Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tobogganing in Oberammergau

While Lubbock has just experienced its own version of a blizzard, I am sitting feet away from a cozily blubbering stove in Freising while the snow continues to fall outside. Two days ago I was struggling up a mountain slope, two sleds in tow, on the way up to the Pürschling and its warming hut. It turns out, tobogganing is a favorite pastime of young and old in Bavaria.
I swear this was the only flat section in 2 hours of trudging uphill!
After my arrival back here in Germany last Thursday, Sabine and I left her home in Freising on Friday afternoon to drive less than two hours to the world-renowned hamlet of Oberammergau. World-renowned? Well, surely you have heard of the Passionsspiele that have been performed once every decade since 1634 thanks to a vow the town made in the face of pestilence. I have never seen a live performance of this passion play that chronicles the last weeks of Christ, and neither has Sabine—but we did catch somewhat of a glimpse when the landlord at our small guesthouse, Herr Otto Huber, turned out to have been in charge of dramaturgy for the 1990, 2000, and 2010 performances.
Gasthaus Otto Huber in Oberammergau
We couldn't have asked for a more comfortable place to stay in Oberammergau, a small town of about 5,000 souls of whom about 2,000 (!!!) form a part of the 50+ performances that take place every 10 years. (Otto told us that during the intervening years, the town produces lesser known plays and concerts. Ten years is a long time to idle!). The town's men grow their beards long and their hair wild (Otto looked 100% the slightly discombobulated retired high school professor that he is—literature, of course, no less), and even the women are finally allowed to make decisions regarding the casting of the many, many characters. Tickets usually sell out years in advance, and Oberammergau for one summer season is overrun with half a million visitors from all over. With a performance duration of six hours (and about 50 performances) I am wondering who actually takes care of all those guests in the hotels, restaurants, and shops.
Sabine approaching Graswang
Learning about the Passionsspiele was just an unexpected bonus for us. We had come to enjoy the winter scenery of the Alps, and we were not disappointed. On Saturday we went for a 26K cross-country trip on the skis, through the beautiful Graswang valley to one of Mad King Ludwig II's castles at Linderhof. Thanks to the lack of real ups and downs I managed not to bruise a rib after doing so on my two outings in 2011 and 2012. Yeah! The conditions were perfect, with powdery snow, some sun, and immaculately groomed trails. For a quick getaway from Munich, this part of the Alps is hard to beat.
Winter Wonderland in the Schleifmühl Klamm
On Sunday we borrowed two wooden sleds from Herr Huber and drove the four kilometers from Oberammergau (843 meters) to Unterammergau (836 m) where we started our laborious ascent of the Pürschling (1,566 m). Surrounded by families with children in tow, young couples and their dogs, and old folks like us, we slowly made our way up to the August-Schuster-Haus, which, two meters shy of the summit, is the perfect spot for a cold beer or two—in the summer! In the winter, however, the overcrowded "hut" was a sweat-soaked, moisture-laden beehive of red-cheeked children, beer-drinking and soup-slurping adults, and the occasional underfoot canine trying to stay out of harm's way. Finding a place to sit wasn't easy, but we somehow managed. After evaporating some of the sweat from our clammy layers of clothing we then headed back down: What had taken us two hours to climb up now zipped by in less than 30 minutes, while we were clinging on to the uncomfortable toboggans and trying not to bruise that rib, after all. (Sabine was still nursing a tailbone damaged during an outing earlier this month, so she really felt the ouch.)  By what was now mid-afternoon the trail was in such ill repair that we bounced around as if we were four-wheeling without suspension at 50 mph. Sorry, but I prefer the serenity of the XC skis.
I prefer the XC skis over the toboggan, for sure!
Once back in the valley we headed back to Freising, after returning our sleds. The traffic wasn't bad at all, and we made it home just shortly after it got dark. What a fine weekend! Yesterday we spent an afternoon hiking along the Isar here in the area, and this afternoon a visit to the pub at Weihenstephan beckons. We had first thought about a visit to one of the many glass and crystal manufacturing sites about 100K from here, but with the return of more snow we decided to nix that plan. Nothing wrong with staying close to home and enjoying another day with a Weizenbeer or two.
Monday we hiked along the Isar, just outside of Freising
With only two days left here in Bavaria, a good time is once again heading toward finality. It sure would be nice if this pretty part of the world were a bit closer to Lubbock, say, within driving distance. But that's not the way it works, of course, and so I have to start planning and looking forward to the next trip across the pond, whenever that may be.
That's ice in my beard ...

No comments:

Post a Comment