My Room for Two Nights in OberammergauI take pride in the research I do looking for inexpensive accomodations when we travel. It's actually pretty easy to find cheap rooms in Germany. The trick is finding cheap rooms that include free breakfast buffets. In the old days all German accomodations included Fruhstuck. Now most places charge you an extra $10 or more per person. Dedlerhaus cost us about $78 per night per room with a very nice breakfast included.
You would think that after going 36 hours without sleep, except for a half hour snooze during Shakespeare on the plane, that I would've had a long night's rest once I climbed into bed. Yet I was up most of the night coughing my brains out. I assume I was allergic to the feather bed or some alien German mould in our room. I kept my poor mother awake as well.
But when breakfast time rolled around I actually felt pretty refreshed. The planned itinerary for today was the cause for some concern before we left home. We would be driving through the Alps and a couple of high mountain passes on our way to and from Innsbruck. Innsbruck is only 50 miles from Innsbruck but it is over roads prone to receiving some heavy snow and ice. This was why we rented snow tires. Judging by the size of the snowpiles in Oberammergau, at the foot of the Alps, we might run into some major snow at higher elevations. So why were we risking our lives to venture through high country for a day trip? Swarovski's, of course. Gail let me set up this trip to get this car
View From My Bedroom WindowNot only was I coughing all night but we were also sweating. It was incredibly warm in our room. I even opened this window in the middle of the night. In the morning we were greeted by this beautiful view of the mountain looming over Obermamergau.
I wanted so the least I could do was add something to the schedule that would amuse her. And our mothers were all for it as well.
Before embarking on our alpine adventure we needed to fuel or bodies for the endeavor. So the picture story begins with me stuffing my face.
My wife and I met thirty-five years ago when we both worked for the airlines. We got out of the business when deregulation "ruined" it. Now she takes me with her students on her educational trips abroad.
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Once the center of power for the large Austro-Hungarian Empire, Austria was reduced to a small republic after its defeat in World War I. Following annexation by Nazi Germany in 1938 and subsequent occupation by the victorious Allies in 1945, Austria'...more info
Buffet DougieWe were up at a little after 7 and in the breakfast room by 8. I promptly headed for the buffet spread where I loaded my plate with cheese, cold cuts, tomato, butter and fresh hard rolls. Orange and green tea washed it all down. And of course I grabbed a soft-boiled egg when they came out.
Herr Haertle Does Nice WorkStuffing my face at our corner table I had the distinct feeling someone was watching me...from above. Adjoining the breakfast room our pension owners operate a little shop selling woodcarvings done by Mr Haertle. We assumed this crucifix was one of his works available for sale. It would never fit in our trunk so we passed on it.
Across the Street from DedlerhausIn the broad daylight the Lüftlmalereien on this office building looked even more amazing. It looks 3D but all of that stuff that looks like lintels, columns and wood carvings is just painted on flat walls.
The Corner ChurchAlthough we had a nice safe parking spot off the street we had some trouble getting out of icy space. Uh-oh. I was thinking that this does not bode well for driving our rear wheel drive through the Alps today. Mr. Haertle brought out a piece of carpet and put it under our wheels. From experience I knew that this never worked. Not for me back home anyway. Somehow the snow tires got just enough grip to back us out onto the street and we were soon on our way down the road to our first stop.
First Stop - EttalJust a few minutes down the road and on the road to Innsbruck was the tiny hamlet of Ettal. Gail, her mother and I have been here countless times. We admire the beauty of the huge but relatively under-appreciated abbey and the taste of the delicious beer produced by its monks. Any chance we get we garb a mini keg or two of brew to take home. Check out how much fun Gail is having getting in and out of our two door convertible. She and her mother had to contort themselves each time they got in or out. We could've seen twice as much of Bavaria if we had a 4 door car.
Now This Looks Like WinterBack home we were having one of the warmest winters in memory. Gail hadn't had a single day off for snow yet. But here snow was piled almost twenty feet high in spots.
We Shall ReturnThe little shop where we made past purchases of Ettaler beer was already open for business. I could see mini kegs in stock on the store shelves as I pressed my nose against the window. I just noticed that the chalkboard sign to the right mentions that our little kegs of draft beer were on sale. First we wanted to show my mother the beautiful interior of the abbey church.
SomedayOn a number of different occasions I tried to book this hotel for one of our family trips but it was always booked. I even tried to book a room for December 10 months ahead of time without success. Even in this seemingly dead time of the year the parking lot was full of cars. Very popular with cross country skiers.
Ettal MonasteryIt didn't look like we'd find a way through the snow to the church entrance just below the center rotunda, but the monks had been busy and shoveled a nice path through the two feet of snow for us.
The Other Side of the MonkvilleThis was the view looking in the opposite direction. Considering how many rooms this place looked to have it was surprisingly quiet. I don't think the monk business is drawing them in like it used to.
Watch Out for Roof IceWe saw signs near every historical building on this trip warning passersby to be careful for ice falling from the roofs. They must have lawyers in Europe too.
One of My Favorite Churches in EuropeThe little Wieskirche just up the road near Steingaden ends up on a lot off travel brochures but I find this church in Ettal to be every bit as pretty. I don't understand how monks could afford these lavish trappings but obviously they weren't Baroque. Beer sales must've been very good back in the day.
The Prettiest Refrigerator I've Ever Been InWalking through the snow to Ettal Abbey we were comfortable in our winter coats and boots, but when we walked inside the littel church it felt like the temperature was 20 degrees cooler. It was kind of eerie. No wonder we were the only people inside.
Detailed Look at the ChurchFrom Wikipedia: Ettal Abbey was founded on 28 April 1330, Saint Vitalis of Milan's day, by Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian in the Graswang valley, in fulfilment of an oath on his return from Italy, on a site of strategic importance on the primary trade route between Italy and Augsburg. The foundation legend is that Ludwig's horse genuflected three times on the site of the original church building, where a statuette of the Virgin Mary ("Frau Stifterin" or the "Ettal Madonna") of the Pisano School now stands, a gift from Ludwig to his new foundation. This statue soon became an object of pilgrimage. The church is dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin.
The foundation originally consisted of a Benedictine double monastery - a community for men and another for women - and also a house of the Teutonic Knights.
The original Gothic abbey church, built between 1330 and 1370, was a modest structure in comparison to the great churches of mediaeval Bavaria.
The abbey suffered great damage during the Reformation at the hands of the troops of Maurice of Saxony, but survived the troubles of the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648).
Church AltarUnfortunately there was no signage in the abbey explaining the history or significance of this church. There is little on the internet other than the comment that the church features stucco decoration creations by Johann Babtist Zimmermann and Johann Georg Üblherr as well as the ceiling fresco that has as a central theme the artists' view of heaven populated by the major Saints of the Holy Trinity.
One of Many Confessionals There were at least 4 very different confessionals scattered around this little church. I suppose there are some interesting stories about these and I suspect they were built my local wood craftsman, but again, there was no information available. It's almost like they want to keep this place secret. One fact I did learn that was during World War II a couple of the more vocal anti-Nazi priests were "marooned" here out of the mainstream so they couldn't cause any trouble.
A Heavenly Little Beer ShopEven though we had shopped in the little beer shop across the street from the abbey on a number of other occasions, this time we learned the store was actually run by the church. If only we had bought a Mercedes Sprinter van than we could've gotten our fill of goodies from Ettal.