Tuesday, October 19, 2010

wall painting in bavaria

Maybe it's my painting background, but I was excited to see how much effort was being put into preserving this very Bavarian style of fresco. As we drove around southern Germany, we noticed so many buildings surrounded with scaffolding as painters renewed and restored the allegorical frescoes painted on homes and commercial establishments alike. I didn't think to take photos of the scaffolding. But we chatted briefly with a proud young man who accommodatingly climbed down from his perch where he was working on a home with mossy green walls and terrific window and door surrounds. And the main street in Bad Tölz, where I lived for a while with my young children, had several sets of scaffolding dotting the old facades as the frescoes were being renewed. I hope you enjoy this sampling along with me.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

walking around oberammergau

Since Oberammergau's famed Passion Play happens only every tenth year, tickets can be a little tricky to get. Usually they come as a package deal, as did ours, including two nights at a local hotel, meals from the first night's dinner through the third morning's breakfast, and the play. For this last performance of the season, our friends from Atlanta joined us for the weekend.

Our hotel for the performance weekend.

Performed every 10 years since 1634 as pledged by the inhabitants of Oberammergau (with the exception of a 1770 imposed ban by the Roman Catholic Church and the two World Wars), the play has evolved in its production. But its story of the life and death of Jesus is still performed using only local inhabitants. This year that meant some 2,000 villagers or about half of Oberammergau were involved, acting the roles, singing in the large choruses, staging the tableaux vivants, playing in the orchestra, designing stages and costumes, etc. Children and animals were also on stage in the play's first half, and before the audience entered the theatre, you could wander the grounds and see the children playing and animals grazing as they waited their cues.

Painted entrance to the Museum

I remember seeing a rehearsal of the Play back in 1969, while I was living in Bavaria. Much has changed since then, including the very improved theatre itself. Back then, the area was also still famous for its quality wood carvers, but few were represented in the town this visit, except in the Museum.

Among its woodworking treasures, the Museum houses carved renderings of past mise-en-scènes for the Passion Play, plus collections of toys and figures of saints. These photos were taken behind glass in small dark rooms without flash and around people's heads (and elbows), so I hope you can see the remarkable details of this small sampling through the glare and blur. :)

While poking around the town, I did get myself invited into one woodcarver's studio and took a few photos, trying not to disturb him while his father worked on metal pieces nearby. Naturally, I'm always a sucker for hand tools.

Enough photos for now. But I'd like to show you some of the wonderful painted frescoes next. Will you come back?

Monday, October 11, 2010

bavarian snapshots

During our visit to Bavaria, the southeastern state of Germany whose capitol is Munich, we were treated to sweeping views of the Alps, broad farmland, and deep glacial lakes. In this predominantly Catholic area, the onion domes of churches populate the skyline, religious icons still hold place at country intersections and along stretches of road where supplicants may need a word with God, and church bells ring out through the day. Since WWII, the distinct Bavarian culture of fresco-painted walls, carved balconies loaded with hanging flowers on every sun-facing wall, well-tended fields for animals and crops, traditional country dress and so on has been continually and carefully restored right along with rebuilding a prosperous industrial hub.

Our trip included attending the last performance for another ten years of Oberammergau's famous Passion Play, riding a cable-car to the glorious top of the Zugspitze in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and hiking up verdant hillsides to visit King Ludwig's castles. We enjoyed lazy afternoon picnics beside deep clear green-water glacial lakes accessed by private roads, and long exploratory drives trying to find the homes where I lived over 40 years ago (before the road system expanded). It wasn't hard to recreate my middle-of-the-night ambulance route through the Black Forest from Bad Tölz to Munich where my second child was born (while my late husband was in Norway). And the downhill sweep of Bad Tölz' charming main street is still there, with its long-remembered outstanding bakery, although now the town center is reserved for pedestrians and scaffolding while old stucco and frescoes are being renewed. We found the much-restored house where I lived in Bad Tölz, but my homes in Fleck (with its German proverbs painted above the doorways) and Lenggries were harder to pinpoint after so many years.

King Ludwig's Linderhof Castle

Fresco painting in Garmisch

Typical carved and flower-covered balcony

Lakeside for an afternoon picnic

Small private chapel on farm

Would you like to have a tour of the Versailles-inspired Schloss Linderhof, my favorite of King Ludwig's three castles? And see more examples of beautiful Bavarian frescos? Or some exquisite Oberammergau wood carvings?

If so, I'll be back. :)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

heading home with castle daydreams

After days of picture-perfect scenery and gorgeous weather in Bavaria, we're soon to leave the land of fairytale hilltop castles and fresco-painted stucco-walled houses. I'm so grateful for these travel opportunities that have landed in my lap.  Now with nutcrackers, puzzles, and crystal to pack away in my suitcase, we'll head home in a couple days and recover. Once I've conquered the inevitable jet lag, I hope to share with you a few photos of this magical place.