Saturday, March 10, 2012

Oberammagau - Oh my God!!

Statue of Ludwig 1 - the great builder of Munich architecture


Linderhof Palace

Munichers have a strong sense of nationalistic pride and a history buff like me can feel a haunting sadness in this city. Is it just me, or do I detect covert elements of of national socialist sentiments still present in  this very modern fast-paced workaholic environment?  The history of the city with its Greco-roman architecture – the legacy of King Ludwig’s father Maximilian. The son, Ludwig 1 had to abdicate because of Lola Montez 
Footnote from Wiki: Eliza Rosanna Gilbert, Countess of Landsfeld (17 February 1821 – 17 January 1861), better known by the stage name Lola Montez, was an Irish dancer and actress who became famous as a "Spanish dancer", courtesan and mistress of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who made her Countess of Landsfeld. She used her influence to institute liberal reforms. At the start of the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, she was forced to flee. She proceeded to the United States via Switzerland, France and London, returning to her work as an entertainer and lecturer. For a time she visited Australia.
Her alleged affairs included not only a Russian Tzar, and Liszt, but also Australian miners, no less.­­ And Ludwig's son, and successor, Ludwig II, went mad and probably committed suicide... and it is his palace that we visit later today.  But first, The bus drove up Maximillian strasse ( with its designer schiki mikke stores) and then Ludwig Strasse (named after the first Ludwig) and saw the state Library, Ludwigs' church, and the University. Also Michael, the bestest bus driver, stopped briefly outside St Peter’s church where the bones of some Saint were venerated in Gold!!!
Dindl and accompanying scarf = 205 Euro

Traditions in Germany
Instead of speaking of Santa bearing gifts at Xmas time, they might ask, "What will the Christ child (Christkindl) bring you?" Krupesch is the helper who comes knocking at the door. In years gone by, he would ask the children if they had been good during the year, and if so, he would give them a gift, and if not, the children might be rewarded with a whack with Krumpesh’s stick on their behind. This Christmas tradition is also found in Austria, and some young children today, are scared witless, such that they hide under the table. 

Traditions are not forgotten as many women will attend Christmas or special events wearing the Dindl, but as with other national costumes, they are notoriously expensive: A dindl scarf costing 205 Euro but it will last forever!!

Deeply proud, righteously religious, abrupt, hardworking, food with lots of cream are some of the words used to generalize about these people. A sense of superiority pervades their mindset and this is no more apparent than in the  architecture, grandiose buildings reminiscent of Greco-Roman empires. Bavaria has been a separate state for 800 years. This trickles through the Bayern consciousness even now. In Victualmarkt, several group members had been reprimanded severely for touching items on display. The sign, in German, was too verbose to be clearly understood. A central maypole is usually seen here too, but this was taken down, due to rot!!! We saw the remnants sawn through, on our morning stroll the day before. Normally it is painted blue and white, the nationalistic colours of Bavaria. The German eagle watches suspiciously over all in his field of vision.

Allotments are a way of life here, especially for apartment dwellers. Surprisingly for Germany, Frankfurt allotments were rather untidy, but here in Bavaria, the have been maintained to a good standard. The famland around Munchen are clearly postcard picturesque. In efficient German style they are neat and tidy, and green rolling hills are a predominant feature. Swiss style housing can be seen in Bayern, surrounds as well as old barns ( still neat and tidy ) with a tiled roof. The Bayern/ typically swiss cantilever balcony in wood also feature heavily, with whitewashed walls and timber fretwork shutters and timber -framed top storeys.

Germans also love their meat, Leberkast ( Roast lamb on a bun) can be had for as little as 1.50 Euro. Order some Kartoffelsalat and Broet with a kaffee/cappuccino for only 3.90 Euro at the Hofbrauhaus!!!
Taverna del sud was the restaurant of choice in Munich, an Italian tavernetta, quite popular with locals. We were accompanied by two of the single ladies on our tour. One lady from Sydney, a corporate secretary, with a hilariously named poodle called Dave and the other lady from Melbourne, a nurse with a son who was an artist. Thin crust pizzas, lasagne and very good House wine ( Red ) was very reasonably priced, at 2.30 Euro and we had attentive service from an Italian waiter, but don’t ask him about his personal reasons for coming to Germancia.   Suddenly he does not know a lot of English!!!  

Footnote: German wines are apparently very good, as they should have had years of practice perfecting their skills and located between Italia and France, they must have picked up some hints!! The word is that the good wines are kept for consumption, and exporting only the wines that are crap…. Something that is also for home consumption and difficult to import ( at least into Australia) is the Lebkuchen, which can only be translated to Gingerbread, but is more akin to Cake than biscuit.   
As previously mentioned, in the Rothenburg**** post, they can keep their Snowballs, yuk yuk….but the Super Dickman ( super meaning large) will be gratefully accepted and purchased at will.

Road to Oberammagau
It is no surprise that dairying is the main industry here, butter, cheese, milk all contributes to the quality of the cakes here….!! Every few kilometres one sees a Romanesque or Baroque church, with the onion dome tower so typically seen in deeply catholic Bavaria!

Farmland around Munchen consists of rolling green fields, housing thought to be typically Swiss, consisting of White walls and timber framed upper storey, with timber fretwork cantilevered top  storey  verandahs, and painted facades on white walls with shuttered windows. firstly without painted adornments, neat old barns, with tiled roofs. Surrounded by vast tracks of coniferous forests. And all the while, the fantastic  backdrop of Alps, which stretch for 1600 kilometres through France Germany Australia Slovenia and of course Switzerland.  No wonder Hitler had his Eagles nest here, he must have felt like he was on top of the world and wanted to won it all…….­

Oberammagau is our lunch stop and besides the enormous and gob smacking range of painting on the houses, mostly religious in orientation, there is some wonderful shopping to be had here. The town itself is where the very famous Passion Play is held every 10 years. The history of which dates back to a promise the towns people made if the almighty spared their town from the Black death. And to this day, the people keep that promise alive. Hugely popular amongst tourists and pilgrims alike, Oberammagau is a delightful small village set in a picturesque part of the alpine region of Bavaria. 

Ettal Monastery
Inside Ettal

A wonderful extravaganza of Baroque art, the epitome of White and Gold perhaps as with a lot of Catholic churches, a perverse history of sexual abuse of young boys..
Gothic churches were designed to separate the general public from the monks by a central crosspiece (Division of the nave) but in the baroque style the altar is uninhibited and design streamlined.

Wiki tells  us: Ettal Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in the village of Ettal close to Oberammergau and Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, Germany. With a community (as of 2005) of more than 50 monks, with another five at Wechselburg, the Abbey is one of the largest Benedictine houses and is a major attraction for visitors.  Also on a less tasteful note:
In early 2010 ten priests at the Ettal Abbey boarding school were accused of sadistic beatings, molestation, or making sexual advances on boys as well as sadism. In March, 2010, authorities raided the monastery as part of a probe into allegations that priests sexually abused children there [CNN: [1]. By an Apostolic Visitation and an independent investigation these allegations have been surveyed and consequences have been drafted. The major part of abuses have taken place in the late 60s, the 70s and the early 80s.

Linderhof Palace and King
Mad King Ludwig, himself


 Mad King Ludwigs reign began when his father died prematurely and so he became King at an early age. Known for his eccentricity, he built 3 fairy tale castles, the most notorious being Neuschswanstein, a magnet for tourists. However today we were to visit the smaller palance of Linderhof, where Ludwig was to spend the last 10 years of his life, in seclusion, prior to being admitted to a psychiatric facility.

Really he was an utter weirdo, but handsome and turned quite strange around ugly people, to the point where he made ugly servants wear masks! He did not finish his study and had no friends his age. The deaths of his tutor and Father at roughly the same time, affected him greatly and he would undertake no diplomatic duties much to the chagrin of his advisers. Homosexual and completely anti – social, his palace at Linderhof only has one bedroom and is the only palace he was to complete in his short and tortured existence.

Finally he was declared insane and was committed to an asylum outside Munich, where he was given to take long walks with his Doctor late at night and one night they were both found drowned in the lake, despite the fact that he was a good swimmer. The exact circumstances remain unknown to this day. It was commonly thought to be a joint suicide.  Politically, this coincided with the combination of Prussia with Bavaria, which ended Bayern isolation as a separate state and opened the door to Bismarck's German empire and the first German parliament in Frankfurt!!

The chapel at Linderhof

Gardens and fountains at Linderhof
 Here is what my an eleven year old wrote about today. I was so impressed by details I have missed that I wrote it here:
Then we were going up into the mountains today. We were going to a king’s palace. His name: King Ludwig. He became king at a young age of 18 years! He was very good at sport and lots of people knew him. But when he became king he became very sensitive and depressed. People said that he was an odd fellow and didn’t like to be seen so that was a problem of being king. He was very handsome but he wasn’t a very nice king. He never entertained only for himself and sometimes in the middle of the night he would wake up and say for example: I want to go sledding tonight. So all of his servants would have to get up and go sledding with him because that was his orders. He made a few castles, but we were going to the smallest one. He made it very hard for people in the public to find him so he put it up in the mountains so it was very hard to find. We walked up a long walk way but it was worth it. The castle only had 12 rooms. We first went into the living room which is the starting room. Before we went up the stairs we went through a second room which had 3 million dollar vases. One huge from Paris and 2 smaller ones from China, so if you broke one you would probably be broke. We went up to the first room. It had a peacock which was his favourite animal and instead of using a flag to symbolise that he was home he would put the peacock out the front which was different. The second room didn’t really have a name but it had a large wooden chair at the front and a velvet robe at the top. The next room we went into was his bedroom. He had a massive bed the colour of blue (which was his favourite colour) and 2 small vases from Paris. The room next to his bedroom was the dinner room. There was a lovely wooden trap door and there was a table that went with it and there were pulleys attached to it so because he never wanted anyone to see him they would pull the trap door down to put the food on and then when he wanted dinner they would pull it up. The next room was called “The room of mirrors” They had 2 mirrors reflecting off each other so it looked like the room went on forever. There was a bid couch which was blue and he would sit there and read his books. Then we walked out of the room and down some secret stairs. Then later on they said that the public was sick of him being king so they tried 2 times but he had two many guards so he was protected very well. One day he went for a walk with his doctor (they went on frequent walks) and he never returned. Later they found him and his doctor drowned in Lake Chiensee. The public was very surprised because Ludwig was a very good swimmer. Some people said that he slipped and fell and his doctor came in too. They also weighed his brain but it was very light. After Ludwig died there was no one to run the kingdom and he never married or had children Ludwig’s Grand farther took over and when he died it was a long time before a new king was chosen.

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