right up my alley. I looked and it didn't have a price tag. I figured it was probably really expensive, as those full price "art" books usually are. I took it to the register and asked the price and the woman struggled to find one. There was no bar code on the book. I was tempted to just move on without it but something pulled me to wait and wait and wait. I told myself as long as it costs under $60 dollars I am buying it (which is a lot for me to spend on a book.. perhaps the most I've ever spent on one actually). She found the price and it was 59.99. I thought.. hmmm.. this must be a sign I should get it. We went to the front and when the woman at the counter saw we had a bunch of photo books she mentioned she travels a month every year to a different place in Europe. We told her we'd just gotten back and we started a back and forth about where we'd been. Then she saw the Burton Holmes books and said.. "hey.. that's my special order." She had ordered it but decided she couldn't afford it so put it back into circulation. But she'd obivously just read it at the store (since the wrapper was off which is why there was no price tag) and she said she had to wait a month to get it and was glad to see someone else was interested in it since she didn't end up buying it. So it was not even a regularly stocked book and it was just a coincidence that it was there for me to accidentally stumble upon. I noted the coincidence and when I got home and started reading it, I thought to myself I really was meant to get this book. Then when I read what his motivation was to set him off on a lifetime of traveling I really was blown away. Yeah.. I know.. not a huge deal.. but my life is nothing if not a series of very unlikely and positive coincidences. (Like the fact that I ran into 2 JPF members totally at random in Europe on 2 different occassions in 2 different cities in Europe (Florence and in a small ruined villa in Pompeii just before closing).

So.. I am glad you brought up the passion play. I almost feel like I should go to the next one, though I know the reservations were all booked up and the tickets long ago sold out for it. Everyone in the town has a part.. it's a big deal.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@gmail.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney
Facebook: www.facebook.com/justplainfolks

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney

"It's easier to be the bigger man when you actually are..."

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#576991 - 01/19/08 03:37 PM Re: Friday, January 18th, 2008 [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 6,810
Everett Adams Online content
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Everett Adams  Online Content
Top 40 Poster

Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 6,810
,NL Canada
So it was not even a regularly stocked book and it was just a coincidence that it was there for me to accidentally stumble upon. I noted the coincidence and when I got home and started reading it, I thought to myself I really was meant to get this book. Then when I read what his motivation was to set him off on a lifetime of traveling I really was blown away. Yeah.. I know.. not a huge deal.. but my life is nothing if not a series of very unlikely and positive coincidences. (Like the fact that I ran into 2 JPF members totally at random in Europe on 2 different occasions in 2 different cities in Europe (Florence and in a small ruined villa in Pompeii just before closing).


Brian, God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform.

#578114 - 01/22/08 08:03 PM Re: Friday, January 18th, 2008 [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 1,441
Chuck Crowe Offline
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Chuck Crowe  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 1,441
Livingston, TX
Originally Posted by Brian Austen Whitney




There were little wooden figures all over the town which added to the charm. Here's some little mountain climbers scaling a tree stump in the central park.



I may be a cynic, but I suspect that wonderful little details like these would be stolen, destroyed, or covered in grafitti in most U.S. cities. A shame... frown mad

Chuck

#578137 - 01/22/08 08:45 PM Re: Friday, January 18th, 2008 [Re: Chuck Crowe]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 19,026
Brian Austin Whitney Offline
Brian Austin Whitney  Offline

Top 10 Poster

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 19,026
Indianapolis, IN USA
They would be in Italy as well. Italy was in shambles. Even their most iconic sites were graffiti covered and dirty. The Pantheon was in good shape (my favorite ancient building in the world) but most everything else in all the cities was a sad dirty disgrace. The US Memorial in Caen, France for the Normandy Invasion was filthy and in disrepair. I was very angry after that visit. It was clear throughout the presentation at the Normandy museum that the US was being dissed. More focus was placed on the fact that the US was late in getting into the war, than the fact that without us, Germany would have ruled most of Europe today.

I think you do see stuff like that in small towns around the US. But yes, people are people and unlesss the locals take serious pride in stuff, it will be destroyed by mostly idiotic young males. By far the cleanest and best kept country we visited was Germany. Monaco was also pristine, but it's barely even a small city in size, let alone a country. (It's the second smallest country behind the Vatican). France was better than I expected, but not even close to Germany.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@gmail.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney
Facebook: www.facebook.com/justplainfolks

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney

"It's easier to be the bigger man when you actually are..."

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